Jaime Robitaille has spent 25 years working in college admissions. This year, though, she has experienced the process from the other side as the parent of a high school senior. “It’s been refreshing and reaffirming to put myself in a prospective student’s shoes,” she said.
Robitaille, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Providence College, worked in admissions for several years before making an intentional decision to come to Babson College. “The reason was twofold. The first was that it was very important to me to be at a strong school,” she said. “But, more so was the diversity of the student body, and in particular, the international student body. I really wanted to get into international admission at the time.”
Robitaille has now been at Babson for 22 years, including the past four as director of undergraduate admission. We recently spoke to her about the college admission process and why she remains so energized and inspired by the Babson community and the incoming undergraduate students.
If you were a prospective student, what would interest you about Babson?
“I love this question. My answer is what I would have said four or five years ago, but it’s been confirmed because I just went through this (with my daughter), and it has given me such a different perspective. I saw firsthand what I would be attracted to as a prospective student or as a parent of a prospective student. I would be attracted to the energy on this campus. When you step foot on our campus or you engage with someone virtually, the energy is palpable. Our students and our faculty are so invested and they are so passionate and excited about everything they do. And, they want to share that with prospective students and families. The energy is something you don’t see everywhere, and I would be attracted to that. For me, I am also very much attracted to the diversity of the Babson community. You meet students from different backgrounds and perspectives, coming from all over the world and bringing unique experiences.”
What is the biggest challenge in your role? What is your favorite part?
“My biggest challenge and what I love the most about admission is one and the same—crafting and building a class. We’re very fortunate that we see applicants who excel academically and are so interesting, who could do the work at Babson and be very successful here. Unfortunately, being a small school means having to turn away students which is really difficult, but I’m passionate about the art of crafting a community. It’s not just about bringing in the students who are the most academically qualified; it’s really about building the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. They are like-minded in their pursuit of entrepreneurship, but they’re all very different from each other. And, to be honest, we’re also looking for good humans, people you would want to have as your roommate or as your classmate and friend. We take that into consideration in our process.”
How would you describe a Babson student?
“Multi-dimensional. Most Babson students have this inner drive, inner passion for being successful and for making a difference in the world. Babson students are creative in every sense, with creativity meaning different things for different people. They are innovative and really excited about the opportunities they have at Babson. They know that they have a chance to make a difference, and they don’t want to waste the opportunities they have here.”
As we transition back to normal, how has the pandemic changed the admission landscape moving forward?
“I would say that, first and foremost, the biggest change since COVID that is here to stay is access. There are students who now have an opportunity to see and experience colleges firsthand, to interview at schools, to visit schools and engage with staff members. Some are students who never would have had an opportunity to do this before the introduction of virtual recruitment. The whole concept opened a door, and that will never go away. I think access is absolutely the biggest change.
“The virtual landscape has opened students’ eyes to what is out there, and many are now applying to more schools. They are seeing more options for themselves, and as a result, schools are seeing more first-generation students, more students of color, and students coming from underserved or underrepresented regions.”
Two More for Jaime Robitaille
What does Babson mean to you?
“For me, Babson is synonymous with community, both personally and professionally. On a professional level, I love being part of a community that is incredibly talented, innovative, and entrepreneurial. It allows me to engage with peers who are doing extraordinary things. They’re great partners, and we all have the ultimate goal of creating opportunities for the students we serve. I get to grow professionally and continue to do what I love each day. On a personal level, my family has grown up here. Both of my kids were born while I was working here, and they’ve been coming to campus for 18 years. My colleagues here are my family, too, and we support one another both in and out of the office.”
Right now, what are you …
- Watching? “I’m a little behind, but am currently watching ‘Ozark.’ I’m obsessed with it and I’m binging it right now. I’m also watching ‘Inventing Anna,’ and then as a family, we love to watch old episodes of ‘Castle.’ ”
- Reading? “In full transparency, during application review, I don’t read for leisure. But, once April rolls around, I make up for it and dive deep very quickly. I am currently in the middle of Where the Crawdads Sing, which is awesome, and I’m really excited because I know the movie is coming out soon. On deck is Memphis by Tara Stringfellow, which a friend recommended. And, I also love a good beach read!”
- Listening to? “I love a good podcast, and my favorite is ‘SmartLess.’ I also listen to the ‘Modern Love’ podcast, based on The New York Times column. For music, if I’m not listening to whatever my children have on the radio, America Radio is always playing in the background.
- Doing in your free time? “I love spending time with my family and walking my dog, Oliver. I am very involved with my kids and their extracurricular activities and I particularly love watching them play sports. I’m also a foodie—I love to go to a good restaurant, and my husband and I love to cook together.”
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