Pamela T. Horne, Purdue University

Each month we invite a Dean of Admission to answer five questions. We may ask their best advice for applicants, how their office reads applications, their favorite thing on campus, or the most surprising fact about their college or university. If you'd like to pose a question to a Dean of Admission or if you'd like to nominate a Dean for us to feature, please email us at

This month, we are pleased to welcome Pamela T. Horne, Purdue University's Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions, as our interviewee from the other side of the desk.

1.       What kind of student does well at Purdue? How would you describe the student body at Purdue?

Purdue is a challenging academic environment. We have high expectations for our students, but also provide great support.  Our students come from all over the country and the world – leading to a diverse student body with one of the largest international populations. Our students really thrive and capitalize on the opportunity to learn and become friends with people from so many backgrounds.  In general our students are future- and career-oriented; entrepreneurial, very attracted to leadership and collaboration (we have over 900+ student organizations!), and at the same time very friendly and clearly happy to be here. They enjoy life – both in the laboratory and in the football stadium.

2. How can I stand out when applying to Purdue?

We have a holistic application process. Although we receive over 30,000 applications every year, each is read by real people who are well-trained and take their responsibility for understanding the evaluation process very seriously. As with many universities with a large volume of applications and modern technology – we read applications on line.  We have a fantastic document imaging system that allows us to have multiple documents on our screens at one time, as well as summary information in our student data base.  Our reading teams are not geographically-based as they are for many colleges, but rather by academic college since Purdue admits directly to program.

On the high school transcript, we want to see evidence of success in a very strong curriculum -- particularly in relation to the intended major -- that is pursued through the end of the student’s senior year. While curriculum and test scores are representative of their academic accomplishments, their essay is the one opportunity to tell us more than what’s on paper. It's always compelling for us to see an analysis of their experience and its impact on their growth and learning, as well as evidence of curiosity and excitement about their intellectual pursuits.

Preparation for life-long learning, career advancement, and leadership is what Purdue is all about.  Our faculty is world-renowned for their highly recognized discoveries and expertise, but also is dedicated to teaching and mentoring our students in pursuit of their own learning passions. There are activities and organizations for everyone and many niches can be found – from working with an engineering-focused community service project to working on full-scale theatre productions to participating in our award-winning ballroom dance team!

And finally, pay careful attention to Purdue’s various deadlines.  A complete application must be on file by November 15 for merit scholarship consideration!

3. Is there anything in particular you would like to say to parents?

Keep a healthy perspective about the process and do not stress too much– there is no “one right college” for each student. We’re blessed with hundreds of great institutions in higher learning across the nation and abroad.  Your student’s success is much more dependent upon their engagement with their own learning in college than with the name on their bumper sticker.

To that end – frame the college search and admissions process as a step in your student’s development as a responsible young adult.  Be sure to coach your student to pursue an academic area they are passionate about, while supporting them in the process – but have them OWN it and take responsibility for deadlines, completing applications, etc.  Also be honest with them about financial limitations – but do not eliminate possibilities based on sticker price without checking into financial aid.

Respect your child’s privacy – the college admission process is not competitive parenting. Don’t trade SAT scores and admissions decisions at the coffee shop or PTA meeting.  Rejoice in the choices of all your child’s friends and your friends’ children, as they start a new, exciting chapter in their life.

4. Is there anything in particular you would like to say to college counselors?

School counselors have one of the most challenging jobs in all of education and the demands placed on them grow each year.  They are higher education’s most important partners in the value placed on education and the admissions process.  Please give us feedback on our communications, our staff and our institution’s reputation – we want to hear it all!  A huge thank you for all you do for your students and your communities.

5.    What is your favorite thing about Purdue? (It might be a spot somewhere on campus or pizza night every Wednesday. We just want readers to be able to get to know you better.)

I can’t limit myself to just one!

-          I’m a huge Purdue basketball fan – Mackey Arena rocks during home games and our student section, The Paint Crew (for our coach Matt Painter) is amazing, funny, and very well-choreographed.

-          Beginning each August and through fall the All American March Band practices outdoors every late afternoon.  The drum line rehearses right outside my office – they’re so great.  Their precision and dedication never cease to put a smile on my face.

-          Commencement at Purdue is incredibly personal, dignified and moving – I’ve never seen a large university that does it so well.

-          And the food in our dining commons is spectacular!! Where else can you make your own waffle (at every meal!)  with the Boilermaker Special train impression on the top?


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