The Application Trek

Flashback to early November. Our team of twelve gathered at base camp to prepare for the long trek up the mountain. We stuffed our backpacks with your applications, our mechanical pencils and erasers, extra lead for all those broken tips, our calculators for innumerable computations and some must-have snacks. As we headed out, we experienced some treacherous winter weather, but we maintained our plan to reach the summit by spring. When we set out we didn’t know exactly how many steps it would take, or exactly how many days, but we knew it would be interesting.

During the long climb to the summit of Mount Saint James we met some very interesting applicants.  Many were on a spiritual trek, attempting to climb the mountain to find themselves through their faith, while others were seeking answers through science, aspiring to be doctors, veterinarians and dentists. Others were world-ranked triathaletes, accomplished musicians, and successful classicists. Some we met had made a decision earlier that this was their mountain; it was where they wanted to be. Most climbers however, were not sure of their decision and needed more time to explore on their own. As we trekked on, each day amongst ourselves we approved more and more, knowing they could handle the upcoming rigors that Mt. St. James would present to them, and hoping they would join us at the top.

Twenty one weeks has now passed since our team set out on our trek. Spring is here,  and our team has made it, 7,350 steps. If you were approved to move forward to the summit, you now know that.  We’ll wait for you at the top … will you join us? The view of Worcester from here is amazing!

James T. Richardson

Associate Director of Admissions

A Recipe for Application Reading Success!

The gifts have been exchanged,  and the resumes and recommendations arranged,  but have you clicked submit or put your application in the Postman’s mitts? Many of you have, we’re sure (because your applications are now on our desks), and so we’re saying, ” ’tis the season”,  for reading the application you’ve assembled.

In a few days we’ll shut the doors of the admissions office, and gear up for reading all of your applications.  For this, we’ll need supplies. There are many components that allow us to have a successful reading session. I thought I’d share with you my recipe:

50 applications for admission; 25 early decision, 25 regular admission

1 sharp or refillable mechanical pencil

1 eraser stick

1 calculator

1 pack of post-it flags and memos

1 highlighter

1 reader evaluation pad

1 box Krispy Kreme donuts

40 ounces of coffee (not shown here)

Pull the first application from the top of the stack. Sift through the transcript by reading honors and AP courses, as well as grades. Using the  mechanical pencil, transfer data from the transcript, Counselor and Teacher recommendations and essay on to the reader evaluation pad. Have calculator, eraser stick, highlighter and post-it flags nearby, just in case.  Place Krispy Kreme donut (or, donuts) in microwave oven for 20 seconds on medium heat; consume slowly to savor the full flavor and flair of the application. Add final thoughts and enjoy.

Best of luck with the home stretch of the application process everyone.  We’re excited to “devour” your applications!

Jim Richardson

Associate Director of Admissions

Giving Thanks

Over the Thanksgiving break, I was able to spend some time reflecting on all of the things that I am thankful for.  Below I’ve listed a few, relating to Holy Cross:

I am thankful for the Guidance Secretaries who worked with us to schedule our many high school visits this fall,  and for the cooperation they and their Counselor colleagues showed us when we arrived.

I am thankful for the Faculty, Administrators and fellow Staff here at the College of the Holy Cross with whom I have the pleasure of working everyday, and for their commitment to the wonderful students here.

I am thankful for all of our Admissions Senior Interviewers, Tour Guides, Online Chatters, Greeters, and all of our Alumni Volunteers who help us tell the Holy Cross story and reach out to many more students than we would be able to reach alone.

I am thankful for the applicants, some of whom will become the next generation of Holy Cross Crusaders, and the commitment each has made to their own education, school and community.

And I’m thankful to be here, in this beautiful place called the College of the Holy Cross, and to take part in telling the story.

Jim Richardson

Associate Director of Admissions

Want to Dance? Interviewing with Holy Cross

We do.  The college search and application process has definitely begun for many of you.  Some of you have visited campus, taken a tour, attended an information session, or met with a representative who visited your school.  All of these things are important activities for you to take advantage of, and all are steps in the “dance” that is the college application process.  Engaging in any or all of these things are important opportunities for you to demonstrate your interest in the college.

One of the most important expressions of interest in which you can engage is a personal interview.  We offer on campus interviews Monday through Friday, 9AM to 4PM.  The last day for on campus interviews will be December 29.  While on campus for your interview you may meet with a Counselor on staff, with an alumnus if you happen to interview on one of our select Saturdays, or with one of our twenty five Senior Interviewers.  To learn more about the diversity of our seniors, their academic and co-curricular involvement, and why they chose to enroll at Holy Cross, see them here:

If a trip to campus for your interview is not possible, as an alternative you could see if we are hosting an interview event in your area , or request a local alumni interview in your home area.  For more information on off-campus Alumni Interviews, simply follow this link.

James Richardson

Associate Director of Admissions

Next Steps for Juniors and Seniors

JamesRichardson.BLOG2Seniors … its hard to believe you’re “done”, right? Well, “done” with high school anyway … College in the fall awaits! While one chapter seems to be ending, another is just about to begin! If you’re a high school senior and reading this blog, chances are good you’re planning on beginning a new chapter here on Mt. St. James in the fall. Indeed, much excitement awaits you. There will be new friends to make, a new place to live, new classes in which to engage, and loads of newfound independence. Of course, there may also be a bit of anxiety mixed in with all that excitement too, but don’t worry, we’ve got that covered! Gateways Summer and Fall Orientation is the answer! Your next step is to carve out the time to attend the Summer Gateways Orientation; you’ll be happy you did.

For those of you who are Juniors, your journey through the college search is just beginning. By now you may have visited one or two colleges on your February or April spring vacation weeks, but many more opportunities lie ahead throughout the summer. Your next step: INTERVIEW. One of the best ways to personalize your process is to have an interview with an Admissions Counselor or one of our Senior or Alumni Interviewers. Personal admission interviews have already begun, and are highly recommended for all students who can do them. Simply call the Admissions Office [800/442.2421] to schedule your appointment or for more information.

Whether you are a high school junior, senior, or parent of a student, we look forward to welcoming you here to Holy Cross in the coming months and to share with you many of our success stories!

James T. Richardson
Associate Director of Admission
FACHEX Coordinator

How Can I Connect?

JamesRichardson.BLOG2By now, if you’ve made it this far in the search process, and this deep into the Holy Cross website, you’ve “done your homework” in a manner of speaking.  You’ve researched various schools and you know you like Holy Cross, but may still be wondering about a few things, and need some additional information.  So, how else might you connect with us to gather those final pieces of information you need?  No worries, there’s still time, and lots of ways for you to accomplish this.

  • As my colleague Amanda Juriansz mentioned in her most recent blog post, an interview is one of the most important “connections” you can make throughout the process.  Interviewing is one of the single largest expressions of interest you can make in the College, and one of the easiest ways for you to tell us you’re really serious about your application here.  Interviews are offered here on campus until the end of the year, or with an alumnus in your area if that’s easier.  SO, as Amanda said, “What are you waiting for? “
  • Chat it up with us! We will be offering several online chats over the course of the next several weeks and months, so login and chat away with Admissions Counselors, Holy Cross students, and other prospective applicants.  The next online chat will be happening November 4 … we’ll hope to see you online from 7:00 – 10:00PM EST, or for any portion of that time you may be available.
  • Meeting students is always a great way to connect with a college and get a good feel for what life is like there.  In our Meet Some Students section online, you can actually specify your criteria, and choose who you want to connect with!  Whether its connecting with another student from San Francisco, or someone from Visual Arts, you can choose with whom you correspond.
  • You can also make some additional connections with us on staff, or with our Admissions Senior Interviewers through the ‘contact us‘ link on the Admissions page.  We all have photos and email links there – – whether you recognize us or not, make a connection!

And finally, the absolute best way to “connect” is to apply!  Applications for Early Decision consideration are due here in the office December 15, but ED is a rolling process, and we’ll be reviewing applications as soon as November 1st, so feel free to submit your application as soon as it’s ready.  Regular Admission applications are due January 15.  Apply … and get connected!

Good luck!

James T. Richardson
Associate Director of Admission

“Why I love Holy Cross”


We know you have a big decision to make.  Over the next few weeks, members of the Holy Cross community will share their thoughts on what makes Holy Cross so special.

So what do I love about Holy Cross?  Simply put: the people who comprise the community.  From the Trustees, to the President, alumni, students, faculty and staff, this is an institution with a seemingly unending lineage of truly amazing people.  They are passionate, sensitive, engaged people who are committed not only to their own edification, but also to those they teach, those they serve, and those they sit and debate and exchange ideas with in- and out- of class.  They’re committed to service, social justice, and to living out the mission of being men and women for others.  They’re a community of people, committed to their own pursuits while being interested and engaged with those around them.

James T. Richardson
Associate Director of Admission
FACHEX Coordinator

Open House

Well, the Red Sox didn’t make it … and the Patriots  play tonight, not Sunday.  The Bruins  and Celtics  are off this weekend, so what else do you have to be available for!?  How about … a trip to


Have you been to campus yet?  Whether you’ve been here yet or not, you might consider carving out some time in your schedule this weekend to come to the second, and last, of our two fall Open House programs.  Come kick the tires one final time before applications are due – – Open House is only half of Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. … and you’ll be home in time for the 4:00 p.m. kickoff and dinner!

There are many things you can do on an Open House date that you wouldn’t be able to do on any other given visit on your own – – you can spend some time in the browsing session visiting with academic departments, speaking to coaches, and gathering information on other areas of interest; you can attend an Admissions or Financial Aid Information Session (or both!) that will focus on the process and what you need to do to apply; you can speak with Faculty or attend presentations on specific programs like premed or prelaw; you’ll have opportunities to take a tour of the campus if you’d like to see the facilities and hear all about the history of the College … and of course, there will be many chances to meet and interact with current Holy Cross students who are making themselves available to share their experiences with you as well!

Come to Open House if you can … you’ll be glad you did!

James T. Richardson
Associate Director of Admission
FACHEX Coordinator

Should I apply Early Decision or Regular Decision?

Jim_r_tnMany of you have likely met some of us here in Admissions,
maybe even me(!), over the course of the last two months if we’ve been in your
part of the country, or even the world traveling around visiting
schools and seeking out the best students!  Some of you have attended a
college fair, or an evening reception, met some alumni, maybe had a personal
interview, and hopefully you’ve been to campus by now at least once to see for
yourself all of the simply amazing things you’ve been hearing about.
You’ve followed the advice of others and “demonstrated
interest” to us … but you’re wondering, “how else can I
demonstrate my interest?
“.  Well, the strongest demonstration of
interest you can make is to apply; that’s the next step.

So what happens to your application after you click
‘submit’, or place it in your mailbox for the postal worker to deliver it
to us?  Your application travels many miles, whether through the postal
system, or in cyberspace, there are many hours that are investing in your
application after its submitted.  Our clerical staff processes it, matches
it up with all the miscellaneous materials that may already be here, and they
build a physical file for you.  Your application is then read by several
of the Counselors and given a full cover-to-cover review and evaluation.
Once it has been prepared by the Counselors in the read process, it then goes before
the 13 member selection committee for a full presentation and further
discussion.  Together, all 13 of us make all application decisions.
The process then comes full circle with a decision letter being generated by
our clerical staff, and mailed off to you to arrive back in your mailbox.

So now the question comes up in your mind, how do I
apply?  Some of you have already asked us for our opinion, “Should
I apply Early Decision, or just file a Regular Admission application?

To enter the Early Decision process [deadline: December 15] is a highly
personal choice; one only you, the student, can make.  You may only apply
to one college or university under an Early Decision plan.
Why?  It’s binding.  If you were to apply Early Decision
here (or anywhere) you will be saying in effect, “Holy Cross, you’re my
number one choice .. I love you more than anywhere else (and, well, after you
visit here, how would you not be able to say that!?) .. and if you take
me, I guarantee I’ll enroll, and will withdraw all of my other college
applications whether I’ve received a decision from them yet or not.”
That’s a pretty big statement to make, right?  Even with that said, ED can
be an absolutely terrific process to go through … but you just absolutely
have to know 110% that this is where you want to be, and know that you won’t be
changing your mind later.

Why is ED so terrific?  For one, you’ll find out
our decision much earlier than if you were Regular Admission.  This is
called “rolling notification”.  Our decision process typically
takes about four weeks from the time your application becomes complete.
Many times it happens somewhat quicker than that, but four weeks is an
average.  We can make three possible decisions with your ED application:
“Accept” (Congratulations, you’re coming here!); “Defer”,
which simply means we’re moving your application to the Regular Admission pool,
and you’ll now learn your final decision alongside all of the Regular Admission
candidates (you’ll still be notified of the “Defer” decision within
approximately 4 weeks); or “Not Admit”.  Whatever the decision,
we utilize a rolling notification so that you, the student, will know how to
proceed with any other application you were considering submitting – –
either to move forward with them and make sure they’re all complete, or
withdraw them because you’re coming to Holy Cross!  🙂

If you decide to apply Regular Admission [deadline: January
15] you will receive your decision letter in the mail either in the last few
days of March or first few days of April.  While this seems like a long
time away, trust me, it will be here before you know it.  Applying
Regular Admission keeps all of your options open, and allows you to consider
all of your admission decisions from all the schools to which you’ve applied
until May 1.

There are certainly pros and cons to both application
processes.  Because Early Decision is such a personal choice, and a big
commitment, its a decision we can’t answer for you … only you, the student,
can know for sure that this is the place you would like to attend for the next
four years, and be connected with for the rest of your life.  Best of luck
with your process, however you choose to apply, and never hesitate to ask us
questions as you go through it – – that’s why we’re here.

Finally, if you’re eligible to do so, get out and VOTE
on Tuesday … this is history in the making!

James T. Richardson
Associate Director of Admissions

Application essay tips

Jrichardson Hi everyone!  After 17 flights, 4 buses, 2 boats, many a rental car, taxis and trains, I’m finally wrapping up the 2007 fall travel season and coming home!   Its been a wonderful fall, and all of the travel has been very interesting; I feel blessed to have met so many dynamic and intellectual students along the way!  From Flekke, Norway, to Tucson, Arizona, its all been very exciting.

Travel tip of the day: GPS.  If you don’t have one of these, get one … you’ll never be lost or frustrated over maps or directions again.  I would personally endorse the Garmin line.  I rented one of these while in Arizona and New Mexico, and am now poised to invest in my own – – a lifesaver!

So now its time to come back home and begin the “climb to the top of the mountain” as I call it – – the mountain of applications.  While we will likely receive more than 7,000 applications this year, one of the aspects of our process in which we take a tremendous amount of pride is the lengths we go to attempting to get to know each candidate.  Every application is read multiple times, by different people, each evaluating the various credentials we find within.  We rely on your transcripts … and what you teachers say about your work ethic and perseverance … and how well you did in your interview … and of course, how well your essay is written.

The Essay is undeniably one of the most important parts of your application materials.  By now, we hope, you’ve created your account, begun your application, and have presumeably been able to breeze through the first several pages which require you to complete your name, address, parents information, etc.  Presumably one of the items you’ve left for last is the essay.  Either you’ve decided to continue pondering the questions and are still debating which of the five you’d like to tackle, or you’re just outright procrasinating.

Do not procrastinateGet to work.

Please spend a lot of time working on this.  We spend a lot of time reading it, so we hope you spend a lot of time writing it.  A well written essay stands out not for its length, but rather for its content, imagery, and to what extent it “speaks to us”.  A few pieces of essay advice:

  • Take me there.  Make me react.  Allow me to see, smell, or hear (or do all of those) the subject about which you are writing.
  • Take caution on this windy road to a well written essay … you will never know who will be reading this masterpiece.  As you’ve seen through the blog and potentially through your other interactions with our staff, we have men, women, young, old(er), a priest, lay people, democrats, republicans … you will never know who will be reading your masterpiece.
  • Avoid humor; this can be very dangerous .. for the same aforementioned reasons .. you’ll never know who will be reading this.
  • Proofread – Proofread – Edit – Proofread     Edit – Proofread.     An essay which is free of grammatical and syntax errors says you care about your application and whether you not you are admitted; an essay which is less than perfect says something else – – I’ll leave that to you to imagine what it says.
  • Answer the question.  Whichever question you choose to answer, write about the subject.  Avoid tangents.  Get to the point already.
  • Always bring it back to speak about yourself.  Its wonderful for us to read all about the influence your Grandmother/father had on you, but Grandma isn’t applying to be a part of the Holy Cross community .. you are .. so always bring it back to talk about yourself.
  • Feel good about your finished product.  Write about those things you enjoy, believe in, or to which you are committed.  Doing this will show; not doing this, will show.
  • Spend more time on this, collectively, than on any other aspect of your application.  Make it good .. this is the only piece of writing you are required to submit.

Well, there are applications to read … I best get to work.  Good luck!

“Oh Auntie Em … there’s no place like home!”