Admission: Not Impossible

 

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The leaves on the trees have changed color and are now dropping.  The days seem a little cooler, a bit mistier, and definitely shorter.  Fall feels as though it may be moving out the way for winter, and here in the admissions office we are starting to transition as well.  For many of us, recruitment travel has come to a close (it will be over soon for those still on the road!), and we are beginning to shift our attention from college fairs and high school visits to senior year transcripts, essays, and other important application materials as we enter reading season!

Although the deadline to apply through Early Decision is not until December 15th, we have already received a number of applications.  I for one am very excited to begin reading, and one piece of the application I personally enjoy reviewing is the interview write-up.  After an admissions staff member, senior interviewer, or alumni volunteer meets with a prospective student for an interview, their thoughts and impressions are added to the student’s file.  The write-up is later looked over by two different counselors during the reading season.

For us in admissions, the interview a great opportunity to see a glimpse of the student beyond their transcript and to get a sense of their potential fit at the College of the Holy Cross.  For the students, the interview is a great opportunity for them to offer us information that we might not otherwise glean from their application alone.

If you have not yet scheduled an interview, you still have plenty of time!  The deadline for off-campus interview requests is December 1st and for on-campus interviews is December 19th.  Please go here for more information.

Additionally, the Office of Admissions is especially grateful for our lovely Senior Interviewers and alumni volunteers who take the time to meet with prospective students and their families throughout the fall and across the country.  Thank you!

 

(photos taken by Xiaofeng Wan and Kerri Falkenham)

I recently saw an article in a magazine entitled, “Three Words to Live By,” which illustrated the fact that the best advice is short – three words, in fact. The author provided lots of three-word sayings to live by, such as floss every day, keep your word, bring her flowers, etc.

This got me to thinking about the college application process. Students are given so much advice but, do they remember any of it? Does any of it resonate? Would it help if the advice was doled out in shorter, easier-to-digest packets?

Perhaps it would.

So, here is my top ten pieces of three-word advice on the Common Application essay:

1. Love your topic

2. Write with joy

3. Trust your voice

4. Consider your audience

5. Develop a hook

6. Use paragraph breaks

7. Check your punctuation

8. Avoid the thesaurus

9. Submit on time

10. Thank your proofreaders

Want more essay advice? Follow us on Twitter: @HCAdmission

Greetings from sunny California!  My name is Sarah Gale, and I am a new Assistant Director of Admissions at the College of the Holy Cross.  Although I have only been working for the College since August, I already feel very much as though I am a part of the vibrant campus community.  In my experience, that is just the kind of place that Holy Cross is: welcoming, dynamic, and fun!

I am currently thousands of miles away from Worcester (or as I’ve been explaining it to West Coast students, “Wuh-sta”) on recruitment travel.  While visiting high schools and attending college fairs, I have been talking a lot about the College of the Holy Cross’ great campus.  I cover the academic experience, residential life, and opportunities for service, off-campus study, and research, but one aspect of campus that is especially important to students is the FOOD.  As much as I can talk about campus dining, who better to talk about the food than a current student?

Our very talented Natalie Correa put together a video about the updates to our Kimball Dining Hall, which I think really shows the great care that the College puts towards students’ overall well-being.  Plus, who doesn’t love a frozen yogurt station?  I hope you enjoy her video, and please do check out her other productions!

AnnMcDermott.BLOG2If you are reading this blog, you have likely noticed that the main pages of the Holy Cross web site have an exciting new look and feel. This is the first phase of a two part redesign. Look for the second and final phase in spring of 2015.

But that is not all that is new! On August 18, the College will launch a brand new logo and visual identity that will be used campuswide. Working collaboratively, offices across the College joined together to develop a new graphic identity that is both recognizable and distinctive. From banners to business cards to publications and PowerPoint presentations, the new Holy Cross look will be both clear and consistent, and will help to better uniquely convey our story.

But I have to admit that what I am most excited about is our new suite of Admissions publications! They are in the process of being printed but should be available shortly. I hope you agree that they are worth the wait.

Ann McDermott ’79

Director of Admissions

It is actually nine.  Whether  we are meeting students on the road or on campus,  we seem to hear the same question over and over again: “What can I do to increase my chances of acceptance?”

Our answer?  “INTERVIEW!”

Though interviews are considered by many high school students to be superficial, self-indulgent monologues professing one’s greatness to an intimidating potential employer for personal gain,  it would be more appropriate to title Holy Cross Interviews as “Conversations,” because that is essentially what they are: two people in a room chatting about anything and everything.

The interview is not the time to determine if a student is a credible candidate; it is a time to put a name with a face and get to know each candidate on a more personal level.  It is not about proving yourself to our office, it is about adding more information to your own application.  Twenty to thirty minutes of conversation can add volumes of information to your application that is impossible to convey on paper through the Common Application, your letters of recommendation, your college essay, or your SAT scores (should you choose to send them).  Read more about scheduling an interview on- or off-campus,   and schedule one before we run out of spots.

 

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.

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