We are connecting with college and university admissions teams from all over the world to share their experiences and perspectives with the IB community. Shannon Gundy of the University of Maryland shares unexpected indicators she looks at when admitting students to campus.
Shannon Gundy serves as the executive director in the office of undergraduate admissions at the University of Maryland (UMD) in the U.S. She stopped by our Washington, D.C. office to share the unexpected qualities and skills she considers when accepting students to UMD. Shannon notes that while standardized testing and grades are good indicators of academic preparedness, there are other more important skills that you can’t see in a transcript or test score, such as thoughtfully and effectively communicating ideas, which is a skill she is excited to see in IB applicants. She also notes that students that are active, engaged both inside and outside the classroom will be good fits for UMD.
What skills do you look for when admitting students to campus?
“We’re looking for students who are smart, who are prepared and who are ready to take on the challenges of a college education.”
When I think about the skills that I expect students to bring to the University of Maryland, I think it’s a little bit different than students and families expect. I think people think that we are looking for students who have the best grades possible and the highest SAT scores possible. And of course, we want students to be academically prepared, but academic preparation goes far beyond, grades and test scores.
We’re looking for students who are smart, who are prepared and who are ready to take on the challenges of a college education. But we’re also looking for students who are gonna be active and engaged. We really want students that are going to participate. We find that the classroom experience is better for everybody when students are engaged and challenged and asking questions of their faculty members, even disagreeing sometimes with the information that they’re hearing, and are having conversations with one another that enriches the learning environment. We’re also looking for students that are gonna be engaged outside the classroom.
What is special about IB learners as they enter university?
“I think IB students are used to communicating their thoughts and being really thoughtful as well as being proficient in how they write.”
One of the things that makes me most excited when I am evaluating an IB student for admission is reading what they have to say. It’s unfortunate that the ability to think creatively and critically and then write well isn’t always something that we see as a part of the college admission process. And that’s not necessarily the case with IB students. I think IB students are used to communicating their thoughts and being really thoughtful as well as being proficient in how they write. And it’s just more fun when you’re reading essays from students who put more thought and time into it and do it really well.
And, you know, it’s our expectation that with every graduating class, the university looks different than it did four years before the students came to be with us. So, we’re looking for students that are gonna bring those skills that aren’t necessarily reflected on their high school transcript and test scores as well as those demonstrations of academic proficiency.
What is unique about the admissions process at the University of Maryland?
So, our admission process, I think is a little bit different than people assume that it is. We are a large public institution and each year we get well over 30,000 applications for admission and people don’t believe that there’s any way possible that we can have a personalized review for every student. People automatically assume, there’s a rubric that we use, there’s formula that we use, and it surprises people
Shannon Gundy is the executive director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Maryland. She is also part of the IB’s College and University Relations Committee (CURC).