Admission: Not Impossible

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!

 

photo by Christopher Navin

photo by Christopher Navin

Kailey Verni: 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: 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: 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: 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.

 

 

 

 

contributed by Suzanne Morrissey

contributed by Suzanne Morrissey

Sara:  In addition to Cool Beans, my favorite spot on campus is the Hart Center Lawn (especially at sunset).  The Hart Center, which is currently being renovated, is at the top of the Hill and has one of the best views of Worcester.  At Fall Orientation, the Mass of the Holy Spirit is held on the Hart Lawn and marks the beginning of one’s time at Holy Cross.  I love to take walks around campus, especially during the summer, as it is not only relaxing, but you experience campus in a new way each time.  The view from the back of Hart, at the soccer field, also offers a beautiful outlook into Auburn.

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!

Emily

Hi, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, my name is Sara McLean and I am a rising senior from Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania and an Architectural Studies Major.  Upon my first visit to Holy Cross, I felt the sense of community and knew that I was called to be a part of it.  Many of my experiences through the Chaplain’s Office have helped me to make Holy Cross a second home and find the community that I felt when I visited. I have been a part of the Women’s Spirituality Group, Magis, and traveled to Beards Fork, WV and Narrows, VA, as a part of the Spring Break Immersion Program.  I am also a part of Gateways Summer and Fall Orientations, Agape Latte, Relay for Life Planning Committee, and Student Programming for Urban Development, as a volunteer at the Nativity School of Worcester.  In my free time, I love to cook, bake, and explore new places and  I have a passion for design and often watch HGTV and the Food Network!  This June, I was a part of the Summer Gateways Orientation Team, and I will be working as a Summer Tour Guide in Admissions throughout July.

 

 

 

Hi! My name is Joe Cataldo and I am a rising Junior from North Andover, Massachusetts. I am a Political Science major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies. Besides giving tours, I am also a head greeter for Liturgical Ministry. I am also involved with retreats and spring break immersion trips through Campion House and participate in various intramurals. Additionally, I volunteer  through SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development) at Friendly House which is an after school program for generally elementary school kids. I got back from a Maymester in late June. My Maymester was called Memory and the Holocaust in Central Europe in which we traveled to LIthuania, Poland, Czech Republic, and Germany to see how the Holocaust is memorialized and remembered in these different places. I will be working as a tour guide for the month of July and part of August, until I head down to DC to participate in the Washington Semester. In DC, I will be interning at the National Fisheries Institute, taking a class in public policy, and writing a 40-50 page thesis.I am so excited to be back at Holy Cross and eager to spread my Purple Pride!

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.

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