Last Day of JAD for 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!

Summer Reading Ideas

photo by Matthew Atanian
photo by Matthew Atanian

It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon, and as I sit to type this, I cannot help but look out the window at the lovely green grass, the somewhat-cloudy-but-still-pretty-clear blue skies, and the bright leaves softly rustling in the big trees.  Thank goodness it’s almost the weekend–I plan to spend some time outside and enjoy this wonderful New England weather!

For me, summer is such a great time to catch up on books.  It feels so nice to jump into a story while relaxing at the beach or hanging out in the park, so I try to take advantage as often as I can.  As a student, I always enjoyed receiving the list of books that I had to complete by the end of August.  In middle school, I would even help my cousin with his reading requirements: he promised me that I would be able to read to him a chapter of Harry Potter if I read to him a chapter of his summer reading.  What a great deal!

Now, one of my favorite questions to ask during interviews is, “So what are you reading?”  It interests me to see which classic stories will be covered and which contemporary tomes are being added to the list.  Just today a student told me that she was enjoying Wuthering Heights, and another student earlier this week mentioned how much he liked Catcher in the Rye.

As I’m almost finished my book club’s pick for July, I thought it might be worthwhile to see what other good options might be out there.  First I came across this list on our new site called HC 100 Books.  Apparently back in the ’80s a group of faculty members chose books that they considered great classics (you can read the list here).  After skimming the list, it surprised me to find that I have only read three!

Other choices for summer reading: works by Holy Cross alumni.  Billy Collins ’63 served as the US Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003 and the New York Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006.  Some of his books include Aimless Love, The Trouble with Poetry, and Nine Horses.  Another Holy Cross alumnus, Edward P. Jones, graduated in 1972 and wrote All Aunt Hagar’s Children and Lost in the City.  Jones went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004 with his novel, The Known World.

Between the 97 classics by historic authors and the award-winning works by these notable Crusaders, it looks as though I have my work cut out for me this summer!

Tour Guides Favorite Spots Off-Campus


After asking our tour guides about their favorite places on Mt. St. James, we decided to find out where they go when they want to explore Worcester! Below are their responses:

Sara: Canal Street Farmer’s Market, Birch Tree Bread Company, & Crompton Collective

One of my favorite places to go for brunch in Worcester is Birch Tree Bread Company.   Located on Green Street, in Kelly Square, Birch Tree has a special atmosphere with a wide variety of homemade bread and pastries, as well as locally grown food and produce. Also, right next store is Crompton Collective, a one-of-a-kind store with many vendors (many of whom are on Etsy!), selling items ranging from antiques to jewelry to clothing. On Saturday mornings, there is a Farmers’ Market where fresh produce, homemade bread, and henna are sold.

Flav: Elm Park

My favorite spot in Worcester would have to be the historic Elm Park, which is about a ten-minute drive from Holy Cross. I like going on runs around the outer edge of the park (which covers around ¾ of a mile). There are many great walking paths and beautiful bridges which traverse the park. Throughout the year, Elm Park plays host to various concerts, festivals, and great family events, all which help to foster and strengthen community ties.

Yen: Greenhill Park

One of my favorite spots growing up in the Woo is Greenhill Park! It’s truly a beautiful and well-kept place, perfect for a stroll in the park, a run, or a picnic. It’s not far from Shrewsbury Street, which is another great area Holy Cross students and locals love. In the summer, you can go canoeing (for free!), which is always a plus. I also really like the beautiful golf course and their small farm that offers a petting zoo.

Joanna: Shrewsbury Street

Of all the great places in Worcester, I would have to say that my favorite is Shrewsbury Street; it is the place to go whenever you have an empty stomach, or if you just want to grab a quick coffee. This mile-and-a-half long street is home to 32 amazing restaurants and eateries from which to choose, ranging from classic Italian to tasty Asian bistro!

Joe A.: Volturno

I get hungry a lot, so I’m always on the prowl for something good to eat. Typically I find myself at Volturno, an awesome Italian restaurant. Located right on Shrewsbury Street, it’s only about a five-minute drive from campus. All the food is great, but the wood-fired pizza is what keeps me coming back for more…especially on Mondays and Tuesdays when pizza is two-for-one! This pizza is the real deal and comes with creative toppings, such as pistachio pesto.

Joe C.: InHouse Coffee

One of the best places in Worcester is InHouse Coffee. It is definitely a hotspot for Holy Cross students to study, hang out, and especially get that crucial caffeine pick me up. InHouse is located on Shrewsbury Street, so it is only a five-minute drive from campus! The local feel of InHouse really makes it better than your average Panera or Starbucks. The staff is extremely friendly and you will most likely run into fellow Holy Cross students there as well! InHouse has incredible homemade coffee and chai teas along with tasty pastries to help you get through the day. Also back on campus, everyone will be jealous of you sporting the signature InHouse Coffee cup!

Kailey: Dell’Ovo’s Kitchen

My favorite spot in Worcester is an old school Italian restaurant on Shrewsbury Street. The food is absolutely delicious and they have a different creative special for lunch every day! Along with the great food, the staff is awesome and so personable. My favorite dish is the chicken parm and I can never get enough of it!

Kat: Baba Sushi

As someone who grew up in the Worcester area, I can confidently say that Baba Sushi is the single greatest place in Central Massachusetts. It’s about ten minutes from the Holy Cross campus, and they have an extensive menu of signature, handmade sushi rolls. Baba is a great place for groups as they have a very open and zen back room as well as a more intimate front space which is ideal for a cute weekend date. It is complete and utter sushi indulgence!

Woo! for Worcester


Did you know that Worcester is the second-largest city in New England?  Of its 185,000 residents, students make up about one-fifth of the population, with 38,000 students attending 12 institutions of higher education.  I learned this during a bus tour led by members of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.  It was a beautiful summer day, and our hour-long tour included a drive past Worcester Technical High School, WPI, the Worcester Art Museum, and several parks, including Elm Park.

As a staff member who does not live in Worcester, it delighted me to learn more! Please read on for some of our staff member’s favorite places to eat near campus:

1. Sweet (72 Shrewsbury St) is a great option for pastries…one of my colleagues said, “The dosants are amazing–and were invented way before the Cronut!”

2. Another popular pastry shop is Culpepper’s (500 Cambridge St # 3).  A counselor recommended the yellow cookies, which are butter cookies drizzled with chocolate.

3. The Roasted Red (pizza) at Corner Grille (806 Pleasant St) is beloved in our office for its delicious, thin crust and high-quality ingredients.

4. For a more southern feel, try Smokestack Urban BBQ (139 Green St). You can never go wrong with their fried pickles!

Bon appetit, and come explore Worcester! Also, please stay tuned for a post on some of our students’ favorite places in the Woo.

JAD is in Full Swing!

photo by Tom Rettig
photo by Tom Rettig

Although a quick peek at the weather forecast may suggest otherwise (so many cloudy days ahead!), it is definitely summer. At Holy Cross, we admission counselors in the office are keeping busy with all kinds of summer activities, such as enjoying summer reading, spending time on the beach, and savoring the delicious barbecue from Crossroads.

One particular summer activity of note is our July Advisory Day Program.  If you have not been following us on Twitter, July Advisory Days occurs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this month.  On these afternoons, we offer tours and info sessions as always but also add a short session on how to plan for the college interview and how to write the Common App college essay–not to mention we serve cookies from the dining hall as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Feel free to come to Mt. St. James for a visit! We have enjoyed a great turnout so far, and we’ll be here all month! For those of you who can’t make it to campus, we will be posting some takeaways in the coming weeks with some information regarding the Common App essay and the college interview.

Happy Friday!