Why Holy Cross? The smiles and thank you’s.

As many members of the admissions staff write their biggest answer to “Why Holy Cross,” it just so happened two Associate Directors of Admissions — Andrew Carter and Lynn Verrecchia — separately chose topics that blend quite well together: the general personality and affect of the student body.


6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiRecently at a college fair, I was asked a most intriguing question by a current high school junior – “What’s your  favorite thing about Holy Cross students?”

This is a great question – a departure from the usual questions about average GPA’s, average class size and overall student enrollment.

After a brief moment of thought, my answer was simple – Holy Cross students say “thank you.”

And it’s not just that they say “thank you,” but that they have a reason to say “thank you.”

This is a campus that values door holding.  And not just door holding for the delivery man carrying a stack of boxes – but door holding for anyone, any time.

The Jesuit principle of “Cura Personalis” encourages all of us to consider and to care for the entire person and while that influences the way we teach and learn and think about our world, it also reminds us that we are not alone – we are not alone in this world, in this moment or in this doorway.

And that is what I’m reminded of every day when I walk around this campus – Holy Cross students know they are not alone and while there might now always be someone to hold the door for, they always pause and check.

And for that pause, that awareness, I say, “thank you.”

Andrew Carter

Associate Director of Admissions



LynnVerrecchia.BLOG2Why HC? For the smiles.

When I first visited Holy Cross as a prospective student, one thing stood out to me. Everyone was smiling–at one another, to themselves, and at me. I as looking for a sign that this was the right place for me. What I read in those smiles was that HC students like one another, are content with themselves, and are eager to welcome newcomers.

As a student, I certainly found myself smiling–and being smiled at–a lot. As an alumnus, I find myself grinning on the highway when in traffic behind a car sporting a Holy Cross sticker and in line at the grocery store behind someone wearing a Holy Cross sweatshirt. I’ve made fast friends with other parents simply because of a shared affinity for our alma mater. Nothing brings a smile to my face faster than hearing my 3-year-old carefully spell out H-O-L-Y-C-R-O-S-S!

Holy Cross–it can even make you smile in traffic. That’s why.

Lynn Verrecchia ’01

Associate Director of Admissions

Some Supplement Advice

What does yLynnVerrecchia.BLOG2our stomach do when I mention the words “college essay?” Tie up in panicky knots? Flip over in anticipation? Growl with excitement? However you feel about writing your essay, the time has come to get serious about it.

We care about essays for two reasons: we want students who can write, and we want students who have something to say. Most of us who read applications consider the essay to be the dessert that comes after a steady diet of grades, scores, and other facts and figures.

In addition to the Common Application essay, Holy Cross has a required short (250-word max) response question. Hey, we like dessert! The short answer question is “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?” We hope you’ll use your 250 words to share a piece of advice that has resonated with you and explain why. Maybe we’ll even take your advice!

Why should you get to have all the fun? I asked some of my colleagues to share the bits of advice that they would like to write about. Here are some highlights:
“It’s not all about you.”
“Make your own luck.”
“You have to be a friend to have a friend.”
“Listen first.”
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
“Trust your instincts.”
My advice to you? Start writing!


Why Holy Cross? Because Our Alums Have So Much Pride

The most recent edition of the Holy Cross employee newsletter featured a 16 year member of our graphic arts department. When asked about the strangest job request she’s ever received, she shared that an alumnus once called to request a high resolution file of the Holy Cross school seal. Perhaps he wanted to print it on his letterhead, or on a set of note cards? Wrong. It was so he could be sure his new tattoo was an accurate depiction! At a local high school a few years ago, another alumnus sought me out in the crowd to show me his own Holy Cross tattoo. His was of the Crusader mascot, and yes, it was spot on. Though we don’t all have tattoos representing our beloved alma mater, the pride that these alumni show on their arms is shared by us all. Go Cross! 

And congratulations to our newest class of alums.

Lynn Verrecchia ’01
Associate Director of Admissions

Thoughts on Application Reading

With every application I read, I try to conjure up a mental image of the student. The essay, resume or recommendations often provide the information I need to form this picture in my mind. Our applicants are so much more than just the pages in their file, and I try never to forget that. I might picture a student during that nail-biting championship game, on that life-changing mission trip or spending time with a beloved grandparent. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Lynn Verrecchia ’01
Associate Director of Admissions

Application Stress

As of last week, the Holy Cross admission office is paperless!  This means that we will review all applications and make all decisions online.  For the past year or more, I have been part of a small working group tasked with making this happen.  At times the project felt dauntingly huge.  The level of detail required to document our processes seemed impossible to attain.  The only thing longer than the “to do” list was the “to figure out” list.  Still, we always knew it would all be worth it and the finished product would be a source of great pride.  So we worked.  And worked.  And worked.  We gave it our best, and now we look forward to the reward made all the sweeter because of that hard work.
Sound familiar?

Lynn Verrecchia ’01

Associate Director of Admissions

U.S. News Ranks Holy Cross as Most Loved School

This just in: U.S. News recently ranked Holy Cross in the top ten “Most Loved Schools” by alumni.

As an alumna of Holy Cross, I am not surprised. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t come across something that makes me proud to call Holy Cross alma mater. A news feature about an accomplished faculty member, a warm conversation with a fellow alumnus, or an encounter with an especially kind or impressive student all serve as frequent reminders of what makes this such a special place.

As an employee, I have the pleasure of working with a dedicated and loyal group of alumni volunteers. Their love for Holy Cross is unwavering and contagious. They support the College in countless ways, and I certainly didn’t need to read U.S. News to know that Holy Cross is beloved by its graduates. Though I don’t often place much faith in rankings, this one rings true, through and through.

I hope that in your own college search, you find the school that you’ll love as much as I love mine.

Lynn Verrecchia
Associate Director of Admissions

The Final Push

As I walked from the parking lot to my office this morning, I noticed a particular stillness to the campus.  So much so that I had a brief moment of panic that I had mistakenly come to work on Saturday.  I quickly remembered that for our students, today marks the first study day before exams.  They wrapped up classes yesterday and spent last night celebrating at our annual spring concert.  The stillness explained.  Rest.  A much deserved, albeit brief rest.  Soon enough, our students will crawl out of bed, balk at the clock (can I still make it to lunch before Kimball closes?) and make their way to their favorite study spot on or off campus.  They have worked so hard all year, and they’re not going to stop now.  We hope you won’t either!

Lynn Verrecchia
Associate Director of Admissions

“Did you go to Holy Cross?”

I’m often asked to talk about the things that make Holy Cross unique or special.  Though there are many things that I think make my alma mater both unique and special, I always find myself giving the same answer.  I may choose different anecdotes to express my idea, but my message is always one of an enduring loyalty and excitement from students and alumni.

This weekend my husband and I tackled the task of yard work.  He wore a Holy Cross t-shirt while he worked, as he often does.  From my weed-pulling post around the side of the house, I suddenly heard an excited, “Did you go to Holy Cross?”  Two recent graduates were passing by, and they couldn’t help but stop to say hello.  We chatted briefly, and they continued on their way.  Our interaction was brief, but meaningful.  I sensed they walked away feeling the same way we did as we watched them go-nostalgic and proud just to be an “HC person”.

Many colleges can provide a good four year experience, and any lucky student will count their college years among the best of their life.  This is true of many Holy Cross graduates I’ve met.  The difference is that the fondness people have for this place endures far beyond those four years.  For some, it’s homecoming, or a 10th, 25 or perhaps 50th reunion that makes them nostalgic for that place they once called home.  Many others require little more than the sight of those familiar purple letters on a t-shirt on a Saturday afternoon.

That’s pretty special.

Lynn Verrecchia
Associate Director of Admissions

The Longest Answer to the Simplest Question

I cannot tell you how many questions I’ve been asked today. This time of year, admission counselors spend the better part of their day fielding questions from students, parents and counselors.   Some require simple answers (yes, we have an English major), while others require a more in-depth response (Montserrat is…).

On occasion, a student will ask a seemingly simple question, and may be surprised by a response that is lengthier than expected. Never is this more true than in the case of the old favorite—the “average GPA” question. Students rightly want to know if their academic performance will measure up in our pool, and frankly we’re glad you asked. But that doesn’t mean we’re able to give you the simple answer you were hoping for. We consider each student within the unique context of their high school, making it impossible to identify a number which we think represents a universally “good” GPA. The grading scale (3.0, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 6.0, 8.0, 10.0, 12.0, to name a few we’ve seen), weighting (or lack thereof), strength of curriculum, grade inflation/deflation and other factors unique to your high school are all considered. We study high school profiles and websites, and sometimes make phone calls to counselors to gather all of the information we need to assess your academic performance. It’s our job to understand what a “good” GPA is at your school. And this time of year, it’s our job to try to explain that to you.

Somewhat flustered by my response, students sometimes follow-up with a question they are sure will elicit a short, numbers-only answer: “What’s your average SAT score?” And I take a deep breath, and we’re off again…

Lynn Verrecchia

Associate Director of Admissions

Senior Year Matters

Hurrah! I’m a senior! Did you say or think something similar in the past few weeks? How long did your excitement last before you became overwhelmed by your seemingly endless to-do list? Probably not too long. Many of you are preparing to dive head first into the college application process, which may be equal parts exciting and terrifying. You might be tempted to let it take over your life, and at some points you might feel like it has.

So I’d like to offer a few words of advice. As you spend time writing your essay, figuring out your parents’ job titles, memorizing your social security number and squeezing in campus visits and interviews, don’t forget to continue being the amazing student and person that you’ve always been. In the minds of admission officers-and certainly those of us at Holy Cross-senior year matters, and it matters a lot. This is the year when you have the greatest opportunity to show off your talents in and out of the classroom. You didn’t sign up for all those upper level courses or take on leadership roles just for show, did you?

As you start to focus on your applications, try not to let school-or life-take a permanent back seat. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.