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A 2 Z > Posts > Social media, schmocial schmedia.
Dec 07
Social media, schmocial schmedia.

The other day I read an article about my colleagues at the Michigan Medical School making me look bad by being all competent with the social media situation. They are always breaking the curve, admissions-wise, doing things like randomly mailing out fleeces and sending e-birthday greetings. The part that really got me was this: "Officials at the Ann Arbor school have hit the road and hand delivered acceptance letters to students in Dallas, Boston, Washington, DC, and East Lansing. Admitted Ann Arbor applicants also have received in-person acceptances." Frankly, this struck me as almost appalling. I can't really remember the dean of admissions who admitted me to law school, but I remember the one from my undergrad vividly; visualizing her standing on my doorstep to give me news of my admission makes me also visualize having a heart attack. That lady was really scary (in a good way. But still. Scary.).

So I can't quite see going that far lest it turn out that I too am scary; not knowing CPR, it would just be irresponsible. But maybe I'm just stuck in a rut. Maybe I am unreasonably ignoring good suggestions. Just yesterday, for example, I was urged to call people to let them know they're admitted. Phone calls are a far less radical suggestion than in-person visits, but I nonetheless recoil a bit. What do I do about the whole voicemail thing—leave a mysterious "please call me" message, or just drop the bomb? And what about the people who I reach at work and the person in the next cubicle doesn't know about the law school intentions? And what about the people who just really hate talking on the phone? Or the people who are asleep? I once called an applicant with some good news only to have his mom answer the phone and start a bit of a screaming match with him about whether or not he needed to come to the phone. It all seems so potentially awkward and fraught.

Yet… I recognize that it is not impossible that I should innovate. There's a fine line between a groove and a rut; maybe I'm merely stuck in my ways. So let me climb on this social media bandwagon and crowdsource the question: Weigh in and let me know your views on the best way to find out you've been admitted to law school. (The survey is anonymous; you need not worry that I will actually show up to your house just because you say you think it's the best way to learn about an admissions decision.)

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A Moment To Myself

Yeesh, an in-person acceptance?  The idea sends shivers down my spine, but not because you might be the messenger.  The law is notoriously conservative, and I too find myself enchanted with certain traditions, such as the legendary Zearfoss blue-ink handwritten notes on physical acceptance letters.  What a thrill, how heartwarming!  Receiving mine was such a warm, personal moment--I shut myself in my room with my stack of mail, my heart pounding, my emotions a vortex.  If the news were delivered by a person, I would perhaps feel compelled to resolve my face into some settled state, to suppress to some small degree that momentous personal moment, to put off for later the reflection on and arranging of my narrative.  And would I have to respond?  I would--I could not just shut the door on the messenger.  Would I "Woo!"?  What if other schools did this too?  How would I manage the spontaneous hey-this-is-great-awesome-thanks-by-the-way-on-your-way-here-did-you-see-the-messenger-from-Michigan in my heart?  What if two came at the same time?  Oh dear, oh dear, the application process is already fraught with enough emotions and anxiety--do we need to add more?

I prefer letters to phone calls.  But I see the value of e-mails, especially given my own experience.  My housing letter arrived a day or two before my acceptance letter, which confused me, had me suspecting I was admitted but not entirely convinced.  So I called, and I actually did find out over the phone, and I did give you a "Woo!", and it was quite a lovely, happy, and memorable conversation.  And then later I got the blue ink note.  E-mail could avoid that sort of confusion.  But I believe I did get some e-mail acceptances way back then, and while they were convenient and wonderful and all of that, they didn't have the magic of your letter.  But to be fair, I was (and am) apt to find magic in anything UMichlaw, so the magic I experienced may have had less to do with the form of the news and more to do with the news itself (and its personal Zearfoss note).  For whatever/many reasons, I loved your system as I experienced it.  I think in-person acceptances would be hilariously awkward and perhaps even a bit presumptuous (unless they were singing telegrams--send The Headnotes!)

It occurs to me that 1) this is way too long for a comment; and 2) that I didn't proofread it but am going to submit it anyway, despite my appallingly strong desire to please you with flawless grammar.  Oh well?
 on 12/7/2011 5:13 PM

Please release the results!

Dean Z,

After the poll has sufficient time to gain data, I would love to see what the results of the survey were.

Also, while I agree that offering admission to a law school is kinda like proposing (and the average relationship lasts a similar amount of time), I feel like giving a ring is probably a little over the top. Calling them on the phone would probably be sufficient!
 on 12/7/2011 7:18 PM

A Modest Proposal

OK, so it's been a few decades since I was accepted into law school.  But I still remember vividly the thrill of opening the envelope with the hand-signed letter offering me admission to U of M Law School, and for those who are lucky enough to be admitted, it would seem that method should still suffice today.

My modest proposal is that you save your travel budget.  If anything, an in-person visit might better be employed to break the bad news to those candidates who just fell short of making the grade.  Bad news is always best conveyed face-to-face.  I'm not looking to make your job any easier, am I, Dean Z?

But wait!  Maybe you could offer to accompany a group of the most desirable candidates on a trip to the Sugar Bowl?   A few days in New Orleans would likely go a long way to helping them decide to choose U of M over other less worthy institutions. ;-)

--Class of '75

 on 12/8/2011 12:05 PM

From the other side

I landed on this page through, you guessed it, "@umichmedadmiss" on Twitter.

As a current applicant to medical school, I actually faced a choice a few months ago: should I sign up for the possibility of an in-person acceptance from Michigan? It's a bit of psychological play, really - should I be so presumptuous as to sign up, when I don't even know if I've been accepted?

I ending up giving them my information, and let me tell you: it was FUN. I wasn't a lucky winner myself, but I know a few Michigan students who were and it made the acceptance even more special for them. They got some Med School swag and hugs all around!

I've since received acceptances by phone (including the mysterious voicemail saying " us back"), snail mail, and email. I have to say, I always appreciate the more personal treatment. It makes things feel much more friendly, injecting heart (and, for Michigan Medical School, humor and a dash of silliness) into a process too often characterized by levity.

It’s a good reminder that Admissions Offices are people too. It was fantastic to see that Director Ruiz, Dean Gay, and the rest of the admissions team were just as excited about acceptances as the students.

You don’t have to pull out all the stops; just a phone call can feel much more personal. Even the most beautifully written email will find it difficult to convey the warmth that is possible with a more direct interaction.

I know basically nothing about the law school admissions process, and I certainly understand the desire to conserve your resources. My comment is just to say that, having personally experienced much of what you described in your blog post, I think you should give the personal touch a little bit more thought. As a final challenge, are you curious about the consolation prize received by those Michigan applicants not lucky enough for the hand-delivered experience?

Youtube video.
 on 12/10/2011 9:41 AM