What It’s Like to Be a Walk-On

NiWhalen_TNck Whalen, HC ’15, is a tour guide & a member of the Holy Cross men’s rowing team.


When I was in high school, I didn’t really think that I would be participating in varsity athletics at a collegiate level. I was a fairly good athlete, but there was hardly a queue of Division I head coaches scrambling to give me an athletic scholarship. In fact, precisely zero collegiate coaches expressed any interest in having me row for them. Despite that, I am about to enter my third spring racing season on the men’s varsity rowing team.

As a walk-on, I have no reason to be an athlete other than for my own enjoyment. However, being a student-athlete at Holy Cross is an experience that I’ve found to be immensely rewarding so far. Beyond the thrill of competition, participating in varsity sports has provided me with a great support network of friends and teammates, the impetus to wake up early and be productive, and not to mention an excellent physical fitness regiment! Of course, those benefits also apply to club and intramural sports as well (although, you’re slightly less likely to have a 6 a.m. weightlifting session for intramural wiffleball). Some club sports even have pre-season training trips!

One thing that I would emphasize about being a student-athlete at Holy Cross though is that the term “student-athlete” begins with “student.” Here, you really are a student first. We take great pride in the athletic achievements of our peers here on the hill, but the discipline needed to be a successful athlete at a Division I level is expected to be demonstrated the classroom, too. You won’t be on your own, though: Holy Cross offers a wide array of resources to help all students in their academic pursuits. Office hours with professors, major-specific peer-tutoring workshops with upperclassmen, or even just a study group with friends are examples of all the opportunities available to Holy Cross students as they strive to make the most of their classes.

While being a student-athlete is certainly a huge commitment in terms of both time and energy, it does not have to be at the expense of other activities or academic success. Who knows – in a few years, I might be reading about how led your team to the Patriot League title and also won a Fulbright the same semester!

The Reading Season Routine

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

Application Deadline Extended

AnnMcDermott.BLOG2This year, we asked our applicants to respond to the question, “What is the best advice you’ve ever received?”

Many students have chosen to reflect on the importance of compassion and kindness. Others have sung the praises of hard work and determination. We have been inspired by the advice that has been relayed to us, and would like to put it to good use.

Given the unusual circumstances and challenges many of our prospective students have faced with the Common Application this year, we are extending our application deadline to January 26th.


We hope that you will appreciate this kindness, and complete your application with determination. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Ann McDermott

Director of Admissions

How Victoria Aramini, HC ’14, secured her job

AraminiVictoria Aramini is one of our current seniors who has successfully secured a job after she graduates from Holy Cross. A huge factor in her success, she maintains, is the Holy Cross Career Planning Office.



As a current senior here at the College, I have been in and out of the career planning office more times than I can count. Now, I know as prospective students reading this blog you’re probably most concerned with topics such as the quality of the food on campus and/or how nice the dorms are as you embark on your college selection and application process. Life after college is likely not high up on your list of things to worry about, but let me put this in perspective for you: College is a stepping stone. Life exists after you graduate. After four years, you are expected to put everything you’ve learned to good use, right?


Holy Cross has the resources that will make life after college enjoyable and fulfilling. The alumni network is truly remarkable. Graduates not only offer their advice and their time to current Holy Cross students but also bring promising, meaningful experiences in the form of internships and jobs. A lot of this relationship-building is done through our Career Planning Office; the office also provides a huge number of workshops and networking events.


Career counselors are also available for various student needs. Whether a student is looking for some helpful tips regarding a cover letter or resume, hoping for some direction with a career aptitude test, or participating in a mock interview, there’s a career counselor ready to roll. Speaking from experience, I have emailed many counselors over the years with incredibly broad questions (not to mention I’ve asked these questions at all hours of the day… including the wee hours of the morning), and I am happy to report that I’ve always received thoughtful, detailed responses. During my job search this past fall, I was provided with personalized attention and recommendations that made my search manageable.


Career Planning at Holy Cross absolutely has my nomination as one of the best offices and resources on campus. They are an approachable and helpful group of people that I cannot speak highly enough about!

Meditations in an (Application) Emergency

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.

Five Reasons to Apply

Madison 2There’s less than two weeks before our application deadline, so I decided to give you a little motivation as you consider why Holy Cross is worth one more push of the submit button. As an alumna of the Class of 2012, I’d like to think these mean something … but in case you remain unconvinced, we are posting one reason per day @HCAdmission with #whyHC. Feel free to tweet at us with your own!


Top 5 reasons why I, Madison Hebert, believe you should apply to Holy Cross.


1. “The Undecided Movement” – Don’t know what you want to major in? No problem. Holy Cross understands that declaring a major is a stressful and important decision. In order to combat that, all of our freshmen come in undecided and are encouraged to explore their interests and pursue their passions. Some students will declare as early as the spring of their freshman year, while others will wait until the end of their sophomore year.


2. Alumni Network – Do you want to be approached by extremely proud alumni every time you have on school paraphernalia outside the gates? Do you wish for extended family that spans the world? Do you enjoy swerving across the highway to get a glimpse of every car sporting a HC sticker (not recommended)? Well if you answered yes, you are applying to the right place. The Holy Cross alumni network is an expansive, supportive, and extremely proud bunch.
>>Alumni Network helps student get finance internship in three days


3. Campus – Are you excited to spend four years at an institution where the ivy changes color, the flower beds are pristine, and the snow blowers are revved at the first sight of a snowflake? Words cannot describe the beauty of the Holy Cross campus – come see for yourself on one of our tours. I guarantee you will fall in love with it (maybe not the hills, but I promise you get used to them).

It's January. We need a reminder of Spring beauty.
It’s January. We need a reminder of Spring beauty.


4. Professors – Are you looking for caring professors that are invested in your success? Does the idea of in-depth class discussions get you excited?  Do you thrive in small classroom environments that foster meaningful faculty-student interaction? The Holy Cross faculty go above and beyond office hours. They are accessible outside the classroom in review sessions, by cell phone, and over dinner. The faculty wholeheartedly live out the mission as mentors to the students by creating strong bonds that even continue beyond the hill.


5. Friends – Do you appreciate a close knit community? Are you someone that values strong relationships? Are you expecting to make memories of a lifetime? Or maybe, you’re even looking for potential bridal party members? Holy Cross nurtures lifelong friendships. From your first steps on campus until graduation you will be connected to the most enthusiastic, hardworking, and caring peers. Countless inside jokes, long brunches in Kimball, and celebratory dances after surviving an exam are almost a guarantee. Also, I would like to make a shout out to my HC friends that helped me put this list together!