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


This is my final blog entry in a week long 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

Because your parents said so

DrewThis 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

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

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

Application Reading Period – Monday

DrewThis 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