Admission: Not Impossible

This is the last part of our “Why I Chose Holy Cross” series! Thank you to all who participated, and I hope you have a lovely weekend! We wish our admitted students all the best as they make their decisions!

Lynn Verrecchia: To start, it made sense on paper. The size, location, distance from home, academic programs, and study abroad opportunities made it a “match.” So, Holy Cross made it onto my “to visit” list. I can’t say I enjoyed visiting colleges. While I was excited by the new opportunities college life represented, I was nervous to leave my “small pond” and really struggled with the notion of leaving my family and friends behind. I toured a variety of schools and spent most of those visits too distracted and anxious to take in much valuable information. My excitement to panic ratio solidly registered at 10:90. The minute I set foot on the Holy Cross campus, that all changed. 10:90 flip flopped to 90:10, with excitement trumping panic in an instant. Something just clicked. It’s not that it felt safe or reminded me of my high school–it didn’t. But even on that first visit, I just knew it was a place that could, and would, feel like home. Many of the students I interview describe a similar feeling of “just knowing” when they drive up Linden Lane for the first time. They’ll often start their statement with, “this might sound silly, but…” And I smile, nod, and implore them to continue with this familiar tale. After graduating from the College, I had about 2 1/2 years of admission experience when I learned of an opportunity to work in Admissions at Holy Cross. The chance to do something I loved professionally at a place that meant so much to me personally, was more than I had ever hoped for.


IMG_6412Kirsten-Gail Vanhorne: Why did I choose Holy Cross nearly five years ago? Definitely for similar reasons to that of current students and alumni: tight-knit community, challenging academics, great professors, beautiful campus, “the feeling,” and that personalized experience. The decision to attend Holy Cross, as important a decision as it was, seemed rather simple. I believe that once you know, you know….and I knew. At that point, the campus had already begun to feel like home, and I was already envisioning myself as a student. I imagined learning from great intellectual minds, serving as a leader on campus, and taking part in many different social activities. Throughout my college search, I knew I wanted to be challenged academically, but I also knew that I wanted an environment where I could grow, learn, and be involved in service. In my mind, Holy Cross stood out as a place where the education gained and the opportunities available couldn’t compare to anywhere else.

Four years went by faster than I anticipated, and I did my best to get everything I could out of them. I joined clubs with which I was unfamiliar; I studied abroad in the culturally rich country of Peru; I took classes that I had never heard of; I spent five days in silence reflecting on my faith and God’s love; I got out of my comfort zone. When you think about it, that’s what college is supposed to be: challenging yourself, gaining independence, trying new things, and exploring the world around you.
I chose Holy Cross because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities offered both inside and outside of the gates. I knew I was making the right decision five years ago and if I could, I would make it again.


P.S. Kirsten’s sign reads: I chose Holy Cross for the many opportunities offered both inside and outside of the gates!


With a little more than a week until the National Enrollment Deadline, I wanted to share more of my colleagues’ stories on how they decided to attend the College of the Holy Cross. Here is what Tom had to say:

ts 4.22.16

I was looking at Catholic schools, and I knew I wanted a small liberal arts college, but I was also drawn in by the big Division-1 sports program. I had been familiar with Holy Cross’s academic reputation and had seen the campus at various soccer and basketball clinics I attended throughout my youth. The more I visited and got to know the culture, and feel the deep care and concern that everyone expresses for one another, the more I became convinced that Holy Cross was the school for me. I had a great experience in my undergrad years. I have many fond memories on the Hill, and seeing the familiar sights of campus always puts me in a good mood. I knew it would be a welcoming and accepting environment, and I thought it would give me the opportunity to give back to an institution that has given me so much. (Also, I dig that we can use the gym on our lunch break.)



Happy Friday! The sun is shining, the campus is abuzz with activities for Purple Pride day (please go here for a video from last year), and we are gearing up for Open House this Sunday! I asked Thomas Campbell, Class of 2014, how he decided to attend Holy Cross, and here is what he wrote:

I’m not going to lie, the delicious pumpkin bread served at the Class of 2014 Accepted Students’ Open House sealed the deal for me. I admired Holy Cross’ bold defiance of seasonal norms by serving a traditional autumn staple at a spring event.

In all seriousness, that attitude of pushing boundaries and defying norms is something that immediately captivated me about Holy Cross – one that transcends much more than delicious baked goods. As a prospective student, I found the admissions process so personal and unique, and the values of Holy Cross completely aligned with my own. And all across the board, Holy Cross is constantly taking up new initiatives to remedy injustice and address the inequalities present in our modern society, and in my opinion, that is what makes Jesuit education so great. I was honored to be accepted into a community that cares about the world at large so deeply.



Holy Cross’ appreciation for the individual and respect for differences were a large part of why I applied to work for Admissions after my service year with JVC Northwest. From our new scholarship program for undocumented students to the new policy work around gender-inclusive housing on campus, I am proud to represent a college that brings these justice issues to light, all for the sake of what is genuinely right.


Happy Friday, everyone! In Admissions, we are fortunate to have great volunteers who help us in all kinds of ways: they greet campus visitors  and take them around on tours, participate in online chats with Holy Cross hopefuls, and even interview applicants! I greatly appreciate how willing current students are to get involved with our office–in my mind, it is just another example of how Holy Cross students seek to be men and women for others!

To offer some perspective on why students decide to attend Holy Cross, I asked our social media interns to explain how they got here. Their responses, in my opinion, warranted their own posts on the blog. Here is what Mackenzie to say:

Holy Cross has always been a familiar place to me. Both my father and older sister came to Holy Cross, so I was a frequent visitor to Mount Saint James as a child. I was hesitant to tour the college and seriously consider it as a potential school for me, because I feared that attending Holy Cross would make me a mere shadow of my older sister. However, the opportunity to receive a liberal arts education, the friendliness of the students and the endless opportunities to live and learn among men and women who aspire to move mountains sealed the deal for me. My initial fear of living in my sister’s shadow never amounted to much. At Holy Cross, the opportunities are endless, whether it is volunteering in the Worcester community, being a member of the Student Government Association, or working as an editor on the school newspaper…I have found my niche in the SPUD volunteer program and [work to] promote social justice and live in solidarity with others…The friendships I have fostered among my peers and the relationships I have with my professors are to be afforded to the college’s intimate atmosphere and small size.  It is these relationships and conversations that have enabled me to become a more well-rounded and articulate person…Holy Cross has taught me how to be an independent woman, yet also a woman for others. Holy Cross is not just an institution of learning, rather it is a place where words become actions, and even one person can make a difference.


Please stay tuned for more responses over the coming weeks!



…bring May Flowers (AKA the Class of 2020!).

I am so excited for the month of April!  Campus feels bustling, as admitted students have been visiting campus, calling the office, and writing on Facebook!  Now that admission decisions have been made available online and mailed to students’ homes, seniors are working to figure out where they will spend the next four years.  To help them make that choice, we in the Admissions Office will be tweeting fun facts and interesting information about the College throughout the month.  We also encourage students (both admitted and current) to tweet us a picture of themselves wearing Holy Cross gear or holding up their acceptance letter/”I’m In!” card with the hashtag #HolyCross2020.

For students who want to get more involved in other events this month, here are some handy dates to know:

Wednesday, April 6: Online Chat from 7 to 10 p.m. ET — This event is a great way for accepted students to talk to one another, as well as chat with admission counselors and current students!

Sunday, April 17: Open House from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET — Please come to the Hill to get a glimpse of the academic and social life at Holy Cross!  Activities will include a student life fair with representatives from clubs and sports teams; information sessions on topics such as career planning, our pre-health program, and internships; and current student panels for admitted students and families.

Sunday, April 17 to Monday, April 18: Overnight Program — After the Open House, accepted students are invited to stay on campus for the night and then attend morning classes the following day.

Friday, May 1: the national enrollment deadline — The day when seniors need to send in their deposits!

For students who want even more, we have a beautiful virtual tour, as well as a number of other great videos on our YouTube page.  And please, feel free to reach out to us on Facebook, where you will also find our Admitted Students group!

Cheers to spring!


(photos by Thomas Rettig)


photos by Thomas Rettig

                                                                                   photo by Thomas Rettig

Happy spring!  Last Saturday our office released admissions decisions online, and earlier this week we mailed out our notifications. We are so proud of our applications from all over the world!  In total, we received around 6,700 applications for ultimately about 750 spots.  That means that we had more qualified candidates than we had room to offer, and many great students were given a spot on the wait list.  For the last few weeks our office has received phone calls and emails from prospective students who wanted to know more about how the wait list works, so I wanted to take this opportunity to address their questions:

1. The first thing that students should do is log into their Holy Cross account (please go here to do so) and formally accept their spot on the waitlist.  This will change their status in our system and let us know that  they are still interested.

2. Students should consider sending us (via email) an update as to what they have been doing since they submitted their application back in January.  Did you change your classes? Have you earned some improved grades? Did you start a new activity or job? We would love to hear what’s new!

3. To keep their options open, waitlisted students should send their deposit to another institution by May 1.

4. After the national enrollment deadline of May 1, we will know what our numbers are in terms of admitted students accepting our offer of acceptance. If it is determined that spaces are available, students on the wait list will be reevaluated by the Admissions Committee. The overall academic and personal record will be considered, as will the level of interest the student has expressed in attending Holy Cross. 

I hope that this information helps students and their families better understand our process.  Please do keep in touch with us via phone (508-793-2443), email (, Facebook, and Twitter; we would love to hear from you!


So sorry for the radio silence–we have been incredibly busy focusing our on applicant pool!  Since mid-February, our counseling staff have been reviewing applications and shaping the Class of 2020.  From 9am to 4:30pm, my counseling colleagues and I sit together in a room with the shades drawn and the projector screens up to make decisions on applicants hopeful to be part of the Holy Cross community.  While we drink coffee and eat a variety of snacks, we look at each student’s application carefully to determine their potential fit at the College.  We also look at our master list of applicants for this year, as well as study transcripts, Common App essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, SAT/ACT/AP/TOEFL test scores, a variety of types of art supplements, and any other admission items that may come our way!


2016 has certainly been a great year for us so far, and I have learned some things that I wanted to share with prospective students and their families:


1. Contact is so important!  We in the Admissions Office really do appreciate hearing from applicants, whether it’s during a visit to Mt. St. James or from a simple email. We want to admit students who want to be a part of the Crusader community, so please do reach out to us!

2. Please don’t hesitate to share your writing. Reading application essays is a treat for me and my colleagues.  When a student sends us an additional statement, selection of poems, article, or research paper, we get really excited!  Seeing multiple examples of an applicant’s writing is a great way to get a sense of the person as a student.  At Holy Cross, students are expected to do a lot of writing, so if we can see samples now, we are able to make a more informed decision on that applicant.

3. High school students today are incredible. I have read so many wonderful, funny, insightful, warm, thoughtful essays. I have looked over so many  extensive lists of school activities, service opportunities, trips abroad, professional internships and jobs, numerous awards, amazing athletic triumphs, and stellar performances.  It is clear to me in reviewing applications that students give so much of their time to hone their crafts, to pursue their personal passions, and to give back to their communities.  Reading about their diverse experiences has been wonderfully inspiring!


photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

Happy winter!  As I take a break from reviewing applications, I look out my window and see a blanket of snow (finally!)–reading season is in full swing! Since we have some staff members in our office who are relatively new to the world of admissions, I asked them to write down their thoughts on this part of the cycle.  Here are their responses:

Tom Severo: Reading my first round of applications as a bona fide Holy Cross Admissions Counselor has brought up many emotions in me, including some I did not expect. Sure there’s excitement at the fresh crop of applicants, and pride in seeing the overall quality of the students we attract, but there is also empathy for students who may struggle in one area, but possesses other abilities and attributes that any college would value. I believe the college is becoming more rigorous and selective each passing year. While that is a great thing overall, it can have sad repercussions come decision time, so I’m humbled to be a part of this experience. It’s comforting to know that in the end, every applicant will get seen and voted on by the entire committee. I do not know many schools that operate like that, but it is just one more way in which Holy Cross shows personal attention to its entire community, even those who will ultimately become a part of another institution.

Tom Campbell: One of the things I am pretty infamous for is my winter frugality. In New England, winter seems to be the season that just sucks money from you: car maintenance, the latest Patagonia gear, and an expanded tea collection are all things that society has convinced us we need in order to combat the cold. I try as hard as I can to defy these Northeastern norms with a conviction I can only call religious. For instance, I buy nearly all of my winter weather apparel from the Salvation Army, and I may or may not sneak a few packets of tea from hotel lobbies and the Jiffy Lube waiting area (still trying to think of an ingenious way to keep those car costs down…). I also keep my apartment at a ridiculously low temperature, partly to keep up with my low-cost lifestyle but also to keep my carbon footprint equally as low. So how do I keep warm in my humble igloo? For one, I pretty much live in my fleece onesie and wool socks, and two, I read hundreds of heartwarming applications (emphasis on the warming).

This winter I have read hundreds of amazing applications, many of which have included stories of strength, growth, and triumph. Through recommendations and essays, I’ve been able to catch a glimpse into our applicant’s lives, and understand their future aspirations. When I read about the great service work that our prospective students do, the challenges they’ve faced to get to where they are now, and the experiences that have led them to choosing their career path, I can’t help but get warm fuzzies inside. My first reading season has helped me further see the value of my career. Knowing that Holy Cross is a place where these students can reach their future aspirations and grow even further provides me with a lot of comfort. So even though the air around me might hover just above 60 degrees, the work that I’m doing keeps me from completely freezing up. So to all of you prospective students who have your eye set on Holy Cross, thank you for keeping me warm this winter.


Ariel winter scenes on campus

photography by Thomas Rettig

With just a dusting of snow on the ground, it is difficult to believe that we are, in fact, in the middle of January.  At the Office of Admissions, staff members have been working hard to process and review applications–we are so excited for reading season because now is when we see students in their entirety: essays, transcripts, letters of support…all of those application materials that have taken students, their families, and their teachers/coaches/supervisors so many months to put together.  We applaud you for your efforts and look forward to shaping the Class of 2020!

In an attempt to offer something more, I looked at last year’s posts.  One of my colleagues had such a lovely thought that I would share it here again:

“The anxious tone of recent phone calls and e-mails has me wishing I could stand in front of each and every one of you to look you in the eye, ask you to take a deep breath, and remind you that it will all work out. And with this calmness comes a clear mind and keen eye, eliminating the chance for sloppy mistakes or rushed writing. Yes, every piece of the application is vitally important; however, if your mind is frantic from the stress of attaining perfection by a deadline, you can easily lose your footing as you try to put your best foot forward.  [So] take a walk in the brisk winter air. Eat dinner with your family and talk about something other than college applications. See a movie with your friends. Read a book for fun. Before you know it, the chaos inside your brain will settle, the stress will float away, and the final days before a deadline will feel much more manageable.”

I hope that you will take this advice to heart….I know that I will as I begin to think about all of the application files I need to read!

Another item worth a mention: it is not too late to send us supplemental information!  If you would like to send us an additional essay, an update on your activities, or perhaps a paragraph or two on why you love Holy Cross, please do.  We may be reached at, and we would love to hear from you!

Stay warm, be well.

rainbow okane













Welcome back, everyone! I hope that your first days of 2016 have been going well and that you are off to a great start.  It may be hard to believe, but the Regular Decision deadline is soon upon us.  Here is a timeline of other admissions and financial deadlines:


I hope this is helpful! As always, please feel free to contact us at or 508-442-2443.  Happy New Year!

Image credits: these lovely shots are from the College of the Holy Cross Instragram account! To follow, please go here:



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