Each year, EARTH University embarks on a global search to locate the most promising young leaders. What follows is an interview with Ramón Ariel Sánchez, Director of Admissions.
Tell us about the admissions process for the Class of 2025.
With the experience gained from reinventing ourselves during an unexpected 2020, this year’s process has been much smoother and faster than previous ones. For example, we are already ready to admit our new students from Africa; whereas, at this time last year, we were still interviewing our African candidates.
This year we also noticed an improvement in connectivity globally, which was one of the big challenges in 2020. We had to take additional measures such as renting an internet cafe in an African country, so candidates could do their exams and interviews. This year, we faced fewer such challenges.
What are the steps you and your team take to find new EARTH students?
The first step is promotion and prospecting. At that stage, we encourage interest from as many people as possible who are curious about agricultural science and the environment. We rely on the help of our graduates, current students, and social media. We host informative webinars and circulate details – all to attract young people with the right profile and values.
The second step is to have applicants fill out the digital form so we can see the progress of their application. Based on that, we can follow up and support them in the process. We also identify whether they can pay their full tuition or they would need a scholarship. We then verify that all the information is complete.
The third step is the pre-selection process, in which trios of professors review all the information in candidates’ admissions profiles. We then administer our 100%-online admissions exams, including a psychometric test that assesses competencies and reveals key differentiators among the candidates. After that, each student passes through two faculty-led interviews: a group interview and an individual interview.
Once a selection has been agreed upon, we conduct a socioeconomic study, in which we ask admitted students for additional documentation to determine the exact amount of monetary support they may need. The Financial Aid Committee then assigns all scholarships. This committee is made up of people from different areas such as Finance, Development, Admissions, and faculty members.
Throughout the process, we work closely with others, including campus units such as Development and Marketing & Communications, as well as professionals like Raquel Mayers, who oversees the complex immigration processes for students.
How have you been able to complete the admissions process from afar?
EARTH graduates! We asked for help, got them on board, and made them part of the team. Alumni support has been crucial.
What are the main lessons from 2020 that you have applied to the 2021 process?
We learned to do things well in advance and be more prudent, to anticipate any inconvenience that may arise. Since faculty members have to pre-select candidates, we started this cycle’s pre-selection of African candidates in October and Latin American/Caribbean candidates in January, so each professor would have more time to complete this phase of the process. As a result, we have achieved a better workflow.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the students here on campus, seeing them graduate, seeing them become leaders of change – and knowing that I played a role in that. Another rewarding element is that I have a fantastic team, one that is adaptable, level-headed, creative, and committed to recruiting the best candidates. Every time we successfully bring in a full cohort, we celebrate together.
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