What factors make you like a city?

DrewWhile driving back from Buffalo last week, I reflected on how much I liked Buffalo.  That got me to thinking . . .

What specifically was it about Buffalo that made me enjoy my visits every fall?

And what are the factors that contribute to whether or not we “like” a city?

The answer, I believe, is highly personal.  For me, in any city, I always end up looking for tacos, trails and tea.   Here at home . . .

1. For tea, coffee and breakfast sandwiches that will change your life, I go to Culpepper’s Bakery.  It’s walking distance from Holy Cross.  I’ve had and loved everything on the menu but the Hammy (egg, ham and cheese on a sesame bagel) will change your life.

2. For trails, I go to Wachusett Mountain State Reservation (20 minutes from HC) which, during the warmer months, offers 3,000 acres worth of scenic hiking: http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/wach.htm.   In the winter, it is one of the premier skiing destinations in New England: http://wawa.wachusett.com/mountain_info/default.cfm

3. And as for tacos and burritos, the choice is easy: Tortilla Sam’s (5 minutes from HC) http://www.tortillasams.com/menus/cantina.html.  All of their sauces, salsas and marinades are homemade and you can watch them make their tortillas fresh every day in the front window.  When you’re there, don’t miss the boneless buffalo wings and the spicy spuds.

So as you make some of your final college visits, take some time to look off campus for the things that you might find yourself looking for during your four years of college and if you find yourself in Worcester, don’t miss the tacos, trails and tea.

Andrew N Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Tell us what you think

DrewThe popular view in the 17th Century was that the Earth was stationary and that the Sun revolved around the Earth.  Through his research and calculations, Galileo knew better and suggested such in writing. Fearing he would be put to death if he did not comply, Galileo, when called before the Inquisition, recanted his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun.   But, legend has it that after renouncing what he knew to be true, he muttered underneath his breath, “E pur si muove!”
And yet it [the Earth] moves.

So what’s the point of this slightly hyperbolic story?

Well, the point is this – we all have a voice.  We all have passion; we all have something to say and sometimes, our voice gets stifled.  In the college application process, students sometimes feel as though their GPA and SAT scores get plugged into a giant admissions computer and after being fed a quart of motor oil, it spits out decisions.  This is far from the truth (at least at Holy Cross!).

We want to hear your voice so let it be heard – in your interview, in your essay, even in an email to the admissions office.  Tell us what you think.  Tell us what you know.  Tell us what you love.  And don’t mutter it under your breath.  Say it with confidence.  Make sure that when your part of this application process is done, there is no doubt in any admission office about who you are.

Common Application essay advice

Drew Now that the October SAT testing date has passed, for high school seniors, there is little left to do in the college process.  That is either a great relief or quite scary.

But you’re not done just yet.  That big Goodyear blimp hanging above your head is the Common Application essay and for many of the students that I’m meeting on the road, it keeps releasing parachuting boxes of doubt on their head:

What do I want to write about?

What do colleges want me to write about?

How long is too long?

How do I make my essay stand out?

It goes without saying that all of this doubt is not conducive to creating a quality essay and there’s nary enough room on this little computer screen to answer all those questions, so let me leave you with just a few pieces of advice.

Students, proved by the questions above, tend to be riddled with anxiety about their essay and they grip too tightly.  Just relax.  Your essay is a sparrow.  If your grip on it is too tight, you’ll squeeze the life out of it.  If your grip is too loose, it will fly away.  Hold it just tight enough that it won’t fly away but not so tight that you suffocate it.

We really do look forward to reading your essay and we’re not expecting to read something profound nor do we expect you to summarize your entire life in 500 words.  We just want to read what you want to write.  It’s that simple.

So don’t worry about those questions above, just write what you want to write.

One final thought: inspiration can come when you least expect it.  I was inspired today by a few thoughtful students (you know who you are!) and it came in the form of a bottle of Mountain Dew and a box of Pop-tarts.  So if you’re still stuck, go buy those two things, sit down at your computer and listen to your sparrow.

Andrew N Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

The Standardized Test Affair

DrewTo submit or not to submit, that is the question.

In light of the opportunity that you all had this past Saturday morning to suffer the slings and arrows for several hours with your number 2 pencil, I thought it was time to address the standardized test affair.

When we made the decision to go test-optional a few years back, initially we heard a great sigh of relief from students, parents and guidance counselors across the land.  But soon, we realized that this decision would have unexpected consequences – applicants now were pressed with the decision of whether or not to submit their standardized test scores and this created its own form of anxiety.

But students lose sight of what we know all too well — your file in the Admissions Office at Holy Cross will be filled with four years worth of stories of your accomplishments, hopes, wishes, desires, perspective and character and none of these things, I repeat, none of these things fit within those five identical circles labeled A-B-C-D-E.

So submit or don’t submit – it’s completely up to you but know that we made the decision to go optional because standardized testing is simply not a big part of our decision making process.  We’re quite capable of making decisions on applications without standardized test scores.  If you don’t submit your scores, we simply don’t discuss the matter.  If you do submit your scores, they will be a part of our process but a very small part.

But don’t worry about making this decision now.  After you’ve submitted your application to Holy Cross, we will send you a verification form.  On that form, we will ask you to re-verify a few key pieces of information and also ask you once and for all whether you’d like us to use your standardized test scores as part of your application.

In closing, I’d like to send my thanks to the students I saw on Friday at Brooks School, Lawrence Academy and Groton School.  You guys made waking up at 5:15 in the morning well worth it.

Andrew N Carter
Associate Director of Admissions