Judy Purdy, the Director of Admission, has been working at Wheaton for 34 years. Purdy said she tackles the big picture of the Wheaton admissions process and described herself as an energized individual. With a Fitbit on her wrist, she strives to get her 10,000 steps in by parking as far away from the admissions office as she can.
Purdy is responsible for marketing, applications, and deciding the makeup of the Wheaton community. Her primary job, however, is to help prospective students decide if Wheaton is the right fit. “We’re the first people the students entering Wheaton see. We want to make sure the students get what they are told. Ultimately, we want to be transparent,” said Purdy.
With the job of selling a college to prospective students, Purdy has to walk on a thin line between overselling or underselling the college. With this in mind, she asks current students about their actual experiences at Wheaton to get a more accurate way of marketing the college.
During Purdy’s time at Wheaton, the admissions process has dramatically changed. She now looks to social media as an important tool — particularly since the internet allows students to find extensive information about every school they apply to. “Wheaton is constantly changing. It ebbs and flows, and there have been times that it has gone with the times and other times when I thought Wheaton needed to change. I’m very happy with the current changes we’ve made,” said Purdy.
One recent change is the influx of first-year students. Previously, Wheaton had averaged about 400 students per class, but the Class of 2020 is much larger — with almost 550 students. Purdy sees this change as the beginning of a new era for Wheaton Admissions. “The last couple years have been challenging. We fell short of our goal. But this year we’ve had more inquiries and a stronger applicant pool,” said Purdy. “They were very timely with their applications. Overall, I see them as a very energized, active and confident class.”
Purdy was a first-generation college student, graduating from University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s in education before taking on higher education at Columbia. Her background in teaching and counseling has largely shaped her career in admissions. Off campus, Purdy remains an active member of her community by volunteering through her church. She has also organized fundraising for cancer research after cancer affected some of her family members.
As a person who greatly values her job, Purdy says she will not grow tired of Wheaton, and will only retire when she is tired of working in general. “What makes it easy to sell this campus is that there are plenty of experiences of people being happy here. We don’t sell Wheaton, Wheaton sells itself!” said Purdy.