Snubbed by academic advisor during senior's college visit

I decided to sleep on this and wait until morning to reevaluate in case my judgement was just clouded by fatigue of a day long campus visit with miles & miles of walking. I wake this morning, cup of coffee in hand & well rested, to realize that I’m actually more upset today than yesterday. I would really appreciate some advise & opinions from other parents who are going through the senior college visit gauntlet as well as seasoned veterans!

We visited a college campus yesterday for an invitation only event that was supposedly for high achieving students who were looking to apply to this particular school in order for the seniors to have access to faculty, staff, and departmental knowledge sources to answer any specific questions they may have. I’d rather not name the school at this point simply because my questions apply to any school that’s visited & not just this particular one.

After the midday presentation was over, the schedule opened up for students to explore different areas to ask questions directly to the people in charge of those areas such as Honors, pre-professional pursuits, financial aid, etc. as well as to ask any of the presenters present any questions they had. My child stayed behind to speak with an associate dean who was also an academic advisor for the department that’s pertinent to the major being considered. The student that was already speaking with the assistant dean had what appeared to be a pleasant conversation, smiles & head nods sprinkled throughout the 5 minute exchange. Noisy as the environment was we couldn’t not hear what all was said but snippets came through & sounded similar to what my child was wanting to know. Not wanting to seem like we were butting into someone else’s personal conversation or eaves dropping, we didn’t crowd in to hear but rather waited out turn. Once our turn came, my child stepped up & ask his question. The assistant dean/academic advisor rather curtly answered in one sentence & basically made it clear that there was no further discussion about it necessary as he began to turn away. Unfortunately, the answer didn’t clarify things for us beyond what we would have assumed. At this point I stepped in and asked a clarifying question only to have the same answer repeated with a look of exasperation. For the record, my child was polite and handled himself properly during the entire exchange and did nothing to bring this rather rude response on & has been treated by everyone during the entire college hunting endeavor at every college with nothing but helpfulness thus far.

Needless to say, this irritated us. We just gave up, said thank you, & just walked away to find clarification elsewhere.

This school had made its way to my child’s #1 choice despite the fact it is the lowest overall nationally ranked school on his list. It’s still a very good school & is very well known for excellence in undergraduate education, advising, and faculty involvement in helping students achieve. However, after the curt, dismissive way my child & I were treated by the assistant dean of the Arts & Colleges department (who had invited people to approach anyone to ask questions during a day my child was INVITED to attend to ask questions), I have serious reservations now.

I’m not one to usually trumpet race issues either, but in this instance, I’m also wondering if that may have been a contributing factor. It’s just seems extremely stupid for anyone to alienate a high achieving minority applicant (for this school) at a school that is seriously lacking ethnic diversity & who claims to be attempting to increase diversity. Even in the lecture hall that the presentation was being given (looked to hold about 150 people), I only saw 3 families (including ours) that looked to be non-Caucasian. So again, very odd that my child & I were brushed off regardless of how many times the presenter had answered the same question. I’m just at a loss as to WHY my child was treated so rudely & the race thing is just a grasping at straws to try & figure this out.

Should I just brush off this incident as a fluke or should this be considered a red flag???

My own knee jerk reaction is to call or email this person and ask what was done that offended him or caused him to respond so curtly. Obviously, I’m not going to do that! Lol. But my natural instinct is to confront issues, not ignore them.
How should we follow up to alleviate our now present concerns that maybe there’s a reason the school is lacking ethnic diversity?

Sorry for the long post! I’m just floored right now & not sure what to think.

Oooh I’d love to know what school this (no pressure to say though).

We had a weird experience at an info session that we attended and it left a negative impression with me too.

That being said, I think it’s important to look at the school in the totality of the circumstances - cost, fit, location, etc. It could be that this person was just having an “off” moment. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, moments like that - especially if there is more than one - can be important clues.

Sorry that happened to you guys. Hope your search continues with a successful result.

I am sorry you had this experience.

Right now your child is deciding where to apply, not where to attend. Because you say this school had been #1, my advice would be to go ahead and apply. After your child is accepted, and if the school is still in the running based on other acceptances, go to the admitted students visit. At that point, either you or your child should express the displeasure you are voicing here and see how they respond.

Of course, if your child had been considering EA or ED, that changes things.

adding/ crossposted with OP?

I didn’t see your diversity concerns reading your post the first time. I don’t presume to give you advice on that. So very sorry.

Nothing changes for EA, unless it is restrictive.

I wouldn’t want my child to apply to this school EA, if there were another EA option on the table.

I like the EA option of getting into a school you know you would want to attend, and then only appling to schools you may potentially like better and visiting all choices before a final decision.

He is applying EA to this school for the competitive 1/2-full tuition merit scholarship this school offers. He’s also already been accepted into a diversity program there that is also attached to a 1/2-full tuition scholarship. They can be combined also. So obviously, the scholarships are very enticing.

But there are personal reasons (proximity to home), academic reasons (room & encouragement to explore, high grad school placement), & life reasons (study abroad programs, internship relationships) that make this school a good fit. Especially when you throw impersonal ranking prestige factors out the window. It’s doesn’t rank poorly! Lol. It’s just the lowest rank of those on his list. :slight_smile:

okay. Right now the decision is whether to apply, not whether to attend. They haven’t impressed you so far. I guess I’d be interested to see if someone from the university follows up with your son this next week. We had a lot of follow up from schools interested in my kids.

My kids have been done with college a long time. My advice may be very out of date. I hope someone figures out what school you are talking about and sends you a private message, so you can perhaps get an informed opinon. I am assuming at some point your son will be talking to current students in the scholarship programs, if he hasn’t done so already. I advised my kids to ask questions of students in the programs that were trying to recruit them.

good luck with all this!

adding: one of my kids turned down a full-tuition plus extras scholarship at a school that we just didn’t feel was a good personal fit. I have never regretted that. However, we were in a position to afford the tuition at the college he chose, which made the decision much easier. You haven’t shared your financial constraints. That matters.

“I wouldn’t want my child to apply to this school EA, if there were another EA option on the table.”

Unless it’s restricted EA a student can apply to as many EA schools as the want.

I am not a minority, so I really don’t have any response to how you are feeling about the diversity issues at this university. I would say that you face diversity/minority issue everyday and if you felt this incident may have had a racial component to it then I say trust your gut instinct.

My daughter and I, then a junior, attended a invite preview event with a family friend and her son last year simply to tag along and check out a college. D was wearing her letterman jacket which made it completely clear that she was NOT in the current crop of interested seniors. The Dean came around and introduced herself to all the students, exchanged a brief hello with our family friend and S and turned to D, who had been hanging back because this was not her gig, and carried on a lengthy 5 minute conversation with my D. The Dean ended up handing D a business card telling her to feel free to contact her. It was a complete snub of our friend and her son.

I can only guess that the letterman jacket 1) gave the Dean some talking points 2) was an indicator of the many EC D engages in and thus illustrated the kind of things that might interest this school. But it does not excuse the rather rude snub given to the kid who was actually interested in attending the school.

I would also say that the Dean probably assumed that you had heard what was said to the first student. Presumptuous, for sure, rude, you betcha. I would certainly be double thinking applying. If it is your kids #1 choice, maybe think about making another visit and see how that one goes. Check to see if the school has a minority student union they might be able to address some of you concerns.

I would be worried. Nothing wrong with applying But when it comes down to decision time, I would make it a point to make another visit. Maybe this person will have even moved on but hat time :slight_smile: If not, I would be SURE that this was not a personal issue before committing. And if it does seem to be personal, I would take it above that person’s supervisor and let them know why you will be attending elsewhere.

Reach out to people associated with the school, read up past issues of school newspapers, and find out if there have been incidents in recent school history related to racial tensions or minority students complaining unfair treatment. Use that info to aid your decision but not this one time exchange with school official alone. What I have realized is that many faculty members put on administrative positions are less than competent and lacking the political savvy we would expect to see in corporates. Don’t brush the incident off considering the school is lacing diversity at this point (and that might be an explanation) but don’t write it off right away either. By the time your son is in, this dean could’ve left this post already.

one final thought for all the new posters here

In my opinion, the OP demonstrates how to ask a question without disclosing identifying information. These scholarship programs can be really competitive and it is not advantageous if those making decisions see parents and students debating the schools/programs before an offer is made. It isn’t often parents disclose too much personal information, but students do this all the time. Please be cautious. Get the offers. Then decide. :slight_smile:

I’m sorry and know this leaves confusion, at best. We don’t know if the rep thought you and your son did hear the other conversation. Or if the reason for the curtness was something else, being late, etc. It’s not excusable, I know.

But if this were my own kid’s first choice, I would be temped to give it one more try, see what happens. I’d suggest mine consider writing a note to that person, thanking him for the presentation and the time, acknowledging, “We only had a moment to speak, but I wonder if you could please clarify xxx.” And that xxx should be a good question, one not answered elsewhere.

Then you see what happens.

My girl and I had a similar weird moment, but the college would still have been a great match.

My kids have eliminated schools due to meetings with depts, but they have pre-arranged appts where we have traveled specifically to meet with the dept. It is hard to judge a dept from a large info session. However, meeting one-on-one in an office where both parties have agreed to an appt time, a lot can be inferred from the interaction. If the school is not too far for travel, later in session (maybe after all applications are in and you know where how your students stands at the school) make an appt with the dept and meet privately. We have had both great and horrible dept meetings. Before the visits, I would not have guessed which ones were going to turn out the way they did. One UG advisor was so condescending that the meeting was a blessing. That dept would have been a huge mistake. It was worth a day of traveling back and forth to know where not to attend.

I think it is unwise to ignore a gut feeling. Further research into this school is warranted. That said, since the school has so many other things that make it a good choice for your son, I would have him apply. There’s no need to make a decision now, and you’ll have time for other interactions with the school before a decision needs to be made.

Thank you everyone for chiming in!

“I would say that you face diversity/minority issue everyday and if you felt this incident may have had a racial component to it then I say trust your gut instinct.” @labegg I love how you put this so succinctly! And yes & no about daily dealings.

We are considered one of the ‘un-oppressed’ or non-hook minorities pretty much everywhere else on his list! Lol. 10-50+% at most other colleges. However this school has <2%. But that alone is not a deterrent for him because he’s currently in a high school with similar lack of ethnic diversity, so he’s rather used to it. And IF anything, he’s given better treatment & great effort is taken to treat him in welcoming ways.

And upon googling (because Google is always right! Lol), it seems there was a bit of an uproar within the campus in the past couple years about discriminatory or racist actions & behaviors by some the student body that have been brought to life. Nothing violent. Just very inappropriate racial comments and such that are meant to be joking by the commenter but quite offensive to the recipients. It was finally addressed on both the minority group’s student FB page and articles written up on multiple blogs. After attention was brought to the administration, it seems policy was stepped up to stop this sort of behavior.

I personally take such things in stride & don’t generally get upset. I let a lot roll off as ignorance & pity the poor fools because that sort of attitude doesn’t bode well for them as the move forward in life. It’s. Bite them in the tush, basically.

Honestly, even the articles I found, as compelling as they may be, wouldn’t make me or my son hesitate to still consider this school. But in conjunction with my gut feeling… You get the picture.

And I will say it’s a shame for this school. Late last night as we talked about the whole visit, it seems the experience has made him reconsider his own rank list. Now instead of a closer in state school where he’ll be able to see his toddler sister grow up much more frequently (and MUCH less expensive school), he’s put an out of state much more expensive Ivy as his first choice. For now. It’s an ever changing list… Lol.

Financially, we aren’t likely to get very much in need based aid. And my son is of the opinion that he’d like to go to school off the sweat of his own brow, past & future, than the $ his parents earned off the sweat of our brow. So he really is working hard to try & attend college on merit scholarships & scholarships that have added responsibilities for him during college. He has stated that he would rather take out his own student loans rather than ask us to pay for his college because he knows that we didn’t have parental financial help & our only opinions were to take out loans. So he doesn’t feel it’s right for us to have to pay for college twice - our own as well as his & his siblings.

That makes his decision to currently bump this school out & put an Ivy school in that spot even more worrisome since I know he’s sacrificing his own principle to pay for his own schooling & we will need to pay the bulk majority.

For now, the red flag is going to just stick out. We’ll re-evaluate after the dust of acceptances settles & he can maybe do some overnight visits to get the real skinny.

Again, thank you for the opinions & advice! MUCH appreciated!

I can think of a number of reasons why this might have happened. Maybe your kiddo asked the same question as the one before and the prof thought you would have heard the answer, maybe he/she was tired and just wanted to get the heck out of there, maybe the same question has been asked a number of times and you just drew the short stick and maybe it was a minority issue, but I doubt it frankly. If everything else is good then write it off as a bad moment.

I actually think this is a pretty significant concern. Your instinct is undoubtedly right. If they can’t be polite when they are courting your son, then what happens when he’s already in? If there is a diversity professional at the school, which there probably is, I would call. That person will probably understand and know exactly how to address your concern. He or she should also know that this happened. I wouldn’t let it go without some clarification because if it’s the number one choice, this concern will be poking you through the entire process. Better to clear it up and move on in one direction or the other. By the way, I’m sorry this happened to your son.

I absolutely have it marked as possibly just a bad timing, short stick situation also. I like to give the benefit most of the time since I know I’ve had situations where I’ve unfairly shorted people because of things that had absolutely nothing to do with them!

The racial issue is was just one component I considered as a possible explanation since I’m at rather a loss for why this happened.

What upset us the most was just the fact that he was INVITED to a day that was specifically set up to answer questions AND everyone was INVITED to ask anyone questions after the presentation, even to the presenters. So the fact that he asks & then was brushed off is frustrating & doesn’t really jive with the intent of the day.

As a representative of the college, at an event intending to get the attendees to apply & theoretically come to the school, it’s their job to answer questions. Even the same one a hundred times. If they aren’t prepared to do what every person involved with admissions takes as part of the job, they shouldn’t be part of the event.

If a student were to brush off the question ‘why this school’ because they’d answered this over & over & over to every school, it wouldn’t make them very attractive to the admissions committee. The reverse is true as well. Any person in admissions that isn’t ready to answer the same question a gazillion times with a smile is not likely to be attractive to possible applicants.

I hope that makes sense. Just trying to understand why the brush off on a day that it doesn’t make sense.

“he’s put an out of state much more expensive Ivy as his first choice.”
“he’d like to go to school off the sweat of his own brow, past & future, than the $ his parents earned off the sweat of our brow.”

If you don’t qualify for much aid, remember the Ivies offer need-based only. And there’s a max to the student loans he can get- and most of the CC finaid sages believe the 27k cap is about all the debt a kid should take on.

The “non-hook minority” thing took me a minute to understand. I don’t know if I’m guessing in the right directions. But I do think it’s important to consider just how much any one kid wants to be a trailblazer, with just a handful who share his perspective and experiences. Some do. Some don’t.

Bottom line, OP, is that you are considering various points intelligently.