Episode Notes | Transcript | AskTheGuest
Miya Walker is the Senior Assistant Dean of UG Admissions at Emory University.
Founded in 1836, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia is the second oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Miya Walker, Sr. Asst. Dean Admissions at Emory: Exploration & Discovery, Rigorous Academics, and Community Oriented.
Episode summary introduction: Founded in 1836, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia is the second oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia.
Miya Walker gives us an overview of Emory, their innovative approach to education, their flagship programs, what they look for in their students, Financial Scholarships and advice for aspiring students.
In particular, we discuss the following with Miya:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Our Guest: Miya Walker is the Senior Assistant Dean of UG Admissions at Emory University. Miya has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Converse University, and MPA from the University of Georgia.
Memorable Quote: “And college really does give you the space to figure it out, to make mistakes, and to not be judged for them. And I, I would go back in a heartbeat, because I miss that, I miss the learning that happened in that phase of life.” Miya Walker.
Episode Transcript: Please visit this episode’s transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
always something new going on literally every single day, there's something new and exciting happening. And our students get to be a front row and center to all of this excitement whether we have globally or nationally renowned speakers, or whether we've got new academic curriculum coming out, or we're putting on new productions, and, you know, museums showcases in our Carlos museum that's available to the public, like Emory doesn't just belong to itself. It belongs to the Atlanta community, and its faculty, staff, and students and every university isn't like that.
We are privileged to have Miya Walker, Senior Assistant Dean of UG Admissions at Emory join us on our podcast.
Miya has been in College Admissions for a decade at a number of liberal arts colleges in the US.
In this podcast, Miya gives us an overview of Emory, their innovative approach to education, their flagship programs, what they look for in their students, Financial Scholarships and advice for aspiring students.
Venkat Raman 1:31
Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:
We are a campus that is academically rigorous but not competitive. We believe in exploration and discovery. And that kind of goes back to my spiel about the liberal arts, I was saying, you know, we allow our students to kind of find themselves through their curriculum and their social experiences. But we are definitely a campus that is involved.
[Majors at Emory]
Our general courses, you know, the Spanish to a ones, the, you know, chemistry one on ones, those types of classes, but it's uniquely in the way we teach them is the subject matter. You know, instead of just teaching calculus, we also offer history and philosophy of the mathematician, you know, so you're not just having to take the same type of classes everywhere, you get to really add some pizzazz to your curriculum.
[Types of Students Emory looks for]
So I think just students really having self awareness and saying like, Hey, I don't know who I'm going to become. But I know that this is kind of where I'm trying to be. And can you help me get there? And we're like, yeah, that's, that's what we're trying to do is to meet you halfway.
Emory, our Emory University Scholars program starts with students applying high school seniors applying by November 15th. They just have to submit their application by November 15. But it doesn't matter which application deadline they apply by, is just submitting it. And then from there, during the review process, we review their application for merit scholarships, as well as admission.
[Advice to Applicants]
Preparation is just truly a lesson of life. And being able to advocate for yourself takes preparation. This process is a process of self advocacy. It is you saying Here I am, this is my best. And I want to be even better in your community. And so to prep for that, you got to take time, if you have people advocating for you, like teachers, or employers or mentors, whoever's writing those recommendations they need time to, so that they can present your best self.
Venkat Raman 3:55
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Miya.
Venkat Raman 4:00
So without further ado, over to Miya Walker!
Venkat Raman 4:03
I just wanted to take some time and talk to you about Emory about you, and also how you guys are shaping your future classes. And thought it'd be a good idea to share this with high schoolers around the world. And so here we are. If you're ready, we can jump right in and get started.
Yeah, let's do it.
Venkat Raman 4:25
Cool. So maybe we can start at the top. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your background and then we can talk about how you got into college admissions.
Sure. And hi everyone who is listening today tomorrow in the future I Miya Walker, Senior Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Admission at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Let's start from the beginning of this almost decade, journey and it feels weird to be on a jubilee here as I've been calling it because I feel like 10 years has gone by so fast. But I've learned a lot. And I really enjoy the work that I do. So essentially, No one wakes up and decides they want to be an admission counselor their entire life, most of us fall into this role. Because whatever initial plan we had coming out of college was something that we weren't ready to do or didn't want to do anymore. And we loved our college experiences. And so we wanted to kind of share or give back to other communities by helping our universities or universities, we work for fine students that are a match for them. And so I was supposed to go to law school, and I decided that that was not the right decision for me. And so I'm towards the end of my senior year, I did a lot of like, internships with the Office of Admission at my alma mater. And I also worked there during the summer as a tour guide. And did you know just miscellaneous office work? And so the director at the time approached me and said, Hey, I hear you're graduating and your plans aren't kind of your plans anymore. So do you want to try and be an admission counselor? And I thought, Okay, well, you know, I don't have anything else on the roster except waitressing for the next year and talk this out. So yeah, sure, I'll be an admission counselor. And that was literally the beginning of this journey. So I worked for my alma mater, which is Converse College now Converse University. At the time, Alma Mater was a women's college when I attended and recruited there. And then in 2015, I got a great opportunity to move to Atlanta, and be the south eastern recruiter for Miami University of Ohio not Florida, which is a medium sized almost large public university liberal arts focused curriculum, 45 minutes west of Cincinnati, so I worked for them for three years recruiting in the southeast. I had nine states, it was a blast. But then I decided that I wanted to have a more selective experience something more stationary, where I could really learn the intimacies of higher education beyond admissions. So in 2018, I went to work for Emory, I was already here in Atlanta, and I recruit Pennsylvania, all of Maryland, except montgomery county, and Delaware and have various responsibilities, like building campus partnerships, and working with families and managing our campus visits, and our Emory student ambassadors, and the list goes on and on and on. But I am a familiar face that people probably see when they interact with our office. So um, yeah, that's, that's my background and how I kind of got here today.
Venkat Raman 8:08
Maybe you can start by telling us what attracted you to Emory? And tell us a little bit about Emory first?
Sure. Well, something that is consistent throughout my work history is that I've only worked for liberal arts universities, so all three of them are. So you could say that I'm biased. I really love the liberal arts experience. I think it's phenomenal. And that might mean also because I'm a graduate of it. But I just think that the holistic option to explore and find yourself in academics in your way, the way you want to is very liberating. As a humanities major, I needed that I needed that desperately, I did not want to be forced into a calculus world or business world. I really loved literature and history. And that's where I wanted to spend my time. And so liberal arts was a great fit for me. And that's probably why I've stayed in that lane unintentionally, truthfully. But I really think that I value that community. So Emory, being a selective university was kind of like the next step for me in my career. But on top of that, I think Emory is very visible in the Atlanta community. We all interact with Emory in some aspect, whether it's your health care providers, or academics, and I knew people who worked in the office before me, and who had really rewarding experiences in just employment. And I thought, well, if they felt that good about working there, then I should feel that were good about potentially working there because I had heard some really positive experiences and people who had been an influence on my career outside of Emory, like in our professional organizations had worked there. So I knew some really positive things and I was really optimistic.
I would say that I'm what keeps me at Emory and draws me to Emory. There's always something new going on literally every single day, there's something new and exciting happening. And our students get to be a front row and center to all of this excitement whether we have globally or nationally renowned speakers, or whether we've got new academic curriculum coming out, or we're putting on new productions, and, you know, museums showcases in our Carlos museum that's available to the public, like Emory doesn't just belong to itself. It belongs to the Atlanta community, and its faculty, staff and students and every university isn't like that. And I think I love that. There's so many experiences that happen intimately with us as a campus community, but also so many experiences our students get to have or we then get to have as faculty and staff that have a lot to do with Atlanta and Emory provides and prioritizes those responsibilities. So I think that that's what had drew me there.
A little bit about Emory just from a mission standpoint. We are a four year college university. We are located in between Decatur and Druid Hills, two of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of Atlanta, we're about 10 minutes from midtown, where you probably most famously know that Georgia Tech is located about 15 minutes from downtown where Coca Cola and the Georgia Aquarium all the fun things are add to. We are a campus that is academically rigorous but not competitive. We believe in exploration and discovery. And that kind of goes back to my spiel about the liberal arts, I was saying, you know, allow our students to kind of find themselves through their curriculum and their social experiences. But we are definitely a campus that is involved. We have over 450 student organizations, we're NCAA Division Three athletics, we are a campus that thrives off of community. And really, our students come together to champion each other, support each other, but also keep each other in check and keep time management at the forefront of their time and in other ways they explore and research and internships and study abroad. And we really understand that their time with us is a short amount of time. And so in those four years, we want to help them transition into postgraduate life. And so as much as we love the college experience, and we really encourage them to find themselves in that for years, we also encourage them to prepare themselves for who they're going to be when they leave. And so that's kind of how we spend a lot of our time. Of course, we have 80 plus majors, many different minors to choose from, and lots of you know, social engagement, aside from the student orgs that I mentioned Greek life, you know, the traditional college experience.
Our majors are majors that we do really well and we are university that's known to revamp, if it's a major that's not serving the purpose of his students, I will say to actually adjust that question probably what's most popular for our students is biology, economics, political science, chemistry, quantitative sciences, African American Studies, theater, you know, some something related to that. We've seen an interest in the arts really boom over the past year to dance and programs like that Film and Media Studies. neuro science and behavioral biology is very popular. So we have a mixture, we are not a mainstream University. And I think that that's a stereotype that we get because we are healthcare and hospital system as well, is that people assume that our students just aren't interested in STEM or that that is where most of our student population comes from. But we're very intentional of making sure that we have academic diversity too. Because it takes all people to make the world go round. And so, you know, we make sure that our students are represented, and all majors, but also within the research and the internship opportunities that we offer them as well. I would say, for pre professional programs, you know, our most popular is usually pre med and pre law. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that we do have a medical school and a law school. What I think I love about our pre professional programs is that they are a hands on experience that doesn't quite just gear them towards applying into Emory. It really prepares them for whatever school that they want to go into. And it's an option that they can kind of tap into whenever they want to. So there is curriculum based behind it and there is a process to it. But they don't have to come into Emory exactly knowing what they want to major in what pre professional program they want to do. And the reason why we're able to give that kind of space is through our general education requirements, which is Our general courses, you know, the Spanish, two a ones, the, you know, chemistry one on ones, those types of classes, but it's uniquely in the way we teach them is the subject matter. You know, instead of just teaching calculus, we also offer history and philosophy of the mathematician, you know, so you're not just having to take the same type of classes, everywhere you get to really add some pizzazz to your curriculum. I think that probably what is most unique in our changes in the past year is that we have added conversations or excuse me, classes in diversity, equity inclusion that are in their general education requirements, so they have to take these courses to graduate. That is something our new president, President finviz, implemented last year, and I think that it was a brave and very necessary move. And I think it was really awesome, because our students really saw me take a turn and say, This is not just how we live and how we make space for people that are different from us. But this is also how we educate and take the lead in understanding that difference does not just come in identity, it comes in education and understanding. And so that has probably been our most significant change in our curriculum over the past year.
Venkat Raman 16:25
Now, I wanted to ask you a question based on your experience. You know, you said, spent a decade now in admissions and do, what's your feel about the students? How have they changed in this last decade? Is that been significant? Or are you just seeing incremental change?
That's a really beautiful question. Venkat. I, Yeah. Oh, man.
Okay, so the first graduating class I recruited was 2016. Um, I think that so many different factors affect how students approaches process, political societal, now we see global pandemics. I mean, they're just elements known and unknown, that they're much influences. I think that what I do love about students as they move through this process is that there is an ownership that is happening in this process, where students feel like, okay, I know, this is my choice. These are the places I want to consider. And I know that I need to kind of buckle down and follow this process through something we say a lot at Emory is you're the pilot and the copilot, or sometimes I'll say, this is your party, I'm just invited. And that's how this really works, you know, like you are in charge of your own destiny. And that starts with choosing where you want to spend the next four years of your life.
And I think that back then in 2012, when I started, there was still some lingering of like, you know, I feel like I have to take a lot of people's consideration, or opinions into consideration to make my college decision. And now it's evolved to like this is this is where I'm thinking, I'm willing to have this conversation with you, because I want to be inspired about what you think is best for me. But these are the places that I really feel passionate about. I will say on the contrary, though, it has become a process that I think sometimes the fun is taken out of it, because it has created this culture or society, the media has stereotype this culture that admissions is just the competition and nothing else. And if you don't get into your number one or number two, school, you failed.
And I would like everyone to know, who listens to this podcast that most admission counselors did not go to their number one school, and we all turned out very, very fine. And now you're in admissions. And so I think that that is the beauty of this process is that what you where you think you belong, and where you think you might need to go and the romanticization of where you might want to go. This process eliminates that and allows you to end up where you're supposed to be if, if you allow the process to work for yourself.
And when I see students do that, when they allow the process and the people that are advising them, to guide them through this process and they trust themselves, they end up exactly where they're supposed to be as when there's too much control and there's too much pressure and not enough fun in this process, that it doesn't become enjoyable and sometimes students don't end up exactly where they want or need to be. And I think that that's the biggest evolution is that there's ownership but I do miss some times. The conversations around the excitement around college because college is a very exciting time and experience.
Venkat Raman 20:00
Um, what, what are you guys looking for in your students? The ones that come to Emory, you know, all stripes, domestic and international?
Yeah. So, you know, there's like these like holistic application, you know, lists with the actual, you know, 12345 of what we're looking for. And that can be found on our website.
When I think of this question, I think of two parts of the holistic application review that we highlight in our information sessions. That I think is something that we intentionally highlight at Emory, because we know that that's something that our students and faculty have come back and said, This is what shines for me in the classroom, during my time at Emory.
There's we call them intellectual curiosity and personal attributes.
And intellectual curiosity is, you know, what are you passionate about? What are you interested in? You know, how do you want a college community to feed your passions or introduce you to new interests? How do you want that relationship between your college to work for you? Who do you want to be? When you leave here? How do you want to think when you leave here? Where are you coming with an open mind and heart to the experiences that you're going to have?
And then the personal attributes is, what's your character? Right? Which we, you know, everyone just wants, quote, unquote, good students, right, like, students that are just, you know, everything. But really, aside from behavior, like, you know, what is your integrity? Like? What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What are you willing to protect? And how are you respectful in these in these spaces, we recognize Emory that is collaborative and community oriented, we are, there are going to be several times throughout their four year experience that we are going to push them outside of their comfort zone, we are going to challenge them on thoughts that they have been told or believed for most of their life, we are going to expose them to experiences and people that they never ever experienced in their own communities. And that's the whole point, right? That is the excitement of college.
But we understand that that comes with responsibility. And so we look for that in the application process, because we want to ensure that when they get to the classroom, there is a readiness and an openness more than anything to receive what they're going to learn. And that's how the Emory experience works best for students, when they can do that. Um, aside from that, you know, we want students who want to be at Emory and who consider Emory and Atlanta a great place to grow. And so you know, those things, you know, are things that matter.
We don't track demonstrated interest. But I think we always say we want students to be happy not just with their university, but with the community that surrounds it, because we're very much embedded in Atlanta, and in the history of Atlanta. Um, so I think just students really having self awareness and saying, like, Hey, I don't know who I'm going to become. But I know that this is kind of where I'm trying to be. And can you help me get there? And we're like, yeah, that's that's what we're trying to do is to meet you halfway.
Venkat Raman 23:25
These students that are applying, I think you alluded earlier, to classes now that require diversity, equality. But one of the big factors is also affordability. So what kind of programs does Emory have to help students, you know, make it to college and stay there?
Yeah, we do offer merit scholarships. We have a November 15 deadline for high school seniors to apply by that's the same every single year no matter what day it's on. But aside from that, we are 100% demonstrated need University. That means that we require students to complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile, and then our Office of Financial Aid, reviews, those files and puts a financial aid package together. And if the government lets us know, reveals that there's a need, then Emory will meet it. Now, this is different than a 100% need University. And I'll say this, because those universities meet everyone's need. We're meeting me based on the FAFSA and CSS profile. But aside from that, we do have several grant opportunities. I definitely want to make sure that I do that. Do this and say that our Office of Financial Aid is really an office that will work with you and walk you through the process. And the reason why I think that's important to highlight is one that doesn't happen everywhere. And sometimes it's because Office of Financial Aid is just a really taxing job. It is a hard job. Sometimes, and depending on the amount as soon as you have is a job that doesn't really always give you the time to walk through students through that, but our students can have access to our financial aid advisors. At any point in the year, they can have one on one meetings with them, they can come to campus and meet with them, and are they will walk them through the process, or they will walk them through other options, external options outside of Emory, they really are great a and I can't say that enough. And I've heard that from many college counselors as well, which is really affirming to know because money is sensitive. I mean, let's just call it what it is. And college is expensive. Tuition room and board at Emory is almost $70,000. We know that it's not a secret. And we understand that we're asking that to be an undertaking for a lot of families, which is why we do the demonstrated need to try and supplement some of that cost. And also ensure that we have socio economic diversity within our university because otherwise, it would be the haves and have nots. And we don't want that perspective at all, we want there to be a mixture. So that's kind of where Emory is with financial aid opportunities. I think that more than anything, though, that we're University is willing to listen and try and do as much as we can to help a student make Emory happen. And we try and be honest about our financial aid and the cost of attendance and all those things up front in the application process. So that later on no one feels like Oh, I was coerced into this, or this is my only option. You know, we want students to feel strong in the fact that they knew upfront what this could mean, where this could mean, and where this could take them. Something else I do want to highlight too, is that I think this is where the conversation of early decision comes into play sometimes. And we try and be very transparent about that as well, because and I'm not repeating the contract verbatim from the common coalition applications. But what I am saying is that, you know, when you sign an early decision contract, you are saying regardless of scholarship and financial aid, you are bound to this university. And if you decide after you're admitted to this university that you don't want to attend, there is an appeal process that has to go on where because you your guidance counselor and your parents sign this contract. And there's an appeal process. And so you then have to be, you know, appealed out of this admission cycle. And so we try and talk about that, from that perspective up front like Right, like, this is what we know, we know Emory cost this we know, you were you are required to live on campus the first two years. So you can expect room and board those two years, you want a meal plan, you want all these other things. Okay, we know this. So if it's important, if money is a huge part of that conversation, maybe EDI is not the right choice, right? Because we don't want you to feel bound to something that you're not financially prepared, or if something happens, like a pandemic, you know, and you know, we have different financial circumstances, we don't want you to be bound to this, in case the appeal process is not working your favor. So just another aspect of how financial aid kind of works for us. It's not even just in just the monetary things, but it's also in the application process and the deadlines.
Venkat Raman 28:19
As you know, recently, I talked to an Emory alum, did a podcast. And one of the things he was very complimentary about is something called the Emory Scholars Program, or Emory Scholar Program. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, that is our merit scholarship program. Our Emory, our Emory University Scholars program starts with students applying high school seniors applying by November 15. They just have to submit their application by November 15. But it doesn't matter which application deadline they apply by is just submitting it. And then from there, during the review process, we review their application for merit scholarships, as well as admission, those who have been selected or have been recommended, you know, for a scholarship are then gone, they go through an interview process. And then from there, um, they are brought well, they used to be brought on campus, but now we do it virtually for the interviews for our scholar students, and then after that they find out if they have received academic scholarship money. So it's like a it's like multiple phases, right? It starts with applying then it starts with being chosen to interview and then it's being interviewed. Right and and then being receiving the scholarship and they vary. Probably our most selective is you know, full tuition. And then But then we have ranges that fall under that as well. After they become an Emory student, if they decide to enroll and take their scholarship, they become part a part of a larger Scholars Program that kind of expands between making community and also like within their major, we have business scholars, you know, things like that. And so from there, they go into, you know, curriculum and different experiences to, you know, build out their academic experience. Of course, as an admission counselor, I don't really per se deal with that part, once they get there. Our academic departments do, we really just kind of are hands on in the initial choosing a merit scholarship thing.
Venkat Raman 30:44
I thought it might be good to talk a little bit about how COVID-19 has changed Emory or impacted Emory? And, and then we can talk about the application process itself.
Yeah, um, well, you know, it's always unique being a university that is tied to a healthcare system during these times, because our first priority is safety of not just our students and faculty and staff, but of the public that we serve. And so in March 2020, just like everyone else, we went home, but I think we all had an understanding that we will be home a little longer than everyone because we knew that our hospital was going to be hands on deck. And essentially, if you've never visited Emory before, our our main hospital is literally in our backyard, we can walk to it. So we had to evacuate so that when they started to take care of patients COVID patients and and let the public on campus and the masses that we were not exposed. Um, so that's kind of how it started. And then from there, last year, we decided to do a hybrid model where if you were a first year student, you could come in live on campus and have as much as a traditional experience as you possibly could under the circumstances. And then everyone else had to stay either at home or somewhere else, they could not live on campus. And so now to this year, where everyone's back, and we are requiring still the first two years for you to live on campus. And after that you can move off campus, we do require masks on campus at all times and buildings, it doesn't matter if you're vaccinated or not. And then our university did have a mandate that all faculty staff and students had to be vaccinated.
I would say in the application process, we did see an influx of applications, which I feel like certain universities, our peers did as well. So we, you know, normally average between 28 to 30,000 apps, and we came in at about 35. Which is I you know, there were universities that had way more than that. So I am grateful, but 5000 felt like 20,000 Some days, just because of how our holistic process works and how in depth. We go through that process. What I can say I'm proudest of, for us coming through this is that, um, the integrity of this process was not completely lost. And I think that's a that was a common higher education fear that, was this going to end up being just checkboxes like do you meet institutional needs? Are you who we need? And then yeah, you can come on. And and I don't think it happened that way for a lot of people, which is encouraging for students, and it definitely did it for us. And even on the hard days. On the days where it's February 1 thing, you still got four weeks of reading left, and you looking at your cute like, oh my goodness, so I'm just me out serene, it was still a common consensus of like, we have to do this for these kids, because they've lost so much already, you know, we have to be able to keep some of the joy in this process. Even if it kills us, you know, we're gonna have to, you have to be able to give out fair decisions. And I'm really, really proud of my team for that. I know that they were stretched, but we really did a great job in that. Um, I will say that I do think obviously COVID-19 has made the application process more stressful. We were talking earlier about, you know, where's the fun in this process is getting worse. That's a little strange right now. It's a little strange. Um, and it's, and I'm not sure when it will not be strenuous. Again, I'm hoping sooner rather than later. And I think we are all working really hard to make sure that that happens. But it is a it's a different time. And I think what we are have come out of this learning is that we set the tone and as long as we stay true to who we are the University and we really continue to keep the integrity in the process, we will continue to recruit class to recruit classes that will do well in our community. And that's our number one goal. We have started back, engaging with the public we have in person tours on Mondays and Fridays, one Saturday out of the month and every other Wednesdays, that's new, because we were completely not in the Office of Admission physically from March 2020 to July 2021. So it's a big deal that we're back. Yeah, yeah. And doing all of those things. So physically, I think that has eliminated some of the stress. Because now students can come with their families, they can see we offer self guided tours every single day. And so there, there's this element of like, I can touch it again, I can see people I can feel this process without feeling like I have to make this decision without seeing anything. I think that has helped a lot too.
The class that started this fall, is the mix any different of the students compared to the previous years? Or you haven't seen any significant change? I just mean the makeup of the class?
Yeah. Are you thinking like more numeric, or just just
Venkat Raman 36:18
people, demographics... You know, I'm just looking at students, I'm just saying, is the mix of students any different?
Well, you know, something I read one time, in the pandemic, it sounds like the pandemic was, like 10 years long, honestly. But at one point in the pandemic, I read that the art saved us. And I think that's really true. And that has come through immensely in our recruitment process. Whereas maybe it was more social science, stem oriented, and then humanities, the humanities rose to the top very quickly. And I think because we also went test optional. So you know, for those of us like I said, as humanities, people who really aren't into the math section of the LSAT, it allowed those students to shine a little bit more and allow their artistic side, and their social science side to shine without a number being attached to it. So I think that that was something that we were really pleased to see a shift in. I mean, truthfully, we are always pursuing a racial and ethnic, diverse community at Emory. And that is, I think, all universities should be pursuing that I don't think that should be just our work or anyone else's. So that is an effort that we constantly attribute to and making sure that we have socio economic diversity. As I mentioned before talking about financial aid. I think that being test optional for the first time last year was very interesting. And we've always read kind of test optional in a way like, I don't mean that in the sense that the testing didn't matter. But just like knowing that there's more to a student than just numbers. And so we've always had that, but then to actually eliminate that process was very interesting. And really rewarding too, because I think there's a good amount of students that we were able to bring to our community that weren't buried in, in those numbers, competitive wise, or just, you know, middle 50%. And all those, those numbers are consistent. But I think what we were encouraged by maybe, is the creativity of this class, this recent class in the pandemic, the way they still found ways to engage, and doing social experiences outside of school, the way they feel were resilient in the academic culture of their high school with all of the odds against them. And this new virtual learning aspect that many of them had never been introduced to before, even though they have tablets and computers in class, they never had to be disconnected from a teacher physically. And I think that they really worked hard to make the best of it. And what it required us to do is be realistic about it as well and say, wow, like, they really have pushed through some really hard times. And we need to review like that and make sure that we're cognizant of that. In the Application read, we did have a lower acceptance rate this year, we came in at around 13%, which is not really shocking, because we had an influx of applications. So that's really kind of where that came from, you know, it's all it's all numbers, as I said, it's all math. So, um, so that's really where that came from. But I mean, you know, in terms of who we admitted and who's coming to our community, I mean, I think we were pretty confident in that.
Venkat Raman 39:49
As we start winding down here, I thought we could close with some general thoughts and advice to aspiring students that you might have.
Yes. Oh man, how do I keep that small? You know, and we start off with 10 years and I'm like, Oh, my goodness, advice. I'm like, just ask me, What do you want to know? You know? Um, well, I'll give, I'll give kind of a two part answer. I'll give maybe more logistics, and then I'll give what I've learned to be most important about this process. Sure. Um, logistically, you know, this is not a last minute process. And I think you'll hear that from many admission counselors. There's not a last minute process. There are deadlines for a reason. Be kind to your college counselors, your high school guidance counselors, your teachers and be prepared. Preparation. Man, I tell you, I mean, I'm only 31. And I feel like preparation, that word has just been a lifelong lesson. Preparation is just truly a lesson of life. And being able to advocate for yourself takes preparation. This process is a process of self advocacy, it is you saying, Here I am, this is my best. And I want to be even better in your community. And so to prep for that, you got to take time, if you have people advocating for you, like teachers, or employers or mentors, whoever's writing those recommendations they need time to, so that they can present your best self. And so just think about that, you know, if you're a junior sophomore freshman, and it doesn't matter whether you're a domestic United States students, or if you're an international student, you know, these essay questions are usually released at the end of spring, a lot of our protocol for the application process is pretty consistent. And Emory, specifically, we have a blog, it's called inside Emory admission. And it's a blog that's ran by our office where we give tips and tricks on what we believe is best advice to get through this process, specifically for Emory. And really, in general, too. We also do webinars like special topics, where we just talk about financial aid in general, we talk about general admissions, like a lot of the content we produce at Emory is Emory specific. And it's just admission specific, because we know this is a lot of info to wade through. And so don't wait till the last minute, don't wait a week before November one or two. First to get involved, like, take your time because you are advocating for yourself in this process. And something I also like to remind students is I'm now especially in a virtual in a primarily virtual world, there is a chance you might never meet your admission counselor. And so you want to take time with this application, because they're one and maybe only interaction with you, maybe through this application. And so that's the you know, the weight of it is that, you know, unless you take initiative and reach out, or you interact with them at some high school visit capacity, your podcast, webinars, whatever, you may not have a chance to interact with them individually. And so how do you want yourself to be portrayed and that's not something you want to give seven days to that's something you want to give significant time to? Yeah, um, I would say from just an anecdotal state of just like assessing over the time I have spent.
Everybody's process is so different. And no one's process your best friends, your cousin's your sisters, your dad's your mom, no one is going to look the same as yours. And there's freedom in that there's freedom in knowing that you can create this process and create a list of colleges that are right for you. And that you don't have to mold or conform to a community that isn't right for you either. And take that freedom, enjoy that freedom. Adulthood doesn't always offer that freedom, we know that being this is not always the offer, you have for those freedoms, sometimes you have to do things that you really do not want to do. And college really does give you the space to figure it out, to make mistakes and to not be judged for them. And I, I would go back in a heartbeat because I missed that I missed the learning that happened in that phase of life. And so I just say like, Please, I beg you, like go into this with your most open self. And your most true self, you know, if you're a student that's interested in chemistry and drawing be that you don't have to dismiss one side of yourself because the school you're interested in or your community or your peers are telling you that that so you have to be the the greatest place to be I think right is what I've learned is the gray area and I think that being able to be a student that has multiple ends That sometimes coincide to sometimes don't. That's freedom as well. So just be the pilot of this plane, be the the post party, like, really take the reins and let this be the experience that you want it to be and do not feel guilty for leading this process that way, because you'll be grateful later that you did.
Venkat Raman 45:23
That's awesome. That's great advice. And I appreciate you giving those thoughts because I think I think what you're saying is spot on. I mean, just this ability to, you know, think for yourself and plan for yourself and not be too encumbered by what others think. I think it's hard. It's hard for a teenager to do that. Yes. But But I think even if they get, you know, to 60, 80% It's better than just giving up and letting someone else pilot your plane. Right.
Venkat Raman 46:00
Fantastic. So Miya, this has been great from, you know, all points of view. First of all, it's great. Talking about Emery getting your points of view and perspective and some great sound advice. So I think the listeners in the aspiring students hopefully pay heed to that and act on it. And so for now, thank you take care, I'm sure we'll talk again.
Absolutely. Thank you.
Thanks so much.
Venkat Raman 46:31
Venkat Raman 46:33
Hope you enjoyed this podcast with Miya Walker, Sr. Asst Dean UG Admissions at Emory University.
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University of Wisconsin Madison, Admissions, SAT, International Students, Pandemic, COVID-19, Wisconsin Idea