The Cupertino Effect

If you search the website of the United Nations, you’ll find a fascinating article on African-German Cupertino; in another article, you can read about peace education that stresses participation, problem solving and Cupertino.

Still have time on your hands?  Another search will bring you to an article on political, economic and trade Cupertino in the Balkans.

What is Cupertino, you ask?

Well, it’s a city in California.  But for our purposes, it’s proof that spell-check is not always correct.

You see, early versions of spell-check did not recognize the word “cooperation”; it only knew the word to be spelled with a hyphen: “co-operation”.  Like any misspelled word, spell check recommended alternative spellings, the first of which was the now famous town in California.  Inattentive writers (even in the UN!) frequently hit “change all” without proof reading the spell-check selection.

The lesson here?  Today is August 18th and the Common Application has been available for a few weeks. As you begin working on your essay, remember that spell-check is a handy tool but that your eyes and the eyes of a proofreader with perspective are the only way to make sure that your thoughts come across effectively.

Thank you for your Cupertino.

Andrew N. Carter

Associate Director of Admissions

College Visit Tips

It is a scene all too familiar – several families waiting in line at the reception desk in the HC Admissions Office, parents holding copies of the Boston Globe, waiting to inquire about a good place for lunch near campus.

Here’s a word of advice to all those families who take road trips to make college visits.  When you’re on campus, you’re trying to get a sense of what that college is all about  — what it’s like to live there; what it’s like to learn there; what it’s like to spend four years there.  Take advantage of what you have at hand to get the most out of your short time on campus.  Don’t read the Boston Globe and eat lunch at a restaurant.  Read the school newspaper and eat lunch on campus.

Trust me.  You’ll never forget our mac and cheese.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

The Perfect Burrito

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiRecently, I was at Tortilla Sam’s (Worcester’s finest establishment for Mexican food) and I began thinking about the perfect burrito.  What makes a burrito the perfect burrito?  Is it the ratio of rice to beans?  Is it the freshness of the salsa?  Or perhaps it’s the texture of the tortilla?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that a burrito is comprised of so many components, so many complementary parts, that it’s impossible to identify which one plays the largest role.  Put differently, you don’t know what makes a burrito the perfect burrito until you taste it and even then you’re unlikely to know why it’s perfect – more likely, it’s the precise combination of all the assembled parts.  In addition, perhaps we all have our own unique tastes which dictate what will make a burrito perfect for each and every one of us.  The perfect burrito for one person might be far too spicy for someone else. 

As the days tick by on April’s calendar and we move closer to the May 1st deadline when all admitted students must decide at which college to set up their futons and mini-fridges next year, let’s remember the lesson of the burrito.  Colleges are complex and complicated homes for living and learning and they can’t be summed up in a sound bite nor summarized in a Facebook posting.  The best way to identify the perfect college is to think for yourself and know that when it happens, you won’t know why – you’ll just know that you’ve found the perfect college for you.  In the meantime, keep an open mind and keep the salsa off your shirt.


Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Deadline Day

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiHappy Deadline Day, everybody!

What a wonderful holiday it is – today is the deadline to apply for first year admission to College of the Holy Cross. Like many of you, we are in the midst of our Deadline Day celebrations. Here in the Holy Cross Admissions Office, we are eating the traditional Deadline Day breakfast – coffee and eraser shavings; we are exchanging the traditional Deadline Day gifts – mechanical pencils, carpal tunnel survival kits and prescription glasses; we have even performed the traditional Deadline Day circle dance around the Deadline Day tree. (Well, it’s more a stack of applications than it is a tree . . .)

So, now that Deadline Day is here, we are afforded the opportunity to reflect back upon this last recruiting cycle – several thousand admissions interviews, over a thousand high schools visited, 120,000 airline miles and nearly 400 hours of free Wi-Fi logged at Paneras located around the continental United States. It’s been an exhausting and exhilarating spring, summer and fall. Now all that’s left to do is to read, read, present, discuss, debate and then finally vote. A month from now, our committee process will begin selecting and completing the next class of Crusaders. But before we can do that, we first must read. And read. Every application. Twice.

So for now, I will bid adieu and return to my stack of applications. If you call my office in the next few weeks and don’t get an answer, know that I’m reading applications somewhere else. And if you find yourself in a Panera anytime soon and you see a spectacled, wrist-brace wearing, mechanical-pencil using academic surrounded by green folders and eraser shavings – don’t laugh. Just know that we appreciate calculus, we appreciate early morning swim team practice, we appreciate tech crew and we’d appreciate one of those enormous chocolate chip cookies.


Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Common App Essay Advice

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiYou’ve filled in all the empty spaces; you’ve identified siblings, parents, CEEB code, guidance counselor fax number and now you’re hovering above the “SUBMIT” button. You’ve checked it two, three, four different times but you still get the sense that it’s not quite ready. Like a cake without frosting, your Common Application is still not ready for consumption. So for the nth time, you go back to check your essay – one last time, you promise yourself.

You meticulously check for spelling mistakes.


You review the 11 comma rules and check your essay again.

Looks good.

Yet, you’re still not ready to click “SUBMIT”.

Stuck in that position?

Here’s some advice for you:

Review the beginning of your essay – the first two or three sentences. Have you effectively captured your reader’s attention or have you simply begun telling your story? Have you grabbed your reader by the lapels and given them a good shake or have you quietly snuck into the room like a late arrival to the opera? Not sure?

Here’s what you should do – pick up a copy of People magazine and take a look at their articles (yes, there are articles). Actually, don’t read any article in its entirety – just read the first 2-3 sentences. Their articles aren’t brilliant or unbelievably well-written but the writers for People magazine do an outstanding job of grabbing their readers’ attention at the beginning of an article. And while admissions counselors do not read applications while standing in line at the grocery store, it is equally important for you to catch their attention at the beginning of your essay.

So get some inspiration from People magazine and spruce up your first 2-3 sentences. Remember, lapels are on our jackets for a reason. Give them a good shake.

Andrew Carter

Associate Director of Admissions

Three Cups of Tea

‘Here we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die.’


6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiThis quote is the inspiration for the title of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea, the remarkable story of Greg Mortenson and his commitment to build schools and improve lives in the poorest villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

In preparation for Mr. Mortenson’s visit to Holy Cross at the end of September , I’ve been reading his book.  The more I read, the more I realize that there are so many lessons contained within – commitment, honor, the value of hard work, respect, etc. 

But perhaps the one lesson that has stuck with me the most is the lesson of perseverance.  Without reading the book, you might imagine that Mr. Mortenson decided to build schools and simply did it.  It was not that easy. 
In building his first school, he had to deal with an unfamiliar foreign land, coming up with enough money, time constraints, missing supplies, etc.  It was no easy task. 

Similarly, as you sit down to write your Common Application essay, remember the lesson of perseverance.  You might struggle with an unfamiliar format, coming up with an idea, time constraints, missing ideas, etc.  An essay that you can be proud of is not likely to simply appear on your computer; but know that if you invest your time, effort and hard work, you will succeed.  If you persevere, your efforts will be rewarded with an essay of which you can be proud.  Hard work always pays off.

Greg Mortenson knows this to be true. 

The children who attend his schools know this to be true. 

You do, too. 

See also:

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Holy Cross

(This message is brought to you by “Picture Perfect”, the photo blog that illustrates day-to-day life at Holy Cross).

#5. Students from Texas are willing to try anything new, even ice skating inside the Hogan Campus Center.


#4. Holy Cross students combine a love of the outdoors and a love of the Patriots by moving their couches and televisions outside on Sundays in the fall.


#3.Skiing is as close as 15 minutes away.


#2 Students from Maryland get creative with dining hall food and even win money for it.


#1 Our President has a doctorate in computer engineering, is a Jesuit priest, jogs nearly every morning before most of us are awake, volunteers alongside our students AND he looks good in a baseball cap.


Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

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.  (

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