Thoughts on Early Decision by Meaghan Body

A few weeks ago, I asked a current student to send me her story about applying ED.  She wrote a lovely response that I wanted to share with you here:

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Two years ago, I was in a place of incredible uncertainty regarding where I would attend college. In February of my junior year, I came to Holy Cross for an information session and tour.  Holy Cross was the first campus that I visited, and I was unsure of what I was looking for in a college.  After just a short visit to Holy Cross, however, I knew it was where I wanted to be. Despite all of my previous uncertainty, I felt a tangible sense of community on the Hill: students said “Hi!” to each other on their way to class, spent their free time volunteering in Worcester and other parts of the world, and supported each other in an academically rigorous environment.  It was not just the beautiful campus (although that certainly did not hurt!); I felt drawn to the personal connections and the dynamic community.  That is what made Holy Cross so exciting.

When I became a high school senior, I knew Holy Cross was the college that I wanted to attend. Because I was so sure, I applied Early Decision to Holy Cross.  Early Decision seemed very attractive to me; if accepted, I would know where I was going by the end of that fall.  ED is, however, a huge commitment. If you know Holy Cross is the school for you, then go for it! That being said, do not feel obligated to apply ED, as it is a decision for which one has to be ready. It was the right decision for me, but it is not the right decision for all.

About a month after I had submitted my application, I was deep into an American Government paper when I heard my phone ring.  The caller introduced herself as a Holy Cross Admissions counselor, and I immediately worried that I had forgotten something on my application. Before I had the chance to react, the Admissions counselor told me I had been accepted to the Class of 2017!  My initial confusion switched to happiness, delight, and pride.  I excitedly thanked the woman on the phone a million times, and then called my family and friends to share the great news. It is a moment I will never forget.

Despite my elation, it is important to recognize how applying Early Decision impacted the rest of my senior year. Although I enrolled in Holy Cross in late December, and I felt relieved of a tremendous amount of stress regarding my college choice, I did not let this affect my academics. If anything, it inspired me to continue to prove that I belonged at Holy Cross.  With that I worked to finish my senior year on a high note.  If you are accepted ED, please do not let “senioritis,” “the senior slump,” or whatever you may call the lack of focus during senior year of high school get to you!

On the back of the Sader Nation T-shirts for the Class of 2018 reads the following quote, “From this point on, there is no turning back, no copping-out.” Spoken during the 1970 Commencement by Father Swords, the President of the College, these words symbolize the commitment I made to Holy Cross and my personal growth when I chose to enroll here.  Never do I regret my decision to come to Holy Cross, and I believe that if you make the same commitment I did, neither will you.


(photos of Meghan by the Web Communications Team, photos of campus by Xiaofeng Wan)

On Families

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I received today my first email from a parent, and I must say, it made me smile.  Working in admissions, counselors often get phone calls and emails from parents 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, getting a note from an excited parent is really one of the highlights of my job (along with receiving notes from excited students, reading thoughtful and thought-provoking application essays, seeing the familiar faces of prospective students at multiple events both near and far, discussing admission decisions with my colleagues, enjoying fantastic campus programs and savoring free food on campus…I could continue!).

As hard as we work in the Admissions office to recruit future Crusaders, and as hard as students work to finish their applications, 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 (shameless plug here, our last one of 2014 is this Sunday!).  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!

(photos by Sarah Gale and Xioafeng Wan)


On Being Test Optional

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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)