Introduction to New Online Reading System in Shuman, Pushes Back Application Deadline

The Shuman Admissions Office began reading applications online this year for the first time ever, reducing the application processing time to a quarter of what it was before.

Because of the more efficient system, Jim Ventre, Dean of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid, and the Admissions office decided last July to push back the deadline for boarding applications from January 15 to February 1.

The Admissions Office plans to use SharePoint, an online reading system where readers can access files simultaneously. Because every application is read by two faculty readers, the interviewer, a class officer and a dean, it had previously taken three to five days to circulate one application folder among all five readers, according to Ventre.

“Since multiple readers have access to the same application at the same time, the decision-making timeline has streamlined the entire evaluation and decision processes, saving time and resources while making reader participation easier and more convenient,” said Ventre.

“It’s created a new level of access and convenience for our faculty readers that they didn’t have before,” he added.

Prior to this year, each application was printed and put into individual folders. Faculty readers would come into the admissions office and select a group of folders from a specific grade to read. They would then read, evaluate and vote on the folders and write a paragraph about each student.

With the new system, each member of the faculty is assigned a few applicants whose files they will be able to access with their personal login, according to Ventre. Although faculty can now read the entire application online, feedback from the evaluators is still submitted on paper to the Admissions office with the exception of the Music Department. Peter Cirelli, Instructor and Chair in Music, has introduced an online music assessment system for those candidates who submit recordings with their applications.

Depending on the success of the music assessment system, an online candidate evaluation system may be implemented next year. The goal is to move the entire process, including feedbacks, online eventually, according to Ventre.

However, the Admissions Office also plans to retain the human component of the application, Ventre said.

“We will never do away with the human oversight of the assessment of the candidates. The idea is that we can actually open up and invite more participation of our faculty into the reading process because we have made the assessment easier and more convenient for them. We can actually expand the input of the faculty to evaluate the candidates that the faculty believes deserve the opportunity to come to Andover,” he said.

In addition to improving convenience, the new online system eliminates paper waste and the risk of losing documents in the admissions process.

Andover is the first of its peer schools to manage the entire application process online, Ventre said. He continued that Andover is very different than many schools because of the large faculty input in the evaluation process.

“Everyone has been really positive about [the new system]. We are considering this as version 1.0, and we are looking forward to next year when we will have version 2.0,” said Ventre.

According to Ventre, the Admissions Office began moving the application process online five years ago with the implementation of CollegeNET, a program that enables candidates to submit all the pieces of the application online with the exception of the essays.

For the 2009-2010 application season, Andover introduced the Gateway Application, which is now used to submit the entire Andover application electronically.

The Admissions office collaborated with the Andover Information Technology Department, specifically John Wilson, Associate Director of Technology, and Dominic Veneto, Director of Information Technology, on this project.