College Applicants Don’t Get the Joke

The University of Chicago created a minor scandal last month when the school’s dean of admissions, James Nondorf, sent a letter out to all applicants trying to lighten their mood. According to an article in the New York Times the letter read, in part:

“Dear University of Chicago, It fills me up with that gooey sap you feel late at night when I think about things that are really special to me about you,” the essay began. “Tell me, was I just one in a line of many? Was I just another supple ‘applicant’ to you, looking for a place to live, looking for someone to teach me the ways of the world?”

The letter came from an essay, written by a student already admitted to the University of Chicago in the school’s early decision program, which compared the university to a lover. The reaction to the essay, however, was not universally positive. Some students complained that the essay was too sexually suggestive. Others thought the essay was just too, well, good. With a January 2 deadline looming many read the letter and got nervous. They scrambled to revise their own essays to try and meet the quality of the sample the admissions office apparently liked so much.

Nondorf’s office was forced to explain their essay. “We sent out the essay to lighten the mood, but it seems that it might have backfired a bit,” the admissions office said. Nondorf “passed on a sincere apology if it did not hit the mark.”

Nice try. It’s odd that Nondorf doesn’t know that college admissions, much like interaction with airport security, is not a place for humor, at least not at this time of year.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer