College Essay Tips

As you are putting the finishing touches on your college essay, let me give you some tips to proofread by:

  1. Don’t make the mistake of taking a backseat in your own essay. Your transcript is about you, your recommendations are about you, your interview is about you, and, thus, your College Essay should be about you. If you want to write about someone important who was a positive influence in your life, you should let your reader know how you were influenced – how your life changed.  The focus of your essay should NOT be about all the great things your Grammy did and how you hope to be like her some day.  Too much focus on Grammy will make us Admissions Counselors want to admit your Grammy and we will completely forget about you!
  2. Proofread, proofread, profreed (whoops, *proofread* – see it’s important). Proofread is not the same as Spellcheck.  Ask solid writers who are familiar with your voice and your style to read your essay in order to correct grammatical errors, offer advice, and make suggestions.  These proofreaders should be mom, dad, a mentor, that great English teacher you had last year, your best friend, etc.  All of these people know you. They know your style, your voice, your humor.  They know what you are trying to say and they want to help you say it in a concise and efficient manner.
  3. Punctuation goes INSIDE of quotations. “Don’t put punctuation outside of quotations,” cried the pained Admissions Counselor, “because I don’t enjoy reading it.”  Follow that example and you’ll be golden in most American English scenarios (if you speak/write British English, then disregard, good neighbour).

This is not a complete list of tips.  See your local MLA manual, English teacher, and Guidance Counselor for a full list of do’s and do-not’s for the college essay.


Dan Weagle ‘08

Admissions Counselor

Admissions Travel Rules

I think anyone working in admissions would tell you the first days of travel are the hardest.  Now a seasoned pro,  I’ve learned a few tricks I know I’ll be bringing with me on my next trip:

1)      If your GPS tells you it will take 20 minutes to get somewhere, expect it to take 30. And plan ahead for that. The difference between arriving at 8:28 and 8:30 are astronomical on your stress level. Or maybe that’s just me.

2)      Get used to eating breakfast and lunch in the car. It’s rare you get a half hour to just sit in an eatery that just so happens to be conveniently located two blocks from your next school (see: never).

3)      Napkins, napkins, napkins. Drinking coffee or eating a sandwich with delicious spicy mustard while driving a car usually ends in what my aunt describes as “blapping.” A white shirt with a noticeable stain on the front isn’t the greatest first impression.

4)      Bring your running shoes. I sprinted through Charlotte airport to make a connection on my first day. (They closed the doors 90 seconds later.)

5)      But pack a nice outfit on your carry on. (Although I made it to my connecting flight, my suitcase with all my clothes did not. That came six hours later.)

6)      Be adventurous! The restaurant in the hotel is fine for a night, but these are cities I’d likely never be in otherwise. There’s a reason I watched all those episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. This is that reason!

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of travel experiences and blunders. With a season under my belt, though, I think I’m a little bit wiser.

Meet New Admissions Counselor Nancy Nelsen

I’m delighted to be joining the Holy Cross Admissions team as an Assistant Director for Community Outreach. Four weeks ago, I stepped foot on campus with anticipation and a sense of nostalgia. Though I didn’t attend Holy Cross, I nevertheless felt as though it was my first day of school, as memories from my own undergraduate experience came rushing back. There’s something very special about working on a college campus. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with so many prospective students and be a part of the decision making process for admitting a new class each year.

Not only am I ecstatic to be working at an institution for higher learning, but also I am particularly excited about working at Holy Cross. I feel strongly about the type of education students get at such a small, exclusively undergraduate school. Moreover, I understand the degree to which a liberal arts education opens so many doors, providing students with a broad range of skills they can use in any field. I’m a product of such an education and feel it has served me well in my own career.

I attended a small, liberal arts college in Maine and then transferred to another school in Boston in order to be in a more metropolitan area. After college, I began my career in publishing where I edited educational resources for children and teachers. Knowing I wanted to work more with students, I returned to school to obtain a masters degree in curriculum and teaching. Prior to my role at Holy Cross, I had the pleasure of working at a college access program. I prepared urban schoolchildren to get into, and succeed at, independent and public exam schools in the Boston area.

Outside of work, I’ve enjoyed living in Boston for the last ten years, taking advantage of all the city has to offer. Interestingly enough, I met my husband on the T (Boston’s subway system for those of you who aren’t from the area) 8 years ago. As a former college athlete, I continue to play basketball and tennis in my free time. I’m originally from Brunswick, Maine, so I’m a true New Englander who loves the change of seasons. You’ll find me on Cape Cod for most summer weekends, spending time with my family at the beach and attending Cape League baseball games where my Dad has coached ever since I was a little girl.

Last week marked the start of my travel season, and I couldn’t be more excited about being on the road and meeting students. My first trip to Dallas was full of many high school visits and college fairs, not to mention warmer weather and southern hospitality. I look forward to meeting more students when I head out to New York, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Boston area schools in the coming weeks. I wish you all the best in your college search and hope to hear from you!

Nancy Nelsen

Assistant Director for Community Outreach

Meet New Admissions Counselor Kate Stewart

Hi! I’m Kate Stewart, the lucky thirteenth member of the Holy Cross admissions team. I started working here in early September, only about a week or so after all the students had returned to campus and begun their fall semester. In fact, in the nights leading up to my first day I was having my own “back-to-school” dreams … you know, the ones where you’re running late and show up to class only to realize that either you’re not wearing any pants or there’s a test you haven’t studied for. But as soon as I stepped foot in the door of Fenwick Hall (home of the admissions office), any anxiety I had was assuaged by all of the wonderful—and I mean WONDERFUL—people who work here.

Not only am I excited about being at Holy Cross for the start of the school year, I cannot WAIT to experience fall on this beautiful campus. I’ve lived in New England my whole life and am most proud to call it home when my favorite season arrives. I can already picture the hillside transforming as the leaves change colors and am looking forward to cheering on the Crusaders at some home football games, going apple picking and, most of all, running in the cooler weather. I am currently training for my first half-marathon, which will take place in Vermont in early November! When I’m on the road visiting high schools in Connecticut and Long Island, I will definitely need some suggestions for good running routes in those areas. (Next year I add Atlanta to my travel—is it too hot to run there??)

Having taught preschool for several years before getting my master’s degree in school counseling, I am eager to jump to the other end of the spectrum and interact with high school students. To some extent, the move from high school to college is not all that different from my preschoolers’ transition to kindergarten… there’s the apprehension of entering an unknown environment with unfamiliar faces and new expectations, coupled with the excitement of being a “big kid” with increased independence. But while naptime disappears in kindergarten, I bet a lot of students will tell you that they took it up again in college. You’ll just have to ask some Holy Cross students how they manage to find time for it in between studying, volunteering through Student Programs for Urban Development, participating in the Student Government Association, playing club sports like Ultimate Frisbee, and meeting friends for coffee at Cool Beans.

Kate Stewart

Admissions Counselor