What a Prospective Student Host Fears Most

Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 2:23 am | By Nik Jameson '11

Issue:  Fall 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Author:  Nik Jameson '11

I am sometimes called “Prospie Host Extraordinaire” because I match up prospective visitors with suitable hosts in my job for admission. But I’m also a prospective student host myself. In about two years, I have hosted 16 prospies. Each time it is the same basic routine:

  1. Finish homework;
  2. Know what activities are happening on campus;
  3. Remember what time to pick up the prospective student; and
  4. Remember her name.

I usually get numbers one though three done successfully, with the occasional late night homework session outside the door of my room after the prospie has gone to sleep. It is the last one that proves difficult for me — always.

All hosts receive their prospective students’ names well in advance of the first meeting. No matter how many times I look at the piece of paper, it seems impossible for me to remember the name when I am standing in front of her. Luckily, the student usually doesn’t expect me to know her name either, so we have a nice little mutual introduction in the Office of Admission lobby. Sadly, about 30 seconds later, I have forgotten it again. Was it Erin, Jessica, or Julie? I have to tactfully ask her to repeat it, or dig through my bag discreetly for the piece of paper with her name on it. Sometimes, though, I am slyer than that and manage to have her introduce herself to someone else and pick up the name when she says it again.

Yet by some weird bit of social magic, soon after arriving on campus, prospective students start to answer of their own accord to the name lovingly given to them by current students: Prospie. Each prospective student gets introduced to countless Grinnellians, and each of those Grinnellians approachs us yelling excitedly, “Is that a prospie?”

Grinnellians are really eager to meet prospies. One of my friends recently compared prospies to babies. Everyone gets excited to see a new one. No matter how many you meet, each one is always appealing and different. The problem is, when Grinnellians meet a prospie, they expect his or her host to know everything about the student. So instead of asking the prospective student direct questions, they tend to ask the host instead. Not very helpful, I know, and I’m sorry about that. It usually means the name “Prospie” will stick more than the student’s given name, which I take such pains to try and memorize. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but many prospective students come to Grinnell College with respectable names and leave with the name of Prospie + Respectable Name.

This means if my prospies return as first-years, they will often get the question, “Aren’t you Prospie Erin/Jessica/ Julie who stayed with Nik?” It is my fear as a host that I am creating an army of first-year Grinnellians who spend their first weeks as Prospie Erin/Jessica/Julie before donning their respectable titles of just plain Erin/Jessica/Julie.

Nik Jameson '11 is an independent major from Kewanee, Illinois.