September 2006 Archives

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth!

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Many, many apologies!

All my grand plans for lots and lots of posts didn't exactly work... Yeah, so my computer died the minute I left Massachusetts (separation anxiety!?!?) and I've been rather out of touch for the last two weeks. Yes, I DO see the irony here....

At any rate, I am alive. And I'm still in Texas. I must say, as I veered across 5 lanes of traffic to catch the exit for one of my favorite restaurants, it was good to be back! Ahhhhh... great BBQ, TexMex, and (diet) Dr Pepper flows like water...

mmmm... Texas BBQ! This is Rudy's - in my opinion, the BEST BBQ sauce ever and I would sell my right leg for their smoked turkey. And yes, it is in a gas station... welcome to Texas, folks!

It's been a great trip so far - one of the highlights was in Houston, where Etosha Cave (graduate of Booker T. Washington HS for Engineering Professions and Olin Class of 2006) and her father shared their experiences at our information session... and her little brother saved the day by making all the AV stuff work! Etosha will join her Olin classmate and fellow alum, Adam Horton, in Antarctica next week. Check out Adam's blog on the Blogroll to the right...

At this late date, I won't bore you with all the details of my trip - although if you're ever on campus and meet our Dean of Admission, Charlie Nolan, ask him about his adventure in Texas this year! I will say that I've met some AMAZING students and I cannot wait to read their applications.

So instead I thought I'd answer some questions that have been popping up lately, both via email and from our information sessions:

1. Olin asks for two Teacher Recommendations. Can I send in additional letters of recommendation?

The simple answer is... Yes, absolutely! But don't go crazy - we don't need letters from every teacher you've ever had or the department chairs or headmaster/principal of your school. It's about the quality of the letter and how well the person knows you, not the title underneath the signature.

However, there are a couple of things I'd like to point out. First of all, we ask for one letter from a math or science teacher and the other from a teacher of your choice. I would like to encourage you to consider asking a non-math/science teacher for the second letter of recommendation. The purpose of the Teacher Recommendations is to give us some perspective on what you're like as a student. If have both of your letters come from teachers math and science, we often times get a rather one-dimensional view of you. So think about asking your English or history teacher (or some other humanities or social science instructor) - even if you didn't make your best grades in those classes, those teachers often have great insight to share with us and can help flesh out your application by providing us with a different angle.

Secondly, if you'd like to submit an additional recommendation, it should still add dimension to your application. And since it's supplemental, it doesn't have to be academic. So ask your boss or Scout Master; consider your band director or coach; essentially, any adult mentor in your life would be a great addition to your file. Remember: an extra letter of recommendation is just that - icing on the cake! We do not require it and you won't be at a disadvantage if you don't submit one.

2) How do I get a copy of the paper application?

Actually, we don't even print paper copies of the application. The Application for Admission is meant to be submitted electronically and the supporting forms need to be downloaded from the website and given to your counselor/teachers to complete. Go to to create an online Application Account. Once there, you can check out the application and download the forms.

However, if you are unable to submit the application electronically, we do provide a PDF version at (after you've created an account and logged in). Worst case scenario, we can email you a copy of the PDF Application and forms.

OK - I think that's all for now. I'm off to enjoy dinner a terrific little Mexican place in Fort Worth (Benito's) and wish my good friend Wes a Happy Birthday!

Until next time... Have a great weekend!
IM: OlinAdmission


OK... So Olin College is a new school and we don't have many long-standing traditions. That probably doesn't come as a big shock to you! However, we do have one SIX YEAR TRADITION that I was honored to join last Sunday... The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

We participated in the 2001 Race for the Cure - our first year with students, the Partner Year - with only a handful of students, faculty and staff. Each year, the involvement has steadily grown and the Race for the Cure has become an annual tradition for the Olin Community. It was an amazing morning - not only was the experience fun and for a good cause, Olin won first place in the Community Team competition by having the largest non-corporate team with 128 members (most of whom were students)!! We've come a long way, baby!

Teamwork Almuna Ann Marie Rynning helps fellow alum (and Asst. Director of Admission) Emma Goodman with her race number.

Bryn Bryn '09 shows her Race for the Cure pride with a rockin' pink tattoo on her cheek.

me and ash Me being stupid with Ash '09

Hangin' out Waiting for the results to come in...

mmm... cheese Lots of free food and stuff + college students = loading up with BOXES of free cheese!

Joanne & alumni Prof. Joanne Pratt chatting with Susan Fredholm '06

Victory! First place!

Congrats Andrew Hollett '07 (and amazing co-coordinator for the Olin team) accepts the newest member to our Race for the Cure trophy collection.

Trophy #1 Non-Corporate Team, Most Participants

Team Photo Team photo... good representation, but this was by no means all the Oliners involved!

As you learn more about Olin, you will likely begin to notice a common theme of philanthropy. The idea of giving back to the community is an important part of the Olin Experience and seems to exist at the very core of the school. There is a sense that Olin students will go out and make the world a better place, although we don't define what that means. Many may become engineers... but not all of them! And that's fine by us. The point is that our students and alumni will make a difference in their communities by becoming doctors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, volunteers, teachers, and researchers (by the way, that is not an exhaustive list!).

From an admission perspective, many colleges and universities have come to expect a certain level or amount of community service from their applicants. Many of you have already volunteered many hours - whether of your own accord or as a requirement for graduation. So keep doin' what you're doin'! We are interested and care a lot about how you spend your time outside of classes.

Take care,

IM: OlinAdmission

A very busy start to the year...


Sooooo, we're a couple weeks into the new school year - let me catch you up on what's been going on...

After three months of waiting and hanging out with about a quarter of the student body (~50 students each year stick around during the summer for work and research opportunities), the first-years finally arrived bright and early on August 26th. The Class of 2010 tracked each other down over the summer, visited each other's hometowns, figured out each other's roommates, created countdowns on their cell phones, and even dyed their hair Olin blue in anticipation for arriving on campus! That kind of enthusiasm is contagious and I definitely caught "the fever" as well. Needless to say, even though Orientation is officially an Office of Student Life event, there was no way I could miss it! (I even drove back from New York on Friday night... err... early Saturday morning so that I could be there! Yeah, I'm a big nerd.)

Orientation officially lasts four days, and it's a rollercoaster ride! The first-years learn about classes and academic expectations, meet their faculty advisors and advising families, participate in team building activities, and generally get acclimated to life at Olin before the upperclassmen arrive. Lots of fun, not much sleep! Classes officially began on Thursday, August 31st.

Greeters at Orientation Teresa (she works with me in Admission) and Bennett '09 welcome new students and their families.

Office of Student Life at registration Orientation registration (with Student Life Staff working hard... or is it hardly working?!?)

Frosh picnic-ing on the O Freshmen group having lunch on the "O" during Orientation. (Photo courtesy of Erik '10)

R2 during orientation Big Sibb, Tiana '08, during the Scavenger Hunt in Boston... yes, that is a large balloon hat on her head! The Sibbs program builds bridges - hence the double "b" - between freshmen and upper class students. Volunteer upper class Sibbs adopt a freshman to help him or her adjust to the unique culture, quirks and inside secrets of Olin. (Photo courtesy of Roland '10)

Sibbs welcome Frosh after trip to Boston This was awesome! All the Big Sibbs were waiting to welcome the freshmen back after their Scavenger Hunt. (Photo courtesy of Roland '10) At some colleges or universities, this would simply be a Hall Meeting... at Olin, this is the entire freshman class! (Photo courtesy of Erik '10)

Entire frosh class At some colleges or universities, this would simply be a Hall Meeting... at Olin, this is the entire freshman class! (Photo courtesy of Erik '10)

Roomba fund So some of the freshmen decided that a Roomba would be a great feature to add to West Hall; the collection box was open and available for anyone to add their donation (gotta love the Honor Code!). I think the new West Hall mascot/mini-maid arrived yesterday... (Photo courtesy of Erik '10)

At the end of the first full week of classes, students can browse the Activities Fair on the Oval (a.k.a. the "O" - our equivalent of the academic quad). With over 50 clubs and organizations on the Olin campus alone, there are PLENTY of opportunities for students to get involved and stay busy outside of class. C'mon... you do the math... 300 students/50 clubs = no room for boredom! And, of course, in addition to all that's available at Olin, students can get involved with clubs and organizations at our partner institutions: Brandeis University, Babson College and Wellesley College.

At any rate, the Activities Fair is an experience best told in pictures... I had a blast! Lots of interesting demos and props, snacks, good music, fabulous weather - a perfect end to the week! To explore some of our clubs and organizations, check out

Left view of Activities Fair Right view of Activities Fair A couple views from above...

SWE table Pam '10 checks out the SWE (Society of Women Engineers) table

CORe table CORe is Olin's very active student government

Mini Baja Mini Baja

Outing Club Derek '10 explores the Outing Club
Open Table Face-painting at the Open table

Butterfingers A member of the Butterfingers Club (juggling)

Midnight Riders Midnight Riders (unicycling club)

Suggestions for the Honor Board Suggestions for our Honor Board

Faculty-student conversation This is typical at Olin - casual conversations between faculty and students happens ALL THE TIME! (Pictured L-R: David '07, Juliana '07, Profs Allen Downey and Brian Storey)

Making props for FWOP Not to worry... she's not dangerous - FWOP (the Franklin W. Olin Players) took the opportunity to promote theatre at Olin while painting props for their fall production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)"

Disc Club Katherine '10 chats with Avery '08 about the Olin Disc Club (Ultimate Frisbee is one of two club sports at Olin

Jon lookin' fierce Jon '08 is showing off his rugged side with a beard and new "tattoo" (it ain't real, folks!)

West Coast swing dancin' Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid, Patty Blanchette, takes a break and practices her West Coast Swing with Gui '08

Whew! I'm exhausted just giving you the highlights. But I hope you got the idea and a hint of the opportunities available at Olin.

So, I think that's enough for today. As an admission officer, the past few weeks are like seeing all the pieces finally come together, and in all honesty, is the best going-away present for me - I'll start traveling to recruit the next group of talented students next week. I hope to see some of you out there on the road! Stay in touch and let me know what's on your minds...

Have a great week,

IM: OlinAdmission



Welcome to the first installment of The (Admission) World According to Allison! First and foremost, this blog is for YOU - while I am in no way the definitive authority on Olin, I hope to help you get to know the College a little bit better. I'll try to shed some light on our rather unique admission process, let you know what's happening on campus, and give you my perspective from this "side" of the desk.

And just to assure you that I'm not just some wacko off the street, a little about me:

  • I am a native Texan - which automatically makes me "wacko" in some of your minds!
  • Before arriving at Olin, I was a high school college counselor.
  • Before that, I worked in admissions at a great liberal arts college in Texas.
  • I have a Masters in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in History (but I apparently have an affinity for the engineering-types too).
  • I studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia.
  • I spent a couple of summers as a professional tuba player (yes, you read that correctly... tuba).

Many people have asked me why I quit my job in Texas to move to Massachusetts and take a job at little-known engineering school when there are so many more prestigious and well-known institutions in the Boston area... it's really quite simple and something I encourage you to think about as you go through the college search process - Olin College is the right "fit" for me and represents much of what I love about working in higher education. I love the small size, the strong sense of community, the amazingly talented students, the caring faculty and staff; I also love meeting prospective students and sharing the awesomeness of Olin; I love reading applications and learning more about you. For me, it boils down to great relationships combined with a great education and lots of creativity and fun.

So enough about me, it's all about YOU! It's your turn - please don't be shy - leave comments and ask questions. That's the only way I'll know what's on your minds! But please be respectful; my blog is meant to be a kind and welcoming place! You can always email or IM me as well.

Olin Graduation 2006
Yes, we really do love DUCT TAPE at Olin! This photo is from our very first Graduation - May 21, 2006. (L-R: Admission Fools! Emily Roper, Teresa Kelleher, me)

Best of luck in the college search process and try to stay sane!

IM: OlinAdmission

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