Archive for the ‘Sarah Gale’ Category

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!

Last Day of JAD for 2016

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

After a fun-filled month of rooting for the Red Sox at Fenway, reading novels on sandy beaches, enduring frigid AC conditions while watching summer blockbusters, and savoring finger-licking barbecue, it’s the end of July.  While we still have a whole other month of summer, tomorrow marks the end of our July Advisory Day Program.  For those not on Twitter, July Advisory Days occurs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the month.  On these days we offer a short session on how to plan for the college interview, as well as some tips for the Common App essay. If you are able, please come join us tomorrow, July 29th!

 

Although we have received an incredible number of visitors this month, I recognize that some interested students are not able to visit campus during the summer. To that end, I wanted to mention some of the takeaways of the essay part of the program.  Below is some essay-writing advice that I hope you find helpful:

1. Although the Regular Decision deadline to apply is January 15th and it may seem as though you have loads of time to write, you should start now! August 1st is the day the Common App goes live–did you mark your calendars?–so please do create an account and check out the questions.  August is a great month to explore topics, perhaps get a few words down on paper, and get your creative gears in motion!

2. Know that the first essay you write may not be the essay you submit.  It might be.  But it probably won’t…and that is okay!  You will likely have a number of great topics from which to choose, and you should absolutely consider writing a few different essays.  In this way, you will have some options before deciding on the one that you think best demonstrates your writing abilities and tells us more about who you are.  Furthermore, please be sure to ask people you trust (including friends, family, and teachers/advisers) to offer constructive criticism.  They should be people who will be able to give you the honest feedback you need, as well as help you catch any errors in grammar or syntax.

3. Be sure you are sharing your story.  I can’t tell you how many wonderfully written essays I have read that talk about applicants’ loving family members, supportive friends, or amazing mentors…but then the essays don’t have enough about the applicant.  Remember that you are the one applying, and thus you are the person who we want to get to know!  As difficult as it can be at times to turn your focus inward, please write about yourself.  The essay is the one part of your application that is completely within your control, so please make it count.

Enjoy the last weeks of summer!

Woo! for Worcester

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

 

Did you know that Worcester is the second-largest city in New England?  Of its 185,000 residents, students make up about one-fifth of the population, with 38,000 students attending 12 institutions of higher education.  I learned this during a bus tour led by members of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.  It was a beautiful summer day, and our hour-long tour included a drive past Worcester Technical High School, WPI, the Worcester Art Museum, and several parks, including Elm Park.

As a staff member who does not live in Worcester, it delighted me to learn more! Please read on for some of our staff member’s favorite places to eat near campus:

1. Sweet (72 Shrewsbury St) is a great option for pastries…one of my colleagues said, “The dosants are amazing–and were invented way before the Cronut!”

2. Another popular pastry shop is Culpepper’s (500 Cambridge St # 3).  A counselor recommended the yellow cookies, which are butter cookies drizzled with chocolate.

3. The Roasted Red (pizza) at Corner Grille (806 Pleasant St) is beloved in our office for its delicious, thin crust and high-quality ingredients.

4. For a more southern feel, try Smokestack Urban BBQ (139 Green St). You can never go wrong with their fried pickles!

Bon appetit, and come explore Worcester! Also, please stay tuned for a post on some of our students’ favorite places in the Woo.

JAD is in Full Swing!

Friday, July 8th, 2016
photo by Tom Rettig

photo by Tom Rettig

Although a quick peek at the weather forecast may suggest otherwise (so many cloudy days ahead!), it is definitely summer. At Holy Cross, we admission counselors in the office are keeping busy with all kinds of summer activities, such as enjoying summer reading, spending time on the beach, and savoring the delicious barbecue from Crossroads.

One particular summer activity of note is our July Advisory Day Program.  If you have not been following us on Twitter, July Advisory Days occurs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this month.  On these afternoons, we offer tours and info sessions as always but also add a short session on how to plan for the college interview and how to write the Common App college essay–not to mention we serve cookies from the dining hall as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Feel free to come to Mt. St. James for a visit! We have enjoyed a great turnout so far, and we’ll be here all month! For those of you who can’t make it to campus, we will be posting some takeaways in the coming weeks with some information regarding the Common App essay and the college interview.

Happy Friday!

June for Juniors, Part 4: Reach Out, Connect, and Relax (please!)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

Well, this is the last installment of our June for Juniors posts! If you have not read the last few, you may catch up herehere, and here. To sum it up, we in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross wanted to take advantage of the (somewhat) quieter days of summer and share some admissions tips.  We recognize that rising seniors are narrowing their college lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so we are posting articles every Tuesday with helpful information for college-bound students.

And now, I’ll pass it over to Tom Severo for June for Juniors, part 4!

 

 

REACH OUT: At least two letters of recommendation are application requirements for most schools. These letters are important and can help us learn a lot about applicants that we wouldn’t otherwise have known: “Cecil had a rough junior year because we implemented a new social studies curriculum, and we noticed grades drop for many of the students. Still, he remained in the top 10% of his class.” “Kelly stopped playing soccer last fall because she has been volunteering with student council and spends 10 hours after school each week planning and organizing activities for their annual holiday bazaar.”

There’s nothing worse than a flat letter of recommendation. “Mike was always on time and prepared for class.” Yawn. Is this the best praise you can get from your teachers? We expect you to be on time and prepared. Show us how you went above and beyond expectations. This means asking a teacher who really KNOWS you and can vouch for all the hard work you put in both in and outside of the classroom. Really put some thought into your selection. Maybe spend some time with that person before the letter is written to give him/her/them a better sense of who you are as a student and a person. You want their words to be glowing! Also, please remember to ask for a recommendation early. You want to make sure to give them enough time to write the letter– your teachers, counselors, and coaches are all very busy people!

 

CONNECTGet (and keep) in contact with the colleges you are interested. Contact can be in person, through a formal or informal visit to the school, via phone or email, or even through social media. Many Admission offices have Facebook  pages and Twitter accounts keep in touch and start liking and following their pages. If we see that applicants have been in contact with us on social media or otherwise, then we are going to have a better sense of their interest in the College. Psychology and propinquity theory are at work here…even on a subconscious level.
So get in our heads…for the right reasons, and stay informed of new developments at the school as well as possible updates to the application process that we may announce. It’s easy to do and the returns are well worth it!

 

RELAX: All of this college application stuff can take its toll on your physical, emotional, and psychological health. Remember to take some time for you. Go for a run, watch a movie, or spend time with friends and family.  It’s okay…you can tell your parents I told you to do this, and I am a bona fide Admissions Counselor who reads applications and votes on application decisions. At Holy Cross, we believe that a relaxed applicant is a confident applicant. This is not the crossroads of your life, even though it may seem that way at times. You are not defined by where you get accepted (or rejected…or waitlisted). You can always transfer, go to graduate school, take a gap year, or better…..become successful despite not getting into your top pick, and end up putting your alma mater on the map as a result. What truly defines you as a person is not what cards you are dealt, but how you play them. You will play yours most efficiently if you are able to roll with the punches and take everything in stride. Keeping the college search in perspective is probably the most important piece of that!

June for Juniors, Part 3: Get Your Ducks in a Row

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Spring, Weekend, 2016, Fireworks, Chapel, Photographed by Anthony Saltarelli.

Photographed by Anthony Saltarelli.

It’s another beautiful summer day, so you know what that means…it is the next installment of June for Juniors! If you have not read the last few posts, you may catch up here and here. To sum it up, we in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross wanted to take advantage of the (somewhat) quieter days of summer and share some admissions tips for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their college lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, we are posting articles every Tuesday with helpful information for college-bound students.

 

 

Tom Severo, an Admissions Counselor and Holy Cross grad, wrote some really thoughtful tips that I am pleased to share with you here. And now, Kirsten and I present June for Juniors, part 3!

Summer is a great time to research important dates and information regarding admissions (such as application deadlines, financial aid requirements, and/or test optional policies). Make sure you are aware of all of these key pieces of information–particularly deadlines–as they will likely be different for each of the schools to which you are applying.

For example, does a school on your list recommend interviewing? At the College of the Holy Cross, we love it when students interview! It gives us a chance to get to know our applicants better, and it gives them a chance to get to us as well. Try to schedule an interview early on in the process to ensure you get an appointment that fits in with your schedule. 

Additionally, is your school test optional? Think carefully about whether or not your testing reflects positively on your application. If your test scores reflect your academic ability, then please do feel free to send them. Know that at Holy Cross, we do not prefer that applicants submit test scores, nor do we penalize students who choose not to submit test scores.

Finally, if you are ever unsure about any piece of information, definitely reach out to the Admissions Office at the school to which you are applying (email is great!). It will guarantee you have the correct information, and it will show more demonstrated interest on your part. Win-win!

June for Juniors, Part 2: Visit visit visit!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
photo by Thomas Rettig

photo by Thomas Rettig

It’s another beautiful summer day, so you know what that means…it is the next installment of June for Juniors! If you did not read last week’s post, you may catch up here. In a nutshell, we in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross thought it might be helpful to post some tips on the blog for rising seniors.  We recognize that juniors are narrowing their college lists and thinking about where they might want to apply in the fall, so this month we will post articles every Tuesday with helpful information for college-bound students.

Tom Severo, an Admissions Counselor and Holy Cross grad, wrote some really thoughtful tips that I am pleased to share with you here. And now, Kirsten and I present June for Juniors, part 2!

The second thing on our list for prospective college students is, in many ways, more important than the first item. This is because 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 tour, go 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.

June for Juniors, Part 1: What do you want?

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

 

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photo by Thomas Rettig

Happy June! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and for Holy Cross students, it is officially summer! After some spring travel and our conference for the New England Association of College Admission Counseling, we are back in the office and excited for what the months ahead will bring.

As we shift our focus from the Class of 2020 to the Class of 2021, my colleague Kirsten and I thought 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. Our colleague, Tom Severo, wrote some really thoughtful tips that I am pleased to share with you here. Without further ado, Kirsten and I present June for Juniors!

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

Online Chats at Holy Cross

Friday, November 20th, 2015

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)

Favorite Fall Traditions at Holy Cross

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

 

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!

 

Homecoming1

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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!