Jonathan C Edwards
Senior Associate Director of Admission and Coordinator of International Admission
Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin
Degrees: B.A. (Luther College); M.A. (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Undergraduate majors: German & business management
What I love about my territory: I’ve worked in international admission, doing recruitment travel around the world, for 23 years now. I still never tire of airports, hotels, cabs, and, of course, meeting talented students with amazing stories! It’s a privilege to meet students in their home countries — to learn about their cultures and where they come from. Then, I get to know many of them once they’re here and thriving in our “Grinnellian” culture. My wife directs our Office of International Student Affairs, and our professional relationship has given me a broader view of the international student experience at Grinnell. We often host student gatherings in our home and regularly attend cultural events offered by student clubs and organizations. The International Student Organization’s Cultural Evening in April is one of my favorite nights of the year!
What I love about Grinnell: Grinnellians really want to be here! I see lots of smiles and laughter, rigor and vigor, stopping in the street to have real conversations. People aren’t just here because a college degree is next on their list of things to do. Most seem to be relishing their experience — finding a true second home/family and wringing all they can out of the wealth of opportunities Grinnell offers. That approach can be pretty infectious!
Hobbies/activities: I love when teacher recommendations mention that a student “marches to their own drummer,” because I’ve actually been a drummer most of my life and enjoy playing all styles of music with all types of people, including Grinnell students! Some of them even make it over to my home studio to record their original material. Both of my boys are musicians, so we play together when we can.
Advice about searching for schools: Bookmark the daily campus calendar or student organization web pages at schools you’re considering. Visit those pages periodically and see what’s happening. Imagine yourself as a student there and ask, “What would I want to do today?” If those activities resonate with frequency, that’s likely the sign of a good social fit. Perusing back issues of the campus newspapers online can be another good approach to learning what is important to students at that school.
Advice about applying to schools: Spend quality time crafting and editing your personal statement. It’s the last piece of the application that you have complete control over, so it’s a significant opportunity for you to get the reader excited about you your candidacy, beyond the numbers. Have a good friend or favorite teacher read your draft, and ask them, “Could anyone else have written this essay?” If their answer is “no,” your work is done!