Admission: Not Impossible

photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

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

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

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

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


Ariel winter scenes on campus

photography by Thomas Rettig

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

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

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

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

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

Stay warm, be well.

rainbow okane













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


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

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




(inspired by “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by C. Clement Moore)


‘Twas the week before Christmas and on Mt. Saint James

Crusaders competed in holiday games

Their jerseys of purple they donned with great pride

Secure in the knowledge that “God’s on our side!”


And yes, there were finals- exams and reports

But a welcome distraction was Holy Cross sports

See here on the hill, we’re a spirited crowd

And we make it well known, rooting hearty and loud


Sometimes up at the Hart we can cause quite a clatter,

When showing support for our dear alma mater

As our rec center, that’s where the madness ensues

High on top of the hill, near the statue of ‘Cooz


photo by John L. Buckingham


Where Division I athletes fight hard for their school

On the court, on the ice, in the weight room and pool

It’s potent, this passion our campus asserts

Student bodies adorned with “HC” on their shirts


We’re a small enough school, so we know all the players

(And Catholic, so cheering comes often with prayers)

Our super-fan crowd puts opponents to shame

As we scream and chant loudly for each sport by name:


“Go Baseball! Go Football! Go Field Hockey, too!

Go Soccer! Go Tennis, Cross Country, and Crew!

Let the hockey games end in a bench clearing brawl!

Let our basketball team never give up the ball!


photo by Thomas Rettig

Let us fight till the end, never fail or fatigue

And prove who’s the best in the Patriot League.

It’s Cru-Sader Nation. It has been for years

With true adoration from pundits and peers


Track program’s so fast, they make Fios seem slow

And the crew team will beat you six times in a…… “row”

Our baseballers do it with K’s and with ease

And the golfers get through it with their expert-tees.


Holy Cross! Whoa, lacrosse! Your strong rep is deserved

Played our volleyball team? Then I guess you got served!

The same goes for tennis, a team that we….. “love”

And cause quite a racket when speaking thereof


Our skaters can keep up with any Cannuck

Not since Robin Goodfellow’ve I seen better Puck!

Think you’re besting our divers? Pft, don’t hold your breath!

They oust podium spots like they’re Lady Macbeth


photo by Mike Malyszko

Your swim team’s all wet, ours is running amok

Only stroke that could beat em’s a stroke of dumb luck

Football here’s in the bag, other teams in the sack

Bet two bits that we’d win and got my quarter-back


And basketball? Please. Now don’t get me started

That’s a legend round here, our support is whole-hearted

I remember a game, about this time of year

From centuries past……….as an undergrad here


The Hart was electric (acoustic, the band)

And just before things really got out of hand…

The clock, it expired. And with it, the din

The match-up had ended (of course with a win)


The bleachers grew quiet, the stands stopped their shake

The students went home for their holiday break

But I heard them exclaim as they walked to their cah

“Crusaders forever!” and “Chu Chu Rah Rah!”


image, author’s own

by Catherine Phelan, ’18

tree lighting 1

photo by Thomas Rettig

Winter is here on the hill! For Holy Cross students this season is filled with fun activities. As a sophomore on campus, I am excited for the events that will take place this winter. One of my favorite activities took place last week on December 3rd. The annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is hosted by the Purple Key Society here on campus. There are tables with cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee to get all of us in the holiday spirit.

This year my friends and I headed to the O’Kane porch and where we were greeted with carolers and joyful Christmas music. The Holy Cross Marching Band performed various Christmas songs and the Holy Cross Chamber Choir sang. Santa also made a guest appearance! Many students, faculty, and members of the Worcester community took pictures with him. While the different groups sang, my friends and I created some homemade cards for American soldiers abroad. The crowd sang along with the Nativity School of Worcester’s performers.

One of my friends is in the acapella group Fools on the Hill and it was great to see her group perform. After choir sang Silent Night, a prayer was said, the tree was blessed, and then there was light!

tree lighting 2

photo by Thomas Rettig

The tree was lit and the nativity scene was glowing under the lights. This is one of my favorite winter activities because it brings together the Worcester community and the students of Holy Cross. There is a sense of unity as we all sing along to the songs we all know and it gets us all into the holiday spirit.

I am also looking forward to the following holiday activities:

‘Tis The Season: Holy Cross Dining from Dec. 7-11 welcomes winter with a variety of our favorite seasonal flavors. Visit any Holy Cross Dining location to celebrate with us.

Holiday Decorating Contest: Inter-House Council celebrates the Holiday season with their annual Hall Decorating Contest. The event will be judged by a team of faculty and administrators!

Winter Weekend Carnival: On December 12th students can take a study break and come to Crossroads for CAB’s annual Winter Weekend Carnival, featuring stuff your own bears, festive holiday treats, your favorite holiday music, and much more!

Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols: On December 10th the College Choirs and Chamber Orchestra in collaboration with the chaplain’s office present the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols, a Holy Cross classic.  The evening features nine biblical readings that tell the Advent and Christmas story, anthems by the choir and orchestra that will illuminate the readings, and carol singing.


(initially posted by Meghan Body ’17 on Friday, November 21st, 2014)

With only two weeks until our Early Decision deadline, I thought it prudent to re-post a great piece from one of our current students about her admissions experience.  Enjoy!

When I became a high school senior, I knew Holy Cross was the college that I wanted to attend. Because I was so sure, I applied Early Decision to Holy Cross.  Early Decision seemed very attractive to me; if accepted, I would know where I was going by the end of that fall.  ED is, however, a huge commitment. If you know Holy Cross is the school for you, then go for it! That being said, do not feel obligated to apply ED, as it is a decision for which one has to be ready. It was the right decision for me, but it is not the right decision for all.

About a month after I had submitted my application, I was deep into an American Government paper when I heard my phone ring.  The caller introduced herself as a Holy Cross Admissions counselor, and I immediately worried that I had forgotten something on my application. Before I had the chance to react, the Admissions counselor told me I had been accepted to the Class of 2017!  My initial confusion switched to happiness, delight, and pride.  I excitedly thanked the woman on the phone a million times, and then called my family and friends to share the great news. It is a moment I will never forget.

Despite my elation, it is important to recognize how applying Early Decision impacted the rest of my senior year. Although I enrolled in Holy Cross in late December, and I felt relieved of a tremendous amount of stress regarding my college choice, I did not let this affect my academics. If anything, it inspired me to continue to prove that I belonged at Holy Cross.  With that, I worked to finish my senior year on a high note.  If you are accepted ED, please do not let “senioritis,” “the senior slump,” or whatever you may call the lack of focus during senior year of high school get to you!

On the back of the Sader Nation T-shirts for the Class of 2018 reads the following quote, “From this point on, there is no turning back, no copping-out.” Spoken during the 1970 Commencement by Father Swords, the President of the College, these words symbolize the commitment I made to Holy Cross and my personal growth when I chose to enroll here.  Never do I regret my decision to come to Holy Cross, and I believe that if you make the same commitment I did, neither will you.

Rainbow over Holy Cross

photo by Tom Rettig


balance 1balance 2

One of our social media interns, Maddy, wrote a lovely piece about her experiences being a student-athlete here at Holy Cross, and I thought I’d share it below:

Balancing academics and athletics and college can absolutely be a challenge! As a junior on the Women’s Varsity Lacrosse team here at Holy Cross, I have learned the ins and outs of time management skills and am here to let you know how you can make it work.

First, if you’re coming to Holy Cross and have completed four years of high school successfully with your sport you likely have some time management skills already. Once in college, you will learn to develop them further. Specifically, you will learn about prioritizing. Inevitably with a packed schedule of academics and athletics, you won’t be able to do EVERYTHING you need to get done in just one day! I recommend investing in a planner, a notebook, or post-its and mastering the art of a to-do list. Set this list up by due dates and what is most important to you!

Next, you’ll need to learn about sacrifice. In high school, it’s generally pretty easy to manage a full load with academics, athletics, extra-curricular events, and a social life. If you want to have all of those in college and continue to sleep you’re likely going to need to sacrifice some things. As a Holy Cross student-athlete, it is likely that your extra-curricular activities or social life load may need to be lightened.  My best advice is to join one or two things that interest you the most and give all you can to them. There is nothing worse than committing to an activity or club and not being able to give it your full attention. By selecting what is most important to you, you won’t overload your schedule and you will be able to get the most out of your commitments.

Finally, as mentioned, you may need to make some sacrifices when it comes to your friends and fun. Let me be clear, I have so much fun at Holy Cross and hang out with my friends all the time as a student-athlete. There are nights, however, where I am in the library and my friends are watching a movie or going out. This will happen to you. My best advice is to not let the “FOMO-Fear of Missing Out” get to you. It’s just one night or one event of many that you will have in college. One night isn’t worth letting your grades or athletic performance suffer, trust me.

Balancing school and athletics and everything else is a skill, but you can figure it out! Luckily you have a team filled with upperclassmen who have been there and know exactly what you’re going through. You have coaches who went through the same thing and came out successful as well. Look to them and ask for help if you think you’re getting overwhelmed. It can seem scary at first, but every Crusader is up for the challenge!


(images provided by Maddy Smith)

students studying 2

photo by Michael Malyszko

Throughout the year, we in Admissions host live online chats as a way for prospective students to learn more about the College.  We believe that these conversations provide an excellent opportunity for applicants to ask questions that they may have about social activities, academics, admissions, or life in Worcester.  Our second chat of the fall happened earlier this week, and we are so fortunate to see a great turnout of prospective students and current Crusaders!  Over the course of three hours, we enjoyed lots of interesting conversations and had the opportunity to connect with students all over the country (and even a few who stayed up late into the night to chat with us from other countries!).


For those who did not get the chance to join us, I wanted to share some responses from one of our Outreach volunteers, a first-year student named Brian.  In addition to helping us out in Admissions, Brian serves as the class secretary, participates in a variety of pre-law activities, and is involved with campus ministry.  He also has his own blog!  Below are some of his answers to students’ questions from the November 18th chat:


– on diversity: Holy Cross embraces all difficult questions. Of course, then, we discuss diversity and issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation unabashedly! In fact, we just finished Unity Week — a weeklong series of panels and events focusing on campus issues, specifically, and broader societal problems about diversity. Just two nights ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas headlined a provocative evening…Holy Cross has a long history of supporting diverse students. This legacy dates back to Father Brooks and the mentorship of a young black southerner named Clarence Thomas, who, along with twenty or so other black students, was recruited to Holy Cross. Clarence Thomas now serves on the US Supreme Court as an Associate Justice.


– favorite thing about Holy Cross: the people! Whether it is the professors or administrators, classmates or staff, the people are unrivaled in their kindness, devotedness, and commitment to excellence. Least favorite thing about Holy Cross: that I’ll be limited (hopefully, that is) to just four years here; therefore, I’ll be limited in taking advantage of the abundant opportunities the College offers.


– on what sets the College apart: excellence in all areas since 1843. HC is also peerless — the only Catholic, top-tier, Jesuit, liberal arts college devoted solely to undergrads…so many vibrant discussions, representing such diverse ideas, but based on mutual respect and a quest for truth in all things.


Our next chat is Wednesday, December 9 and the main topic is “Life on the Hill.” We hope that you will join us!


(images from the Digital Asset Management System for the College of the Holy Cross)

Hello, all! Tom Campbell here, one of the three new Admissions Counselors in the office. I’m here to talk with you about everyone’s favorite topic: aging.

While I have not yet earned the status of senior citizen, at times I certainly feel like one.  As I walk up and down the notorious Holy Cross hills (only a year after graduating from the College, no less) an unfamiliar stiffness can catch me off guard.  My age also belies my old-soul musical tastes–just take a look at my Spotify profile, which boasts far more Fleetwood Mac than Fetty Wap.  At least I use Spotify and not Limewire, right?

So in order to keep me young and hip, cue the other seniors in our Admissions office: our senior interviewers.


photo, author’s own

Not only do these star students effortlessly balance their academics, post-grad planning, extracurricular activities, and admissions office commitments, but they also keep our staff connected with all of the exciting happenings both on and off campus. From traditions such as Senior Ball to new activities such as Unity Week and Agape Latte, our senior interviewers constantly remind all of us about the amazing things that Holy Cross students do, and how dedicated they are to the Crusader community. We are so fortunate that an amazing group of seniors is willing to work in our office and share their experiences with prospective students. Their excitement for the school is tangible, and their participation in our office is just another testament to the level of pride that our students have for the College.

If you come to campus for an interview and meet with a senior interviewer, be sure to ask them questions about their campus involvement, their transition from high school to college, and their favorite Holy Cross memories. After all, Holy Cross is all about asking more, and who better to ask than a current student?

So while growing old might seem daunting to some, take some comfort knowing that some things never change with age. For members of the Holy Cross community, a lasting love for Mount St. James would be a prime example of this. I’m sure seniors and senior citizens alike can agree on that point!

Fetty vs. Fleetwood, on the other hand, is a whole other ball game…


Fall is a special time of year for many, with days of apple picking, leaf peeping, pumpkin carving, and football cheering.  For Holy Cross students, the season is filled with all sorts of fun events.  I asked the social media interns about some of their favorite fall things on the Hill, and here it what they said!



photo, author’s own

Mackenzie: Fall at Holy Cross is one of the most beautiful seasons on the hill…during this time of the year, the ivy on the buildings begins to change colors and the campus is truly transformed.  One of my favorite fall traditions at Holy Cross is Harvest Fest at Kimball.  One evening at the beginning of fall, the dining hall has all kinds of seasonal treats such as apple cider (both hot and cold!), candy apples, cupcakes, and cookies (decorated for fall, of course). It is a night that students surely do not want to miss!







photo, author’s own



Madison: Freshman year my friends and I were characters from Toy Story which was my favorite costume!  We had all the main characters, and made most of our own costumes.  We even had one of our friends be the toy horse!  My friend and I were the Slinky Dog and stayed attached for the entire night with a wire connecting the two of us!  I am excited to see what we come up with this year!

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