Admissions Office

September 2020 Letter to Counselors

This has been a year like no other. Hoping you are safe, healthy and well during these extraordinary times – times that put stress on all of us as educators and people who care deeply for the young people we serve.

Earlier in the year, when people asked “how are things at Union?” my colleague Ann Fleming Brown would respond “In February or March?” In February, our entire community gathered together to celebrate the launch of Union’s $300 million capital campaign and the recognition of the largest gift in Union’s history. Class of 1980 graduates Rich and Mary Templeton announced their $51 million gift to transform engineering and the liberal arts with the creation of the Templeton Institute for Engineering and Computer Science. That same weekend, we celebrated the completion of our new $100 million science and engineering complex. Then, on March 12, classes were cancelled when we reported that someone had tested positive for COVID-19. Spring term was a scramble for us all, and very few admitted students got to see that brand new building.

I am so proud of my team’s efforts to move to a fully virtual environment on incredibly short notice. We started to welcome in-person visitors again in July, and will continue to offer on-campus sessions on weekends throughout the fall. Our vast array of virtual offerings can be found here, and we welcome the opportunity to connect with your students directly, too.

Our team will also be nimble as we get used to another process in the midst of a pandemic – application review. Here’s what I can assure you and your current students:

  • Union has been test optional for many years, and we will never hold a student’s inability to take a test against them. Similarly, we are prepared to respond to the variety of grading scales and approaches that schools have taken whether last spring or this coming academic year.
  • We are a place that values an interview. With virtual offerings this year, there has never been a better time to interview. Please encourage your students to take advantage of that opportunity.
  • Flexibility is key, especially in this extraordinary year. The college search process has been particularly challenging. Deadlines are important, but we know that students may make decisions later than usual and we will do our best to work with them. For example, students can switch their applications to Early Decision as late as December 4.
  • Lastly, we know that the high school class of ’21 is concerned that admission offers will be more restrictive than in the past because of the increase in gap years among the class of ‘20. Yes, Union had more students defer this year than in the past. But, given the uncertainty of the year ahead, we plan to bring in as big a class as ever next year.

While the past few months have been a test in resiliency, they have also been a period of reflection and dialogue as we address racial injustices in this country. As for Union’s role, President Harris has launched a new Presidential Initiative on Race, Power and Privilege to “create brave spaces that engage all of us where we are, challenge us to grow, and empower us to be part of positive change.”

It is in that spirit of change, and to examine our processes as they pertain to these and other issues, that we will be creating a counselor advisory group for the first time this year. This idea is in its infancy, but do let me know if you might be interested in participating.

Beyond all that, not much is going on! I look forward to seeing you all in person in the not too distant future...but on Zoom likely sooner.

Matt Malatesta '91
Vice President for Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment