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Holy Cross Admission Director Offers Advice to College Applicants During the Pandemic

The Boston Globe
July 8th, 2020 by 
Admissions office
Photo by Avanell Brock

Ann McDermott, director of admission at College of the Holy Cross, along with more than 350 college admissions deans and directors across the country, recently signed a collective statement offering advice to college applicants about how to think about their applications in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For McDermott, the statement was a chance to echo much of what Holy Cross has always applied in its admission process. “At Holy Cross, we use a holistic admission process, and evaluate every aspect of an applying student’s background, experience and achievement across all four years of their high school experience,” said McDermott.

“In addition to your academic achievements, we also want to know about the things that are meaningful to you; the way you’re pursuing those interests may look different in this pandemic time, because so much of our lives looks different right now. We’re encouraging students to think about the many different ways they might be demonstrating service and care for others, whether through leadership roles in the traditional extracurricular sense, or perhaps closer to home, through additional responsibilities in their family or community. And we continue to gather information from high schools to understand the impacts on curriculum and academic resources that may be outside the control of our applicants.”

More specifically, this statement underscored the following:

Self-Care. The admission deans emphasized that self-care was especially important in a time of crisis and encouraged all students to take care of themselves.

Academic Work. The deans said they recognize the obstacles that may have impeded learning this spring — including health and economic hardships in their families and a lack of Internet to complete online lessons — and will keep that in mind when examining coursework during those months.

Service and Contributions to Others. The deans suggested some ways students might be able to pitch in during this time, such as tutoring, delivering groceries, helping senior citizens, and registering people to vote. But they said they won’t penalize students who cannot take part in these activities because they have been constrained by the pandemic or other obstacles.

Family Contributions. The deans said they understand that many students have family responsibilities that can impede their capacity to engage in school and other activities, and that these responsibilities may have increased during this time. They viewed substantial family contributions as very important and encourage students to report them in their applications.

Extracurricular and Summer Activities. The deans said that no student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities or for lost possibilities for summer involvement during this time.

“We know that applying to college is always a uniquely stressful time for high school students,” said McDermott. “I hope that this statement helps alleviate some of that anxiety, by shining a bit of light on the admission process for applicants.”

Read more from The Boston Globe or read the full statement online.

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