See You in the New Year!

Happy HolidaysDear WACAC Members,

This marks our 60th post since the WACAC Communications Committee first launched WACAConversations in July. I am amazed by all that the committee has accomplished in such a short amount of time. In addition to launching this blog, we got Facebook and Twitter back up and running, developed a new look for the WACAConnection e-blast, and completed a face lift on the WACAC website.

I must admit that I was completely overwhelmed by the idea of chairing this committee when I was first approached about it. I probably shouldn’t admit (but here it goes) that I had never even tweeted when I agreed to the job. (Thank you, Sam, for showing me how it’s done.)

I am fortunate to have found myself surrounded by the most talented, dedicated, and tech-savvy individuals in the biz. I sincerely mean it when I say that everything the committee has accomplished is because of them. Thank you Lauren Popkowski (Oaks Christian), Terri Lewallen (Palos Verdes Peninsula), Jeff Morrow (Oaks Christian School), Meredith Britt (New Jewish Community High School), Sam Schreiber (USC), Grant Cushman (Chapman), Matt Miller (Chapman), Gabrielle McColgan (Sacred Heart Preparatory), and Sean Ohira (USC). You are simply amazing!

And thank you to all of our committee bloggers, guest bloggers, and, of course, our readers.

I can’t wait until the new year, when we’ll announce new bloggers, new series, and so many other exciting projects.

Have a marvelous and much-deserved holiday break.

Warm wishes,

Anne Aubert-Santelli
WACAC Communications Committee Chair

*Image from



  1. Anne,

    Congratulations on guiding the WACAC blog through the difficult challenge of being a piece that must speak simultaneously to multiple audiences. Although I’m sure that the primary readers of the content are members of the community themselves, the public nature of the blog forces authors and content creators to be continually mindful of the multiple ways in which messages can be interpreted.

    We often talk about using a front-facing platform as an opportunity to “put a face” on the college admission process and while this is important, in some ways that I think what we really mean to do is to demonstrate and cultivate empathy for and between students, parents, and college admission professionals. I think that the blog has shown a good effort to attempt to humanize the process through both its tone and its content.

    One thing that I’ve thought a lot about over the past few years as I began to transition out of the profession was how to leverage something like the blog (as one communication channel among many) in order to shape the best thoughts that we had to offer as a community and to reflect these ideas out into the world. There are, of course, conversations that aren’t always appropriate for the blog, perhaps due to their content and/or the way in which the blog limits real-time discussion, but I am keenly invested in the notion that organizations like WACAC could benefit greatly by embracing the stance of public intellectualism.

    Although challenges abound with this stance due to things like turnover and a heavy workload, I definitely think that you can find ways to showcase exemplary talent from among the WACAC membership. There is a way in which the practical advice about interviews and hints for those new to the field is necessary but I also wonder if the profession has a responsibility—or, at the very least, an opportunity—to act as a sort of interface between families and the abundance of information that impacts the college admission process. What does, for example, President Obama’s new plan to rate college performance actually mean? How do we make sense of David Coleman’s comments about changes to the SAT?

    Engaging with the field in this way certainly goes outside the bounds of the typical job description but working for the USC Office of Admission instilled in me the sense that it is my responsibility to make what I’m saying relevant and meaningful for audiences. The service that we provide (of many) is that we are ideally intimately familiar with anything ranging from Higher Education policy and changes in the Common Core to rhetorical arguments being made about mediocrity by Michelle Rhee and can synthesize that knowledge into relevant and meaningful interaction with our colleagues and with families.

    Ultimately what I would love to see in the future of the Communication Committee is a way to engage dialogue across groups of individuals. Is there a way to stimulate discussion between Deans/Directors and parents? What is the potential of employing something like Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” subreddit to exert some control over messaging (and if not shifting the focus away from things like College Confidential, at least providing an interaction that results in quality information) and student perceptions? Asking ourselves, at its core, what is the messaging of the blog and Twitter account designed to do? Is it possible to extend our thinking beyond apps that make life easier (although there is certainly room for that sort of knowledge sharing as well as long as things like SeatGuru exist) to thinking deeply about the ways in which technology can intertwine with youth culture and how we, who are often older, perceive that type of interaction? To think through the manifestation of something like Admission Problems and what this might tell us about ourselves?

    I would love for the blog to be a call to arms of sorts for the best and the brightest of the WACAC community as it inspires members to go out and be scholar-practitioners, to not just go through the motions but to continually be reflective on what we hope to achieve and whether or actions facilitate that. The charge to be a public intellectual is so much more than giving a good TED talk (although that’s a place to start to think about what this kind of work can do) in that things like the blog and our presentations can be used to enable a sustained engagement with our communities of interest and, perhaps more importantly, to get them to participate in an active interaction with these issues.

    Best of luck as you move over to Kaufman!

    Chris Tokuhama

    • Hi Chris,

      It’s great to hear from you! Thank you for your thoughtful comments. We are constantly thinking about both the short-term goals and long-term goals of the blog– what new perspectives we can give voice to, what topics should we be covering, and how do we connect with WACAC members as well as other audiences? With double the members, I’m excited to see what the Communications Committee does over the coming year.

      All my best,

      Anne Aubert-Santelli

      • Great! I’m looking forward to what you and your team come up with. It would be great if you could find someone to cover The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed and the New York Times for stories and break them down for WACAC members or at least retweet them to spark conversations. For example, there has been some discussion over Rebecca Schuman’s opinion in Slate about the frustrations of teaching and her view on students that I think is relevant to us as a profession that also can become jaded and dismissive of students. The trick is that one would have to extrapolate or extract the themes of Schuman’s piece rather than try to apply the content directly.

        In any case, I hope that you get to send someone to the Defining Merit conference put on by CERPP. Since it’s housed at USC, it seems like WACAC should have the scoop (and Tim’s on a panel). I think the conference touches on questions that I have been wrestling with for a while with regard to how the concept of “merit” has become institutionalized in the admission profession. How does merit equate with success over failure? Is merit a product or a process? Put another way, is merit the result of something you do or the harder to measure act of actually doing? What are the limitations of relying upon our current measures of merit? How is the concept of merit colored by our own individual experiences and in what ways has the profession come to standardize/internalize a particular understanding of merit (and is it time to update that)? How do the values of the college admission process dictate what high school students and their families internalize as merit?

        I have been most interested in understanding how new media and pop culture use can cultivate strengths that are not traditionally recognized by many schools. I think that there is a way in which admission professionals have a blind spot due to lack of exposure and also that students don’t know how to articulate the merits of things in ways that admission folks readily understand. I am interested to see what comes out of this conference and how we can think through a system that is built upon particular assumptions of meritocracy.

        If someone is willing to give up a bit of file reading time and you can find a way in, I think this would be a great experience to share with the WACAC community. If nothing else, to take the knowledge out of that conference and to force conversations among the people of WACAC as to how and why they do what they do. It would be, perhaps, like a light version of The Chosen, which looks at the origins or the selective admission process in the US (acknowledging of course that “merit” is much gussied and is employed in different ways and to different degrees by various institutions).

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