“When I got my admission letter, I was so happy and so excited- and I got that via my mail. Just imagine if somebody hand-delivers that to you,” said Ibrahim Nshimirimana ’19 a member of one of the 10 teams that delivered acceptance letters to 75 students in the class of 2020 on March 15. This initiative was reported on by the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, teenVOGUE, The Sun Chronicle with President Dennis Hanno being interviewed on NPR.
Although on a larger scale, this is the second time that members of the Wheaton community are hand-delivering acceptance letters. A video that showed a bus load of Wheaton students, staff and faculty deliver an early decision student her acceptance letter last year has gathered around 20,000 views on YouTube.
That student, Anna DeGregorio ’19 was the first student accepted into her class and currently works in the admissions office. “It was an amazing experience… I was very shocked. The personal letters, represent the strong community that is Wheaton College,” said DeGregorio, “I wanted to work in admissions because it’s important that I’m a part of all the hard work that goes into students feeling welcomed.”
Director of Admissions, Grant Gosselin said that this first delivery and video was symbolic of type of experience that prospective students can expect at Wheaton. After this, many people around the campus reached out to be a part future deliveries. This year saw about 45 community members who wanted to participate in delivering acceptance letters to New England states Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in three hours. Gosselin said that concentrations of admitted students in a similar geographic area determined where they would deliver the acceptance letters, “Staff members were able to select students that they had read and gotten to know and the reality of it is that there were others that lived in a close proximity to those students.”
Nshimirimana’s team consisted of admissions staff, faculty and students and covered areas around Norton, Attleboro and Providence. The team delivered 18 acceptance letters to admitted students and their families. “It was interesting to see their reactions before knowing who we were. Some people thought we were political parties and some hesitated to open the doors to [us]. Once we told them who we were and why we were there, they were really happy and welcomed us,” said Nshimirimana.
Although these type of personal deliveries have been carried out in other institutions, the AP reports that not all colleges are on-board with these new deliveries that have also been. “We’re not all about the crazy bells and whistles” Jeff Schiffman, interim director of admission at Tulane told the AP. “It becomes an arms race over which school can do the most over-the- top stuff.”
In response to such criticism, Hanno said in his interview on NPR, “If a student came just because we hand-delivered the letter, that may not be the student we’d want. We would hope they would come here because it’s really the kind of place and the community they want to be part of… it has that dual-purpose of sending the prospective student a signal about the uniqueness and the personal nature of this place, but then also including all of our community in the process.”
“We viewed this [delivering the acceptance letters] as being very true to who we are. I think that if we were a large institution that wasn’t providing a lot of attention then this would have been just that- a stunt,” Goselin added, “Wheaton is a place that every student receives an incredibly personalized educational experience.”
Nshimirimana said that although this publicity could be beneficial to the college, he viewed the deliveries as bringing happiness to someone’s day. He encouraged other students to take advantages of such opportunities saying, “I’m an international student and I got to meet local prospective students. Maybe, we’ll be friends next year when they come … connections, friendships start there and its something that we value the most here at Wheaton.”