A behind-the-scenes look at the undergraduate admissions process

A behind-the-scenes look at the undergraduate admissions process

August 20, 2019 16 By Stanley Isaacs


She makes a mark on our community, I think. And even if it wasn’t the longest list of extra-curriculars that I’ve seen, she gets involved and she really makes an impact in each one. You’re getting a behind-the-scenes look
at what typically is a closed-door process in the Brandeis University Admissions
Office. Staff members are weighing applications in what’s called “Committee.” He’s involved in a lot of different things
and I think he could be interesting addition to the student body. So I was between waitlist and admit. As a group, they’re
deciding whether to admit, waitlist, or deny prospective students. But
before we go further, let’s back up. Before any
applications are discussed here thousands have them start their journey
here, in the operations department, where they wait for an admissions staff
member like Jen Walker to read them. Depending on where people like to
read their files, it ends up somewhere in our house. So for me, that’s the kitchen table. To offer perspective, Walker red roughly 800 applications last year alone. As the
counselors read, the strongest of them are quickly
pushed through the acceptance process, while others and up in the Committee room. There’s a lot of personal characteristics that feel like a really nice match for Brandeis, you know? And knowing that he visited, knowing that he gets us, I guess I’m sort of making a leap between… He’s making that connection, too. Well it’s also nice that in his interview
right up we hear that he’ll benefit Brandeis as a whole. I’ll tell you a little
secret: When you go through to Committee, more often than not students are offered admission. We look
for, again, so many ways on how you as an
individual will impact our campus. So for us, you know, there’ll be so many viewpoints.
At some point, if there’s enough positive viewpoints, that will saw the Committee. She’s ranked at 21% of her class… Every time you open up that folder, it’s
like you’re putting together a puzzle. And you have an essay and you have a
transcript and you have recommendations and you’re trying to build a picture of a human being. As a Brandeis alumn, Admissions Counselor Sarah Ehrich has a good idea of what to look out for a while building
the community. I first look at their academic record, but then I’m also
looking to see who they are as people. Are they a fit with this institution? Are they going to come here? Are they going to be happy? Are they going to
be contributors? Those blocks can be different
characteristics, but once you get enough then maybe you’re admitted to
Brandeis. Acceptance letters are eventually signed,
stuffed, and sent back to the operations
department, where all applicant information is stored. You can think of Zachary Santomauro as
The Data Man. I’m pretty much the last line of defense
as far as making sure that the data that’s in our system is accurate. It hasn’t been uploaded
into the system with the a space where space shouldn’t be, a dash
where a dash shouldn’t be. In the meantime, Chris Holsten takes all of
the applicant data and turns it into something tangible. You can call Holsten The Report Guy. We look in trends over periods of years. So we would look at all the applicants
from New York for the past five or 10 years and see
how their SAT scores have been looking, their grade-point averages, things like that nature. On this day, it
was too early for Holsten to offer any data on the next Brandeis class, as Committee decisions were still in progress. But he’s excited to see how the class shapes up, a sentiment shared by all involved in
the process. You see these wonderful students and
their families arrive on campus and you can just sense the energy that they bring to this campus. I don’t just know their grades. I know their stories. You know, a lot of things come
through in recommendations and in essays, and you do sort of fall in love with a few love
them and advocate for them and push through the process. And then when that student is admitted and
matriculates and shows up at Admitted Students Day, and you see them and I met them over a
year ago at their high school and now they’re
here…it’s amazing. And it’s all made possible through an
application’s journey and three very special words: “Welcome to Brandeis.” Welcome to Brandeis. I’m Marsha McKeker
for BrandeisNOW.