The Reading Season Routine

Nancy NelsenAs I sat down to read applications recently, I suddenly had a flashback to my days in college and graduate school. There was something oddly familiar about the set-up at my desk. I was surrounded by the same must-have items that I needed to write a long paper, including a huge cup of coffee, a bottle of water, a pillow behind my back for comfort, a mellow mix of tunes playing on my iPod, and most importantly, atomic fire ball hard candy. Whether I’m gearing up to write a 20-page paper or reviewing admissions applications, having the aforementioned items seem essential to me when tackling a project of this magnitude.


Though I’m no longer a student, the task of reading such a large volume of applications is reminiscent of the feelings I had when faced with a big paper in school. I love the challenge, and I love the adrenaline rush.

Perhaps what I love most about reading applications is having the opportunity to learn about so many fascinating and talented students. After reviewing transcripts and doing calculations, I get to sit back and read hundreds of thought-provoking essays. Students’ college applications give me a glimpse into their world. I’m constantly learning about different cultures and experiences, as well as personal challenges and triumphs.

While I’m moved by stories about life-altering events, I’m equally impressed with lighthearted essays. My excitement surrounding an essay isn’t always related to the student’s choice of topic. Rather, I find it stimulating to read a piece where the author really lets his or her personality shine through the essay.

Reflecting on the last few weeks of reading files,  I can assure you  there  have definitely been some long days, but thankfully, since I stuck with  my college routine, I didn’t  have to pull any all-nighters!


Nancy Nelsen

Assistant Director for Multicultural Recruitment

Meet New Admissions Counselor Nancy Nelsen

I’m delighted to be joining the Holy Cross Admissions team as an Assistant Director for Community Outreach. Four weeks ago, I stepped foot on campus with anticipation and a sense of nostalgia. Though I didn’t attend Holy Cross, I nevertheless felt as though it was my first day of school, as memories from my own undergraduate experience came rushing back. There’s something very special about working on a college campus. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with so many prospective students and be a part of the decision making process for admitting a new class each year.

Not only am I ecstatic to be working at an institution for higher learning, but also I am particularly excited about working at Holy Cross. I feel strongly about the type of education students get at such a small, exclusively undergraduate school. Moreover, I understand the degree to which a liberal arts education opens so many doors, providing students with a broad range of skills they can use in any field. I’m a product of such an education and feel it has served me well in my own career.

I attended a small, liberal arts college in Maine and then transferred to another school in Boston in order to be in a more metropolitan area. After college, I began my career in publishing where I edited educational resources for children and teachers. Knowing I wanted to work more with students, I returned to school to obtain a masters degree in curriculum and teaching. Prior to my role at Holy Cross, I had the pleasure of working at a college access program. I prepared urban schoolchildren to get into, and succeed at, independent and public exam schools in the Boston area.

Outside of work, I’ve enjoyed living in Boston for the last ten years, taking advantage of all the city has to offer. Interestingly enough, I met my husband on the T (Boston’s subway system for those of you who aren’t from the area) 8 years ago. As a former college athlete, I continue to play basketball and tennis in my free time. I’m originally from Brunswick, Maine, so I’m a true New Englander who loves the change of seasons. You’ll find me on Cape Cod for most summer weekends, spending time with my family at the beach and attending Cape League baseball games where my Dad has coached ever since I was a little girl.

Last week marked the start of my travel season, and I couldn’t be more excited about being on the road and meeting students. My first trip to Dallas was full of many high school visits and college fairs, not to mention warmer weather and southern hospitality. I look forward to meeting more students when I head out to New York, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Boston area schools in the coming weeks. I wish you all the best in your college search and hope to hear from you!

Nancy Nelsen

Assistant Director for Community Outreach