Archive for September, 2013

Fat Squirrels … and four other important tour tips

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

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The Top 5 Things to Look for on a Campus Tour:

1) Grass and flowers. 

Let’s face it – you’re not buying a skillet, you’re choosing a place to live for four years.  Don’t you want it to look nice?  No, it’s not the most important thing, but it is something.  And something counts.

2) College gear. 

Don’t worry about whether students are smiling or not (do you smile when walking to a calculus exam?), notice whether or not students are wearing clothing or gear with their school’s name on it.  No one flies the flag for a school they dislike.

3) People holding doors. 

When someone holds a door for you, it is a sign that they understand that they are not alone in this world – they realize you exist, they acknowledge it and they’re going to try and make your day just a tiny bit better.  That’s the kind of place you want to spend four years.  Now return the favor.

4) Fat squirrels.  

Want to ride the subway to class in college?  Great – ignore this step.  But if you have ever pictured yourself in college hanging out on a quad and walking to class across a grassy, green vista then you want to see squirrels on your tour.  If you see squirrels, then there trees and grass on that campus.  If they are fat, then there’s lots of trees.  And no coyotes.  And that’s something, too.  And something counts.

5) Stairs. 

Seriously, no one dreams of going to college and falling out of shape.  Going up and down stairs will keep you fit. And remember —  where there are stairs, at the top, there’s always a great view.  Stairs equals healthy, fit people enjoying gorgeous views.  Sounds like a great place to go to college.

A Day in the Life: On the Road

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Zachary WielgusHey ya’ll!

As anyone who knows me — friends, family, co-workers, recent plane neighbors — I love Tennessee. I love the accent. I love the music. I love the barbeque. Sometimes (read: all the time), I like to pretend I live here as I spend my week visiting Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis. So I figured, this trip is a great way to show what it’s like to be a Holy Cross admissions counselor on the road.

 

En route to Nashville from Chattanooga!

En route to Nashville from Chattanooga!

 

6:27 a.m. Begrudgingly pull myself out of bed. I am not much of a morning person.

7:35 a.m. Arrive at St. Cecilia Academy for their mini-fair. Not 12 hours before, I was standing in their foyer for the Catholic Colleges fair for students in Nashville, but it’s important for all the girls to get a chance to stop by.

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9:10 a.m. Wrap up at St. Cecilia’s and head across the street — literally — to Montgomery Bell Academy for a similar setup.

10:30 a.m. A break from the mini-fair action comes in the form of a traditional visit to Ensworth School. In this format, we announce our visits to students and guidance counselors in hopes of having a conversation for 40 minutes about Holy Cross.

10:34 a.m. Whoa! My body finally realized I had had neither coffee nor breakfast today. That’s about to change…

Ahhh, sweet caffeine

Ahhh, sweet caffeine

10:45 a.m. Pull into Ensworth just in time for my scheduled visit. We admissions counselors get pretty good at maximizing these few minutes in between visits.

11:30 a.m. After a great conversation with Laura Stewart, Ensworth School’s Director of College Counseling, I plug Harpeth Hall into my handy-dandy GPS. Did you know there was a time when admissions counselors used maps to get from place to place? As in, a real road atlas. I would make it to a school visit 4% of the time.

11:56 a.m. With an hour before the Harpeth Hall mini-fair begins, I must invoke the unfortunately common parking lot lurk. It’s just me in my rental car, hopefully away from quizzical eyes, answering e-mails on my phone until I can head inside. There is such a thing as being too early.

1:45 p.m. With the end of a strong visit to Harpeth Hall, it’s time for lunch. Let my obsession with Yelp take over!

2:10 p.m. Today’s lunch spot has been found! (Thanks for a delicious salad and iced tea, Fido.)fido

3:30 p.m. To answer more e-mails, nap, or go for a run? Incredibly, I choose run this afternoon. It’s only a quick four-mile one, but I always enjoy the chance to jog around Centennial Park and catch a glimpse of the Parthenon replica. To be honest, I still don’t know why it’s in Nashville…

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4:18 p.m. OK, OK, time to catch up on e-mail,: reply to inquiring students, continue planning Wednesday’s interview night, and keep all the on-campus commitments humming.

6:41 p.m. The best part about Nashville, of course, is the free live music EVERYWHERE. Hop the hotel shuttle to the main strip on Broadway and pick your destination. It sure beats watching TV or reading a magazine while eating dinner. Hey, this part of the job can get a little lonely!

Just a few of the lights on Broadway

Just a few of the lights on Broadway

10:01 p.m. Well, Father Ryan’s mini-fair begins at 7:15 tomorrow morning, so I better head back to the hotel and get some rest. Bless my heart, but I still need my eight hours!

 

For a list of where all 13 of us will be and when, check out our Visits to Your High School page

 

May the Fat Lady sing

Monday, September 16th, 2013

I love opera.

There. I said it.

I. Love. Opera.

I love the pageantry. I love the exaggerated emotions. I love how ambitious the productions are.

Loving opera does not make me cool nor garner me much attention (other than the quizzical looks from friends and family). But I do love watching it, listening to it, reading about it and talking about it. If I were applying to college today, I just might write my essay about my reaction to Figaro’s swagger or the sparkle in Carmen’s eye or how I feel hearing Violetta’s pained plea, “Amami, Alfredo, amami quant’io t’amo!” (Love me, Alfredo, love me as I love you!)

But when composing their essays, most students choose to write about topics that they think admissions counselors want them to write about; truth is, we hope for great essays and typically the best essays are on topics that the student loved writing about – for me, it just might be opera.

There are no right or wrong topics to choose for your essay – there are only the topics you want to write about and the topics you think you should write about.

So when the moment comes to choose a topic, seize the moment – choose a topic you want to write about, tell your story, sing your song and you might just have us yelling, “Encore!”

Andrew Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Meet a Counselor

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

I joined the Holy Cross Admissions Office as the Assistant Director of      Admissions in mid-August. If you ask me what the most exciting thing I’ve done for the summer or what I am most thankful for when Thanksgiving comes close, joining Holy Cross will be the definite answer. I found Holy Cross to be a very supportive, welcoming, and inclusive community for both students and staff. Coming from a different cultural background, I haven’t had one moment where I felt nostalgic, and I have grown to see Holy Cross as my home away from home. I feel so lucky to be a part of the very hard-working, engaging, extremely helpful and energetic admissions team. In addition, the great emphasis on providing a world-class undergraduate education from its strong Jesuit tradition makes Holy Cross the perfect place for me to work.

So, I am originally from Beijing and I moved to the U.S. for graduate school two years ago in 2011. I received my bachelor’s in English from China Foreign Affairs University. To call it a university might be an exaggeration, as it takes only five minutes to walk around the whole campus, but it is one of the most selective colleges in China, very much like Holy Cross on this level. After college, I worked as a national English radio broadcaster on China Radio International in 2010. At the same time, I was teaching TOEFL and Business English to university students and corporate employees who were going abroad for school and work.  However, I soon realized my passion was in education, so I applied to graduate schools in the US. My graduate research focused on global higher education and international student recruitment, which I intend to help Holy Cross as it continues to broaden its scope for excellent students both in America and around the world.

Specifically at Holy Cross, I am also working on international initiatives in China and Hong Kong. It was great to meet with a few first-year Chinese students at the Odyssey Luncheon before the semester started. They were extremely bright, smart and driven. I am excited to bring more talented students from around the world to join Holy Cross next year and the years to come.

Back-to-school shopping list

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

I had the bright idea of going to Target this weekend. Roughly three minutes in to my Sunday errand, I realized that it was — for most — the last weekend before school came back in session. This meant only one thing:

Back-to-school shopping.

I’ll admit, between a mile-long walk from my parking space and lines that put any Disney coaster to shame, I got a little nostalgic. The rush for new binders, the “no Trapper Keepers” warning from teachers….I fondly remembered those waning days of summer spent in a Target loading up on school supplies to ring in a new year.

Now, on this side of the desk, my job has far less to do with No. 2 pencils than it does reminding seniors that there is still plenty to do in their autumn. Given that, here are important things to add to your college process list:

1) Start your applications. Yesterday. While even the earliest of deadlines loom two months away, you will thank yourself for starting — and hopefully finishing — your applications before Halloween. There’s a new Common App to figure out, many essay prompts and short answer requirements to write, and resumes to fill. Each one takes longer than you think, and all pieces should be submitted with care. Save yourself the stress and cross this off before November.

2) Don’t be a stranger. Many schools, including Holy Cross, pay attention to demonstrated interest. So, look into visiting opportunities that transcend the normal campus tour. Campus-wide Open House dates. Our visits to your high schools. The all-important interview (hint, hint). We like that you’ve seen the campus. Now, stay in touch by doing those added extras that can really help come decision time.

2a) If up to this point you ARE a stranger: introduce yourself! Actually stepping foot on campus not only bolsters your demonstrated interest folder but also allows you to get a true feel for the campus. You will never know which schools you like or dislike until you see the grounds and the facilities and students up close.

3) Keep your foot on the accelerator. There’s a lot happening senior year. Your schedule is likely the toughest it’s ever been. You’ve risen to leadership opportunities in your extracurriculars. You have to worry about college apps and standardized tests. Oh, right, and you’re trying to enjoy your final year of high school. It’s a heck of a juggling act! That being said, your first marking period grades — and often your performance through your midterms — is a vital component to the admissions process. We want to see that you’re continuing to challenge yourself, but we also want to see that you’re rising to that challenge. Don’t let senioritis sink your ship.

4) Befriend your guidance counselor. S/he should be helping you make your list, keep you informed of important dates, proofread your essays, and remind you to breathe a little. The better you know your guidance counselor, the more you know about your entire college process.

5) Try to enjoy these four months! Like I said, it is a lot to handle. But the searching and writing and visiting should all be at least a little fun, right? After all, you are trying to decide which place to call your home for four years. It’s a daunting task, but it should be an enjoyable one, too. We think this video helps.

If you have this entire list checked off by the time our calendar turns to 2014, you can bet that you will be resting easy, and that I’m going to enjoy reading your application.

Zach Wielgus
Assistant Director of Admissions