Thoughts on Reading

photo by Thomas Rettig
photo by Thomas Rettig

Happy winter!  As I take a break from reviewing applications, I look out my window and see a blanket of snow (finally!)–reading season is in full swing! Since we have some staff members in our office who are relatively new to the world of admissions, I asked them to write down their thoughts on this part of the cycle.  Here are their responses:

Tom Severo: Reading my first round of applications as a bona fide Holy Cross Admissions Counselor has brought up many emotions in me, including some I did not expect. Sure there’s excitement at the fresh crop of applicants, and pride in seeing the overall quality of the students we attract, but there is also empathy for students who may struggle in one area, but possesses other abilities and attributes that any college would value. I believe the college is becoming more rigorous and selective each passing year. While that is a great thing overall, it can have sad repercussions come decision time, so I’m humbled to be a part of this experience. It’s comforting to know that in the end, every applicant will get seen and voted on by the entire committee. I do not know many schools that operate like that, but it is just one more way in which Holy Cross shows personal attention to its entire community, even those who will ultimately become a part of another institution.

Tom Campbell: One of the things I am pretty infamous for is my winter frugality. In New England, winter seems to be the season that just sucks money from you: car maintenance, the latest Patagonia gear, and an expanded tea collection are all things that society has convinced us we need in order to combat the cold. I try as hard as I can to defy these Northeastern norms with a conviction I can only call religious. For instance, I buy nearly all of my winter weather apparel from the Salvation Army, and I may or may not sneak a few packets of tea from hotel lobbies and the Jiffy Lube waiting area (still trying to think of an ingenious way to keep those car costs down…). I also keep my apartment at a ridiculously low temperature, partly to keep up with my low-cost lifestyle but also to keep my carbon footprint equally as low. So how do I keep warm in my humble igloo? For one, I pretty much live in my fleece onesie and wool socks, and two, I read hundreds of heartwarming applications (emphasis on the warming).

This winter I have read hundreds of amazing applications, many of which have included stories of strength, growth, and triumph. Through recommendations and essays, I’ve been able to catch a glimpse into our applicant’s lives, and understand their future aspirations. When I read about the great service work that our prospective students do, the challenges they’ve faced to get to where they are now, and the experiences that have led them to choosing their career path, I can’t help but get warm fuzzies inside. My first reading season has helped me further see the value of my career. Knowing that Holy Cross is a place where these students can reach their future aspirations and grow even further provides me with a lot of comfort. So even though the air around me might hover just above 60 degrees, the work that I’m doing keeps me from completely freezing up. So to all of you prospective students who have your eye set on Holy Cross, thank you for keeping me warm this winter.

Regular Decision Applications due…today!


Ariel winter scenes on campus
photography by Thomas Rettig

With just a dusting of snow on the ground, it is difficult to believe that we are, in fact, in the middle of January.  At the Office of Admissions, staff members have been working hard to process and review applications–we are so excited for reading season because now is when we see students in their entirety: essays, transcripts, letters of support…all of those application materials 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 shaping the Class of 2020!

In an attempt to offer something more, I looked at last year’s posts.  One of my colleagues had such a lovely thought that I would share it here again:

“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 item worth a 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, and we would love to hear from you!

Stay warm, be well.

Regular Decision Reminders

rainbow okane













Welcome back, everyone! I hope that your first days of 2016 have been going well and that you are off to a great start.  It may be hard to believe, but the Regular Decision deadline is soon upon us.  Here is a timeline of other admissions and financial deadlines:


I hope this is helpful! As always, please feel free to contact us at or 508-442-2443.  Happy New Year!

Image credits: these lovely shots are from the College of the Holy Cross Instragram account! To follow, please go here: