How to Choose the School for You

For high school seniors, April is the month for decisions. Once acceptance letters have been received, students spend time on college campuses, taking and re-taking tours, sitting in on classes and doing their best to find differences amongst schools that have so much in common. Some students will ask their friends or look for insight from social networking websites.

So how should they decide? What’s the best way for a student to decide amongst more than one quality choice? Conduct a poll on Facebook? Conduct a poll at the dinner table? Conduct an imaginary battle between mascots?

The answer is in the dressing room.

When we’re shopping for clothes, we all have that moment just after we’ve buttoned up a pair of pants – we take stock, we look in the mirror and we make a gut decision based upon how those pants fit us, how they suit us and how they feel.

And when we emerge from the dressing room and find family or friend waiting for us, they are sure to ask that one-word question — “Well?”

Buying pants, in that way, is similar to choosing a college. There are so many places and people to whom we can go for information or opinions. But what matters most is how a college feels to a student and what their gut is telling them.

So to all those students destined to wrestle between two or more quality choices, I encourage you to leave the websites and on-line polls behind and take a moment in the “dressing room” by yourself – go with your gut and choose the college which fits you the best.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

My High School is Holding a College Fair!

Great! Here are a few tips that will enhance your college fair experience:

Do Some Research Before the Fair: Find out what colleges/universities will be attending your fair. Poke around on the websites of schools  in which you are interested. This exercise is bound to crank your brain gears and produce some questions for the college representatives.

Represent Yourself and Your School Well: Many of the college representatives have come a long way and look forward to meeting bright, eager students. So take the time to shake the representative’s hand, look him/her in the eye, introduce yourself, and ask those brilliant questions that you recently thought up. Remember – there is no such thing as a bad question. You will spend the next four years of your life at this school; you should make the effort to know as much as you can about it.

Make the Experience Count: You put in the time researching and visiting the collegerepresentative, now make sure you get credit for it.   Fill out any forms or cards the representative might have on his/her table. Often, these forms/cards will be placed in your admissions file and will be reviewed during the admissions process. Do not miss out on this opportunity to demonstrate interest in each and every school you might be attending in the not-so-distant future.

Dan Weagle ‘08

Admissions Counselor

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

Admissions Myths and Truths Revealed

Travel season is in full swing. Admissions counselors are out and about at high schools and college fairs, including myself. This year during my travels I’ve heard a few admissions myths from students and counselors alike that we would like to dispel.

Myth: “That school is too hard to get in to.”

Truth: You never know until you try. Even admissions counselors can’t tell you whether you would get in or not until the process is complete. There are a multitude of factors that are taken into consideration. First in your family to go to college? That’s a plus for you. Live in Washington DC? There’s another plus. You’ve probably got a lot more going for you than you realize.

Myth: “That school is too expensive”

Truth: You should never be intimidated by the sticker price of a school. If it is a school you are interested in apply for financial aid. Students are often surprised by how much aid they qualify for. And by the way, Holy Cross meets need 100%.

Myth: “I’ll save money by enrolling in a community college for two years and then transferring to a four year institution”

Truth: You may end up spending more time and money by attending a two year school first. Credits don’t always transfer and you may have to take some courses a second time. Also the quality of the education or the student life experience may not be the same. Be sure to consider all of the factors before making a decision to transfer.

Amanda Juriansz

Assistant Director of Admissions

Most Frequently Asked Questions from the Road

The last few weeks have been exciting and rewarding as all of us in the Admissions Office have been traveling the country, meeting with students in their hometowns and in their high schools.  After traveling for a few days, it becomes apparent that many students tend to ask the same questions in town after town.  Here below are the most frequently asked questions with my answers.

  1. 1. “Is ___ a good topic for my essay?”

Yes — if that’s the topic you’ve selected.  No – if someone else told you to write about it.

2. “Are interviews required at Holy Cross?”

No, but they are strongly recommended.  For more information regarding interviews, click here.

3.What’s that on your shirt?

Ketchup.  Or salsa.  Or both.

4. “Do you offer Early Action?”

No.  But we do offer Early Decision.  For more information, see here:

5. “What’s your single favorite thing about Holy Cross?”

The people.  The food.  The Jesuit mission.  The Admissions Office.  Worcester.

6. “Isn’t that more than one?”


7. “Should I submit my SAT scores?”

That’s a great conversation to have with your guidance counselor but know this – in our review process, we are going to focus on your accomplishments over the course of four years, not four hours on a Saturday morning.

Thanks to all those who have come out to meet with us on the road this fall.  If you still have more questions or just want to learn more, we hope you’ll be able to attend one of our two Fall Open House events.  For more details, see here.

College Visit Tips

It is a scene all too familiar – several families waiting in line at the reception desk in the HC Admissions Office, parents holding copies of the Boston Globe, waiting to inquire about a good place for lunch near campus.

Here’s a word of advice to all those families who take road trips to make college visits.  When you’re on campus, you’re trying to get a sense of what that college is all about  — what it’s like to live there; what it’s like to learn there; what it’s like to spend four years there.  Take advantage of what you have at hand to get the most out of your short time on campus.  Don’t read the Boston Globe and eat lunch at a restaurant.  Read the school newspaper and eat lunch on campus.

Trust me.  You’ll never forget our mac and cheese.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Tran’s Summer Admissions Tips – Part One

If you’re just starting the college admissions process, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by all the things that you need to do.   Luckily, you have nearly three months to get yourself together and organized for the application process that awaits you in the fall.  Here are some things that you can do to maximize your summer leading into the college application process to better position yourself for a fall filled with less stress.

Tip #1: Visit as many different colleges as possible.

If you have no clue as to what kind of school you want to attend, visit a large variety from technical schools to large schools to small schools to art schools.  See how they feel to you when you set foot on their campuses, and from there you will get a better sense of what is right for you.  Don’t judge a school only by the materials you read.  These materials are marketing materials to stimulate your interest in the school so they’re all going to look good based on the brochures you get.  It’s in your best interest to set foot on these campuses to get a sense of what the place is like behind the brochure.  If you already know that you want a certain kind of school, then visit several different ones in that category.  So if you want a small liberal arts school, visit one near a city, another one that’s in a rural location, and so forth.  There are over 4,000 schools and we are all different from another in some way.  Here is a great worksheet from US News to help you document each institution you visit.

Good luck, and check back for more advice in the coming months!

Tran Kim-Senior
Assistant Director of Admissions
Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment

The College Fair: Where Do I Start?

NicoleZervos.BLOG2This past week, I’ve been doing a few college fairs at high schools and at national events. College fairs are a good way to start seeing what types of colleges are out there, but they can also be extremely overwhelming. Students often come up to our table and not know what to do or say. I thought I’d share a few pointers to get you started:



  • Know that we’re here to talk to you. Our job as Admissions Counselors is to talk to students about our institutions. Don’t be afraid to approach us. We’re all friendly people and we want to tell you why our college is the place for you.


  • It’s OK if you don’t know anything about the school. One of my favorite parts of college fairs is talking to students who know nothing about Holy Cross. Often, by the time we’re through talking, they’re signing up for the mailing list and excited to come for a campus tour.


  • Go beyond asking about the numbers. While it’s ok to ask about average GPA or test scores, that type of information is easily accessible on the internet or in a school’s literature. Try to make your questions as specific as possible. Ask what makes an application successful or find out what campus life is like, how well the professors interact with students, if internships are offered, etc.  


  • Filling out the card does matter. A lot of students who are already on our mailing list ask if they need to fill out an inquiry card. While this is not the case at all schools, we do keep track of the type of contact you’ve made with Holy Cross. We want to give you credit for putting in the effort to talk to us at a fair. Printing up pre-made labels is a quick way to avoid writer’s cramp at college fairs.


If you see me at a college fair this spring or next fall, don’t be afraid to stop by and say hi! Ask me a question and I’ll be more than happy to answer.


Nicole Zervos ’09

Admissions Counselor

The Perfect Burrito

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiRecently, I was at Tortilla Sam’s (Worcester’s finest establishment for Mexican food) and I began thinking about the perfect burrito.  What makes a burrito the perfect burrito?  Is it the ratio of rice to beans?  Is it the freshness of the salsa?  Or perhaps it’s the texture of the tortilla?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that a burrito is comprised of so many components, so many complementary parts, that it’s impossible to identify which one plays the largest role.  Put differently, you don’t know what makes a burrito the perfect burrito until you taste it and even then you’re unlikely to know why it’s perfect – more likely, it’s the precise combination of all the assembled parts.  In addition, perhaps we all have our own unique tastes which dictate what will make a burrito perfect for each and every one of us.  The perfect burrito for one person might be far too spicy for someone else. 

As the days tick by on April’s calendar and we move closer to the May 1st deadline when all admitted students must decide at which college to set up their futons and mini-fridges next year, let’s remember the lesson of the burrito.  Colleges are complex and complicated homes for living and learning and they can’t be summed up in a sound bite nor summarized in a Facebook posting.  The best way to identify the perfect college is to think for yourself and know that when it happens, you won’t know why – you’ll just know that you’ve found the perfect college for you.  In the meantime, keep an open mind and keep the salsa off your shirt.


Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

From Beginning to End

LynnVerrecchia.BLOG2Spring marks an interesting time in the life of an admissions officer. Letters are in the mail, and we will work over the next month to convince our amazing body of admitted students that Holy Cross is where they should spend the next four years. At the same time, we will begin to work with high school juniors as they begin their college search. We are simultaneously working with students who are at the beginning of this process, and with students who have lived to tell about it.

Today I attended my first spring college fair event, where I met with a wonderful group of juniors and their parents. This I expected. What I didn’t expect was the conversation I had with an administrator at the high school. He approached me, business card in hand, and asked that I pass his name along to any graduating Holy Cross students who might be looking for a teaching job.  He simply said that he’d had a “great experience” with our students. I have no doubt that there are companies across the country who hire Holy Cross students for exactly that same reason. And come to think of it, I shouldn’t have been surprised by our conversation at all.

 Though many of you are ending your college search, you are just beginning a wonderful new chapter in your lives. And as our new students make their admission deposits and look forward to orientation and class registration, our seniors will be packing up their rooms and making plans for their next beginning.

 Holy Cross is here to support you with this new beginning, and with your next one too.


Lynn Verrecchia
Sr. Assistant Director of Admissions