Is My Recommendation Letter There Yet?

Pmaloney Dear Holy Cross Admissions,

I recently applied to the College of the Holy Cross and I’m very excited!  However, I sent my application online through the Common Application website and the rest of my information (recommendations, report card, etc.) is coming through the mail.  I want to make sure that everything arrives okay.  Can you tell me if you have all of my information and if my application is complete?

Thank you.

“Concerned Applicant”

I chose to start my blog this week with a generic version of the email/phone call above that starts to become more frequent this time of year.especially for students who have applied Early Decision.  There is a somewhat easy answer for this question, but the explanation is a little difficult (I think) for people outside of our office to visualize.  So, through the mighty power of the Admissions blog, I’m going to show you the answer.

The first step in the process is obviously the delivery of mail to our office.  Because of the sheer volume of mail that we are consistently receiving, we are one of the first departments on campus to receive our daily mail.  Patricia McKeen, who many of you will recognize as one of our two wonderful receptionists, is our postal worker extraordinare.  Actually, she works for us, but I would argue that she should receive some kind of compensation for the Postal Service for the job that she does.  As you can see by the photo, Pat opens ALL of the mail.  I can’t even begin to fathom how she does it.  But if you sent in your application via mail and received a postcard from us saying that we received it, well, Pat McKeen opened that envelope and sent you that postcard.  Seriously, look at the piles of mail in the photo!  Not only does she open it, but then she sorts it all alphabetically.  Amazing!


Next stop is our file room (sometimes called Fort Knox).  This is the real guts of the Admissions Office.  We have several wonderful clerical staff members in the file room, who receive all the mail that Pat has just worked on.  At this point, they take all of the recommendation letters, transcripts, resumés, etc. and go through the filing cabinets that hold all your applications to put them with all of the information we’ve received from you already.  Then, we check to see what kind of information it is that you’ve sent us.  If it is a required piece of the application process, a box is checked off on the front of your application file, so that anyone looking at your file doesn’t need to flip through all of the pages to see that your guidance counselor recommendation arrived last week.  This information is also stored in our computer system so that any required information that wasn’t received from you is recorded and we would eventually send you a letter notifying you which required items are missing.  Each counselor on the staff here has their own filing cabinet or section of filing cabinet divided by alphabet.  That way, we are able to keep track of all of “our” applications as they being to accumulate.

Anyway, getting back to the email/phone call at the beginning of this entry, if you did send us something and are wondering if it arrived, now you know the process that it went through to get to the rest of your application file.  However, as you can see, there are several steps involved and with the volume of mail (especially after a few days build up around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day) it does take some time for things to get where they need to be.  But remember: You don’t have to worry.  We’ve been doing this a long time.  Your recommendation letters are safe and are in capable hands.  And if anything happened to a letter and it did not make it to your file, we’ll send you a letter to let you know.  You don’t have to email or call to check in on it.

Oh, and if you see Pat McKeen or any other member of the Admissions clerical staff around campus sometime in the future, make sure you thank them for their hard work and all of those paper cuts they got from working with all of your mail!

Patrick Maloney ’02
Assistant Director of Admissions

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