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Ask a 1940's Admissions Dean, Bertram L. Burnside

2 min read

  • Dear Bertram: Should I partner with the Common App or the Coalition App? I am considering including a shared application system for next year’s class. Will adding one or both of those applications to the mix actually diversify our application pool?
    That’s Dr. Burnside, to you. I didn’t bust my hump to earn a sheepskin so some wet nose dewdropper could razz me. Now, I am not familiar with this App fellow or his coalition. He sounds to me like a snake oil salesman. One day, he parades his wagon down Main Street promising to save the harvest with his patented ‘Rain-Maker’ elixir and before you know it, he’s skipping town in a hot air balloon with all your money. Don’t get fooled thinking it’s fun to paint the fence!

  • Dear Bertram L. Burnside: Is going ‘test-optional’ a good idea? I just don’t know what to do. On one hand, I want to enhance student diversity. But of course, I do not want to jeopardize academic quality. I know many of the faculty are not going to get behind this without indisputable evidence. The president trusts me, but I just need more reassurance before I make a formal recommendation.
    Test-optional? Heavens, what on earth are you yammering about? Why not put a revolving door on Buckingham Palace? How could you know the cut of a man without testing his mettle? Would you buy a horse without looking it in the mouth?

  • Dear Bertram L. Burnside: Can an application for admission be adequately reviewed in under 10 minutes? - Stephen W.
    Lands sakes, good man, have you yellow fever? What manner of action could be completed in 10 minutes? Not a kettle of tea could boil. In 1943, Alabaster Samson and I spent 12 months disproving continental drift.

  • Dear Mr. Burnside: Is a friendly rivalry with a competitive institution healthy or is it a distraction for admission counselors?
    Well, I am certainly no Mrs. Grundy, and I’ve had my fair share of paddle whacks for sneaking onto a rival campus to fasten overalls to a beloved statue or two. Alabaster and I once glued the entire contents of a rival school’s billiard room to the ceiling during spirit week. Four people died. Of course, the trouble being these days, reporters feel the need to discuss everyone’s business on that highfalutin Marconi machine. A man can’t sweeten his coffee without every university speculator hearing about it.

  • Dear Bertram L. Burnside: I know the campus visit experience is a critical component of the recruitment process. What can I do to improve the experience for students and families?
    Hedges! Bramble hedges, trimmed to a uniform 18-inch height, lining every walk on campus. If one can resist the siren’s call of a perfectly manicured hedge, then I want not that fool on my campus.

    Social functions serve their purposes, but you don’t want would-be students barneymugging in the back of the library like a pack of bindle punks escaped from their fathers' sorghum farms.

Dr. Bertram L. Burnside is the foremost authority on college admissions, having served his post for more than 134 years, and is also a 4-time Vice President of the United States of America.


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