Dr. Shawn Felton Visits ISD


Dr. Felton challenges students with actual essay questions from US applications.

ISD was honored to have hosted Dr. Shawn Felton, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Cornell University October 3-4. His visit was part of a US State Department-sponsored trip through West Africa with the Overseas Schools Project. Over his two days with us, Dr. Felton met with all high school students, the ISD faculty, and the ISD parent community. After spending time meeting the administration and exploring ISD with the high school counselors, Dr. Felton worked with the juniors and seniors. In an exciting and masterful session, he prompted the students for impromptu answers to actual college personal essay questions. “Share an obstacle that you have faced and how you overcame it.” “Talk about a passion you have and how you have cultivated it.” “Discuss an issue that is important to you.” The questions kept at a fervent pace, and our ISD students handled them with impressive thoughtfulness and reflection. In all, the session was a smashing success, allowing our pending graduates to shine.


Dr. Felton engages faculty in a discussion about recommendation letters.

Later on in the afternoon, Dr. Felton engaged with the faculty about writing letters of recommendation. In this session, he discussed many best practices for how to go about writing letters. He also distributed mock applications for the faculty to examine and discuss. One faculty member who is new to ISD commented, “I wish I had heard this information at the beginning of my career!” Of course, it was another fantastic program. In the evening, Dr. Felton met with about 50 ISD parents, a tremendous turnout for an evening event. Dr. Felton’s main thrust during this part of the programming was to share an overview of the US application system and process, sharing insights gleaned from a career spent navigating it. He discussed a variety of different types of institutions, including the often misunderstood liberal arts college. The parents responded to his vigor with excellent engagement and questions.


Dr. Feltons gives parents an overview of the US application process and answers questions.

After a quick night’s sleep, he was back at it the next morning, beginning the day with a session with the freshmen and sophomores. Similar to the program with the juniors and seniors, this time, he put students on display with a litany of questions and points of inquiry about their pursuits of passion. The word “college” was seldom if ever, uttered. The student energy was high, and the students were engaged. The rest of the day on Friday was spent meeting with various drop-in visitors answering questions and discussing different components of the application process. In the end, we benefited so much from Dr. Felton’s visit and are so appreciative of having had the opportunity to have him visit ISD. We thank him wholeheartedly and invite him to return whenever he would like.

The International School of Dakar

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