“Freezing the Board”: Team Shuman Reflects on the Application Process

Trey Brown, Admissions Counselor, looks over an application. The due date for Andover applications was February 1.

The Shuman Admission Center is getting colder by the day, but not just from recent snow showers. Andover’s February 1 application deadline officially launches the team into the reading season. This marks the beginning of their work toward finalizing admission decisions, an action the team refers to as “freezing the board,” according to Heidi Jamieson, Director of Financial Aid.

Before Shuman can make those decisions, however, they must first read through the applications received each year. According to Trey Brown, Admission Counselor, the reading process is a thorough one that requires help from across campus.

“We read a lot of applications, but at the same time, we have faculty members read as well, whether that’s someone in the English department or even the Art department…That being said, we have multiple eyes on each application so it’s a thorough process… Obviously, sometimes things don’t go the way you wanted them to, but like I said, it’s a part of the dynamic here. It’s a family; you get over it and we keep on keeping on,” said Brown.

James Ventre ’79, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, emphasized that the team does not look for a particular type of student. Instead, they take a holistic approach to the application process and work to build a class community.

“There is no favored profile, yet student identity, the experiences they have in their life, are at the center of our selection process. We assess student productivity as well as student potential, and we pay particular attention to the nuance in the stories of our applicants to purposefully build a community, and not just admit students,” wrote Ventre in an email to The Phillipian, “in crafting a class, we understand the shifting platforms in which we embrace students in their identity, and we see the person behind the story presented in the application.”

Brown enjoys reading the personal statements of the application. According to Brown, the statements give the team a feel for what students are like and what they are passionate about.

“You see that Non Sibi spirit, you know because we ask personal questions to see what this kid finds important in their life, and so I think you get a better sense of who they are. It’s kind of a reflection, and you get to see the real them better than the creative writing samples or the parent statement. You know every parent thinks their child is the best. But I love reading the part where the student are really expressing themself and who they want to become, and basically painting a picture for us of who they are,” said Brown.

Vivien Mallick, Director of Admission Operations, values the distinct perspectives that each member of Shuman brings to the table. For Mallick, these differences help the team select the best applicants for the Andover community.

“Team Shuman rocks. I like that we’re all different, and we all bring our different lenses to this process, but everyone here works hard, and we all care a lot about making sure we bring in the kids who are best for our school and who will take advantage of everything that Andover has to offer and will contribute themselves and their talents to the school too,” said Mallick.

Jamieson similarly compared the Admissions Team to a family that supports its members, especially during the busy weeks of reading season.

“I think all of Andover is a family, but [in] this team of people, Team Shuman, everybody has each other’s back. I think if you talk to everyone in this office, they’ll probably say that. If somebody is out sick or if somebody has a family issue or an emergency or they’re not on campus, there is no question that somebody else is going to step in and just figure out how to get the job done,” said Jamieson.

When prospective families first enter Shuman, they are greeted by Evanice Cirelli, Admission Administrator. According to Cirelli, these interactions are especially meaningful because she can welcome people to what she considers to be the heart of Andover: admissions.

“I love meeting people from different backgrounds, and I speak many different languages. [It’s] very rewarding to see that I can communicate with the families and I love this job. I think it’s something very important because, for me, the admission is the heart of the school. Everything starts here, and I think it’s very good for families when they walk in and they see somebody that they can have a connection,” said Cirelli.

According to Ventre, Shuman strives to represent the Andover values in their work, whether it’s Non Sibi, Youth From Every Quarter, or Knowledge and Goodness.

Ventre wrote, “Team Shuman is aligned with the mission of [Andover] to nurture an intentionally diverse and inclusive community. When we speak with prospective families, we are guided by what we stand for and what families believe in—which should be the same… Team Shuman is loyal to the values Andover embodies…and we remain purposeful yet humble about our mission to go out and change some lives.”

Last year, the Shuman Admissions Center read 3,140 applications.