Revisiting her first impressions of Bates
About to graduate, a student circles back
By Becca Chacko ’10
I played with the hair bands looped around my wrists and found myself saying “um” and “like” just as I did when I was 17 and being interviewed for admission to Bates.
The occasion was Maine Day, when counselors and college-hunting students from high schools around the state visit Bates — this year, more than 100 attendees from about two-thirds of Maine high schools.
The program focused on searching for and applying to colleges. Bates admissions staff proffered essay-writing tips and a roadmap for the process, and staged a mock reading of applications. Current Bates students from Maine, sharing the benefits of hindsight, recalled their own searches.
As for me, a senior admissions fellow, I helped assistant dean Johie Farrar ’03 lead a college-interview workshop. I had interviewed more than 50 prospective applicants last fall, and got quite used to talking about Bates: Why I love it, what needs improvement, how a prospective student could succeed here.
The resume that began “I am a responsible and friendly individual” seemed distant and unimpressive.
So now here I was in the mock interview that unexpectedly reawakened my 17-year-old self, once again being asked to explain not only which classes and activities I undertook in high school, but why I chose them and what they meant to me.
It felt strange to revisit my resume from Palo Alto High. The resume that began “I am a responsible and friendly individual” and offered my neatly bulleted accomplishments now seemed distant and unimpressive. Why did I once feel so strongly about Prop 77? What did I really accomplish as president of the Second Harvest food drive? There on the Olin stage, I couldn’t even remember things as basic as the high school subject I’d struggled with the most.
But Johie’s questions did help me clarify for the Maine high school students what I love most about Bates. When she asked what I was seeking in a college, I said I wanted a place where students could collaborate without cutthroat competition, integrate into a small community where they felt like names and not numbers, and become broadly educated, well-rounded scholars.