Admission: Not Impossible

Committee Reflections

March 17th, 2017 kvanhorn

In anticipation of decisions being released tomorrow, here are some reflections from new counselors in our office on our committee selection process.

 

written by Nicole Howell

As a new hire in the Admissions Office, I had heard a lot about committee since my first day on campus. From my coworkers’ descriptions, it felt like a mix of final exams and Christmas – daunting, tiring, but exciting. I was told that for a month and a half, we hunker down in a dimly lit room and comb through every single application until we’re left with Holy Cross’s next incoming class. Up until the beginning of February, one piece of insight into the process was consistent: “You just have to wait and see it.”

Much like Christmas, food was abundant in committee. To keep our minds fueled and focused we had Potluck Mondays, specials treats and desserts on Wednesdays, and a hearty stockade of fruit snacks and granola bars for all the days in between. Each day was different. Some days we went through upwards of 300 applications, while other days we decisioned just over 100. Each decision was made with thought and care, and throughout this process I watched as my coworkers advocated for students they had met, and shared the insights they gained as they read their applications. Very quickly I realized the value in having 11 individuals with different perspectives and experiences collaborate on such important decisions.

Committee is a singularly unique experience for college admissions. Like many of the students and families I’ve met over the last 8 months, I was both pleasantly surprised and a little skeptical when I learned about committee for the first time. For an office of only 11 staff members and thousands of applications, it seemed impossible that every application would be carefully reviewed and considered separately from the thousands of other applications in the pool, but it also seemed like the right way to honor and recognize all of the time and hard work that students put into their applications. As I find myself now finally at the end of my first committee, I’m happy to report that my pleasant surprise was justified, and skepticism misplaced. Yes, every part of your application is read: every letter, essay, and supplement. And yes, we really do look at each student individually, and we’re happy to do it. I’m proud to work at an institution that puts as much time and care into hand-picking our students as our students spend researching and choosing us, and applicants can rest easy knowing their hard work throughout high school and in their applications are getting their due consideration.

 

written by Brenna Kelly

Back when Kevin Federline was still married to Britney Spears and Razor cell phones were all the rage I began applying to colleges. Like many of you, I wondered what the right equation was to get admitted into college. What were these Admission Counselors looking for and are they really reading every last word in my description of extra-curricular activities? As an Admission Counselor now I have realized my hours of exasperating myself and the eyes of my mother over my Common Application were well worth it. At the College of the Holy Cross I have been able to sit in and participate on an admissions committee process that is caring, detailed and thorough.

There are a few words in my mind that are overused in the admission world and those are community and holistic. So I thought as I embarked on my position at Holy Cross I would find different words to describe the higher education institution and most importantly the admission process. Yet I found these words to ring more true than ever as I sat in with ten of my fellow co-workers in the dimly lite Admissions Office. Let me set the scene for you all here. Our room was dark due to our two projectors that stood tall and large in the front of the room. These projectors displayed each student that applied to Holy Cross and not only did it contain their application but reviews from two of our staff members who have already read these files as well. Underneath the projectors we had an enormous amount of snacks to keep us fueled. As we reviewed students who possibly may endure “The Freshman 15” in the Fall I had begun my journey on “The Committee 15”. It will take a while before I look at a pack of trail mix the same. But all jokes aside this room is where we made caring and thoughtful decisions about each applicant from our own city of Worcester to across the world in China.

As a staff, we thoroughly go through each application with more emotion and thought than a prospective student would guess. Just like any student who has sat through a college information session, they are aware of how important grades, curriculum rigor, activities outside the classroom and more are when compiling the “perfect” college application. While this application process during high school may seem daunting, sitting in my first cycle of committee has assured me none of this hard work goes unnoticed. From reading essays more than once to really getting to know a student through an application, this process has been eye-opening and validating. Building a new community for each incoming class may take many weeks and Twizzlers but it’s a process I’m proud and excited to be a part of.

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