Posts Tagged ‘admissions decisions’

Decisions, Decisions

Friday, March 20th, 2015

hc 7 hc 5

 

Over 6,700 prospective students, over 50 days of reading and deliberating files, over 115 inches of snow, and today Committee is OVER.  And what a Committee it was!  13 counselors with different backgrounds, different levels of admissions experience, and different recruitment regions all came together to help shape the Class of 2019.  We are so proud of our applicants this year–the pool included students from sea to shining sea, as well as Canada and Peru, the UK and Nepal, China and Egypt and India and several other countries.  It was so incredible to learn about students from all over the world, as they threw their hats in the ring for a chance to be part of our community.  I am so humbled to work in Admissions here at Holy Cross and get to be a part of this amazing process!

Students’ incredibly hard work certainly did not go unnoticed in this admission cycle.  We tapped our feet to drumming videos; smiled through scenes from plays like Shrek and Legally Blonde; felt shivers run down our spines during vocal performances; enjoyed stunning self-portraits, photographs, still-life paintings, and ceramic pottery; laughed at funny essays (and teared up at tender essays); and of course, we voted.  We chose students who we think challenged themselves in high school and will relish the academic rigors here on Mount Saint James.  We chose students who we believe will enhance our community with their wonderful talents, their varied interests, and their strong drive to not only better themselves but also better the lives of others.  And finally, we chose students who showed us their desire to study at a liberal arts college, and if they could, their desire to study at Holy Cross specifically.  Applicants showed us in all kinds of ways that they wanted to be Crusaders–by visiting campus, interviewing with an admissions counselor or an alumnus/alumna, writing to us, submitting their application response form, sending us supplemental materials, and/or attending a campus event.  Now that this part of the admission cycle is over, we look to the next step: helping admitted students choose Holy Cross!

I would like to end this post with my deepest congratulations to everyone who applied to the College this year.  You are all such incredible people with so much to offer, and it was an extraordinary experience to review your applications.  Working at a small liberal arts college, we had to make some hard decisions, and I wish that we could have taken more students–we saw so many well-qualified students in this pool.  While we could not offer a spot to everyone, we thank you all for applying and wish you all the best in your final semester of high school and in your future studies!

From Worcester to Siberia

Friday, May 16th, 2014

DianeSoboski.BLOG2Earlier this spring, I received an e-mail from our Vice President of Academic Affairs that detailed some extraordinary scientific work that a few recent graduates were doing in conjunction with the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to studying global climate changes in the Siberian Arctic. Immediately, one of the names caught my eye; Craig Connolly, HC ’13, was acknowledged for being one of the youngest authors and presenters at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco held last December. The title of his presentation, “Organic matter bioavailability and enzyme activities within stream benthic sediments in northeastern Siberia,” left me both impressed and a little bewildered. Additionally, the e-mail included that Craig recently had published a paper in the international journal Wetlands on how “global sea rise and increased saltwater intrusion in tidal rivers influences decomposition of an invasive and widespread macrophyte.”

 

While certainly impressive, I am no stranger to hearing of the outstanding accomplishments of our students. What struck me most was that this student, this particular student, was the first student that I called back in 2009 to congratulate on his acceptance and officially welcome to the College. In fact, Craig (and his twin brother Kevin, who also graduated from Holy Cross) was one of the first students I met on the road at his school only weeks after being hired in the admissions office.  I later interviewed him on campus, read his application, and presented his file to our Committee for review.

 

For the next four years, I’d see Craig around campus at various events, and it made me smile to see how seamlessly he appeared to fit into our community. He wasn’t a volunteer in our office, or one of the many students that I interacted with on a daily basis; he was just another student who came to Holy Cross, did excellent work, and who I watched cross the stage at graduation last year. But to me, Craig will always be that first student who I really felt belonged here and knew would have a positive impact on the Holy Cross campus.

 

I don’t know that he’ll ever read this blog, or even know that I’ve  kept track of him over the years, but it’s stories like these that make me love my job. I’m incredibly proud of Craig and all that he’s accomplished … even if I don’t exactly understand exactly what it is he’s studying in Siberia.

 

Diane Soboski

Associate Director of Admissions

(*Craig will be returning to Siberia this summer as a research assistant with the Woods Hole Research Center before beginning his PhD at the University of Texas in Austin this fall.)

 

Why Holy Cross? Because the excitement never ends

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

AshleyIn the midst of all the “Congratulations” tweets that went out this weekend to accepted students, there were many from alumni reminiscing about when they were accepted.  Student volunteers in our office described the exact second when they found out Holy Cross would be their home for the next four years.  Many alumni and students wished they could go back, open their acceptance letters, and come to Holy Cross all over again.

 

The excitement of your initial acceptance and the welcoming arms of the Holy Cross community never really go away.  Getting accepted is only the beginning. It leads to four years on a beautiful campus surrounded by driven, eager, and social peers. Hundreds of students volunteer their time in our office not only because they love this place but also because they are excited to tell others just how much they love this place.

 

Eventually, you become a fond alum who still remembers their acceptances because it was the catalyst that spurred those friendships, memories, and connections on this campus. Of course, this is common on many college campuses; what makes Holy Cross a special place, however, is that these connections don’t end when you accept your diploma. Lifetime friendships are formed, passions are discovered, and lives are changed.

 

If you think I am being dramatic, I dare you to speak to Holy Cross graduates who aren’t eager to share their experiences — and perhaps also tell you how they found their spouse, best friend, mentor, colleague, and calling here.  I think they would back me up.

 

So that feeling you had when you saw the word “accepted” in your letter? That feeling doesn’t go away.

Ashley Johnson

Admissions Counselor

Decision Day

Friday, March 21st, 2014

AnnMcDermott.BLOG2This has been a groundbreaking year. Students, guidance counselors, and college admissions alike dealt with changes to applications during the fall. In an effort to keep more clarity in our applications, we added a writing supplement. And, also for the first time, we released all of our admissions decisions online. With an exciting push of a button today, we witnessed over 2,000 students view their decisions within 90 minutes — and many more as the evening wore on.

This year’s applicant pool was once again very strong, so the competition for gaining admission was particularly intense. We are excited to welcome our chosen Class of 2018, a truly special achievement, though it was not a quick nor easy decision-making process. As always, we spent over five weeks in full-day Committee, opening every application in front of our admissions staff of 13, and often opening essays, transcripts, and recommendations multiple times for the most complete evaluation possible.

We were struck by poignant responses to our additional writing sample, asking what was the best advice you ever received. We were impressed by what your guidance counselor and teachers had to say about you. We were dazzled by your leadership and floored by what we heard from you in interviews. We were challenged to pick from among 5,300 talented students, yet we remain proud of the ones we have chosen.

The next five weeks will be very busy and very exciting for those admitted applicants — now official members of the Holy Cross community, if you will have us. As you consider your choices, we hope you will join us on campus so we can help you celebrate your impressive achievements. From a variety of visiting options to our Accepted Student Open House to our virtual representation on social media, there are a number of ways to engage with the College.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us (800-442-2421) with any questions or concerns. We are excited to welcome you to the Holy Cross community!

Ann McDermott, ’79

Director of Admissions

The Final Days of Committee

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

We’re hitting the home stretch. It’s been a very busy four weeks, 133 hours spent in the Committee room to be exact, in which time we have made decisions on just over 80% of the applicant pool. This upcoming week — likely the final week of Committee — will ask us to start splitting hairs. The entire staff agrees this year’s applications have shown incredible engagement and quality across the board.

As a highly selective institution, Holy Cross attracts some of the most intelligent, creative, and articulate high school students out there. But being highly selective also requires us in admissions to start asking the tough questions and making tougher decisions. The entire staff will evaluate your writing samples, examine your transcript, read your recommendations, and see your contact with the College, all in an effort to allow us to say that we gave every application the most thorough of looks.

It’s exciting that the light at the end of the Committee tunnel is visible. It’s even more exciting that the incredibly talented Class of 2018 is nearly complete. But before we cross the finish line, we have many tough decisions to make.

We’ll see you soon.

 

-The Holy Cross Admissions staff

Dan Keeps Committee Fun

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

I admit it:  I am a dork, a dweeb, a geek, a nerd.   I am all of these things.  I exhibit these dorky qualities every day during Committee, our seven and a half hours each day behind closed doors.  I find a way to amuse myself when each new high school, hometown, or applicant’s name appears on the projector. I believe it is important to clear my thoughts and put myself in a positive mindset before viewing and discussing each applicant. I employ all of the following mental techniques in order to get myself excited to explore each and every applicant:

1. Create a rhyme using the applicant’s last name – i.e.  “Daniel Weagle owns five beagles.”

2. Read the applicant’s name/school/hometown in an Irish brogue, French inflection, Southern drawl, robot voice or any other way that will cause me to smile (it’s really not too difficult to get me to smile).

3. Question whether an applicant is related to a celebrity with the same last name (one of my favorites).

4. Find a pun within a schools’ name – i.e. “What do you call a fantastic feline? A Magnificat!” (Thanks, Ohio, for your help.)

5. Start off each break with a new impression. Me doing Will Ferrell doing Harey Carey is the current crowd favorite.

I suspect that each Holy Cross counselor has his or her unique method of mentally preparing for the discussion of every applicant; my method just infuses a split second of silliness into the otherwise overwhelmingly serious process of selecting the Holy Cross class of 2018.

 

Daniel Weagle ’08

Assistant Director of Community Outreach

Committee Has Begun!

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

After a frenzied few months of application reading, we’re back and ready to blog even more.  Miss us? We missed you, too.

 

For the next five weeks, the HC admissions committee will be selecting the next class of Crusaders.  Decisions won’t be posted online until sometime after March 15 (we like to remain secretive), so to alleviate your anxiety, we’ll do our best to keep you updated on what’s going on behind the closed doors.

 

What to expect?  Play-by-play, hard-nosed reporting, pictures, color commentary, food reviews, and historical re-enactment.  What not to?  Answers to the question, “Did I get in?”

 

First up – the change in the office, and where 12 of us will be  spending the next month:

The conference room, turned into the new waiting room…

New waiting room

 

…because we’ve turned the original waiting room into our closed-door Committee Room.

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Stay tuned for more open doors.

Julia Sanders
Senior Assistant  Director of Admissions

The Most Fun Part of Our Job

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Zachary WielgusFor the two and a half months that span early November to nearly the end of January, much of our focus is on reading and evaluating Early Decision applications. These students have signed a contract affirming their intense interest in Holy Cross; after all, it requires they remove all other applications they have and commit to attending Holy Cross. (Take it from us, it is a commitment many should be excited about.)

Instead of notifying every student of their decision on the same date — as we do with Regular Decision applicants — we opt for a wrinkle in the admissions process. During the ED months, our office meets in our patented full Committee every 10-14 days to begin crafting the incoming class. For those students who have made that important commitment to Holy Cross and know this is their top choice, we feel it’s important to tell them the good news in ways outside of an acceptance letter. We do what no other school does: we call them to tell them they’ve been accepted.

Below you will find a compilation of reactions that were recorded during these phone calls. There was disbelief, there were tears, there were many thank you’s, and there were a lot of full voice mailboxes (clean out your voicemail, people!). There’s truly no way to capture the emotion during these amazing calls … but here’s our best effort:

 

Just got off the plane to his grandparents’ for Chinese New Year. “This is the best New Year gift!”

Very excited! Could hear her start to cry when she hung up.

“Oh my gosh I got in?! It’s my top choice and I didn’t think I was going to get in!”

“No way! No way! Are you lying? No way!”

Total silence and then he whispered, “I got in” to his friend. Really cute. Very happy.

Screaming and gasping and OMG’s galore.

Incredibly excited. Issued at least 20 “thank yous” before the call was over. Couldn’t get off the phone soon enough to begin celebrating.

“What? I got in??? I’m so confused. And excited!!”

“Best Christmas present ever!” Mom got on phone, crying too, very thankful.

“My heart is beating so fast!”

Absolutely started screaming and crying on the phone – SO excited to be a Crusader.

He was trying to play it tough but started to break down a bit.

“Wow! Wow! Wow!” followed by giggling, hyperventilating, and maybe even some tears of joy.

Very excited – said she was going to do her happy dance.

“Can you hold on one sec?” He then screams, “I just got into Holy Cross!!!”

Broke down crying on the train and couldn’t focus on anything I said after I told her she was accepted. Kept saying “you made my day.”

Amid tears of joy: “I just want you to know I’m so honored to be accepted.”

“This is..probably…the best….phone call… I’ve ever received. You should see the smile on my face right now.” Can’t wait to share the news with parents who are “on the edge of their seats.” “I had to step out of varsity bowling practice once I saw that you called.”

The Dark, Mysterious Committee Room

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

AshleySitting in a dark room … with candy

 

After almost four months at my new job as Admissions Counselor at Holy Cross, I have learned one thing: to throw all of my expectations out the window.  So when I received my first calendar invite to Committee, I had no idea what to think.  My colleagues had given me a brief overview of the process: the dark room, the projector, the snacks.  But like almost everything in Admissions, nothing is really that clear until you experience it for yourself.

 

Going into my first committee, I’ll admit … I was nervous.  Naturally, I sat next to the other newbie Admissions staff members(strength in numbers, right?).  Having my reading sheet notes projected in front of my peers made me almost as nervous as applicants are about their credentials being projected in front of the Committee.  After all, I was not far removed from the college search and application process.  Fresh out of college, how was I expected to participate in making life-changing decisions for students only five years younger than myself?  But I guess that is the beauty of our Committee process.  As a new employee, I have more say in shaping the community here than I would at any other entry-level job.  I get to hear all of the unique perspectives of my colleagues and all of our applicants’ amazing stories.  Our Committee process gives every applicant and every staff member a voice.

 

Going into some of our final Early Decision Committees this week, I am feeling more confident.  The Committee process is becoming clearer to me now.  Instead of nervousness, a sense of excitement comes over me whenever we enter the Committee room.  I am excited to help shape the Holy Cross Class of 2018 … and some candy.

 

Ashley Johnson
Admissions Counselor

I Just Got My Letter and I’m Not Happy

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

To the Holy Cross Office of Admissions:

I just received my decision letter, and you guys got it WRONG.  JUST PLAIN WRONG.

P.S. WRONG

Sound about right?

We in the Admissions Office recognize that many of you are pretty disappointed right now and we just want you to know — we understand, we know this is tough, and we’re really bummed, too.

The frustration you’re feeling is indeed justifiable. You’re probably brilliant, hard working, charismatic, thoughtful, and talented. You’re a three sport captain. A class president. An Irish step dancing mathlete. A bassoon-playing robotics champion. And on top of all of that, you are getting an A in AP Calc! You are an admit-a-la-mode. It may not feel like it right now, but we think the world of you. And though you may have visions of us sitting around some big table, laughing devilishly, drumming our fingers together a’ la Mr. Burns, casting out careless decisions while contemplating the many delicious ways to destroy your life, the fact is, none of us enjoy letting you down. Our decision making committee consists of a bunch of sappy, sensitive nerds, who’ve committed the last four months of their lives to meticulously scouring your applications for every morsel of goodness. Deciding between such wonderful and often equally deserving students is incredibly grueling, and simply heartbreaking. Smiling devilishly? No. We rather feel like sulking in the corner.

Please try not to doubt yourself or wonder what you could have done differently. Due to an insanely competitive applicant pool, we simply couldn’t admit all of the admissible applicants we wanted to. So, while we hope you can trust that we did our best to make the fairest decisions we could, we acknowledge and understand your disappointment.

Please know that you are all stars. You’re part of the most exceptionally talented applicant pool Holy Cross has ever seen, and we’re confident that wherever you end up, you’ll find unlimited success.

Julia Sanders
Assistant  Director of Admissions