There is a scene in the movie Admission where the protagonist—a Princeton admissions counselor played by Tina Fey—stumbles outside the sacrosanct chamber of the admissions office and into a room full of prospective students and their uber-aspirational parents. The anxiety level of the already tense group notches up to near tachycardia as they realize Fey is that most powerful of college administrators. The One They Must Impress. The Decider of Fates. The Gatekeeper.
Kristin McAndrew found the movie entertaining enough. “I love Tina Fey, so if Tina Fey wants to play me for a day, that’s great,” she laughs.
But that’s about where her connection to the movie ends. As someone who has spent 18 years in graduate and undergraduate admissions, looking across the desk at young women and men as they lay out their life plans, she takes a decidedly different view of the role of an admissions professional.
“My job is to find men and women whose leadership skills, work experience and goals are in line with the mission of the University,” says McAndrew, admissions director for the Notre Dame MBA and the Notre Dame Master of Science in Business (MSB) programs at the Mendoza College of Business. “When I sign an acceptance letter from Notre Dame, I’m offering that student an opportunity to become a part of an experience and a network that will change their lives.
“To me, the admission process is more about discovering who each person is and what he or she would bring to the program. It’s about crafting a class of men and women who bring compelling experiences and knowledge to the classroom. It’s not about holding the door shut.”
McAndrew joined the Notre Dame MBA and MSB programs on Jan. 8. She previously worked as director of Admission at Saint Mary’s College for four years. Before that, she served in a number of positions at Emerson College, including as the director of Graduate Admissions. She also worked at Simmons College as the assistant director of Undergraduate Admission.
McAndrew earned her BA in English literature and humanistic studies at Saint Mary’s College and her master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College.
“The educational experience at Notre Dame is so personal; that’s attracted me to the position. The faculty know the students. The Career Services staff members devote themselves to understanding the career goals of each person. Then there’s the legendary Notre Dame alumni network, which is without peer when it comes to providing a sense of community.”
McAndrew, who describes herself as “half-Irish, all Italian,” loves to cook and relaxes with yoga. After living for 13 years in Boston, she’s an avowed fan of the Red Sox and the Patriots. But her father, Tom McAndrew, is a Notre Dame alum, so when it comes to college sports, “I grew up bleeding blue and gold,” she says.
In her new role at Mendoza College, McAndrew oversees a comprehensive set of responsibilities related to the admissions process for two fairly different graduate programs—the traditional MBA, offered in both one-year and two-year formats, which is intended for individuals who have three to five years of work experience; and the newly launched 11-month Master of Science in Business, which is intended for non-business majors just completing their undergraduate degrees.
She sees a significant role for Mendoza alumni in promoting goals of the College and the MBA program specifically.
“There are formal ways for alumni to be involved – volunteering to speak to students, mentorships, attending College events. All of those activities are very important in keeping student connected to those who have gone before them,” she says.
“But one of the best things alumni can do is to tell their story and be a source of referrals, both for prospective students and as recruiters. They know what it takes to be successful in the program, so they can see potential for success in those around them. Their personal accounts provide the most compelling case for why Notre Dame is different and the true value of the educational experience here.”