Admission: Not Impossible

balance 1balance 2

One of our social media interns, Maddy, wrote a lovely piece about her experiences being a student-athlete here at Holy Cross, and I thought I’d share it below:

Balancing academics and athletics and college can absolutely be a challenge! As a junior on the Women’s Varsity Lacrosse team here at Holy Cross, I have learned the ins and outs of time management skills and am here to let you know how you can make it work.

First, if you’re coming to Holy Cross and have completed four years of high school successfully with your sport you likely have some time management skills already. Once in college, you will learn to develop them further. Specifically, you will learn about prioritizing. Inevitably with a packed schedule of academics and athletics, you won’t be able to do EVERYTHING you need to get done in just one day! I recommend investing in a planner, a notebook, or post-its and mastering the art of a to-do list. Set this list up by due dates and what is most important to you!

Next, you’ll need to learn about sacrifice. In high school, it’s generally pretty easy to manage a full load with academics, athletics, extra-curricular events, and a social life. If you want to have all of those in college and continue to sleep you’re likely going to need to sacrifice some things. As a Holy Cross student-athlete, it is likely that your extra-curricular activities or social life load may need to be lightened.  My best advice is to join one or two things that interest you the most and give all you can to them. There is nothing worse than committing to an activity or club and not being able to give it your full attention. By selecting what is most important to you, you won’t overload your schedule and you will be able to get the most out of your commitments.

Finally, as mentioned, you may need to make some sacrifices when it comes to your friends and fun. Let me be clear, I have so much fun at Holy Cross and hang out with my friends all the time as a student-athlete. There are nights, however, where I am in the library and my friends are watching a movie or going out. This will happen to you. My best advice is to not let the “FOMO-Fear of Missing Out” get to you. It’s just one night or one event of many that you will have in college. One night isn’t worth letting your grades or athletic performance suffer, trust me.

Balancing school and athletics and everything else is a skill, but you can figure it out! Luckily you have a team filled with upperclassmen who have been there and know exactly what you’re going through. You have coaches who went through the same thing and came out successful as well. Look to them and ask for help if you think you’re getting overwhelmed. It can seem scary at first, but every Crusader is up for the challenge!


(images provided by Maddy Smith)


students studying 1    students studying 2


Throughout the year, we in Admissions host live online chats as a way for prospective students to learn more about the College.  We believe that these conversations provide an excellent opportunity for applicants to ask questions that they may have about social activities, academics, admissions, or life in Worcester.  Our second chat of the fall happened earlier this week, and we are so fortunate to see a great turnout of prospective students and current Crusaders!  Over the course of three hours, we enjoyed lots of interesting conversations and had the opportunity to connect with students all over the country (and even a few who stayed up late into the night to chat with us from other countries!).


For those who did not get the chance to join us, I wanted to share some responses from one of our Outreach volunteers, a first-year student named Brian.  In addition to helping us out in Admissions, Brian serves as the class secretary, participates in a variety of pre-law activities, and is involved with campus ministry.  He also has his own blog!  Below are some of his answers to students’ questions from the November 18th chat:


– on diversity: Holy Cross embraces all difficult questions. Of course, then, we discuss diversity and issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation unabashedly! In fact, we just finished Unity Week — a weeklong series of panels and events focusing on campus issues, specifically, and broader societal problems about diversity. Just two nights ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas headlined a provocative evening…Holy Cross has a long history of supporting diverse students. This legacy dates back to Father Brooks and the mentorship of a young black southerner named Clarence Thomas, who, along with twenty or so other black students, was recruited to Holy Cross. Clarence Thomas now serves on the US Supreme Court as an Associate Justice.


– favorite thing about Holy Cross: the people! Whether it is the professors or administrators, classmates or staff, the people are unrivaled in their kindness, devotedness, and commitment to excellence. Least favorite thing about Holy Cross: that I’ll be limited (hopefully, that is) to just four years here; therefore, I’ll be limited in taking advantage of the abundant opportunities the College offers.


– on what sets the College apart: excellence in all areas since 1843. HC is also peerless — the only Catholic, top-tier, Jesuit, liberal arts college devoted solely to undergrads…so many vibrant discussions, representing such diverse ideas, but based on mutual respect and a quest for truth in all things.


Our next chat is Wednesday, December 9 and the main topic is “Life on the Hill.” We hope that you will join us!


(images from the Digital Asset Management System for the College of the Holy Cross)

Hello, all! Tom Campbell here, one of the three new Admissions Counselors in the office. I’m here to talk with you about everyone’s favorite topic: aging.

While I have not yet earned the status of senior citizen, at times I certainly feel like one.  As I walk up and down the notorious Holy Cross hills (only a year after graduating from the College, no less) an unfamiliar stiffness can catch me off guard.  My age also belies my old-soul musical tastes–just take a look at my Spotify profile, which boasts far more Fleetwood Mac than Fetty Wap.  At least I use Spotify and not Limewire, right?

So in order to keep me young and hip, cue the other seniors in our Admissions office: our senior interviewers.


Not only do these star students effortlessly balance their academics, post-grad planning, extracurricular activities, and admissions office commitments, but they also keep our staff connected with all of the exciting happenings both on and off campus. From traditions such as Senior Ball to new activities such as Unity Week and Agape Latte, our senior interviewers constantly remind all of us about the amazing things that Holy Cross students do, and how dedicated they are to the Crusader community. We are so fortunate that an amazing group of seniors is willing to work in our office and share their experiences with prospective students. Their excitement for the school is tangible, and their participation in our office is just another testament to the level of pride that our students have for the College.

If you come to campus for an interview and meet with a senior interviewer, be sure to ask them questions about their campus involvement, their transition from high school to college, and their favorite Holy Cross memories. After all, Holy Cross is all about asking more, and who better to ask than a current student?

So while growing old might seem daunting to some, take some comfort knowing that some things never change with age. For members of the Holy Cross community, a lasting love for Mount St. James would be a prime example of this. I’m sure seniors and senior citizens alike can agree on that point!

Fetty vs. Fleetwood, on the other hand, is a whole other ball game…



Fall is a special time of year for many, with days of apple picking, leaf peeping, pumpkin carving, and football cheering.  For Holy Cross students, the season is filled with all sorts of fun events.  I asked the social media interns about some of their favorite fall things on the Hill, and here it what they said!



Mackenzie: Fall at Holy Cross is one of the most beautiful seasons on the hill…during this time of the year, the ivy on the buildings begins to change colors and the campus is truly transformed.  One of my favorite fall traditions at Holy Cross is Harvest Fest at Kimball.  One evening at the beginning of fall, the dining hall has all kinds of seasonal treats such as apple cider (both hot and cold!), candy apples, cupcakes, and cookies (decorated for fall, of course). It is a night that students surely do not want to miss!









Madison: Freshman year my friends and I were characters from Toy Story which was my favorite costume!  We had all the main characters, and made most of our own costumes.  We even had one of our friends be the toy horse!  My friend and I were the Slinky Dog and stayed attached for the entire night with a wire connecting the two of us!  I am excited to see what we come up with this year!

102535lpr    Fall Scenic 2015.  October

After 5 weeks out on the road visiting high schools, attending college fairs, and hosting alumni interview programs on the West Coast, I am now back in the Eastern Standard Time Zone!  I had such an amazing time talking to college counselors and prospective students but am glad to be back on campus.  Most of my colleagues are still travelling all over the country; you may see when a Holy Cross rep will be in your area by going here for our full schedule.  Additionally, we are still interviewing students on the road!  Please go here to request an interview (either on- or off-campus).

Now that I have returned to autumn foliage, cooler temperatures, and pumpkin-spiced everything I can also return to on-campus events at Holy Cross!  This weekend is Family Weekend, and Holy Cross has planned lots of great activities.  Highlights in the schedule include sporting events, concerts, a dance show, casino night, a 5K, mass, and so much more!

Another big event is our second Open House of the fall.  Prospective students and their guests may register for the program, and we also welcome walk-ins!  Activities for the day include sessions on admissions and financial aid, panels with current students and faculty, and lunch.

Beyond Family Weekend and Open House, Holy Cross is hosting all kinds of programs.  For more information on other events happening on the Hill, please check out the Holy Cross Calendar.

Cheers to fall!


(photography by Thomas Rettig)




KF instagram

It’s partly cloudy and 62 degrees in Worcester, but as I sit in a Starbucks and frantically respond to emails in between high school visits it is 82 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles!  One of our social media interns (a junior) sent me an update on what she is doing back at the College, so I thought I would share her thoughts here:

“I’m extremely excited to write about how my classes are going for the Fall of 2015.  As an upperclassman, I feel lucky to be selecting classes more specific to my interests now that I have completed most of my requirements.  My friends and I have all noticed that we’re all now taking varied and ranging classes based on our own academic programs compared to the more common 101 classes we’ve had in the past.

For me specifically I’m excited about my upper level Economics and Education classes.  As an Economics major I’m now taking electives; this Fall specifically I’m enrolled in Professor Congdon-Hohman’s Labor Economics.  I’m happy to now be finally applying all the knowledge I gained my principles classes over the past two years to a real life scenario and concepts such as those in the labor market.

Additionally, I’m taking two electives classes for my Education minor.  Both are very fun, and both are very different.  One is Professor Schneider’s “Jobs: Teaching as a Case Study,” which is a small seminar of about 9 people.  This class we’re focusing on what does a job mean and specifically what goes into the profession or a teacher.  This class is based in a lot of reading and discussion and so far I’m enjoying it!  My other education class is Professor Fisher’s “Schools: Surviving and Achieving” class.  This course looks into the roles of school counselors.  For five class periods we actually will be going into a Worcester public school and working directly with children.

Finally, I’m completing my Language requirement with American Sign Language!  I must say this class is more challenging than I had expected.  There’s so much I never knew about ASL, and much more I have to learn.  Besides class time we also have a practicum that meets for this class with a new group of students.

I’m excited to see what my four classes bring me this semester, and excited to experience a new four in the Spring!”


Please stay tuned for more updates, both from campus and from the road.  Happy fall, everyone!


Capture 2 Capture

Happy Fall!  Classes have resumed, Labor Day Weekend has come and gone, and tomorrow I head out on my first recruitment trip for the Class of 2020.  While some of my colleagues have already begun their travels, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little more about what we in Holy Cross Admissions do while we’re out on the road.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my colleagues and I will be travelling all over the country to share information with prospective students and their families about what makes Holy Cross special.  We try to visit at least four high schools a day as well as attend college fairs and host alumni interview programs in order to meet future applicants.  As such, travel season is a great time for us to explain our approach to admissions while seeing prospective students in their home areas.

To get the most out of the recruitment season, here are some tips:

– if possible, make labels with your name, high school, class year, email address, home address, and phone number.  It will save you a lot of time when you’re meeting admissions reps at college fairs or during high school visits!

– try not to wear any college paraphernalia if you know that you’re going to meet an admission counselor.  While a college sweatshirt may be comfortable, it can also be a little distracting if I’m trying to talk to a student about Holy Cross and they’re sporting gear from [INSERT OTHER COLLEGE NAME HERE].  On that note, please be mindful of your clothing choices in general the day of a visit from a rep or a college fair–these are wonderful opportunities to make a strong first impression!

– come talk to us!  My colleagues and I travel thousands of miles to visit schools.  It takes us a lot of time, effort, and coordination to plan our travel, but we go through it all because we really want to interact with our applicants.  At Holy Cross we take a very holistic approach to admissions, so it means a lot to us to be able to speak with prospective students.  We call this demonstrated interest, and it plays an important role in our decision-making process.

– lastly but still importantly…please offer us recommendations for dinner or lunch!  Travel is such an incredible part of our work for many reasons, but certainly one is that we get the chance to experience other parts of the country and the world.  In my opinion, sampling local food and drink is such a lovely little perk!

I hope this helps you as you embark on the next step in the college application process.  Enjoy the season!

(photography by Tom Rettig)

odyssey odyssey 2

 Today was one of the first days in a long time when I opened my calendar and saw that I did not have a single appointment.  No interviews to conduct, no information sessions to host, no orientation luncheons on which to gorge!  The month of August 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 2019 and switch gears to focus on the Class of 2020.

Next Tuesday is September 1st, and I feel as though so much still needs to be completed in order to get ready for the new admissions cycle.  I 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 7th through Monday, November 9th 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, October 5th at 5PM EST.  Please click the 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 in September.

Open House: Two Sundays in the fall (October 4th and November 8th), 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 pre-register by clicking on the 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!  Registration will open later in September.

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.  Please request an interview at least two weeks ahead of time; we look forward to meeting you!

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

Capture 2

(photography for Tom Rettig)

Photographed on August 7, 2015.  Summer

Photographed by Thomas Rettig on August 7, 2015

It’s mid-August already?!  Where have I been?  The summer humidity seems to be easing off, the students are starting to move back onto campus for athletic training, and soon I will have to dust off my suitcase and hit the road for fall recruitment travel.*  As I make my own travel checklist (book flights, reserve rental cars and hotel rooms, plan high schools, find alumni volunteers for interview programs, package and ship out materials), I cannot also help but think about the checklist that seniors are probably making as they gear up for their last year of high school.  I thought that I would offer a few suggestions here:

– go to the Common App website.  Applying to colleges involves some paperwork, and August feels like a good time to get at least some of it out of the way before classes, practices, meetings, and homework take up much of your time.

– start to make a list of teachers who you would ask to write a letter of recommendation for you.  You want to be able to choose a teacher who knows you not only as a student but also as a person.  At Holy Cross we review applications very thoroughly, so please be sure you are thoughtful in choosing your teachers for recommendations.  Additionally, have a list of a few teachers in case a teacher you ask is not able to write a letter for you.

– polish up your essay.  Before you have to start writing essays for class, it’s good to have a solid draft of your Common App essay now.  Once school starts again you are not going to have as much time to work on it, and you definitely want others to read it and offer feedback.  The Huffington Post has some interesting articles about the college essay if you seek additional insights!

– schedule a visit to campus!  For rising seniors we offer full-day visit opportunities, which are a great way to experience the academic and social experience of Holy Cross.  We also have Open Houses, an overnight program for students from diverse backgrounds, and of course, lots of chances to have an interview!

As we approach the fall, I cannot say how excited I am for the next admissions cycle.  We wish applicants all the best and look forward to meeting the future members of the Holy Cross Class of 2020!

*About fall recruitment travel–please stay tuned, as we plan to post our staff travel calendar on the Holy Cross website later this month!

writing    writing 2

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, today marks the end of our July Advisory Day Program.  For those not on Twitter, July Advisory Days occured every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  On these days we offered a short session on how to plan for the college interview and how to write the Common App college essay.

Although we received an incredible number of visitors this month, I recognize that some interested students are not able to visit campus during the summer, so 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, start now!  Tomorrow (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’s 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 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 look over your writing and 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 writer him/herself.  Remember that you are the one applying, and thus you are the person we want to get to know!  As difficult as it can be at times to turn your focus inward, please write about who you are.  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!

(photos by Thomas Rettig)

<< Back to Blogs
| More