In order to attend Christian Brothers, we all had to send in an application which contained our grades, letters of recommendations, and small essays that we wrote about why we want to go to high school at CB. Once we sent in our applications, the admissions team reviewed them and made decisions that led to […]
In order to attend Christian Brothers, we all had to send in an application which contained our grades, letters of recommendations, and small essays that we wrote about why we want to go to high school at CB. Once we sent in our applications, the admissions team reviewed them and made decisions that led to the creation of our classes. We all got admitted and didn’t think twice about the process that gave us our spots here.
The Admissions Department at Christian Brothers is run by three incredibly hard-working and kind women who are dedicated to finding and choosing the best students to attend Christian Brothers. Mrs. Kristen McCarthy, Mrs. Jana Morris ‘99, and Mrs. Kelly Harrington ‘83 make up this team and are the ones in charge of organizing events like Open House and shadow days, receiving and reading student applications, and ultimately selecting the students who will attend Christian Brothers.
Mrs. McCarthy is the head of this department as she is the Director of Admissions and Communications. With the help of Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Harrington, she makes the ultimate decisions about admitting students.
“I like to say that I am a professional bragger because I get to talk about the many great things that Christian Brother has to offer. In my role as Admissions Director, we work at ensuring that the freshman class has appropriate enrollment,” she says.
Mrs. Morris is the Assistant Director of Admissions, and her job also consists presenting CB to middle school students trying to determine where to go to high school.
“I support Mrs. McCarthy in ultimately helping to attract and recruit and draw students in Sacramento and the surrounding communities to come to Christian Brothers High School,” she says.
Mrs. Harrington has an important role in the team as she handles phone calls and emails from people asking questions about the school and the application process, and she helps to organize and schedule multiple events that happen at CB.
“I am sort of the front of the line with people who call in to inquire about admissions at Christian Brothers, and I also respond to emails that come into our inbox. I coordinate all of the Lasallian Student Ambassadors, so making sure they have their interview and getting them on board with the schedule. Then I schedule school visits, so I call all of the eighth grade teachers and principals in the area and set up a time for us to come and do outreach and visit the seventh and eighth grade classrooms. Then we plan for Open House, and after Open House, I schedule all of the shadow day visits. Then the application process really starts to begin. Applications pour in November, December, January, and then we prepare for the placement test,” she says of her busy schedule.
The three of them work together to make sure that middle schools and 7th and 8th grade students are informed about the education CB provides, plan events for prospective students to come and learn more about the school, review applications, and then finally admit students as freshman or as transfer students.
“All of us play a role,” Mrs. Morris says. “Mrs. Harrington is the first point of contact — she gets to know everyone and gets all of their information and is ultimately the sounding board for the folks you call and have questions. I process the data, so when I get all of the grades and recommendations, I put it together in a spreadsheet for Mrs. McCarthy to review, and then Mrs. McCarthy has the heavy lifting or the larger load in that she has to ultimately make those decisions.”
Determining the freshman class is a long process. The first thing that has to happen is that the admissions team has to know how many students can be admitted into the freshman class. After the initial outreach activities, students start submitting their applications and the high school placement test is scheduled. The three women then look over the applications.
“The first thing we do we make sure we have the completed application. We are looking at their grades from 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, their test scores, any standardized testing, results of their high school placement test, and their letters of recommendation from their teachers,” Mrs. Harrington says. “Then the committee which consists of the department chairs for Math and English sit and determine placement. So the first thing that happens is we take every single applicant and place them accordingly. Then we go through and see what space we have for each class and that’s where we come up with a waitlist.”
After the placement test, the students are placed into Accelerated College Prep, College Prep, and Fundamental College Prep, which allows the admissions team to establish how many students can fit into each program. Mrs. Morris then creates the spreadsheet that has each applicant’s grades, test scores, and placement for Mrs. McCarthy to look over and also look at the student’s recommendations and small essays.
“I go through every student and summarize what have they told me about themselves and what have the teachers told me about them, so as I go through and students have been placed and I know the perfect size for Accelerated College Prep is if we can land at 81 students, that’s three full classes, that’s perfect,” Mrs. McCarthy says. “I go through all the kids who are accelerated and [ask] ‘Did they go to Catholic school? Are they good humans?’ and then from that decide alright we should make x number of offers for this many spots and this year we landed at 83.”
A similar process is repeated for the FCP and College Prep programs. A waitlist is also created as CB has been receiving more applications than spots available to students the past few years.
“The waitlist is determined by sometimes the behavior of the student, like a student who has great letters of recommendation and is really well liked in the classroom and is a leader, those students usually float to the top,” Mrs. Harrington added. “We have been blessed to have a waitlist the last few years even though it’s hard to have a wait list. We are definitely the school with the largest school population right now — we feel like our school is in a very healthy place. We feel very blessed because people want to be here and because they see that our students are happy and they want to be a part of our community.”
Ultimately, the decisions are made based on a few different factors that the team looks at while reviewing applications. Mrs. McCarthy mentioned that the students being “kind humans” is an important factor. Mrs. Harrington talked about a well rounded student being a strong factor too.
“We are looking for students who have good behavior, who really want to be a part of our community, who are involved, have extracurricular activities whether academic or some form of a sport, well rounded students who really want to be a part of our community,” she says.
There are also many difficult parts of the jobs that these women do. For Mrs. Harrington, scheduling the shadow day visits is the most challenging part of her job.
“Trying to making everyone happy while accommodating these students who really want to see the school. Trying not to impact people’s schedules and trying not to have Shadow Days where there’s test, and then trying to reschedule visits. It’s difficult to manage the 900 visitors, but they are very worth it and often times it makes or breaks their decision,” she says.
For Mrs. McCarthy, some of the decisions about prospective students that she has to make is one of the rougher parts of the job.
“The most difficult part of my job are students who we have to place on the wait list or deny admission to because I think Christian Brothers is the best school, it’s the best place for kids as they prepare for college and to have to deny that to someone breaks my heart,” she says. “I really feel for those kids and those families who want a Christian Brothers education but we simply don’t have room.”
And then for Mrs. Morris, she finds difficulty in watching each class grow up and eventually graduate.
“You become attached to the student and to see them, although you’re excited and thrilled about the future has in store for them, to have them come by everyday and keep you informed on their life and for them to go on to become adults and move [on]. It’s sad — we all miss you guys once you move on,” she said.
Despite these challenges, the team still have their favorite parts of their job.
“We have an awesome team, so I absolutely love the people that I work with,” Mrs. Morris says. “The Admissions and communications team, they’re some of my best friends and an extension of my family now. The teachers and staff members are phenomenal.”
“I would say 100 percent the students are my favorite part of my job at Christian Brothers because they are incredible. We’re so lucky to work at a school with kids like this,” Mrs. McCarthy adds.
“I love the community and I love working with the students,” Mrs. Harrington says. “I feel lucky that I get to have interaction with students. I worked in the President’s office for a short time and I really missed that interaction on a daily basis with the students. I feel really blessed — we have wonderful faculty, wonderful students. It’s really like the easiest product to sell.”
One of the Admissions team’s main goals is to attract students and families to Christian Brothers and to showcase the education and the community of this school to the broader Sacramento area. Luckily, this team has an immense amount of passion and dedication to CB and to their jobs of working with families and students to attract them to our school. These women have a really important job to do at CB, and they all work so hard to help build the community at CB.
“I’m just really happy that students decide Christian Brothers is the right fit for them,” Mrs. McCarthy says. “There’s just something special about those kids.”
“It’s a really easy ‘product; to sell in that we have a fantastic school — the kids are amazing, the teachers are amazing, the education we provide our young people is I think the best in Sacramento, so it’s very easy to showcase that and show what a fantastic place this is,” Mrs. Morris says. “It’s rewarding — you see students start as 8th graders taking the high school placement test and applying for Christian Brothers and then to see them graduate. This senior class is the first class I’ve seen through 8th grade all the way through graduation, and it’s amazing just to see what great things they go on to do and the wonderful young adults they become.”