Hey, Mr. Postman, is there a letter for me?

Today’s the day: after three months of reading essays, the Admissions Office is taking about 6,000 letters—2,500 yeas—to the Post Office. The skinny envelopes already have been metered; the admit packets were too fat to fit through the machine, so staffers are sealing them by hand.

Chicago doesn’t send admissions notifications by e-mail, like many other schools, and applicants won’t learn their status on a Web site. College admissions dean Ted O’Neill, AM’70, believes “it’s really important to have a hand-signed signature—no stamp, no scan,” says associate admissions director Zach White, AB’01. (The University does send e-mails to international applicants put on the waiting list or denied admission, says director of international admissions Ali Segal, because of the longer time it takes snail mail to arrive overseas.)

Adhering to the personal touch also means that Chicago can avoid mass e-mail snafus—such as a mix-up at the University of California–Davis, which accidentally told 6,000 admitted students that they had received a prestigious scholarship. “The biggest threat we have,” says Chicago assistant admissions director Jenny Connell, AB’01, “is putting the wrong letter into the wrong envelope”—an error she and the rest of the staff have narrowly escaped once or twice today.


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Photos (from left to right): College admissions dean Ted O'Neill signs a last-minute admissions letter. Admissions project assistant Rolanda Travis reaches for application files, making sure the admit letters go into the correct folders. Assistant admissions director Lauren Droz, AB'02, international admissions director Ali Segal, and associate admissions director Zach White, AB'01, seal admit packets. About 6,000 envelopes are heading to the Post Office.

March 24, 2004