Posts Tagged ‘application’

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!

Almost-End-of-Summer Checklist

Friday, August 14th, 2015
Photographed on August 7, 2015.  Summer

Photographed by Thomas Rettig on August 7, 2015

It’s mid-August already?!  Where have I been?  The summer humidity seems to be easing off, the students are starting to move back onto campus for athletic training, and soon I will have to dust off my suitcase and hit the road for fall recruitment travel.*  As I make my own travel checklist (book flights, reserve rental cars and hotel rooms, plan high schools, find alumni volunteers for interview programs, package and ship out materials), I cannot also help but think about the checklist that seniors are probably making as they gear up for their last year of high school.  I thought that I would offer a few suggestions here:

– go to the Common App website.  Applying to colleges involves some paperwork, and August feels like a good time to get at least some of it out of the way before classes, practices, meetings, and homework take up much of your time.

– start to make a list of teachers who you would ask to write a letter of recommendation for you.  You want to be able to choose a teacher who knows you not only as a student but also as a person.  At Holy Cross we review applications very thoroughly, so please be sure you are thoughtful in choosing your teachers for recommendations.  Additionally, have a list of a few teachers in case a teacher you ask is not able to write a letter for you.

– polish up your essay.  Before you have to start writing essays for class, it’s good to have a solid draft of your Common App essay now.  Once school starts again you are not going to have as much time to work on it, and you definitely want others to read it and offer feedback.  The Huffington Post has some interesting articles about the college essay if you seek additional insights!

– schedule a visit to campus!  For rising seniors we offer full-day visit opportunities, which are a great way to experience the academic and social experience of Holy Cross.  We also have Open Houses, an overnight program for students from diverse backgrounds, and of course, lots of chances to have an interview!

As we approach the fall, I cannot say how excited I am for the next admissions cycle.  We wish applicants all the best and look forward to meeting the future members of the Holy Cross Class of 2020!

*About fall recruitment travel–please stay tuned, as we plan to post our staff travel calendar on the Holy Cross website later this month!

Decisions, Decisions

Friday, March 20th, 2015

hc 7 hc 5

 

Over 6,700 prospective students, over 50 days of reading and deliberating files, over 115 inches of snow, and today Committee is OVER.  And what a Committee it was!  13 counselors with different backgrounds, different levels of admissions experience, and different recruitment regions all came together to help shape the Class of 2019.  We are so proud of our applicants this year–the pool included students from sea to shining sea, as well as Canada and Peru, the UK and Nepal, China and Egypt and India and several other countries.  It was so incredible to learn about students from all over the world, as they threw their hats in the ring for a chance to be part of our community.  I am so humbled to work in Admissions here at Holy Cross and get to be a part of this amazing process!

Students’ incredibly hard work certainly did not go unnoticed in this admission cycle.  We tapped our feet to drumming videos; smiled through scenes from plays like Shrek and Legally Blonde; felt shivers run down our spines during vocal performances; enjoyed stunning self-portraits, photographs, still-life paintings, and ceramic pottery; laughed at funny essays (and teared up at tender essays); and of course, we voted.  We chose students who we think challenged themselves in high school and will relish the academic rigors here on Mount Saint James.  We chose students who we believe will enhance our community with their wonderful talents, their varied interests, and their strong drive to not only better themselves but also better the lives of others.  And finally, we chose students who showed us their desire to study at a liberal arts college, and if they could, their desire to study at Holy Cross specifically.  Applicants showed us in all kinds of ways that they wanted to be Crusaders–by visiting campus, interviewing with an admissions counselor or an alumnus/alumna, writing to us, submitting their application response form, sending us supplemental materials, and/or attending a campus event.  Now that this part of the admission cycle is over, we look to the next step: helping admitted students choose Holy Cross!

I would like to end this post with my deepest congratulations to everyone who applied to the College this year.  You are all such incredible people with so much to offer, and it was an extraordinary experience to review your applications.  Working at a small liberal arts college, we had to make some hard decisions, and I wish that we could have taken more students–we saw so many well-qualified students in this pool.  While we could not offer a spot to everyone, we thank you all for applying and wish you all the best in your final semester of high school and in your future studies!

Meeting in Progress…

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

snow 2  Students walk to class past Beaven Hall during a cold winter day.

 

Tuesday, February 10th marked the first day of Committee, and it has been off to a great start!  From 9am to 4:30pm until the end of March, my counseling colleagues and I sit together in a room with the shades drawn and the projectors up to make application decisions.  While we drink coffee and eat pretzels, goldfish, fruit snacks, and Twizzlers (total brain food, right?), we look at each student’s application carefully to determine their potential fit at Holy Cross.  We also look at our master list of applicants for this admission cycle and study transcripts, essays, recommendations, test scores, art supplements, and any other admission item that may come our way.  Together, all of these materials help us see if whether or not a student would make a good addition to the College.

 

2015 has certainly been a great year for us so far–we received over 6,700 applications for about 750 spots!–and I have learned some things that I wanted to share with prospective students and their families:

 

1. Contact is so important!  We in the Admissions Office really do appreciate hearing from applicants, whether it’s during a visit to Mt. St. James or from a simple email. We want to admit students who want to be a part of the Crusader community, so please do reach out to us!

2. Please don’t hesitate to share your writing. Reading application essays is a treat for me and my colleagues.  When a student sends us an additional statement, selection of poems, article, or research paper, we get really excited!  Seeing multiple examples of an applicant’s writing is a great way to get a sense of the person as a student.  At Holy Cross, students are expected to do a lot of writing, so if we can see samples now we can make a more informed decision on that applicant.

3. Highschoolers today are incredible. I have read so many wonderful, funny, insightful, warm, thoughtful essays this year. I had looked over so many  extensive lists of school activities, service opportunities, trips abroad, professional internships and jobs, numerous awards, amazing athletic triumphs, and stellar performances.  Students give so much of their time to hone their crafts, to pursue their personal passions, and to give back to their communities.  Reading about their experiences has been wonderfully inspiring!

 

Stay warm, keep safe, and I look forward to offering more insight as we continue on in Committee!

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!

On Being Test Optional

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

xwan 2 xwan 4

It’s almost mid-November.  Halloween has come and gone, and now thoughts have shifted to Thanksgiving recipes, holiday gifts, and, of course, Early Decision!  I mentioned in my last post that the office is just beginning our reading season for the 2014-2015 cycle.  After going through application review training, I am very excited to sink my teeth into applicants’ files!

A part of some of these files includes SAT or ACT scores.  The question around whether or not to send standardized test scores often arises in admissions.  At the College of the Holy Cross, test scores are not required for students, with the exception of the TOEFL and IELTS for non-native English speakers or students who have spent less that four years taking classes in English (for more on the TOEFL and IELTS, please go here).

So if you do not have to send your scores, should you?  Why would you?  In a blog post from November 2008, our Director of Admissions, Ann McDermott, wrote that “if you feel your testing says something about you and your abilities, feel free to send them along. We will look at them in conjunction with your transcript, your recommendations, essay, and interview (if you have had one) and make our assessment.  If, on the other hand, you feel that your test scores do not represent you well, then do not hesitate to withhold them. We will not make any assumptions about your testing, and will focus our attention on your transcript and the other accompanying credentials that are contained in your application.”

In other words, we at the College of the Holy Cross are test optional because we have found that a student’s academic history in high school is a better indicator of their scholastic ability than an exam taken on a singular Saturday morning (or taken on a few Saturday mornings).  Please go here for more about our policy regarding testing.

P.S. For more admission information, as well as updates from current students, please check out our Twitter and Facebook pages!

(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

The Final Days of Committee

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

We’re hitting the home stretch. It’s been a very busy four weeks, 133 hours spent in the Committee room to be exact, in which time we have made decisions on just over 80% of the applicant pool. This upcoming week — likely the final week of Committee — will ask us to start splitting hairs. The entire staff agrees this year’s applications have shown incredible engagement and quality across the board.

As a highly selective institution, Holy Cross attracts some of the most intelligent, creative, and articulate high school students out there. But being highly selective also requires us in admissions to start asking the tough questions and making tougher decisions. The entire staff will evaluate your writing samples, examine your transcript, read your recommendations, and see your contact with the College, all in an effort to allow us to say that we gave every application the most thorough of looks.

It’s exciting that the light at the end of the Committee tunnel is visible. It’s even more exciting that the incredibly talented Class of 2018 is nearly complete. But before we cross the finish line, we have many tough decisions to make.

We’ll see you soon.

 

-The Holy Cross Admissions staff

The Reading Season Routine

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Nancy NelsenAs I sat down to read applications recently, I suddenly had a flashback to my days in college and graduate school. There was something oddly familiar about the set-up at my desk. I was surrounded by the same must-have items that I needed to write a long paper, including a huge cup of coffee, a bottle of water, a pillow behind my back for comfort, a mellow mix of tunes playing on my iPod, and most importantly, atomic fire ball hard candy. Whether I’m gearing up to write a 20-page paper or reviewing admissions applications, having the aforementioned items seem essential to me when tackling a project of this magnitude.

 

Though I’m no longer a student, the task of reading such a large volume of applications is reminiscent of the feelings I had when faced with a big paper in school. I love the challenge, and I love the adrenaline rush.

Perhaps what I love most about reading applications is having the opportunity to learn about so many fascinating and talented students. After reviewing transcripts and doing calculations, I get to sit back and read hundreds of thought-provoking essays. Students’ college applications give me a glimpse into their world. I’m constantly learning about different cultures and experiences, as well as personal challenges and triumphs.

While I’m moved by stories about life-altering events, I’m equally impressed with lighthearted essays. My excitement surrounding an essay isn’t always related to the student’s choice of topic. Rather, I find it stimulating to read a piece where the author really lets his or her personality shine through the essay.

Reflecting on the last few weeks of reading files,  I can assure you  there  have definitely been some long days, but thankfully, since I stuck with  my college routine, I didn’t  have to pull any all-nighters!

 

Nancy Nelsen

Assistant Director for Multicultural Recruitment