New Admissions Director Discusses ‘Holistic’ Admissions Process Despite Sibling Policy

May 26, 2023


Lucas Kawamoto

Students in Menlo’s class of 2027 check in at a welcome event hosted by the admissions office. Staff photo: Lucas Kawamoto

The Menlo admissions team recently welcomed the class of 2027 to the Upper School campus. On Tuesday, May 16, the newest admittees and the rising middle school students were greeted by Head of School Than Healy, Upper School Director John Schafer and Associate Director of Admissions Janet Tennyson and were subsequently introduced to their advocacies. 

While Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Brooke Wilson was out of office for the event, she was one of the largest catalysts in the success of this admissions season. Wilson recently completed her first year at Menlo. Having taken over Beth Bishop’s former position in 2022, her inaugural year in the admissions office gave her insight into the role of the admissions process in cultivating the school’s culture. Particularly, Wilson discussed the role siblings play in the application review process, but stated that the admissions process is thorough and fair in order to contribute to the overall inclusivity and culture of a class. 

Wilson believes that the main goal of the admissions office is to create a well-balanced class each year. “[The best applicants] will be both transformed by the Menlo experience and will positively impact the experience of other students and how we evolve as a school,” she wrote in an email to the Coat of Arms. “For all applicants, the admissions process is holistic, meaning we look at all of the information in an admissions file and the story it tells about the student.”

She underscored that there are many factors to consider when evaluating if a student is a “match” for Menlo. “Intellectual curiosity, an eagerness to participate in athletics and arts, and a desire to be a part of a close knit and kind community are just a few [of them],” Wilson wrote.

Wilson referred to meeting students and families as the most beloved part of her job. “Hearing about what excites students and hearing from parents or guardians about what they admire in their children is inspiring,” she wrote. “One would be surprised about how much we get to know about our applicants through the process and through reading their applications. It’s my hope that every family that joins Menlo will have a transformative experience and hold onto the enthusiasm they had on the first day of school through graduation and beyond.”

Wilson stated that the hardest part of her job is saying ‘no’ to any applicant. “Every student who applies has hopes and dreams for their futures and many people pin those dreams on the outcome of their application to this or that school,” she said. She explained that there is a common misconception among students and parents that there is only one acceptable outcome, that only one school will get a child or family on the right path. “When I remember that I don’t know what the future holds for anyone and that there are no guarantees in life generally, it makes it easier,” Wilson wrote. 

The depth of the process and the rest of the admissions team gives her confidence in the office’s decision making. “It’s never perfect, you just do the best you can,” Wilson said. 

Wilson also explained that she never considers two applicants side-by-side. “No two people or applicants are comparable in the sense that everyone is coming to the table with unique experiences, qualities, interests, abilities and talents,” she said. “No two people will add to the community or classroom in the same way. In my career as an admissions director I’ve never come across a situation where I was comparing two candidates in that way, and I can’t imagine doing it at a place like Menlo where it is all the complimentary differences and strengths that make us who we are.”

According to Wilson, there was an 11% increase in siblings or children of alumni applications to the school this year. At Menlo, Wilson said, siblings of current or previous students present another layer on top of an application. “One part of a sibling’s application to Menlo is their family’s experience with Menlo,” Wilson stated. She believes that previous experience with Menlo instills a trust that the family understands Menlo’s mission and values as a school. “We are also building a community through the admissions process and we value our relationships with current families and their enthusiasm for this place.”

She added that there is technically not a limit to how many sibling-students can be in a single grade at a time, yet there’s never been a year where every sibling applicant was admitted. “Part of crafting a class is about making sure there are a wide range of experiences represented,” Wilson said.

The head of admissions also highlighted that not every student will want to follow the footsteps of their older siblings or relatives. “What is good for one sibling is not always good for another,” Wilson said. “Every decision has to be made in the best interest of the applying student and supporting them in finding the right match for them as an individual. [While] no two siblings are alike, we want to give families and siblings the opportunity to go to school together when the match is a good one.”

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About the Contributor
Photo of Lucas Kawamoto
Lucas Kawamoto, Assistant A&L Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: Writing features!

Interests outside of school: Swimming, entrepreneurship, creative writing, watching tv and basketball.

Class of 2026

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