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You have 38 days to finish and mail your application

As a result a series of emails that started mid-November and got somewhat confusing right around Thanksgiving, I returned to the College career center today to speak to any students potentially interested in CS graduate school, to pitch the University specifically and to answer other questions generally. Following my hour at the College, I had a tight connection over to Smif in the hopes that I’d get higher turnout from that institution if I didn’t ask them to take a 40-minute bus ride to the College.

The audience at the College was… small. One senior and one of the career center deans. The senior was a CS major who had already sent five or six applications but was still uncertain about what, exactly, he wanted to concentrate on. I managed to convince him to cut-and-paste from his existing applications into the University app (due January 15 for those planning to start in September ‘07!) so I suppose my yield on that meeting was 100%, which isn’t too bad, but if he’s accepted (and I suspect he will be,) he’s most likely to go to one of the other places that accepts him. The advisor had a lot of good questions, I was able to give her a good picture of why she might suggest the University to other students, and I left a folder full of University information there for anyone else.

And then I got caught in traffic on my way to Northampton, arriving at the designated auditorium ten or twelve minutes late to find it empty (and unsigned.) So I suppose I did get higher turnout by making that trip: many multiples of zero are still zero. I dropped off a few more folders at the department office, checked email at a public terminal in the campus center (which had another college’s webmail in its browser history) and headed home.

I’d planned to get in a run on one of my old Northampton routes, then maybe dinner in town, but after the disappointment of the non-meeting, I couldn’t get motivated to find a place to change and put in the energy, so I more or less went directly home. On the way back I thought, this is why I couldn’t work in sales. It’s not that I can’t sell; if I believe in what I’m selling, and I can be honestly positive about it, I do pretty well. It’s that I’m so keyed up for it that something like that empty auditorium makes me almost disoriented.

I find that have to remind myself of the small victory and not be overwhelmed by the subsequent failure. The most useful result to the University is probably the contacts I made. I can now write a short manual for contacting these institutions and arranging information sessions; the College (in the person of the dean) expressed interest in having a sort of panel of people from several departments at the University, though organizing things like that is way over my pay grade. I did put the University on some radar screens, and spread some seeds which may sprout much later. I suspect I added sentences to some future recommendation letters coming from my University by making this happen at all.

But all of this building karma for the future stuff is pretty tedious when you don’t know when—or even if—it’s going to pay off.

Now Playing: Exhuming McCarthy from Document by R.E.M.

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