Admission: Not Impossible

To gain some insight into the student-athlete experience at Holy Cross, we asked a current student for her perspective. Without further ado, here is Madison Smith ’17:

Locker room egg hunt last spring! Photo provided by Madison Smith.

Locker room egg hunt last spring! Photo provided by Madison Smith.

If you’ve been to Holy Cross recently, you can tell that it’s a great time to be an athlete on the Hill!  All you have to do is look up by the Hart Athletic Complex– you will see construction workers, cranes, and the beautiful new facilities being built.  While the 2016-2017 school year will be my fourth and final year as a student athlete here, I am excited for all those who will go through the life-changing experience that is being a college athlete at Holy Cross! I’d like to take the time to reflect on my own experience on the Women’s Lacrosse team and why being on this team has been such a positive and strong experience for me.

When people ask me my favorite part about being on the lacrosse team, the answer is simple: my 32 best friends, a.k.a. my teammates! There’s nothing better than knowing you have friends all around campus–in different grades, in different majors, involved in a variety of activities–who all want the best for you. I love knowing that when I walk into Dinand Library, Kimball Dining Hall, or the Hogan campus center, I will likely see one of my closest friends.

Next, obviously is the love of the sport.  If you are considering playing a college sport–at any school–please be sure that at the end of the day you love what you are doing.  Trust me, you’ll be doing it a lot and it won’t always be easy.  Thankfully for me I started playing lacrosse in third grade, and have always loved it since!  I’m a defender and for me there is no greater feeling than stopping my opponents or getting the ball to your teammate to help your team score.  Some days are hard, but I try to take a greater effort to reflect on how lucky I am to simply play the sport I love every single day.

Finally, being a student athlete in general at Holy Cross is an experience like no other.  Here on the hill about 20% of students own a big black.  For those of you who haven’t experienced a Worcester winter yet, big blacks are the HUGE jackets student athletes are given to survive the winters of the Woo. 1 of out 5 students on this campus is a student-athlete and is sharing in the same experiences that you are.  You make friends in class or through other campus clubs, and you see each other in the weight room or on the field. Every team at Holy Cross is connected and supportive–which you can see when sidelines are filled with students showing their support.

Overall, being a student-athlete at Holy Cross is bound to be one of the most rewarding and powerful experiences of your lifetime. You’ll instantly be connected to your teammates, your classmates, and all of the students who have come before you. I can tell you it will take a lot of work to play on the hill, but I also know that it’s worth it.

Women's Lacrosse outdoor activity: lifting each other up over an 18ft. wall! Photo provided by Madison Smith.

Women’s Lacrosse outdoor activity: lifting each other up over an 18ft. wall! Photo provided by Madison Smith.


…….is what singer/ songwriter Skylar Gray might have been shouting a few weekends ago had she been fortunate enough to claim the College of the Holy Cross as her alma mater. Instead, she’ll have to settle for a #11 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while the rest of us yearly rejoice in the persiflagacious (yes, dear editor, it’s a word- a portmanteau of loquacious and persiflage) but where was I? Ah yes, the persiflagacious procession of purple pride that is Holy Cross Homecoming!

Homecoming- or as I like to call it “Reunion without all the pressure”- is an opportunity for Holy Cross alumni, young and….err, we’ll say “young at heart” to relive the magic that made our time here on the hill so special.

For two days at the end of last month, folks got a chance to step back onto the “Field of Dreams” baseball diamond that once served as their house and will forever remain their home. They took in the sights, the sounds, the faces…and even got a peek at the new $95 million athletic center reconstruction project. While state-of-the-art in its design and majestic in its visage, it is perhaps most groan-inducingly described (at least by this author) as the “Hart Transplant.”

All puns aside, the weekend boasts a bevy of fun fare for Holy Cross friends and family. With adventures ranging from the prestigious (Alumni Association Dinner / O’Callahan Society Annual Meeting,) to the peppy (Goodtime Marching Band Concert / Football, Soccer, and Lacrosse games,) to the perhaps peculiar (“Hidden In Plain Sight” Campus Tour / Kimball Quad Takeover) Holy Cross Homecoming indeed has something for everyone!

Whether you’re a current student looking to support your teams, a recent alumus/alumna longing for one more crouton on the platter of your salad days, a “somewhat” recent graduate looking for someone to mistake you for a student and have you (if only for a fleeting moment) “feeling 22” again, or a member of the “We never should’ve turned down the Big East!” generation, eager to regale with myriad memoirs of mischief and mayhem from many months much missed, Homecoming is blank canvas patiently poised for the purple paint of your particular personal preferences.

And isn’t that what we all love so much about Holy Cross in the first place? Yes, good “young-at-heart” Holy Cross- that small, Jesuit, liberal arts institution- nay *community* – nay *FAMILY* that cooks up such vast and varied cuisine on so many different plates and yet still somehow manages to make us feel like we’re all eating at the same table. That is why we come home, and that is what makes it so hard to leave.

And while now our mass [of congregating alumni] has ended, we look forward to breaking bread with members of the Crusader family in the future. Winter Homecoming (February 24, 2017) is just around the corner. So come and join the meal.

Know your kingdom awaits, we’ve forgiven your mistakes…….and we’ll have a mug of hot chocolate waiting for you!


Thomas J. Severo ’06

Neither cold snow nor heavy rain nor summer’s heat keeps our Holy Cross students from the thorough and pleasant completion of their guided tours of Mt. St. James!

Throughout the year, our office greets visitors from all over the world. We are so lucky to have a great group of dedicated students who make the time to meet with our guests and take them around campus. Not to brag, but I believe that our tour guides are especially eloquent, thoughtful, and enthusiastic people. They offer prospective students a glimpse into the special Holy Cross student experience and show visitors campus through their interesting perspective–we are incredibly grateful for them!

Giving tours on humid July afternoons or on chilly January mornings is not always the easiest job, but it is one for which we receive so much positive feedback. To show our appreciation for all of our tour guides, our tour guide coordinator, Laura Boyle, arranges all kinds of special treats. This summer she hosted a breakfast-for-lunch feast!


Cheers to our fantastic tour guides!

photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

As I walked to work this morning, I noticed that the sky seemed a different shade of blue. I also noticed a slight chill in the air, and I saw more people walking around campus than I had in weeks past. It finally feels like fall: another new school year and another admissions cycle! It has been an incredibly busy time for all of us in admissions at Fenwick Hall, as we prepare for the arrival of the Class of 2020 and switch gears to focus on the Class of 2021. I for one am very excited to jump into the recruitment season, so I wanted to give you a preview of what’s to come:


Perspectives: From Saturday, November 5th through Monday, November 7th we are hosting prospective students on campus for our annual Perspectives Program!  This opportunity is open to culturally aware high school seniors, and it’s a great way to learn more about the Holy Cross student experience.  We plan all kinds of fun activities for participants as well as provide room and board, free of charge to participants.  The last day to apply is Monday, September 26th at 5PM EST.  Please click on this link for the online application.

– Travel: Throughout the months of September and October, admissions representatives from Holy Cross will be travelling all over the country to visit high schools and attend college fairs.  We seek to share information about what makes Holy Cross special, as well as meet prospective students in their home areas!  Please stay tuned for our office travel schedule, which will be made available on the site over the coming weeks.

Open House: Two Sundays in the fall (October 2nd and November 6th), we invite prospective students and their families to visit campus and explore all that the College of the Holy Cross has to offer.  Guests may preregister by clicking on this link or sign up the day of the event.  We provide a light breakfast and lunch, as well as tours, info sessions, panels, and more!

Day Visits: High school seniors will be matched with a current Holy Cross student host and have the chance to shadow him/her to see what’s it’s like to be a Crusader!  Students may request a day visit by clicking here.

Interviews: As we discuss in the blog, we highly encourage prospective students to interview with Holy Cross.  Thus we offer opportunities both on- and off-campus for high school seniors to meet with us and share their high school experiences. To arrange for an on-campus interview, please call the Admissions Office at least two weeks in advance at 800-442-2421; we look forward to meeting you!

– For students who cannot make it to campus, please visit the alumni interview request form to request an alumni interview. Requests for alumni interviews are accepted until Dec. 1.

– For students who would like to attend one of our alumni interview night programs, please visit the off-campus interview request form to request an interview and see this year’s dates.

Of course, please do follow us on Twitter and Facebook with more updates about these and other events.  Happy Fall!

photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

After a fun-filled month of rooting for the Red Sox at Fenway, reading novels on sandy beaches, enduring frigid AC conditions while watching summer blockbusters, and savoring finger-licking barbecue, it’s the end of July.  While we still have a whole other month of summer, tomorrow marks the end of our July Advisory Day Program.  For those not on Twitter, July Advisory Days occurs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the month.  On these days we offer a short session on how to plan for the college interview, as well as some tips for the Common App essay. If you are able, please come join us tomorrow, July 29th!


Although we have received an incredible number of visitors this month, I recognize that some interested students are not able to visit campus during the summer. To that end, I wanted to mention some of the takeaways of the essay part of the program.  Below is some essay-writing advice that I hope you find helpful:

1. Although the Regular Decision deadline to apply is January 15th and it may seem as though you have loads of time to write, you should start now! August 1st is the day the Common App goes live–did you mark your calendars?–so please do create an account and check out the questions.  August is a great month to explore topics, perhaps get a few words down on paper, and get your creative gears in motion!

2. Know that the first essay you write may not be the essay you submit.  It might be.  But it probably won’t…and that is okay!  You will likely have a number of great topics from which to choose, and you should absolutely consider writing a few different essays.  In this way, you will have some options before deciding on the one that you think best demonstrates your writing abilities and tells us more about who you are.  Furthermore, please be sure to ask people you trust (including friends, family, and teachers/advisers) to offer constructive criticism.  They should be people who will be able to give you the honest feedback you need, as well as help you catch any errors in grammar or syntax.

3. Be sure you are sharing your story.  I can’t tell you how many wonderfully written essays I have read that talk about applicants’ loving family members, supportive friends, or amazing mentors…but then the essays don’t have enough about the applicant.  Remember that you are the one applying, and thus you are the person who we want to get to know!  As difficult as it can be at times to turn your focus inward, please write about yourself.  The essay is the one part of your application that is completely within your control, so please make it count.

Enjoy the last weeks of summer!

photo by Matthew Atanian

photo by Matthew Atanian

It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon, and as I sit to type this, I cannot help but look out the window at the lovely green grass, the somewhat-cloudy-but-still-pretty-clear blue skies, and the bright leaves softly rustling in the big trees.  Thank goodness it’s almost the weekend–I plan to spend some time outside and enjoy this wonderful New England weather!

For me, summer is such a great time to catch up on books.  It feels so nice to jump into a story while relaxing at the beach or hanging out in the park, so I try to take advantage as often as I can.  As a student, I always enjoyed receiving the list of books that I had to complete by the end of August.  In middle school, I would even help my cousin with his reading requirements: he promised me that I would be able to read to him a chapter of Harry Potter if I read to him a chapter of his summer reading.  What a great deal!

Now, one of my favorite questions to ask during interviews is, “So what are you reading?”  It interests me to see which classic stories will be covered and which contemporary tomes are being added to the list.  Just today a student told me that she was enjoying Wuthering Heights, and another student earlier this week mentioned how much he liked Catcher in the Rye.

As I’m almost finished my book club’s pick for July, I thought it might be worthwhile to see what other good options might be out there.  First I came across this list on our new site called HC 100 Books.  Apparently back in the ’80s a group of faculty members chose books that they considered great classics (you can read the list here).  After skimming the list, it surprised me to find that I have only read three!

Other choices for summer reading: works by Holy Cross alumni.  Billy Collins ’63 served as the US Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003 and the New York Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006.  Some of his books include Aimless Love, The Trouble with Poetry, and Nine Horses.  Another Holy Cross alumnus, Edward P. Jones, graduated in 1972 and wrote All Aunt Hagar’s Children and Lost in the City.  Jones went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004 with his novel, The Known World.

Between the 97 classics by historic authors and the award-winning works by these notable Crusaders, it looks as though I have my work cut out for me this summer!


After asking our tour guides about their favorite places on Mt. St. James, we decided to find out where they go when they want to explore Worcester! Below are their responses:

Sara: Canal Street Farmer’s Market, Birch Tree Bread Company, & Crompton Collective

One of my favorite places to go for brunch in Worcester is Birch Tree Bread Company.   Located on Green Street, in Kelly Square, Birch Tree has a special atmosphere with a wide variety of homemade bread and pastries, as well as locally grown food and produce. Also, right next store is Crompton Collective, a one-of-a-kind store with many vendors (many of whom are on Etsy!), selling items ranging from antiques to jewelry to clothing. On Saturday mornings, there is a Farmers’ Market where fresh produce, homemade bread, and henna are sold.

Flav: Elm Park

My favorite spot in Worcester would have to be the historic Elm Park, which is about a ten-minute drive from Holy Cross. I like going on runs around the outer edge of the park (which covers around ¾ of a mile). There are many great walking paths and beautiful bridges which traverse the park. Throughout the year, Elm Park plays host to various concerts, festivals, and great family events, all which help to foster and strengthen community ties.

Yen: Greenhill Park

One of my favorite spots growing up in the Woo is Greenhill Park! It’s truly a beautiful and well-kept place, perfect for a stroll in the park, a run, or a picnic. It’s not far from Shrewsbury Street, which is another great area Holy Cross students and locals love. In the summer, you can go canoeing (for free!), which is always a plus. I also really like the beautiful golf course and their small farm that offers a petting zoo.

Joanna: Shrewsbury Street

Of all the great places in Worcester, I would have to say that my favorite is Shrewsbury Street; it is the place to go whenever you have an empty stomach, or if you just want to grab a quick coffee. This mile-and-a-half long street is home to 32 amazing restaurants and eateries from which to choose, ranging from classic Italian to tasty Asian bistro!

Joe A.: Volturno

I get hungry a lot, so I’m always on the prowl for something good to eat. Typically I find myself at Volturno, an awesome Italian restaurant. Located right on Shrewsbury Street, it’s only about a five-minute drive from campus. All the food is great, but the wood-fired pizza is what keeps me coming back for more…especially on Mondays and Tuesdays when pizza is two-for-one! This pizza is the real deal and comes with creative toppings, such as pistachio pesto.

Joe C.: InHouse Coffee

One of the best places in Worcester is InHouse Coffee. It is definitely a hotspot for Holy Cross students to study, hang out, and especially get that crucial caffeine pick me up. InHouse is located on Shrewsbury Street, so it is only a five-minute drive from campus! The local feel of InHouse really makes it better than your average Panera or Starbucks. The staff is extremely friendly and you will most likely run into fellow Holy Cross students there as well! InHouse has incredible homemade coffee and chai teas along with tasty pastries to help you get through the day. Also back on campus, everyone will be jealous of you sporting the signature InHouse Coffee cup!

Kailey: Dell’Ovo’s Kitchen

My favorite spot in Worcester is an old school Italian restaurant on Shrewsbury Street. The food is absolutely delicious and they have a different creative special for lunch every day! Along with the great food, the staff is awesome and so personable. My favorite dish is the chicken parm and I can never get enough of it!

Kat: Baba Sushi

As someone who grew up in the Worcester area, I can confidently say that Baba Sushi is the single greatest place in Central Massachusetts. It’s about ten minutes from the Holy Cross campus, and they have an extensive menu of signature, handmade sushi rolls. Baba is a great place for groups as they have a very open and zen back room as well as a more intimate front space which is ideal for a cute weekend date. It is complete and utter sushi indulgence!


Did you know that Worcester is the second-largest city in New England?  Of its 185,000 residents, students make up about one-fifth of the population, with 38,000 students attending 12 institutions of higher education.  I learned this during a bus tour led by members of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.  It was a beautiful summer day, and our hour-long tour included a drive past Worcester Technical High School, WPI, the Worcester Art Museum, and several parks, including Elm Park.

As a staff member who does not live in Worcester, it delighted me to learn more! Please read on for some of our staff member’s favorite places to eat near campus:

1. Sweet (72 Shrewsbury St) is a great option for pastries…one of my colleagues said, “The dosants are amazing–and were invented way before the Cronut!”

2. Another popular pastry shop is Culpepper’s (500 Cambridge St # 3).  A counselor recommended the yellow cookies, which are butter cookies drizzled with chocolate.

3. The Roasted Red (pizza) at Corner Grille (806 Pleasant St) is beloved in our office for its delicious, thin crust and high-quality ingredients.

4. For a more southern feel, try Smokestack Urban BBQ (139 Green St). You can never go wrong with their fried pickles!

Bon appetit, and come explore Worcester! Also, please stay tuned for a post on some of our students’ favorite places in the Woo.

photo by Tom Rettig

photo by Tom Rettig

Although a quick peek at the weather forecast may suggest otherwise (so many cloudy days ahead!), it is definitely summer. At Holy Cross, we admission counselors in the office are keeping busy with all kinds of summer activities, such as enjoying summer reading, spending time on the beach, and savoring the delicious barbecue from Crossroads.

One particular summer activity of note is our July Advisory Day Program.  If you have not been following us on Twitter, July Advisory Days occurs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this month.  On these afternoons, we offer tours and info sessions as always but also add a short session on how to plan for the college interview and how to write the Common App college essay–not to mention we serve cookies from the dining hall as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Feel free to come to Mt. St. James for a visit! We have enjoyed a great turnout so far, and we’ll be here all month! For those of you who can’t make it to campus, we will be posting some takeaways in the coming weeks with some information regarding the Common App essay and the college interview.

Happy Friday!

photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

Well, this is the last installment of our June for Juniors posts! If you have not read the last few, you may catch up herehere, and here. To sum it up, we in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross wanted to take advantage of the (somewhat) quieter days of summer and share some admissions tips.  We recognize that rising seniors are narrowing their college lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so we are posting articles every Tuesday with helpful information for college-bound students.

And now, I’ll pass it over to Tom Severo for June for Juniors, part 4!



REACH OUT: At least two letters of recommendation are application requirements for most schools. These letters are important and can help us learn a lot about applicants that we wouldn’t otherwise have known: “Cecil had a rough junior year because we implemented a new social studies curriculum, and we noticed grades drop for many of the students. Still, he remained in the top 10% of his class.” “Kelly stopped playing soccer last fall because she has been volunteering with student council and spends 10 hours after school each week planning and organizing activities for their annual holiday bazaar.”

There’s nothing worse than a flat letter of recommendation. “Mike was always on time and prepared for class.” Yawn. Is this the best praise you can get from your teachers? We expect you to be on time and prepared. Show us how you went above and beyond expectations. This means asking a teacher who really KNOWS you and can vouch for all the hard work you put in both in and outside of the classroom. Really put some thought into your selection. Maybe spend some time with that person before the letter is written to give him/her/them a better sense of who you are as a student and a person. You want their words to be glowing! Also, please remember to ask for a recommendation early. You want to make sure to give them enough time to write the letter– your teachers, counselors, and coaches are all very busy people!


CONNECTGet (and keep) in contact with the colleges you are interested. Contact can be in person, through a formal or informal visit to the school, via phone or email, or even through social media. Many Admission offices have Facebook  pages and Twitter accounts keep in touch and start liking and following their pages. If we see that applicants have been in contact with us on social media or otherwise, then we are going to have a better sense of their interest in the College. Psychology and propinquity theory are at work here…even on a subconscious level.
So get in our heads…for the right reasons, and stay informed of new developments at the school as well as possible updates to the application process that we may announce. It’s easy to do and the returns are well worth it!


RELAX: All of this college application stuff can take its toll on your physical, emotional, and psychological health. Remember to take some time for you. Go for a run, watch a movie, or spend time with friends and family.  It’s okay…you can tell your parents I told you to do this, and I am a bona fide Admissions Counselor who reads applications and votes on application decisions. At Holy Cross, we believe that a relaxed applicant is a confident applicant. This is not the crossroads of your life, even though it may seem that way at times. You are not defined by where you get accepted (or rejected…or waitlisted). You can always transfer, go to graduate school, take a gap year, or better…..become successful despite not getting into your top pick, and end up putting your alma mater on the map as a result. What truly defines you as a person is not what cards you are dealt, but how you play them. You will play yours most efficiently if you are able to roll with the punches and take everything in stride. Keeping the college search in perspective is probably the most important piece of that!

<< Back to Blogs
| More