Admission: Not Impossible

Zachary WielgusSummer is an interesting time for us here in Admissions. With the stress of application reading and the selection process behind us,  summer is a great opportunity for admissions officers to plan travel, take some vacation days, and admire the gorgeous trees and flowers blooming all over campus.

But we haven’t forgotten about you, high school juniors, who are just starting your college search. Once you’ve had some time to relax, think about making some college visits.

Summer is an excellent opportunity to visit Holy Cross. Come for a tour and information session. You’ll hear directly from students as they guide you around campus and from an Admissions Counselor about the college process. If you happen to be here in the next few weeks you might want to take advantage of our July Advisory Days, where you’ll receive insider tips on interviewing and writing your college essay. It might be nice to get all of this done before your hectic senior year starts up (where you’ll likely be juggling AP classes, soccer practice, band rehearsal, community service, etc.). For tips during the week, follow us on Twitter @HCAdmission, where we will be posting visit tips during June.

We will be here and looking forward to your visit!

Zach Wielgus

Assistant Director of Admissions

DianeSoboski.BLOG2Earlier this spring, I received an e-mail from our Vice President of Academic Affairs that detailed some extraordinary scientific work that a few recent graduates were doing in conjunction with the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to studying global climate changes in the Siberian Arctic. Immediately, one of the names caught my eye; Craig Connolly, HC ’13, was acknowledged for being one of the youngest authors and presenters at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco held last December. The title of his presentation, “Organic matter bioavailability and enzyme activities within stream benthic sediments in northeastern Siberia,” left me both impressed and a little bewildered. Additionally, the e-mail included that Craig recently had published a paper in the international journal Wetlands on how “global sea rise and increased saltwater intrusion in tidal rivers influences decomposition of an invasive and widespread macrophyte.”

 

While certainly impressive, I am no stranger to hearing of the outstanding accomplishments of our students. What struck me most was that this student, this particular student, was the first student that I called back in 2009 to congratulate on his acceptance and officially welcome to the College. In fact, Craig (and his twin brother Kevin, who also graduated from Holy Cross) was one of the first students I met on the road at his school only weeks after being hired in the admissions office.  I later interviewed him on campus, read his application, and presented his file to our Committee for review.

 

For the next four years, I’d see Craig around campus at various events, and it made me smile to see how seamlessly he appeared to fit into our community. He wasn’t a volunteer in our office, or one of the many students that I interacted with on a daily basis; he was just another student who came to Holy Cross, did excellent work, and who I watched cross the stage at graduation last year. But to me, Craig will always be that first student who I really felt belonged here and knew would have a positive impact on the Holy Cross campus.

 

I don’t know that he’ll ever read this blog, or even know that I’ve  kept track of him over the years, but it’s stories like these that make me love my job. I’m incredibly proud of Craig and all that he’s accomplished … even if I don’t exactly understand exactly what it is he’s studying in Siberia.

 

Diane Soboski

Associate Director of Admissions

(*Craig will be returning to Siberia this summer as a research assistant with the Woods Hole Research Center before beginning his PhD at the University of Texas in Austin this fall.)

 

Zachary WielgusIt began as one of those ideas that sound good in your head but don’t quite manifest in real life.

Create a poster that we ask all visiting admitted students to sign to create a visual welcome and introduction to the Holy Cross community. How would we print something that large? How would we get all — or even the majority — of the visiting admitted students to sign? How much of it will be left blank?

Sometimes you get lucky, I guess. It’s been a wonderful point of pride to welcome students who arrive for a campus tour or day visit and, after greeting them with a congratulations and Holy Cross pennant, directing them to “The Wall.” Multiple Holy Cross students corralled the hundreds of admitted students at Accepted Student Open House on April 13 to “sign the wall.” Moms and dads excitedly gaped at just how far some students had come (Boise, Idaho, and Beijing, China, two clear winners), while potential Class of 2018 Crusaders found classmates and neighbors also occupying the same 28-square-feet of wall.

Open House 11

This is what I love about Holy Cross. First, the ability to let small ideas morph into wonderful and meaningful actions. This is also how Montserrat went from optional First Year Program to required (and well-loved) first-year seminar. This is how so many students create their own major or secure an internship never-before pursued.

But second, watching The Wall fill up with the rainbow colors of excited students from literally all over the world paints a brilliant picture of our student body. Holy Cross will introduce you to people who think differently, speak differently, learn differently, and hail from cities and states you have never visited. That’s what college should be: a change from your four years of high school, not only in class offerings and bedrooms but also in the strangers with whom you connect from all corners of the globe.

Open House 12 Open House 13 Open House 14

Open House 15

 

Sign The Wall. Leave your mark. So many others have.

Zach Wielgus

Assistant Director of Admissions

Thanks to the timing of the Easter holiday, Holy Cross — as well as a number of other New England institutions — held its Accepted Student Open House this past weekend. Nearly 2,000 visitors made their way to campus for the biggest, most energetic, and most informative day of the year. Current students cheered for potential new classmates on their way in. Drawstring bags and sunglasses were handed out. Members of the Class 0f 2018 signed our Congratulations Banner.

And this was all before they entered the Registration area inside the basketball arena!

The rest of the day included dozens of extracurricular and student life organizations available at our Browsing Fair; over 45 presentations from academic departments, pre-professional programs, and offices such as Study Abroad and Career Planning; a quick separating of student from parent for an hour-long panel where any and all questions can be asked without judgment or embarrassment; a delicious lunch buffet (with a surprise visit from the Goodtime Marching Band!); interspersed performances from a capella groups and dance teams; and closing comments from Director of Admissions Ann McDermott and President Fr. Boroughs.

A lot happened, and many stayed until the very end.

But in case you missed it, here are just a few pictures from the day:

A Saturday night welcome reception for students hailing from beyond 5 hours.

A Saturday night welcome reception for students hailing from beyond 5 hours.

The Congratulations banner is filling up with names and hometowns!

The Congratulations banner is filling up with names and hometowns!

Now that's true happiness.

Now that’s true happiness.

High school friends reunite with current Crusaders!

High school friends reunite with current Crusaders!

Lunch in the Fieldhouse.

Lunch in the Fieldhouse.

Families listen to a presentation on Study Abroad in Dinand Library.

Families listen to a presentation on Study Abroad in Dinand Library.

Keeping energized in Hogan.

Keeping energized in Hogan.

Visions students seeing one of Worcester's gathering spots, Elm Park.

Visions students seeing one of Worcester’s gathering spots, Elm Park.

Matt and the Crusader bonded.

Matt and the Crusader bonded.

You know you want one.

You know you want one.

Daniel-Weagle_postI love Holy Cross for the College’s approach to educating the entire person (known in the Jesuit world as Cura Personalis, or “care of the entire person”). As a student, I remember spending many a weekday night tucked away in my own cozy carrel in Dinand Library. After a long study session or writing rally, I would head back to my residence hall. I can still distinctly recall the smell and taste of the night air as I walked through the doors of Dinand and onto the moonlit common.

 

There was a contagious feeling in the atmosphere that was indescribable (but for the sake of this blog, let’s call it “neon-electric, caffeinated exuberance”).  Each student I passed had the same driven look in his eye and knowing smile across his face: a smile that revealed an inner, quiet confidence and personal pride in the pursuit of education. We were all proud to attend an elite academic institution where we were challenged each day to be the best we could be by the inspirational people around us; our nationally-recognized, nurturing faculty, our caring, supportive staff, and our creative, insightful peers pushed us to be better versions of ourselves.

 

At midnight, after hours of studying for exams, writing capstone papers, planning events for student clubs/organizations, it would be easy for a typical student to put his head down and trudge across campus to collapse into his bed.

But Holy Cross students are not typical students. Holy Cross students are more complete because they are never satisfied. What I mean by that is that our students are always seeking, always searching, always pushing themselves to be the best version of who they know they are (with the support and gentle guidance of the entire campus). Simply put, Holy Cross students find value in cura personalis and I loved (and still do love) being surrounded by such complete individuals.

As many members of the admissions staff write their biggest answer to “Why Holy Cross,” it just so happened two Associate Directors of Admissions — Andrew Carter and Lynn Verrecchia — separately chose topics that blend quite well together: the general personality and affect of the student body.

 

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiRecently at a college fair, I was asked a most intriguing question by a current high school junior – “What’s your  favorite thing about Holy Cross students?”

This is a great question – a departure from the usual questions about average GPA’s, average class size and overall student enrollment.

After a brief moment of thought, my answer was simple – Holy Cross students say “thank you.”

And it’s not just that they say “thank you,” but that they have a reason to say “thank you.”

This is a campus that values door holding.  And not just door holding for the delivery man carrying a stack of boxes – but door holding for anyone, any time.

The Jesuit principle of “Cura Personalis” encourages all of us to consider and to care for the entire person and while that influences the way we teach and learn and think about our world, it also reminds us that we are not alone – we are not alone in this world, in this moment or in this doorway.

And that is what I’m reminded of every day when I walk around this campus – Holy Cross students know they are not alone and while there might now always be someone to hold the door for, they always pause and check.

And for that pause, that awareness, I say, “thank you.”

Andrew Carter

Associate Director of Admissions

 

 

LynnVerrecchia.BLOG2Why HC? For the smiles.

When I first visited Holy Cross as a prospective student, one thing stood out to me. Everyone was smiling–at one another, to themselves, and at me. I as looking for a sign that this was the right place for me. What I read in those smiles was that HC students like one another, are content with themselves, and are eager to welcome newcomers.

As a student, I certainly found myself smiling–and being smiled at–a lot. As an alumnus, I find myself grinning on the highway when in traffic behind a car sporting a Holy Cross sticker and in line at the grocery store behind someone wearing a Holy Cross sweatshirt. I’ve made fast friends with other parents simply because of a shared affinity for our alma mater. Nothing brings a smile to my face faster than hearing my 3-year-old carefully spell out H-O-L-Y-C-R-O-S-S!

Holy Cross–it can even make you smile in traffic. That’s why.

Lynn Verrecchia ’01

Associate Director of Admissions

 

This time of year is an exciting and hectic one. That being said, not every applicant is able to receive good news. If you were offered a spot on the wait list, we hope this can be of help.

Below are three tips to help you stay sane during the wait list process:

• Deposit elsewhere. Even if you can’t imagine yourself anywhere else, it is important to accept an offer of admissions and to deposit at another institution. Get excited about this school and remember that getting into college is a big deal. Be proud of yourself for reaching this major educational milestone!

• Reach out to someone in our office via phone or email and stay in touch with that person. Updating us on your continued interest in Holy Cross as well as keeping us informed of your high school progress are appropriate ways to pursue the wait list.

• Stay calm. We most likely will not have any information about the wait list until after the first week in May. Please understand that we cannot give you any information about the probability of coming off the wait list until we know how many of our admitted students will enroll at Holy Cross. Once we have a better idea of our incoming class we will be able to communicate that with you.

We understand that this is a difficult process to go through, and we thank you for your continued interest in Holy Cross.

Holy Cross Admissions

AshleyIn the midst of all the “Congratulations” tweets that went out this weekend to accepted students, there were many from alumni reminiscing about when they were accepted.  Student volunteers in our office described the exact second when they found out Holy Cross would be their home for the next four years.  Many alumni and students wished they could go back, open their acceptance letters, and come to Holy Cross all over again.

 

The excitement of your initial acceptance and the welcoming arms of the Holy Cross community never really go away.  Getting accepted is only the beginning. It leads to four years on a beautiful campus surrounded by driven, eager, and social peers. Hundreds of students volunteer their time in our office not only because they love this place but also because they are excited to tell others just how much they love this place.

 

Eventually, you become a fond alum who still remembers their acceptances because it was the catalyst that spurred those friendships, memories, and connections on this campus. Of course, this is common on many college campuses; what makes Holy Cross a special place, however, is that these connections don’t end when you accept your diploma. Lifetime friendships are formed, passions are discovered, and lives are changed.

 

If you think I am being dramatic, I dare you to speak to Holy Cross graduates who aren’t eager to share their experiences — and perhaps also tell you how they found their spouse, best friend, mentor, colleague, and calling here.  I think they would back me up.

 

So that feeling you had when you saw the word “accepted” in your letter? That feeling doesn’t go away.

Ashley Johnson

Admissions Counselor

AnnMcDermott.BLOG2This has been a groundbreaking year. Students, guidance counselors, and college admissions alike dealt with changes to applications during the fall. In an effort to keep more clarity in our applications, we added a writing supplement. And, also for the first time, we released all of our admissions decisions online. With an exciting push of a button today, we witnessed over 2,000 students view their decisions within 90 minutes — and many more as the evening wore on.

This year’s applicant pool was once again very strong, so the competition for gaining admission was particularly intense. We are excited to welcome our chosen Class of 2018, a truly special achievement, though it was not a quick nor easy decision-making process. As always, we spent over five weeks in full-day Committee, opening every application in front of our admissions staff of 13, and often opening essays, transcripts, and recommendations multiple times for the most complete evaluation possible.

We were struck by poignant responses to our additional writing sample, asking what was the best advice you ever received. We were impressed by what your guidance counselor and teachers had to say about you. We were dazzled by your leadership and floored by what we heard from you in interviews. We were challenged to pick from among 5,300 talented students, yet we remain proud of the ones we have chosen.

The next five weeks will be very busy and very exciting for those admitted applicants — now official members of the Holy Cross community, if you will have us. As you consider your choices, we hope you will join us on campus so we can help you celebrate your impressive achievements. From a variety of visiting options to our Accepted Student Open House to our virtual representation on social media, there are a number of ways to engage with the College.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us (800-442-2421) with any questions or concerns. We are excited to welcome you to the Holy Cross community!

Ann McDermott, ’79

Director of Admissions

Kate StewartThere’s an endless and oftentimes overwhelming supply of resources out there to help you through your college search. You could camp out in the College Guide aisle at Barnes and Noble for two years and never make it through half the books. You could pull all-nighters clicking through Naviance and scouring every ranking posted by US News & World Report and The Princeton Review until your eyes bug out of your head. You could spend so much time on each college’s website that you know exactly where to find obscure information like how many people the dining hall seats.

 

And don’t get me wrong, statistics are certainly important. You should figure out what the academic profile of an admitted student looks like in order to predict whether a college is in your “range.” You should calculate a college’s distance from your home and decide how far away you’d be okay moving. You should research the size of the student body and the average classroom size and figure out whether those numbers seem comfortable or intimidating to you.

 

But ultimately, your college choice is not formulaic. You can’t plug a set of numbers into a magical College Calculator and expect it to spit out your Perfect College. The facts and figures can provide you with a great starting point and help guide your search in the right direction, but they won’t be what convinces you that you can call a college “home” for the next four years of your life.

 

That’s where the intangibles come in. Nothing beats visiting a campus and getting a feel for it by exploring it and soaking it all in. I’m not saying that you need to get “that special feeling” that a college is “the one and only” for you as soon as you step foot onto the campus; this is not a fairy tale, after all, and you do need to keep some options open. But as a human being, you will naturally have reactions to being in a new environment, and you should pay attention to those. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.

 

Go on guided campus tours and attend information sessions, but also find more informal ways to discover the energy, vibe, and identity of a school. Walk through a quad and sense whether students seem excited to go to class. Sit in the campus coffee shop and eavesdrop on students’ conversations with one another (without being too creepy, of course). Take a moment to peek at bulletin boards in the student center to investigate the weekly and weekend goings-on. Take some pictures of the campus to jog your memory later on and maybe even jot down some notes for yourself before all of your many campus visits start to blur together. Finally, consider sharing these thoughts and observations with friends and family who are supporting you through this process. Chances are they’ll be able to either see the sparkle in your eyes or read the lack of enthusiasm in your voice.

 

Kate Gimourginas

Assistant Director of Admissions

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