Every fall, applicants to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School graduate programs make final edits to their policy memos, double-check GRE score submissions and update their résumés. They click “submit,” and the months-long wait begins. Surrounded by stacks of reference letters, transcripts and personal essays, Associate Dean for Graduate Admissions John Templeton shuts his office door, and the reading season begins.
While these applications could be reduced to numbers and metrics, the Wilson School graduate admissions team of five doesn’t lose sight of the people who are attached to them.
In building each class of master’s students, Templeton and Melissa Lyles, assistant director of graduate admissions and social media strategist, strive to create a community of highly capable public service devotees in which students thrive off of each other’s wisdom. With the additional goal of recruiting students with an array of backgrounds and interests, they spend each fall traveling to regions where the School has not historically drawn applicants, often because students are unaware that the path to a master of public affairs or public policy degree could be a match for their aspirations.
An essential ingredient of a successful class, said Templeton, is learning from the experiences of their colleagues.
“If someone grew up in a single-parent home in which the parent never went to college, worked their way through community college and a four-year school and then worked in the trenches with the homeless and the mentally ill, his or her experience is fundamentally different from someone who has a strong interest in mental illness or homelessness but has never really been on the street or in shelters,” Templeton said. “The person who doesn’t know it first-hand may understand it from the policy perspective. You want to bring those two perspectives into the same program.”
To read more about the admissions team, click here.