Posts Tagged ‘application tips’

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!

Last Day of JAD

Friday, July 31st, 2015

writing    writing 2

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, today marks the end of our July Advisory Day Program.  For those not on Twitter, July Advisory Days occured every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  On these days we offered a short session on how to plan for the college interview and how to write the Common App college essay.

Although we received an incredible number of visitors this month, I recognize that some interested students are not able to visit campus during the summer, so 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, start now!  Tomorrow (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’s 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 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 look over your writing and 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 writer him/herself.  Remember that you are the one applying, and thus you are the person we want to get to know!  As difficult as it can be at times to turn your focus inward, please write about who you are.  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!

(photos by Thomas Rettig)

Some Advice before the Regular Deadline Deadline Approaches

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Winter scenes 2014    Scenic Photos,

As of 1:54PM today, we have 34 hours, 5 minutes, and 21…20…19 seconds until 12:01AM on Thursday, January 15, 2015.  That means applicants have only a few more days to submit their applications to most colleges and universities, including the College of the Holy Cross!  We in the Office of Admissions are so excited for reading season because now is when we get to see applicants in their entirety: their essay(s), their transcripts, their letters of support…all of those pieces 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 seeing the final result!

Looking for inspiration for this first post of 2015 I went back again to the blog archives and found some great advice from a former colleague that I would like to share with you here.  Without further ado, here are some words of wisdom from last January:

“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 thing to 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 admissio@holycross.edu, and we would love to hear from you!

Thoughts on Today

Monday, December 1st, 2014

wan xwan 3 in color

 

Today feels like an important day.  It is Monday, which marks the beginning of a new week: new to-do lists to make, new appointments and meetings to attend, new weekly goals to set.  It is also the first day of December, which means only two weeks left until the Early Decision pool is closed (on December 15!).  Fall seems to be wrapping up for the year, and winter approaches.  With the new season comes more application reading, more decision-making, and more future Crusaders!

During this time of year, our office fields a lot of calls about applications, and I thought that it might be helpful to address some students’ and families’ questions here.  Below are my thoughts on what to know:

1. We offer some helpful application tips here.  When it comes to applications, every material a student sends us is reviewed and every application is read by two different counselors (we try to read by region).  Our staff collectively looks at each file during committee and every staff member’s opinion matters in the final vote.

2. The high school transcript is the most important item in the student’s file.  We contextualize each student within their high school and note the various course offerings and the individual student’s level of rigor at their particular school.  Students at Holy Cross will be challenged academically, so we admit students who have pushed themselves in high school (whether that’s taking honors, accelerated, AP, or IB classes).  Senior grades are important, but we do look at the overall high school performance.

3. The essay is, for many readers, the favorite part of the application.  We read about all kinds of high and lows in school, such as adventures abroad in new and exciting destinations, or setbacks and how students bounce back from disappointment.  Although it is only a few paragraphs, the essay is completely under the control of the student and an opportunity to speak directly to college counselors.  For those students who have not written their essay yet (not to worry, you still have plenty of time!), please keep this in mind and try to think of a creative way to tell the reader an interesting personal story.

4.  We do track student interaction.  By this I mean that we add emails to students’ files, we look at whether or not the student has visited campus for a tour or stopped by a college fair to say hello, and we highly recommend interviews.  The Office will be closed December 24 through 26, and on December 31 and January 1, but please do come in sometime this month if you are able!

Have a fantastic week, and please do feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

(photos by Xiaofeng Wan)

Interviews at Holy Cross

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

 

Capture KF instagram

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)

Three Words: Please Read This (by Drew Carter)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

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

“Interview” is Not a Four-Letter Word

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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.

 

I’m on the Wait List! Now What?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

 

This time of year is an exciting and hectic one. That being said, not every applicant is able to receive good news. If you were offered a spot on the wait list, we hope this can be of help.

Below are three tips to help you stay sane during the wait list process:

• Deposit elsewhere. Even if you can’t imagine yourself anywhere else, it is important to accept an offer of admissions and to deposit at another institution. Get excited about this school and remember that getting into college is a big deal. Be proud of yourself for reaching this major educational milestone!

• Reach out to someone in our office via phone or email and stay in touch with that person. Updating us on your continued interest in Holy Cross as well as keeping us informed of your high school progress are appropriate ways to pursue the wait list.

• Stay calm. We most likely will not have any information about the wait list until after the first week in May. Please understand that we cannot give you any information about the probability of coming off the wait list until we know how many of our admitted students will enroll at Holy Cross. Once we have a better idea of our incoming class we will be able to communicate that with you.

We understand that this is a difficult process to go through, and we thank you for your continued interest in Holy Cross.

Holy Cross Admissions

Meditations in an (Application) Emergency

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Zachary WielgusI’m a planner. I plan things. Checklists litter my desks — e-mail these people, check in with these applicants, don’t forget to pick up stamps and dry cleaning, post blog. It’s how I stay efficient.

What often transpires, as so many of my list-making peers agree, is that I cannot turn off my planning nature. There are always three more things to do, a new idea to write down, which is why in addition to my written daily checklists one could find four notes in my iPhone with a smattering of to-do’s and what-if’s. (I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is….and it’s also why I have a password on my phone.)

A little frustrated that I could not put my mind on “vacation mode” during the days around Christmas, my younger sister felt I needed to hear my 2014 horoscope. It began with a suggestion to take more time to slow down and look inside myself, offering up the idea of meditation; oddly enough, I had recently read an Esquire article on the Headspace app — essentially meditation for beginners. Always impressed by random coincidences, I decided to give it a try. So, for the past five nights, I’ve crawled into bed and booted up Headspace, allowing myself 10 minutes of meditative relaxation.

It’s been incredible!

As someone whose mind is never fully powered down, I remained skeptical about my chances of fully embracing the goal of meditation: a tranquil, free mind. Instead, the day’s stream of tasks slowed down and the lists drifted away. They will still be there tomorrow, after all.Extra-Headspace-logo-001

With a week until our Regular Decision application deadline, I implore both students and parents alike to create some head space. 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.

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.

Put the “y-o-u” in Essay

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Kate Stewart
By the time you’re ready to actually apply to college, many of the pieces of your college application already are the way they are. You’ve taken the classes you’ve taken, you’ve earned the grades you’ve earned, you’ve been involved in activities that have been important to you, and your counselor and teachers have been reflecting on their relationships with you and starting to write their letters of recommendation. Essentially, your college application has been a work in progress for the past few years and at this point much of it is already– to a certain extent– out of your hands.

Sure, you might take the SATs one more time to see if your scores improve (though we’re test-optional at Holy Cross). You’ll continue working hard through senior year to keep your grades up (because we will see them). And hopefully, you’ve contacted us to set up a personal interview (we HIGHLY recommend this).

But one piece that’s still completely in your control and ready to be molded by you is your college essay.

This is great power, and it’s exciting! Consider the college essay an opportunity, and take full advantage of it. This is your chance to share something unique about yourself and to give us a glimpse into one aspect of your life that we wouldn’t otherwise have been fully privy to. We know you aced AP Calc and we know you’re captain of the soccer team and we know your teachers love you … but such is the case for many of our other applicants, too. So now let’s get personal. What wouldn’t we discover or understand about you just from reading your application? Let us in.

If you keep putting off the writing or are filled with dread every time you think about it, ask yourself why this is. Chances are, if you’re having difficulty getting started or making progress, your topic might not be as meaningful to you as you thought. Don’t write what you think we want to hear, write what matters to you. Start a couple of drafts on different topics, walk away, see which one you look forward to returning to the most, and stick with that one. A great personal essay often comes from a place of passion, pride, pain, amusement, nostalgia, curiosity, confusion, desire, joy, love. Write about what makes you tick, what gets you up in the morning, what brings tears to your eyes. Write about experiences that have changed you, relationships that have bettered you, accomplishments that have truly mattered to you, moments that have stayed with you, challenges you’ve overcome. Write about who you are and who you want to be.

The point is, write about YOU. You’ll notice that all five of the essay prompts on the Common Application direct you to write about yourself. So even though we are looking to evaluate the strength and style of your writing, please don’t send us the English paper you just got an A+ on. Boring! Make sure that the people who know you best would be able to read your essay and know it’s yours. Also make sure that if those people are helping you proofread and edit, don’t let their opinions influence you to the point that you end up losing “you” in the essay.

Finally, help make it easier on us admissions counselors by crafting a piece that’s interesting to read! Inject your voice, your personality, your creativity, and in some cases, your humor. A few comments we often make when we’re reading college essays:

  • “Show, don’t tell!” Illustrate the who, what, when, where, and why with details, examples, anecdotes, even dialogue.
  •  “Too thesaurus-heavy!” Don’t use words that are outside of your normal vocabulary. It will sound forced and unnatural.
  •  “Get rid of the first paragraph!” Don’t feel the need to have a formal introduction and conclusion with three neat topic paragraphs sandwiched in between. You have a limited number of words to use, so please just jump right in there and grab our attention.

Believe me when I say that we here on the admissions staff at Holy Cross love and appreciate the college essay. We look forward to getting to know you.