Much like the people depicted in Plato’s Republic, my colleagues and I have recently spent a great deal of time in a dark space looking straight ahead. However, while the protagonist in the “Allegory of the Cave” is forced to grapple with the meaning of shadows, statues, fire, and sunlight, the Holy Cross admission staff has pondered over academic rigor, personal statements, interview notes, and letters of recommendation. Having just completed our admission committee process for the Class of 2023, it feels like the right time to reflect on our work and the work of our applicants…through a liberal arts lens, of course.
While Plato’s cavemen and cavewomen view the shadows on the wall as their one true reality, Holy Cross’ admission counselors never lose sight of the fact that our applicants are more than what can be seen on our projector screens. Through interviews, essays, recommendations, and conversations, we strive to know each applicant on a personal level so that we can fully understand and evaluate the essence of every individual.
I can’t tell you how happy we are to walk out of our
cave committee room and interact with the Holy Cross Class of 2023 during Admitted Student Day in April. We are thrilled to watch new students join us for summer orientations and to see the impact that each new Crusader will have on our campus over the next four years. Like Plato’s philosopher who is initially blinded by the sun, first days on the Hill will be marked by adjustment and awakening. Fortunately, the education that you will receive and the experiences that you will have atop Mount Saint James will ultimately transform you and point you towards the Form of the Good in life.
Two projector screens light up the dark room. These extended computer displays can be seen as portals into the lives of our applicants, much like eyes are looked at as windows into the human soul.
I’ve spent the better part of the last four weeks in the admissions committee room with twelve of my colleagues. With our decision release date of March 17th, we still have a couple of weeks left to go.
Day by day, some things have changed while others have remained the same. At any given time, a fly on the wall could observe a counselor sitting down or standing up, switching seats or swapping snacks. Our applications have rolled up The Hill from down the street and from out of state; some applications have even been out of this world! As each new candidate comes into focus, counselors take time to walk around in the file for a while. We seek out A’s and advanced classes, as well as interviews, instances of interest, and additional information. I can honestly say that it’s been an inspiring and entertaining journey getting to know thousands of Holy Cross hopefuls over these past few weeks.
When it comes to making decisions, we operate by majority rule. Some verdicts are unanimous, while others are split. The committee is composed of a baker’s dozen of higher education professionals who hail from distinct places and who embrace diverse viewpoints. The thirteen counselors who make up the College of the Holy Cross Admissions Committee can be thought of like the thirteen different kinds of cards in a deck (two through ace). We hold different values and each one is a crucial component of the whole. The multifariousness of both our committee members and our applicant pool makes participating in the game of admissions a unique challenge and joy.
As the overhead lights dim and the projector lights brighten on this day, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the (admissions) tunnel, and I’m sure that you are too. Thank you to all of our applicants this year – it’s been a pleasure to read your stories and to learn about your lives. May good fortune find you on March 17th!
by Tom McHugh