Admission: Not Impossible

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!


photo by Christopher Navin

photo by Christopher Navin

Kailey Verni ‘16: My favorite place on campus is Fenwick Hall…most notably in the fall when the ivy begins to change color. Fenwick is my favorite spot because not only did my first visit campus begin there, but also a huge portion of my HC experience was in this hall. Having been an English and Philosophy double major, many of my classes and professors’ offices were here. I frequented the second and third floors, spending hours talking with professors and learning more about my particular interests. During my time as a tour guide, I spent my fall and winter breaks familiarizing myself with the first floor. Fenwick Hall holds a special place in my heart as a central part of my Holy Cross experience.








photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

Emily ’18: My favorite spot on campus is definitely Cool Beans 2. As an International Studies major, many of my classes are in the humanities, so I definitely spend a lot of time in Stein! CB2 is a great spot to grab coffee with friends, catch up on some homework, or meet for a group project. There are a ton of nice places to sit — I usually try and snag one of the high-top round tables! My favorite thing to get is absolutely their vanilla latte!





photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig


Joanna ’19: My favorite spot on campus is definitely the Hoval, located conveniently behind Hogan Campus Center. It’s a great place to take a quick study break or hang out with friends! There’s always something going on, whether it’s bouncy houses during Spring Weekend, or free food trucks on Fridays. The Hoval is where I like to catch up with friends over lunch and lay underneath the tree for a reading break, making it my favorite spot on campus!





photo by Mike Malyszko

photo by Mike Malyszko

Joseph ’19: There are many reasons why Cool Beans is my favorite spot on campus. Most importantly they have some of the best milkshakes and smoothies I have ever tasted! I made it a goal my first year to try each and every smoothie and I have no regrets. Aside from the shakes, ice cream, and awesome ice tea, another reason I like Cool Beans so much is because I always meet up with friends there. Since the shop is in our campus center I see so many people walk by and I’m bound to meet up with one of my friends.

Spring, Weekend, 2016, Fireworks, Chapel, Photographed by Anthony Saltarelli.

Photographed by Anthony Saltarelli.

It’s another beautiful summer day, so you know what that means…it is the next installment of June for Juniors! If you have not read the last few posts, you may catch up here 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 for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their college lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, we are posting articles every Tuesday with helpful information for college-bound students.



Tom Severo, an Admissions Counselor and Holy Cross grad, wrote some really thoughtful tips that I am pleased to share with you here. And now, Kirsten and I present June for Juniors, part 3!

Summer is a great time to research important dates and information regarding admissions (such as application deadlines, financial aid requirements, and/or test optional policies). Make sure you are aware of all of these key pieces of information–particularly deadlines–as they will likely be different for each of the schools to which you are applying.

For example, does a school on your list recommend interviewing? At the College of the Holy Cross, we love it when students interview! It gives us a chance to get to know our applicants better, and it gives them a chance to get to us as well. Try to schedule an interview early on in the process to ensure you get an appointment that fits in with your schedule. 

Additionally, is your school test optional? Think carefully about whether or not your testing reflects positively on your application. If your test scores reflect your academic ability, then please do feel free to send them. Know that at Holy Cross, we do not prefer that applicants submit test scores, nor do we penalize students who choose not to submit test scores.

Finally, if you are ever unsure about any piece of information, definitely reach out to the Admissions Office at the school to which you are applying (email is great!). It will guarantee you have the correct information, and it will show more demonstrated interest on your part. Win-win!

EmilyHi, my name is Emily Sullivan! I am a rising junior from Sudbury, Massachusetts. I am an International Studies major specializing in Middle Eastern studies and International Law and Global Governance, and I have a dual minor in French and Education. On campus (besides volunteering in Admissions), I am heavily involved in SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development). Through SPUD, I volunteer at the Nativity School of Worcester, where I tutor and assist the Reading Specialist.  This summer I am working as a tour guide before I head to Tours, France where I will be spending six weeks studying French at the Institut de Touraine.  Next fall, I will be taking part in the College’s Washington Semester Program where I will be interning in the city, taking a course on Public Policy, and writing a 40-50 page thesis. For the spring semester, I will be heading back to France and studying at the Université de Strasbourg!





FlaviaHi! My name is Flavia Sula, and I’m a rising senior in the Class of 2017. I’m an English major in the College Honors Program, and I studied abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland for the entirety of my junior year. This summer, I’ll be guiding tours here at Holy Cross, and spending quality time in my hometown of Worcester, MA! For the upcoming academic year, I will be working on an independent thesis, which will focus on medieval gender portrayals in Game of Thrones. Besides working in the Admissions Office, I have led student retreats through the Chaplain’s Office, and been a summer orientation leader for the Class of 2018.







JoannaMy name is Joanna Aramini, and I am a rising sophomore from Westborough, Massachusetts. I am an Art History major and am planning on double majoring with Sociology. In addition to volunteering in admissions, I am involved in the College Choir and SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development), in which I am a mentor to a local Worcester elementary student. While I’m not studying in the library or involved in extracurriculars, I love playing intramural volleyball, painting, and playing the piano. This summer, I am working as a tour guide at Holy Cross three days a week, while also holding an internship at the Worcester Art Museum. I will be heading back to campus early in the fall for SPUD training, in which I will be a Co-Program Director for the Boys and Girls Club next year. At the end of my sophomore year, I am planning to study in Rome through our Maymester program.





JoeHi, my name is Joe Aramini, a rising sophomore from Westborough, Massachusetts. I am History major with a classical Archaeology minor. In addition to guiding tours, on campus I volunteer at the Boys and Girls club through SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development), I am a midshipman in the NROTC battalion, and next fall I will be a resident assistant. This summer I am excited to be giving tours in June, July and August until reporting for resident assistant training. At the end of sophomore year I would like to do a Maymester in Rome and then get a spot on the Archaeological dig in Poggio del Molino.







KaileyHi, my name is Kailey Verni, 2016 grad from the College, double major in English and Philosophy. My hobbies include hiking, practicing yoga and reading. I am from East Setauket, NY. This summer I plan to work in the Admissions Office and finish my yoga teacher training certification. This August I will begin my year as a JV in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Los Angeles, California and will return in the Fall of 2017 to begin my first year of law school at Suffolk University in Boston.









MitchHi, my name is Mitchell Axelson and I am a rising junior from Holden, Massachusetts. I am an econ major and participate in the pre-business program. Besides volunteering for admissions, I am a resident assistant and play club tennis. I will be giving tours throughout the month of June before working as the site leader at Camp Tenacity ( a free program for Worcester children that provides tennis instruction and help with reading skills). Next year I will be on campus during the fall semester before spending the spring semester in the first year of the New York Semester Internship program, which is modeled after our popular Washington DC Semester.

photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

It’s another beautiful summer day, so you know what that means…it is the next installment of June for Juniors! If you did not read last week’s post, you may catch up here. In a nutshell, we in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross thought it might be helpful to post some tips on the blog for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their college lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so this month we will post articles every Tuesday with helpful information for college-bound students.

Tom Severo, an Admissions Counselor and Holy Cross grad, wrote some really thoughtful tips that I am pleased to share with you here. And now, Kirsten and I present June for Juniors, part 2!

The second thing on our list for prospective college students is, in many ways, more important than the first item. This is because you may not know what you are looking for in a college until you have seen a few up close in personal. You don’t know what you don’t know, and visiting is a great way to expose yourself to all the things a college has (or does not have) to offer. Sometimes visiting colleges may be easier than expected. Maybe you are on your way to the beach and you pass by a college campus…take a look! You never know what may happen: you may like it, but if you do not, it will give you context for the types of schools that would be a better fit.

So, sign up for a tour, go to an info session, listen to the questions other people ask, and think about whether they are important to you. Maybe even use a few of those questions for your next tour at a different school (we won’t tell!). Here at Holy Cross, we offer July Advisory Days (JAD) during which you can learn about what to do to ensure a successful interview as well as how to start cultivating your personal statement.

Visiting campus is a huge part of what is known as demonstrated interest, which is something colleges (Holy Cross especially) take quite seriously. So take the time, if you are able, to see schools and learn more about what they could offer you! We will be here, ready to show you our campus and tell you more about our community.



photo by Thomas Rettig

Happy June! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and for Holy Cross students, it is officially summer! After some spring travel and our conference for the New England Association of College Admission Counseling, we are back in the office and excited for what the months ahead will bring.

As we shift our focus from the Class of 2020 to the Class of 2021, my colleague Kirsten and I thought it might be helpful to post some tips on the blog for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their colleges lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so this month we will post articles with helpful information for students as they begin their college application process. Our colleague, Tom Severo, wrote some really thoughtful tips that I am pleased to share with you here. Without further ado, Kirsten and I present June for Juniors!

What qualities do you want in a school? How far away from home would you like to be? Do you want to commute and live at home or would you like to be 3,000mi away? What types of activities would you like to continue in college or try? Think about all of the lifestyle habits you would like to keep or try and make sure those activities are included in your search process. Would you like to live on campus or commute? Keep in mind of the opportunities outside of campus as well. How will this school help me with internship/job/alumni networking opportunities? You have a lot to ponder but it’s best to start somewhere. Here are some points to consider:

    1. Size, distance from home
    2. Career opportunities
    3. Athletic opportunities
    4. Academic opportunities
    5. Campus life
    6. Study abroad opportunities
    7. Service opportunities
    8. Tradition
    9. History
    10. Alumni network
    11. Research opportunities
    12. Clubs/organizations
    13. Off-campus life
    14. Religious affiliation
    15. Arts

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!

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