Archive for the ‘Admissions Staff’ Category


Friday, July 7th, 2017



Visit, visit, visit! You may not know what you are looking for in a college until you have seen a few up close in personal. You don’t know what you don’t know, and visiting is a great way to expose yourself to all the things a college has (or does not have) to offer. Sometimes visiting colleges may be easier than expected. Maybe you are on your way to the beach and you pass by a college campus…take a look! You never know what may happen: you may like it, but if you do not, it will give you context for the types of schools that would be a better fit.

So, sign up for a tourgo to an info session, listen to the questions other people ask, and think about whether they are important to you. Maybe even use a few of those questions for your next tour at a different school (we won’t tell!). Here at Holy Cross, we offer July Advisory Days (JAD) during which you can learn about what to do to ensure a successful interview as well as how to start cultivating your personal statement.

Visiting campus is a huge part of what is known as demonstrated interest, which is something colleges (Holy Cross especially) take quite seriously. So take the time, if you are able, to see schools and learn more about what they could offer you! We will be here, ready to show you our campus and tell you more about our community.

What are you looking for in a college?

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017


Happy July!

As we shift our focus from the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2022,  it might be helpful to post some tips on the blog for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their colleges lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so this month we will post articles with helpful information for students as they begin their college application process.

What qualities do you want in a school? How far away from home would you like to be? Do you want to commute and live at home or would you like to be 3,000mi away? What types of activities would you like to continue in college or try? Think about all of the lifestyle habits you would like to keep or try and make sure those activities are included in your search process. Would you like to live on campus or commute? Keep in mind of the opportunities outside of campus as well. How will this school help me with internship/job/alumni networking opportunities? You have a lot to ponder but it’s best to start somewhere. Here are some points to consider:


  1. Size, distance from home
  2. Career opportunities
  3. Athletic opportunities
  4. Academic opportunities
  5. Campus life
  6. Study abroad opportunities
  7. Service opportunities
  8. Tradition
  9. History
  10. Alumni network
  11. Research opportunities
  12. Clubs/organizations
  13. Off-campus life
  14. Religious affiliation
  15. Arts

What will you leave behind?

Friday, May 12th, 2017


As our senior class is getting ready to leave Mount Saint James, I’d like to share some reflections from our senior intern, Madison (Maddy) Smith.


written by Madison Smith ’17

Over the last four years I’ve heard it time and time again, “Enjoy your time while you have it.”  Not only from Holy Cross alumni, but from my family and friends who have moved on to the real world.  It’s so easy to think you’ll be here forever, or that you can always do something new or better next year.  Until, you can’t.  It’s easy for me to say, “don’t take it for granted.”  But it’ll probably be more helpful to tell you what to enjoy and what are some of the special things I will be leaving behind.  So Holy Cross, here are the things I will be leaving on the hill for all of you.

Holy Cross has not only provided me with the academic tools to carry me into the world, but has given me a plethora of memories and stories for the rest of my life.  I’m sorry to say that it would be a challenge for me to remember one book I read in my first semester CRAW class freshman year.  But, I can still vividly remember the first time it snowed enough to go sledding by freshman field, or the first time it was nice enough to sit and pretend to be doing work in the Hoval.  The first thing I’ll leave behind for future classes will be the special backdrop to all those memories that is Holy Cross.  Hills and all, from a late night in Dinand to a rough morning in Kimball, campus almost seems to be constructed in a perfect way to make memories for a lifetime.  Don’t wish yourself off campus too soon, or run to study in a Starbucks café, try to enjoy the setting and the people around you.  All those places have been for so many and will be for you the places where your best stories are lived.

Next, I will happily take, but also leave the ever so lucky opportunity for life long best friends.  The people of Holy Cross really seem to be the best and I plan to have them surrounding me for a very long time.  After shortly falling in love with school and not being afraid to tell everyone and anyone I could find, someone told me that I had finally “drank the HC Kool-Aid.”  I absolutely did and I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t.  The people and the community at Holy Cross are truly the Red Dye #3 that makes that sugary drink so great.  I’ll be taking my friends from the Class of 2017 with me, but I can assure you there and there always will be a friendly face around, and more likely than not someone you will take with you when you leave as well.

It’s hard for me to tell you to enjoy it and to not wish it away.  As I’m writing this now I have a countdown in my head of things to get done, classes and practices left.  But, what you can do is remember how special of a place Holy Cross is and realize sooner rather than later that it won’t last forever.  Which is fine! (I hope!)  But, along the way take the time to think about how lucky you are, to be thankful for where you are, to write it down or take a picture, because one day you’ll only be so lucky to tell people about the times you had.  Be sure to remember how wonderful it is while you’re still on Mount St. James.

What did you do over Spring Break?

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017


written by Mackenzie Horl ’17

This year was my third year participating in the Spring Break Immersion Program run by the Chaplains Office. I can honestly say that my experiences on “Appa,” as the program is commonly referred to at Holy Cross, have been some of my favorite and most transformative while here on the hill.

From the time I was a first year at Holy Cross, I had repeatedly heard older students talking about the Spring Break Immersion Program. I heard rumors about how much fun people had at their sites and the friendships that lasted well beyond the one week spent in Appalachia. Unfortunately, nerves got the best of me and I did not sign up for the program as a first year student. However, when I heard my roommate’s stories about her group and all those who she served during her first experience on “Appa,” I promised myself that I would not miss out the next year.

That was a promise that I would keep to myself for the remainder of my spring breaks at Holy Cross. I have visited Ivanhoe, Virginia, Barren Springs, Virginia and Wheeling, West Virginia respectively. At each site, I met unique people and came to better understand their struggles. I found myself in parts of Appalachia that I probably would have never experienced, had I not decided to go on Spring Break Immersion.

This year, I went to Wheeling, West Virginia with twelve other students from Holy Cross. I spent the week living and working in The Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling. Each day we ate breakfast and lunch with the patrons who visited the soup kitchen, many of whom were homeless. There were numerous times during this experience that I felt like I had ventured outside of my comfort zone. Before this experience, I had never really come into contact with homeless people before. However, this experience was eye opening for me and taught me a lot about the society that I live in and how the homeless are treated.

I am always amazed when I meet my group each year at the Spring Break Immersion send-off held in Kimball. The night consists of an hour or two of making small talk and getting to know one another. Conversation usually revolves around questions like “what grade are you in? or “what is your major?” Usually I find myself wondering if I made the right decision to go away to a place that I have never been before with fellow Holy Cross students who I have never met before. However, after my first day of the service trip, I always know that I made the right decision. This year, I went to Wheeling with twelve strangers and I returned to Holy Cross with twelve new friends. I look forward to seeing my Appa friends around campus in between classes or meeting up at Cool Beans to chat about life.

I am thankful to the Spring Break Immersion program for opening my eyes to the injustices that people in the United States face. I know that the three weeks that I have spent in Appalachia throughout my time at Holy Cross have meant much more to me, than to those that I have served. However, I hope to take these experiences back with me to Holy Cross and wherever my life journey takes me.


Do you have questions about the wait list? Maybe this will help:

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Spring Campus Scenic 2016. Photo by Tom Rettig

Spring is here! Last Saturday our office released admissions decisions online, and recently mailed out our notifications. We are so proud of our applications from all over the world!  We had more qualified candidates than we had room to offer, and many great students were given a spot on the wait list.  For the last few weeks our office has received phone calls and emails from prospective students who wanted to know more about how the wait list works, so please see below for some more information:

1. The first thing that students should do is log into their Holy Cross account (please go here to do so) and accept their spot on the waitlist.  This will change their status in our system and let us know that they are still interested.

2. Students should consider sending us (via email) an update as to what they have been doing since they submitted their application back in January.  Did you change your classes? Have you earned some improved grades? Did you start a new activity or job? We would love to hear what’s new!

3. To keep their options open, waitlisted students should send their deposit to another institution by May 1.

4. After the national enrollment deadline of May 1, we will know what our numbers are in terms of admitted students accepting our offer of acceptance. If it is determined that spaces are available, students on the wait list will be reevaluated by the Admissions Committee. The overall academic and personal record will be considered, as will the level of interest the student has expressed in attending Holy Cross. 

I hope that this information helps students and their families better understand our process.  Please do keep in touch with us via phone (508-793-2443), email (, Facebook, and Twitter; we would love to hear from you!

Committee Reflections

Friday, March 17th, 2017

In anticipation of decisions being released tomorrow, here are some reflections from new counselors in our office on our committee selection process.


written by Nicole Howell

As a new hire in the Admissions Office, I had heard a lot about committee since my first day on campus. From my coworkers’ descriptions, it felt like a mix of final exams and Christmas – daunting, tiring, but exciting. I was told that for a month and a half, we hunker down in a dimly lit room and comb through every single application until we’re left with Holy Cross’s next incoming class. Up until the beginning of February, one piece of insight into the process was consistent: “You just have to wait and see it.”

Much like Christmas, food was abundant in committee. To keep our minds fueled and focused we had Potluck Mondays, specials treats and desserts on Wednesdays, and a hearty stockade of fruit snacks and granola bars for all the days in between. Each day was different. Some days we went through upwards of 300 applications, while other days we decisioned just over 100. Each decision was made with thought and care, and throughout this process I watched as my coworkers advocated for students they had met, and shared the insights they gained as they read their applications. Very quickly I realized the value in having 11 individuals with different perspectives and experiences collaborate on such important decisions.

Committee is a singularly unique experience for college admissions. Like many of the students and families I’ve met over the last 8 months, I was both pleasantly surprised and a little skeptical when I learned about committee for the first time. For an office of only 11 staff members and thousands of applications, it seemed impossible that every application would be carefully reviewed and considered separately from the thousands of other applications in the pool, but it also seemed like the right way to honor and recognize all of the time and hard work that students put into their applications. As I find myself now finally at the end of my first committee, I’m happy to report that my pleasant surprise was justified, and skepticism misplaced. Yes, every part of your application is read: every letter, essay, and supplement. And yes, we really do look at each student individually, and we’re happy to do it. I’m proud to work at an institution that puts as much time and care into hand-picking our students as our students spend researching and choosing us, and applicants can rest easy knowing their hard work throughout high school and in their applications are getting their due consideration.


written by Brenna Kelly

Back when Kevin Federline was still married to Britney Spears and Razor cell phones were all the rage I began applying to colleges. Like many of you, I wondered what the right equation was to get admitted into college. What were these Admission Counselors looking for and are they really reading every last word in my description of extra-curricular activities? As an Admission Counselor now I have realized my hours of exasperating myself and the eyes of my mother over my Common Application were well worth it. At the College of the Holy Cross I have been able to sit in and participate on an admissions committee process that is caring, detailed and thorough.

There are a few words in my mind that are overused in the admission world and those are community and holistic. So I thought as I embarked on my position at Holy Cross I would find different words to describe the higher education institution and most importantly the admission process. Yet I found these words to ring more true than ever as I sat in with ten of my fellow co-workers in the dimly lite Admissions Office. Let me set the scene for you all here. Our room was dark due to our two projectors that stood tall and large in the front of the room. These projectors displayed each student that applied to Holy Cross and not only did it contain their application but reviews from two of our staff members who have already read these files as well. Underneath the projectors we had an enormous amount of snacks to keep us fueled. As we reviewed students who possibly may endure “The Freshman 15” in the Fall I had begun my journey on “The Committee 15”. It will take a while before I look at a pack of trail mix the same. But all jokes aside this room is where we made caring and thoughtful decisions about each applicant from our own city of Worcester to across the world in China.

As a staff, we thoroughly go through each application with more emotion and thought than a prospective student would guess. Just like any student who has sat through a college information session, they are aware of how important grades, curriculum rigor, activities outside the classroom and more are when compiling the “perfect” college application. While this application process during high school may seem daunting, sitting in my first cycle of committee has assured me none of this hard work goes unnoticed. From reading essays more than once to really getting to know a student through an application, this process has been eye-opening and validating. Building a new community for each incoming class may take many weeks and Twizzlers but it’s a process I’m proud and excited to be a part of.

Student Post – SPUD and Majors at HC

Friday, December 16th, 2016
photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

I initially liked Holy Cross because it is a small, liberal arts college and I thought I could best succeed here, so I applied Early Decision. I have found Holy Cross able to provide me with many opportunities to explore my passion for learning.






Throughout my studies, I have become very interested in Human Rights and Ethics. I found these subjects to be at the intersection of Political Science and Religious Studies, so I decided to major in both. Then I found that a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies would compliment these two majors nicely. The academics are rigorous but I have found that my double major allows me to apply my academics to both my extracurricular activities at Holy Cross as well to my experiences in the real world.

During my time at Holy Cross, I really have become a part of not only the Holy Cross community, but also the Worcester community that exists beyond the campus gates. During my first year, I joined SPUD-Student Programs for Urban Development. Through this organization, students can serve the Worcester Community through volunteering at a variety of sites such as those that provide tutoring, after-school programs or elderly care. I essentially worked my way up the “SPUD Ladder” to now be 1 of 8 interns in charge of over 600 SPUD volunteers. We have about 50 SPUD sites and I coordinate about 6 Program directors who are in charge of particular after-school sites around Worcester.

In addition to helping people in the Worcester community, I am also able to be a voice for students through my position on the Student Government Executive Cabinet. What I really love about the SGA, is how the organization exemplifies the camaraderie that exists amongst students at Holy Cross. For example, I am the Director of Health and Safety, but, really, I am on hand to help any of the other 20 Cabinet members when they need help with their own programming. Also, SGA fosters strong relationships among professors and administrators so they can know more about students and we can know more about them.

written by Mackenzie Horl ’17

SPUD: Student Programs in Urban Development

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

written by Declan Foley ’15

“Come into my office, I have something for you!” Nancy beamed, as she eased herself into her padded chair slowly but surely, anticipating her chronic leg pain – an artifact of 83 years of robust life experience.  As she moved from the kitchen to her private office, I could see Nancy knowingly smirk the entire way, thinking about her upcoming surprise.  “It’s the one I told you about last week,” she hinted, finally handing over a sealed envelope.  As if the situation did not already possess enough mystery, she playfully asserted not only that I must keep the contents a secret, but that only four copies of them were in existence.  My mind jumped from one idea to the next, searching for context clues that might hint at what was inside.  Perplexed yet full of curious intrigue, I slowly opened the envelope and pulled out a small photograph of Nancy in the recognizable kitchen we spent many Sunday nights in, the back inscribed with the month, year, and a personalized “Love, Nancy.”

Nancy is the director of the Salvation Army Meals Soup Kitchen SPUD site.  More than just a service figurehead, she is the woman who has not missed providing a single Sunday dinner at the Soup Kitchen in the past 25 years.  Well-respected by all and resolute with the disrespectful minority, she is the woman who finds a way to feed the members of the Worcester community that need it most.  She is the woman who served as a reference of mine for a volunteer opportunity, and aptly wrote “best friend” next to “role to applicant.”  Most importantly, it was Nancy that helped me realize that the relationship between intellectual pursuits and social justice is not dichotomous but complimentary.  

This significant duality pervades Jesuit institutions of higher learning; Holy Cross is no exception.  It was Nancy and my growing role in SPUD over my sophomore, junior, and senior years where I found the most inspiration for understanding the goals of Jesuit higher education, incorporating them into my personal set of values that I uphold today.  

When I joined SPUD as a sophomore volunteer, I performed acts of social charity: I set tables, prepared and served the food, and cleaned up after members of the Worcester community finished eating.  As my comfort level rose, I began to have small conversations with those who attended the dinners on Sunday who appreciated Holy Cross’ presence.  Though I appreciated their interest and still value these conversations today, their statements provoked feelings of dissonance; frustrated, I wondered what was the larger, institutional and structural reason for my presence at the site, and why did it exist?  Why did the same folks come and have the same conversations with me week after week, year after year?  What had I done to alleviate the social stratification that exists in the Worcester community that I was a part of?  

I was fortunate SPUD did not occur in a vacuum; as the years progressed on campus, I bore witness to the internal and external pressures students carry with them throughout the day, humbly striving to be their best self and doing so with a quiet confidence – a trait I firmly believe makes the Holy Cross student unique.  This culture of humble achievement persisted through all four years, but another fold was added with senior year, when I observed an increasingly intense focus on establishing a successful career upon graduation among my peers, and I began to question how I should define success.  

It was at a SPUD Intern meeting where Marty Kelly, chaplain at Holy Cross and staff leader of SPUD, had us reflect on Fr. Michael Himes’ “Three Key Questions” – “What brings me joy?” “What am I good at?” and “What does the world need me to be?” – which held particular significance for an intern team largely comprised of seniors.  It was at this moment, informed by the confluence of all things SPUD, when I realized that the real measure of a successful Jesuit education lies not in individual success but in how the individual uses their personal strengths to better others.  It was that night in Campion where I realized that I need to use my strengths in a vocation that affords the opportunity to be in solidarity with others.

My involvement in SPUD, under the guidance of Nancy, helped me realize that being in solidarity with others is what gives me joy, that my strength lies in others, and that my best way to serve this world is to uplift those around me as best I can.  The experience helped me realize that with each opportunity I have to interact with members of my communities, I am confirming the development of a moral responsibility.  It is this solidarity with others that paves my future as a “man for others.”  Importantly, I am simply the lucky one of truly countless Holy Cross students who could write about such profound experience if prompted – the reach of SPUD is remarkably profound.  SPUD is a defining volunteer activity for more than six-hundred Holy Cross students across forty different sites, every single year.  

I strongly implore those reading this to volunteer and meet your own Nancy, to have those conversations that bring you closer to others and complicate your perspective.  You will not regret it, and in this process of discernment you will find out what brings you joy, where your strengths lie, and how you can incorporate these joys and strengths into a life defined by personal fulfillment and service to others.

A Thank You to Families

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
photo by Dan Vaillancourt

photo by Dan Vaillancourt

As the fall shifts to winter, our office receives more and more application items: transcripts from high schools near and far, resumes and links to students’ YouTube videos, and to me the most heart-warming, lots and lots of letters of support. Working in admissions, counselors often get phone calls and emails from parents asking about the admission process, facts and figures on the College, safety on campus and in Worcester, career services, and residence life. One of my colleagues, in fact, wrote a post about the role of parents back in 2013.



For me, reading letters of recommendation from excited parents is really one of the highlights of my job (along with receiving notes from enthusiastic students, reading thoughtful and thought-provoking application essays, seeing the familiar faces of prospective students at events, discussing admission decisions with my colleagues, enjoying fantastic on-campus programs, savoring delicious food on campus…I could continue!).

As hard as we work in the Admissions Office to recruit students, and as hard as applicants work to finish the Common App, I would also like to recognize the support of families in this process. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins can all play a role in a students’ college application process. Family members take prospective students to campuses for seemingly countless tours, information sessions, interviews, and Open Houses. They save the glossy college brochures and place them on the refrigerator next to old art masterpieces, recipe ideas, and cut-out news articles. They look over numerous drafts of personal statements and help their students decide which teacher to ask for their recommendation letter. They reach out to anyone in their own community who may have attended the student’s college of interest or know someone who did. The parents and other family members of students are their cheerleaders, their counsel, and their source of strength. Getting the opportunity to see such incredible examples of that kind of support in my work here at Holy Cross is a wonderful reminder of how important family is.

So I want to say thank you. Thank you to the families for bolstering your students throughout this process. Thank you for supporting them, for driving them (and arranging for planes and trains if necessary), for reading over their work a hundredth time, for reminding them that their off-campus interview is at 6pm, for bouncing off essay topics in the car, and for guiding them through a process that may at times feel overwhelming, complex, and nerve-wracking. We are so excited about the students who apply and enroll here, and we know it is in large part to your help!

Student of the Month: Suji Yi ’17!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

sujiWe are proud to announce that our Student of the Month is Suji Yi! This month’s superstar hails from Leominster, MA and is a Chinese and Economics double major. We deeply value her dedication to the Office of Admissions and have included some words of appreciation from various staff members below:

One of our receptionists said, “She is very helpful and extremely knowledgeable about admissions and great with the visitors. She is willing to jump in and help where ever needed. She is always upbeat and cheerful…a true gem and a ray of sunshine.”

Another staff member wrote, “Suji helped me on a very busy Saturday pulling double duty as a Senior Interviewer and Tour Guide Coordinator. She helped with all the tour guides, plus she helped me at the front desk greeting and checking guests for their interviews. What a trouper! Suji is always willing to help out with whatever we ask her to do every week.”

A counselor told us, “The amount of time and energy Suji has devoted to this office is astounding. She volunteers four hours a week as a senior interviewer and another four hours a week as an admissions intern. She helps coordinate the tour guide coverage for group visits to campus and is the first to ask what else she can do to help. She is incredibly active on campus in other organizations, and yet, she is always ready and willing to help out in our office. Suji is an incredible representative of Admissions and the College. We are so grateful for having Suji in our office and don’t know what we would do without her!”

Another counselor wrote, “she spoke on panels for both Open Houses, has covered shifts for other Senior Interviewers, and continues to be a powerful component of our senior interviewing program.”

Still another counselor said, “Even being new to the staff here, Suji’s pivotal role in the admissions office is easy to see. From being the first to volunteer for events, to serving as Laura’s biggest helper and more, Suji embodies the engaged and academically motivated student we all articulate when describing the HC community to students on the road. Go, Suji! We would be lost without you!”