Posts Tagged ‘college search’

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!

An Over-Due Post on Open House

Friday, April 24th, 2015

What a success! Last Sunday we hosted our Accepted Students’ Open House program and had a fantastic day!

OH 6 OH 7

Here were some of the highlights of the program:

– a fair with representatives of student organizations, campus life departments, and sports teams to discuss various on-campus opportunities

– sessions on our Career Planning Services; Preparation for Health Professions; Study Abroad; Preparation for Law; Student-Designed Majors, Minors and other programs; Preparation for Business; Scholars Programs; Summer & Academic Internships; and Library Services

– separate panels for families and admitted students with current Holy Cross students, faculty, and staff

– brief, informal presentations by faculty in various the academic areas

– a Liturgy of Welcome at St. Joseph’s Chapel

The sun shone brightly over Mount Saint James throughout the day; we were so fortunate to host such a fun and informative event and have such great weather.  We also lucked out with several special performances of Holy Cross a Capella groups, the choir, and our Good Time Marching Band.  Coordination of this event required the planning of many staff members, faculty, and students–thank you all so so much!  And thank you to our guests for coming–we hope you had a wonderful time on campus!

OH 1 OH 5

The College Search: Facts, Figures, and Feelings

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Kate StewartThere’s an endless and oftentimes overwhelming supply of resources out there to help you through your college search. You could camp out in the College Guide aisle at Barnes and Noble for two years and never make it through half the books. You could pull all-nighters clicking through Naviance and scouring every ranking posted by US News & World Report and The Princeton Review until your eyes bug out of your head. You could spend so much time on each college’s website that you know exactly where to find obscure information like how many people the dining hall seats.

 

And don’t get me wrong, statistics are certainly important. You should figure out what the academic profile of an admitted student looks like in order to predict whether a college is in your “range.” You should calculate a college’s distance from your home and decide how far away you’d be okay moving. You should research the size of the student body and the average classroom size and figure out whether those numbers seem comfortable or intimidating to you.

 

But ultimately, your college choice is not formulaic. You can’t plug a set of numbers into a magical College Calculator and expect it to spit out your Perfect College. The facts and figures can provide you with a great starting point and help guide your search in the right direction, but they won’t be what convinces you that you can call a college “home” for the next four years of your life.

 

That’s where the intangibles come in. Nothing beats visiting a campus and getting a feel for it by exploring it and soaking it all in. I’m not saying that you need to get “that special feeling” that a college is “the one and only” for you as soon as you step foot onto the campus; this is not a fairy tale, after all, and you do need to keep some options open. But as a human being, you will naturally have reactions to being in a new environment, and you should pay attention to those. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.

 

Go on guided campus tours and attend information sessions, but also find more informal ways to discover the energy, vibe, and identity of a school. Walk through a quad and sense whether students seem excited to go to class. Sit in the campus coffee shop and eavesdrop on students’ conversations with one another (without being too creepy, of course). Take a moment to peek at bulletin boards in the student center to investigate the weekly and weekend goings-on. Take some pictures of the campus to jog your memory later on and maybe even jot down some notes for yourself before all of your many campus visits start to blur together. Finally, consider sharing these thoughts and observations with friends and family who are supporting you through this process. Chances are they’ll be able to either see the sparkle in your eyes or read the lack of enthusiasm in your voice.

 

Kate Gimourginas

Assistant Director of Admissions

What’s Holy Cross REALLY Like?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Zachary WielgusI wish I could tell you. Really, I do. As a member of the admissions staff, I view knowing as much as I can about this school as a point of pride; having to say “I don’t know” or “let me get back to you” is something I try to keep to a minimum.

The trouble is, no matter how much research I can do, no matter how long I work here, I will never be able to answer that question. I’m not a student. I don’t eat in the dining halls, sleep in the dorms, attend classes and lectures, cheer my lungs out at games, or form lifelong friendships on this campus.

Our students, however, do. And what’s even better is that there are seven current students doing a stellar job answering this question on social media. So you want to see what Holy Cross is really like? Start following Meaghan, Alli, Kerri, Natalie, Matt, Caroline, and Julia:

 

1) On Twitter (current students initial their posts and photos)

2) On Instagram: MeaghanB2017, AlliD2016, KerriF2016, NatalieC2017, MattB2016, CarolineL2016, and JuliaL2016

3) Their student profiles (coming soon!)
A quick peek at some recent contributions….

 

A stunning winter view (MB17)

A stunning winter view (MB17)

This is how Kerri Dinands (KF16)

This is how Kerri Dinands (KF16)

Natalie's room (NAC17)

Natalie’s room (NAC17)

A study break in Cool Beans 2 (JL16)

A study break in Cool Beans 2 (JL16)

Back-to-school shopping list

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

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

Back-to-school shopping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zach Wielgus
Assistant Director of Admissions

A Role for Parents in the Process

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Everyone in the college admissions world has heard the tales of the overbearing parent.  One person may report the story of the mother who, following her son’s admissions interview, imitated his sloppy handwriting in a thank you note that she herself penned; another within earshot will quickly jump in, trumping that tale with the story of the father who actually placed a phone call to an admissions officer and imitated his son’s voice on the phone in order to demonstrate interest.

These tales, whether true or not, are swapped and traded like baseball cards.

What I don’t hear much of is the story of the reticent teenager, the late-blooming high school student who needed a nudge, a pep-talk, a push or even an outright shove to finally engage in the college search and application process.  Some sailors actually need a Captain Bligh to motivate and instill discipline so that they may eventually reach their desired destination and some applicants need their parents to kick-start their campaign, to encourage their participation in a way that may not always be pleasing to their teenage sensibility.

As long as that nudge creates momentum and not imbalance, as long as that “motivation” is filled with love, as long as the parent’s guiding hand doesn’t overreach, then there most certainly is a role (perhaps even a big role) for parents in this process.  But, take that role too far, or occupy it for too long and parents may learn Captain Bligh’s lesson, that mutinies don’t just happen on board the Bounty.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Copernican Principle

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Until Copernicus and Galileo proved differently in the 1500’s, the Earth was believed to hold a special place at the center of the universe.  But then through research and scientific calculations, it was proven to be, in the words of the PBS show Nova, a “tiny speck in an unremarkable location.”  Scientists call this the Copernican Principle.

When you work in college admissions, it is easy to stay within your own bubble and to think that your own school is the center of the universe.

But, the truth is, there is (or should be) a Copernican Principle of college admissions.

Here at Holy Cross, we are but one school out of thousands in this country – one star in a nighttime sky full of stars that all shine in unique ways.  And while anyone who has taken our campus tour and navigated all of our stairs knows full well that this is not an “unremarkable location,” we do think it’s important to keep perspective in this process.

You’re torn between so many good options for college?  Of course – we understand.

Holy Cross is your favorite school?  Great – we’re glad you think so.

You found another school that matches you better?  Wonderful – we support you.

Our staff of thirteen admissions counselors believes wholeheartedly in this place, our mission and our students.  We wear purple and we make it look good.

But, at the same time, we understand that there are so many other wonderful colleges and universities out there and we invite you, we encourage you to explore and research and do the necessary legwork until you find your tiny speck, your star, your home for the next four years.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Summer Visit Opportunities

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Summer is an interesting time for us here in Admissions. With the stress of application reading and the selection process behind us,  summer is a great opportunity for admissions officers to plan travel, take some vacation days, and admire the gorgeous  trees and flowers blooming all over campus.

But we haven’t forgotten about you, high school juniors, who are just starting your college search. Once you’ve had some time to relax, think about making some college visits.

Summer is an excellent opportunity to visit Holy Cross. Come for a tour and information session.  You’ll hear directly from students as they guide you around campus and from an Admissions Counselor about the college process. If you happen to be here in the next few weeks you might want to take advantage of our July Advisory Days, where you’ll receive insider tips on interviewing and writing your college essay. It might be nice to get all of this done before your hectic senior year starts up (where you’ll likely be juggling AP classes, soccer practice, band rehearsal, community service, etc.). We will be here and looking forward to your visit!

Nicole Zervos ’09

Assistant Director of Admissions

The Invisible Gorilla

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Many people have seen the well-known “Invisible Gorilla” experiment on YouTube.  Viewers are instructed to watch a short video clip with two groups of people – some wearing black shirts and others wearing white shirts.  Both groups of people move around in a seemingly random, jumbled fashion and the challenge for the viewer is to count how many times the participants wearing white pass the basketball. 

The answer is fifteen.  But that’s not the point. 

The point is that in the middle of the clip, a person wearing a gorilla suit enters the frame and most viewers are paying such close attention to counting the passes that they simply don’t even see the gorilla.  It’s a wonderful study in “looking without seeing” or how our focused attention can cause us to miss obvious realities that are staring us in the face (and pounding their chest).

While traveling this fall to meet with students, I’ve heard the following statement several times:

“I love that college – the tour guide was awesome!”

When I hear that, I think to myself – they missed the gorilla.

Taking an official campus tour is a valuable part of the campus visit.  But, when walking the campus, you should not only pay attention to the tour guide, but also to all the information you can gleam from your observations of the campus, the environment, the students, faculty and staff that you may notice during your tour. 

During your college search, tour guides (and even admissions counselors like me) can help relay important information about a college but we are merely basketball-passing conduits.  It’s only when you slow down on your visit and take the time to notice all that’s around you that you’ll see the gorilla and gain true insight into how that college might fit for you.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions