Admission: Not Impossible

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

We’re hitting the home stretch. It’s been a very busy four weeks, 133 hours spent in the Committee room to be exact, in which time we have made decisions on just over 80% of the applicant pool. This upcoming week — likely the final week of Committee — will ask us to start splitting hairs. The entire staff agrees this year’s applications have shown incredible engagement and quality across the board.

As a highly selective institution, Holy Cross attracts some of the most intelligent, creative, and articulate high school students out there. But being highly selective also requires us in admissions to start asking the tough questions and making tougher decisions. The entire staff will evaluate your writing samples, examine your transcript, read your recommendations, and see your contact with the College, all in an effort to allow us to say that we gave every application the most thorough of looks.

It’s exciting that the light at the end of the Committee tunnel is visible. It’s even more exciting that the incredibly talented Class of 2018 is nearly complete. But before we cross the finish line, we have many tough decisions to make.

We’ll see you soon.

 

-The Holy Cross Admissions staff

Zachary WielgusI wish I could tell you. Really, I do. As a member of the admissions staff, I view knowing as much as I can about this school as a point of pride; having to say “I don’t know” or “let me get back to you” is something I try to keep to a minimum.

The trouble is, no matter how much research I can do, no matter how long I work here, I will never be able to answer that question. I’m not a student. I don’t eat in the dining halls, sleep in the dorms, attend classes and lectures, cheer my lungs out at games, or form lifelong friendships on this campus.

Our students, however, do. And what’s even better is that there are seven current students doing a stellar job answering this question on social media. So you want to see what Holy Cross is really like? Start following Meaghan, Alli, Kerri, Natalie, Matt, Caroline, and Julia:

 

1) On Twitter (current students initial their posts and photos)

2) On Instagram: MeaghanB2017, AlliD2016, KerriF2016, NatalieC2017, MattB2016, CarolineL2016, and JuliaL2016

3) Their student profiles (coming soon!)
A quick peek at some recent contributions….

 

A stunning winter view (MB17)

A stunning winter view (MB17)

This is how Kerri Dinands (KF16)

This is how Kerri Dinands (KF16)

Natalie's room (NAC17)

Natalie’s room (NAC17)

A study break in Cool Beans 2 (JL16)

A study break in Cool Beans 2 (JL16)

I admit it:  I am a dork, a dweeb, a geek, a nerd.   I am all of these things.  I exhibit these dorky qualities every day during Committee, our seven and a half hours each day behind closed doors.  I find a way to amuse myself when each new high school, hometown, or applicant’s name appears on the projector. I believe it is important to clear my thoughts and put myself in a positive mindset before viewing and discussing each applicant. I employ all of the following mental techniques in order to get myself excited to explore each and every applicant:

1. Create a rhyme using the applicant’s last name – i.e.  “Daniel Weagle owns five beagles.”

2. Read the applicant’s name/school/hometown in an Irish brogue, French inflection, Southern drawl, robot voice or any other way that will cause me to smile (it’s really not too difficult to get me to smile).

3. Question whether an applicant is related to a celebrity with the same last name (one of my favorites).

4. Find a pun within a schools’ name – i.e. “What do you call a fantastic feline? A Magnificat!” (Thanks, Ohio, for your help.)

5. Start off each break with a new impression. Me doing Will Ferrell doing Harey Carey is the current crowd favorite.

I suspect that each Holy Cross counselor has his or her unique method of mentally preparing for the discussion of every applicant; my method just infuses a split second of silliness into the otherwise overwhelmingly serious process of selecting the Holy Cross class of 2018.

 

Daniel Weagle ’08

Assistant Director of Community Outreach

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