Decision Day

AnnMcDermott.BLOG2This has been a groundbreaking year. Students, guidance counselors, and college admissions alike dealt with changes to applications during the fall. In an effort to keep more clarity in our applications, we added a writing supplement. And, also for the first time, we released all of our admissions decisions online. With an exciting push of a button today, we witnessed over 2,000 students view their decisions within 90 minutes — and many more as the evening wore on.

This year’s applicant pool was once again very strong, so the competition for gaining admission was particularly intense. We are excited to welcome our chosen Class of 2018, a truly special achievement, though it was not a quick nor easy decision-making process. As always, we spent over five weeks in full-day Committee, opening every application in front of our admissions staff of 13, and often opening essays, transcripts, and recommendations multiple times for the most complete evaluation possible.

We were struck by poignant responses to our additional writing sample, asking what was the best advice you ever received. We were impressed by what your guidance counselor and teachers had to say about you. We were dazzled by your leadership and floored by what we heard from you in interviews. We were challenged to pick from among 5,300 talented students, yet we remain proud of the ones we have chosen.

The next five weeks will be very busy and very exciting for those admitted applicants — now official members of the Holy Cross community, if you will have us. As you consider your choices, we hope you will join us on campus so we can help you celebrate your impressive achievements. From a variety of visiting options to our Accepted Student Open House to our virtual representation on social media, there are a number of ways to engage with the College.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us (800-442-2421) with any questions or concerns. We are excited to welcome you to the Holy Cross community!

Ann McDermott, ’79

Director of Admissions

Parent Recommendations: My Love of These Ooey, Gooey, Mushy Messages

I really like that our office invites the parents of applicants to join in the application process and to start a dialogue with HC Admissions about their son/daughter.

(To any of you parents reading this right now: No, you/your son/your daughter do not get “extra points” for this exercise and you don’t “lose points” either.  You simply take away some piece of mind—at least you should.)

In some of these letters that we receive, I can literally see the parents appreciating their son/daughter more and more as the letter unfolds. 

These parent letters make me think: It is not often in life that we are asked to put life on hold, reflect for a moment, and form into words all of the specific things that make a special someone in our lives so special.  The exercise allows you to rediscover all of those hidden gems about that person who has been living under your roof for the past 17 years.   

Parents, it may be too late to submit a letter of recommendation on behalf of your child, but it is never too late to take a moment to tell them how proud you are of the person they have become.

Dan Weagle ‘08
Admissions  Counselor

Jim’s Admissions Advice

jrichardson_2August has arrived, and with it, for many of us, has come the feeling that the end is near.  The end of summer … the end of sleeping late, beach days and pool time … indeed, its back to school!  You might find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone … its back to school for us as well.  As my colleague Amanda wrote not long ago, for us here in Admissions, we’ve been planning our schedules and getting ready to have the rubber meet the road in just a few short weeks.  We’ll be coming to your schools and college fairs before you know it; for many of us, in less than a month!  For some of you reading this in Arizona and Florida, you’re already back; but for many others, you still have a few days or weeks to enjoy!  How should you be spending that time, you ask?  Why, visiting colleges of course … including, I should add, spending some time here at Holy Cross!
Visiting college campuses on your summer break is one of the best investments of your time and resources you can make.  Visiting now, while it has its pros and cons, will be something you will surely appreciate later.  It will make your decision regarding where to apply, and possibly where to enroll should you be admitted, much easier later.  Here at Holy Cross we offer tours of the campus four times each day (M-F, 10AM, 12, 2 and 3PM), and information sessions twice each day (M-F, 11:15AM, and 1:15PM).  Interviewing is another critically important aspect of your summer or fall visit.  We put a lot of stock in personal interviews because, while optional, they provide us a chance to get to know you in a way we wouldn’t have at any other time in the process.  And for you, its a chance to personalize your application and really bring it to life!  If you’re serious about your Holy Cross application and would like to schedule an interview, simply call the office, we would enjoy taking the time to get to know you.
The last thing I would recommend doing before you head back to school is to begin your essay.  If you haven’t already done so, take a look at the essay questions on the application ( and begin drafting your response.  Considering it is the only piece of writing we will have in your application (we don’t ask for graded papers, other writing samples, or require any supplements), its very important that its a good piece of quality writing.  A few (seemingly obvious) tips:

* answer the question.  Answer the question in a complete, yet concise, clear, and direct way. 

*make sure its your own work, and original.  “Recycled” history papers from last year … while they may meet the criteria of ‘topic of your choice’, are a no-no. 

*Proofread – – Proofread – – Proofread.  It speaks for itself.  Essays don’t have to be novels (nor should they be!), but they shouldn’t be two sentences either.  Spend a lot of time on this; its the only piece of writing we will have from you, so please give it the time it deserves.  Doing it now will make your life a lot easier later, I assure you.
Happy summer!  We hope you enjoy what remains of it, we hope to see you here on campus or at your school soon, and we look forward to reading your application!  Good luck!
James T. Richardson
Associate Director of Admission

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

lynnBelieve it or not, I don’t care for the picture of me that accompanies my blogs.  The photographer said “don’t smile”, so I didn’t.  The result is a slightly confused-looking version of my better self.  I try not to look at it when I view my blogs, but it’s hard to ignore that unhappy face.  It’s not that the picture is more important than (or even as important as) the words beside it, but I just can’t reconcile that mean-looking person with the friendly words she writes.
I’ve felt this way before.  I interview hundreds of students each year.  The conversation I have with a student matters so much more than the look on their face or the outfit they wear.  But a confused/mean/bored face can be a distraction from a really nice story.  So no matter what anyone tells you…show me that smile.
Still waiting for photo make-up day…


Lynn Verrecchia
Sr. Assistant Director of Admissions

The Do’s of the Application Process

tranThis list is the culmination of my own experiences as an admissions officer as well as of my colleagues in this office and other admissions offices.  As you go through them, you may have a lot of “duh” moments and most of these are very much common sense but it’s usually the most obvious things that are the least visible to us.  With that said, I hope this list is useful to you as you focus in on the application process.

  • Meet all deadlines for Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision.  Not meeting a deadline reflects badly on your ability to be responsible and may make an institution feel like you aren’t that interested.  It may also reduce your chances of getting in because the class is getting filled and you may be too late to get a spot.  If you have an extraordinary circumstances, you should let an admissions officer know in writing or by phone so that we can take that into consideration. 
  • File your financial aid paperwork early and by the deadline at the latest.  Holy Cross requires both the FAFSA and the the CSS Profile forms to be considered for financial aid.  The FAFSA form is not available until January 1st but you and one of your parents can go ahead and file for a FAFSA Pin Number that will serve as your signatures on the forms.  The longer you wait, the bigger the risk that you may not get as strong a package and if you submit late, the chances of getting financial aid are even slimmer.
  • Pay close attention to what each school requires you to submit or strongly recommends you send in regards to standardized testing, essays, letters of recommendation, etc.  While strongly recommends doesn’t mean require in the sense that you are disqualified from admission, it does means that you may be placing yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t do what it is that is being strongly recommended.
  • Ask teachers early for letters of recommendations.  The earlier you ask, the more time they can put into it and produce a well written letter on your behalf.  It’s important to keep in mind that you will not be the only student who is seeking that student out for a letter of recommendation. 
  • Follow up with all counselors and teachers to make sure that they have submitted your paperwork on time and be sure to also send a thank you to them for doing so.
  • Proofread your essays very carefully before you submit.  I would encourage you to print out your application if you’re filing it online because what you see is mostly likely what we’ll see when we click on print so you want to make sure that it’s formatted to what you want it to look like.
  • Demonstrate your interest in a college institution before you apply.  A lot of students visit the schools that they get into and from there will make a decision as to where to attend without knowing that many admissions offices take applicants’ demonstrated interest into consideration as a way to determine whether or not the student would enroll if admitted.  Just like you all want us to like you and admit you, we want to be liked by you all as well and be admitted in essence.
  • Create a professional email address and check that email frequently.  Silly or suggestive email addresses, while comical for us to read, are not professional and do not reflect well on you.  It’s also important that you don’t use your parents’ email addresses as your own and we can typically tell when this is happening.  We like to see students take the lead in the application process because it shows that you’re ready for the independent environment that is a part of the college experience.


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