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April 08, 2009

This blog has moved

The Holy Cross Admissions Office blog has moved!

Please visit the new blog at http://admissions.me.holycross.edu/


March 24, 2009

End of Winter Marks End Of Admissions Committee

Suzanne  From the previous weeks’ blog entries you have read about our committee process. You’ve learned about the dozens of cups of coffee we drink, the reading sheet we use and the cozy room that we inhabit. As our committee process winds down and we close the computer screen on another admit cycle, I find myself reflecting on the things I’ll miss the most. Below are five of the things I’ll miss most about the past six weeks.

  1. The fresh brewed Dunkin Donuts coffee that inevitably is always sitting in the committee room when I arrive, thanks to a sweet Holy Cross housekeeper and a generous colleague.
  2. The sight of counselors’ hands being raised as one more applicant gets admitted into the class of 2013.
  3. Watching as the stack of applications from a day of work are carried downstairs and into the hands of our support staff members who then make sure that the correct letter gets printed and sent to you.
  4. Hearing my colleagues’ thoughts on a student and realizing how undeniably cool it is (once again) that we spend this much time evaluating our applicants.
  5. Watching our class grow with every decision we make and realizing that your varied interests and talents will affect Holy Cross for years to come.

I’ll miss committee and all that it represents in our process. Whether you get the large envelope or small one, or whether you choose to accept our offer or find another place to call home, we thank you. Thank you for your efforts in high school, for taking the time to send the “perfect” essay, for finding a teacher who could write on your behalf, for taking a tour, sending an email, or having an interview. We thank you for your efforts and wish you every success.

Suzanne R. Timmons
Assistant Director of Admissions

March 23, 2009

Admissions Director: Selection Process Nears End

Annmcdermott Once again, the twelve members of the Admissions Committee will gather in an impossibly small room, coffee in hand, to discuss and debate the remaining applicants for the Class of 2013.  We are almost done.

As I reflect back over the past few weeks, I am struck by the overall quality of this pool of applicants.  It is truly amazing, and I admit a bit humbling, to see what you have managed to accomplish in just a few short years.  My staff and I have enjoyed “meeting’ you and learning about your journey through high school.  We applauded your academic successes, cheered with you as your achieved victory on the field, laughed along with you at the comedy of high school, and yes, cried at the losses many of you have suffered.

Thank you for sharing your personal stories with us.  You have achieved so much already, and I am certain that the best is yet to come!

Ann McDermott
Director of Admissions

March 18, 2009

How Do We Make Our Admissions Decisions?: An Insider’s Guide to the Committee Process

 Julia Monday morning, 9:00 AM:  Company in.  Twelve admissions counselors.  Twelve cups of coffee.  Our mission?  To decide who gets in.

With so many remarkable candidates, just how do we decide?  While some contend we could simply throw the applications into the air, grab a few thousand at random, and hope for the best, the Holy Cross admissions process is a democratic one, where all applications are voted on;  majority wins.

As today’s committee fly on the wall, I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on our unique process.  So follow me, behind the closed doors. 

Every day, for nine hours a day, for about 5 weeks, we gather together, in the cozy space pictured below: 


Back when we were reading all of your applications, we were also summarizing everything in your file, onto what we call a “reading sheet” - a crucial piece of paper that houses a breakdown of your transcript, bits from your recommendations, quotes from the letter from your mom, impressions gathered from your interview, an evaluation of your essay, notes on the academic curriculum offered at your high school, a listing of your test scores (if you decided to submit them), bits about your extra-curriculars,  awards,  jobs,  etc. 

During committee, the reading sheets are projected onto the wall, one at a time, for all committee members to see.  Everything in your file finds a place onto your reading sheet, and thusly, everything in your file is evaluated by twelve sets of eyes, before a decision is made.  IMG_3593

With your reading sheet projected onto the wall, we do, in fact, talk about you. We talk about your achievements, your personality, your background, your goals, your successes, and your failures.   Conversations can last anywhere from two minutes to twenty – depending on the case.   If there are any questions, we rummage through the file and fill in the blanks.   We might re-read the essay.  We might double-check the transcript.   We examine your school profile.   If necessary, we call your guidance counselor.  We check again.  And again.   And again.  We might even call your mom. (I kid).  The point is, when it comes to assessing your candidacy, there are no stones left unturned 


When we are ready, it’s decision time.  “Anyone want to Accept?”  Hands are raised. And counted.  Majority wins.  And this is how it works, each and every time. 

Why do we do it this way? While admissions-sponsored snacks  (important decisions require sustenance) and the option to dress down are obvious perks, we make our admissions decisions as a committee because we feel that a democratic voting process is the fairest way to handle such an overwhelming and often times subjective task. 

Why am I telling you all this?  Because you have worked very hard on your application, and we believe your hard work affords you reciprocity.   We want you to have faith in the fact that your application is in the hands of people that will stop at nothing to make the fairest decisions possible.

And with that, it’s time to get back to work. 

Julia Sanders

Admissions Counselor

February 13, 2009

Our deadline to finish reading all these applications (for the second time) is this Sunday.


This is my final blog entry in a weeklong series inside the application reading process here at Holy Cross.

Our deadline to finish reading all these applications (for the second time) is this Sunday.  And while, at times, this reading process can seem so solitary – when we’re reading alone in our office or in Panera with our headphones on – we are never truly alone.  It takes so many people to get your completed application into our hands and but there are also innumerable people along the way who enable us to finish reading all these applications in time. 

We have so much help.

There are tireless guidance counselors who fax your updated grades.

There are baristas who clean up the pile of pencil eraser shavings at the coffee shop.

There are receptionists who open the mail looking for that last recommendation.

There are slightly sleepy college sophomores who alphabetize all the incoming mail.

There are patient newborn sons who hold still during a good essay.

There are compassionate parents who provide toast with jam while we read your teacher recommendations at the kitchen table.

There are the multi-talented husbands who stir the sauce while holding our infant child allowing us to finish one last application before dinner is served.

There are considerate roommates who use headphones so as to not disturb our concentration.

There are summer employers who write about your dependability and work ethic.

There are kind-hearted boyfriends and girlfriends, cousins and siblings who listen to us read yet another essay out loud that they may or may not find funny.

And there are sweet hound dogs that wait patiently for their walk as we calculate class rank.


Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

February 12, 2009

Because your parents said so


This is my fourth in a series of five blog entries – one week inside the application reading process at Holy Cross.

Because your parents said so

Whether you know it or not, many of your parents have written us letters.  You see, we are one of a few schools that welcome letters from applicants’ parents.  The point is, as our letter to your parents states, that “we attempt to learn as much as possible about each applicant, both academically and personally.”  As I’ve been reading some of these letters today, I’ve been wondering if student have any idea of what their parents are saying about them.

As you might imagine, most of these letters take on a similar tone.  They are reflective and proud, laudatory and nostalgic.  They tell of premature births, broken arms, undefeated seasons and straight A’s.  But, often the most valuable stories are much smaller than that – a kind word to a younger sibling, a smart decision made in the face of peer pressure and chores done at grandma’s house. 

I often wonder if parents show these letters to their children.  I’ve often wondered what it would be like if we included a copy of this letter in the envelope with our admissions decision letter.  I have no doubt the effect it would have on students.  The decision that a room full of strangers had made on their application would suddenly seem far less significant – the letter of acceptance would seem less momentous and the letter of denial would carry less sting if students truly knew how proud their parents were of them. 

So here you are – all your applications have been submitted and now you await your admissions decision.  You’ve got some time on your hands.  Say “thank you” to your parents for all their support through this process.  I promise you, if you do, they just might tell you how proud they are of you.

Associate Director of Admissions

February 11, 2009

Six Words


This is the third in a series of blog entries – one week inside the application reading process at Holy Cross.

So I was listening to NPR today as I was reading applications and I heard a story about Smith Magazine and their 6 word memoir project – the point being to tell a person’s story in exactly six words.  (www.smithmag.net)

This got me thinking and writing.  

So here follows some of the applications I read today, individually summarized in exactly six words:

Sophomore year do over,
pretty please?

Woman for others.
HC for her.

So much potential,
So few A’s.

Shredded right knee,
Athlete no more.

Chemistry, physics, calculus –
Oh, my.

Great with puck,
Not with calculator.

She did what?
Oh, dear me.

More A’s, fewer C’s.
Please, please.

With all those activities,
Still valedictorian?

School at home,
Teacher is who?

Strong application.
Perfect cake, amazing icing.

Neighborhood not safe,
Please come here.

Oh, calculus!
Like the Titanic’s iceberg..

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

February 10, 2009

Tell It Slant

Drew Emily Dickinson wrote, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.”

Today, I offer you the truth with no slant.  There are questions that admissions counselors are asked so often and, in response, we frequently reply with a long-winded, slanted answer. 

Today, I offer you the truth.  No slant.

1. “When you’re reading all those applications, doesn’t it get old?”

Yes, it does. 
This is perhaps no great surprise.  Do anything repetitively and it is likely to get old after a while. 

2. “How do you remember all those names?”

We don’t.
That’s why we take really good notes.  And while names frequently escape us, the stories stick with us. 

3. “Do you really read all those applications?”

I only read some of them; but, I’ve got nearly a dozen great co-workers.  At Holy Cross, every application really does get read and, in fact, read by two different admissions counselors. 

4. “What do you really look for in an application?”

Really good grades in strong classes. 
Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t also want athletes, musicians, artists, leaders, good Samaritans, etc.  But, inevitably, the conversation begins with the transcript.  It is the most important document in the application.  It is the cake and everything else is just frosting.  And yes, we’re greedy – we want frosting with our cake.

5. “Do you like reading applications?”

Most of the time. 
Right about now, after about 5 weeks of non-stop reading (and writing), my hand hurts, my neck hurts, my eyes are dry and I’m just a little bug-eyed from all the small print on these transcripts.  And there doesn’t seem to be enough time to read all these applications in my office by our deadline on Sunday.

But, this morning, a co-worker of mine told me about an essay I’m likely to find in one of those stacks, one that she thinks I’ll like and I’m curious.  I’m curious what’s inside all those folders sitting in my office, whose story they tell and whether they might be good fits for Holy Cross.

So, after a 12 minute break to write this blog entry, I’m re-energized, ready to dive back into the stacks of applications, ready for more cake, ready for more frosting.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

February 09, 2009

Application Reading Period - Monday

Drew This is the first of five blog entries I’ll offer to you – a glimpse inside one week during application reading period in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross. 



It’s not personal. 

I swear it’s not.

It has absolutely nothing to do with you or your application. 

It’s just that when I finish reading an application, I slide the yellow reading sheet inside, close the cover and at that point, I slam it on the ground.

Well, perhaps “slam” is too strong of a word.  I’m not Hines Ward celebrating a touchdown.  Let’s say – “drop with force”.    You see, I like the sound the application makes when it drops on the ground totally flat -- a slapping, of sorts. 

You may enjoy crossing this off a to-do list for a sense of satisfaction; I like dropping applications on the ground and hearing the slap, signaling one step closer to the end of my pile.  Yet, when I wake in the morning, there’s yet another pile waiting for me, as if I’ve done nothing that previous day or as if I’m Penelope from the Odyssey, staying up all night undoing the weaving I’ve accomplished during the day.

So I dive into that new pile of applications early in the morning.  I go get a cup of coffee first (milk and two sugars, thank you) and then settle in at my desk at home overlooking my snowy back yard in Worcester.  And in the quiet of the morning I read your recommendations, your transcripts, your interviews and your essays. 

The essays are my favorite part.  Some are funny, some are sad, some are silly and some are serious.  But, the common thread that runs through them all is that they are you – a snap shot of your life, taken at a turning point in your life.  Sometimes I wonder what you’ll think of your essay five or ten years from now. 

You’ll probably think exactly what I thought this morning while I was sitting at my desk at home. 

This is good.  This is real good.  Thanks for sharing.


Andrew N Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

January 26, 2009

Check the Status of Your Application Online!

Diane-s Wouldn’t it be great if you could check the status of your application online?  Oh wait…you can!

Echoing the sentiments of my colleagues below, I too am consumed with “reading season.”  While we’re shut away in our offices pouring over letters of recommendation, transcripts and personal essays, we are also aware that you are anxious about your application and what’s happening to it.  Over the past few weeks, a lot of you have been calling in to make sure that all of your materials have been received. We’ve heard your concerns, and with the help of our lovely friends in IT, we are happy to introduce a new online system that will allow you to view your application materials checklist online!

Before I get to those instructions, I want to briefly tell you what happens to your application in between the time you hit submit on your computer and we receive your folder on our desk. There are actually more steps involved than one would think and our clerical staff work hard to make sure that every piece of information that you submit is recorded in our records. Here’s a glimpse of what they do “behind the scenes”….

  1. You happily (nervously?) submit your application online or put that big envelope in the mail to us (either way is fine!).
  2. We receive your application. If you submitted it online, it goes into our queue to be downloaded.
  3. Once downloaded, we send this batch off to be printed. (This time of year, we are receiving hundreds of applications daily, so the process of downloading the applications and printing them out can take a several days. Please be patient.)
  4.  Once the application and any attachments (essays, recommendations, etc) have been printed, a folder is made for your application.
  5. The folder is then given to one the members of our operations team, and they have the task of entering your application into our system. They will assign you an identification number and create a checklist for you in our system.  
  6. We then go through all of our materials to make sure that any information that has been received separately for you (interview write-ups, recommendations, e-mail correspondence that we’ve printed out, etc) is put into your folder.
  7. That information than needs to be recorded in our system.
  8. Your file will then live in the drawers and this process of matching and entering will continue until we have all of the pieces of your application.
  9. When your file is complete, a member of the counselor staff will snatch it up and happily add it to their “to be read” pile that teeters on the edge of each and every desk.

It’s quite a process. Why am I telling you all of this?

Because if you check the status of your materials online and see that we have not received an important piece of your application – do not panic. Do not call the office; we won’t have any more information than you have. IF a piece is not listed as received, it probably means that whatever you submitted is being processed. Please check again after a few days and hopefully it will appear.

It can take anywhere from 3 – 10  business days for this miraculous process to be complete (remember – hundreds of applications are processed every day). So, please be patient and we’ll do our best to keep things moving along.

And now…the Web site link!
To check the status of your application materials, please go to the following link:
You’ll be asked to either login or register. First time users, please register with our system, and put your login name and password in a safe place!

*Note – this Web site will not provide an update on your acceptance status.  It is merely for application materials.   All decisions made for those applying in our regular decision pool will be mailed out at the end of March.

Thank you and we look forward to reviewing your application!

Diane Soboski
Assistant Director of Admissions

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