How Does Holy Cross Build Its Incoming Class?

A behind-the-scenes look at the admission process
March 4th, 2019 by 

Admissions sign
Photo by Avanell Brock

After applications are submitted, time seems to endlessly stretch on before acceptance letters hit mailboxes. And many questions begin to swirl: Who is reading my application? What are they looking for? How do they decide who gets in and who doesn’t from thousands of applications?

From the outside, the college admission process feels like a mystery. Hear directly from Holy Cross’ Ann McDermott, director of admission, and Margaret Freije, provost and dean of the College, for a look behind the curtain.

What are your goals for an incoming class? What attributes do you seek for the class as a whole?

Freije: At Holy Cross we are a community that asks big questions and values diverse perspectives in our search for answers. We collaborate, challenge and support one another with respect and humility. In order to best support our mission, we seek to bring in a diverse class in which students represent a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, nationalities and geographies, among other attributes. We want students who bring different talents and perspectives to our community.

What are you looking for in a Holy Cross student?

McDermott: I think we all know Holy Cross is tough academically, so we look for students who challenge themselves. We want to see students taking the most rigorous curriculum offered — whatever that’s defined as in their particular high school — and doing really well. But then we also want to see students who have identified for themselves their passions and interests, and whether its band or student government, we want to see students who have invested and committed themselves. Writing also matters to us a lot. Holy Cross is really writing heavy so we spend a lot of time looking at students’ essays.

Overall, I think the hallmark of Holy Cross students is that they tend to be bright and accomplished and have a bit of a fire in the belly academically. They are intellectually curious, not just seeking accomplishment but to grow and be stretched. They push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and think creatively. They also tend to be pretty service oriented — that’s one of the most common things students are involved with.

How do students learn about Holy Cross?

McDermott: In addition to learning about us through family and friends, their guidance counselors and the many college guides that exist in print and online, students interact with our admission staff when we visit their high schools or at admission fairs. Our staff visits 800 high schools across the country each year, ranging from public high schools to independent and private schools to Catholic and Jesuit high schools. We also partner with many community-based agencies to reach students who might not otherwise find us.

Freije: Holy Cross was one of the founding members of the Coalition for College Access, a diverse group of distinguished colleges and universities that is committed to making college a reality for all high school students through its set of free, online college planning tools that helps them learn about, prepare for, and apply to College. We also recently became a member of the American Talent Initiative, an alliance of top colleges and universities that are working with the philanthropy and research communities to expand access and opportunity for talented low- and moderate-income students. We work hard to reach lower-income and first-generation students, break down the barriers that may prevent them from applying for admission and financial aid, and then meet their full demonstrated financial need to ensure that finances will not stand in the way of any student admitted to Holy Cross.

How does the admission process work?

McDermott: It involves some math, some science, and a bit of art. At Holy Cross, every application is initially read by two individuals before it comes to full committee, made up of 13 members of the admission staff who look at all 7,200 applications in a darkened room for about five weeks. As a group we discuss every single application, noting academics, personal strengths, recommendations, essays, and interviews (if they had them), and make a decision based on a student’s potential for academic success at Holy Cross as well as their personal accomplishments and what we think they’ll bring to the college. It’s holistic and thorough, and we will look at some students numerous times.

We also look at the kind of engagement we have with students — we want to see them involved in the process; stopping by at a high school visit or engaging in a chat is something we factor in. It’s the idea that these students have done their research, and put themselves out there and said, “This is where I want to be.” So students do have a lot of control in the process.

How do you build a class?

McDermott: Students invest a lot of time in the application process and we try to respect that by doing the same. I think we get to know our students as well as we possibly can though an application. We look at the obvious extremes — the most highly rated students and the lowest — and make those decisions first.  Then we look at applicants who would bring different perspectives or special talents to our community. We also consider students from Jesuit high schools, children of alumni and students from Worcester separately. After we make decisions on each of those applicants, we are typically left with a big group of applicants from the northeast that is qualified and strong. That’s the painstaking work that happens toward the end of our process.

It’s all about finding students that are a good fit and there’s a human element to that process. A typical Holy Cross student manages many commitments. They want to excel academically and they are also committed to an athletic team, a theater production, a student organization or a community-service opportunity — and that’s what we’re trying to find in our applicants. We know the students we’re admitting are going to be successful here.

What role do finances play in the decision making?

Freije: Holy Cross is committed to building a diverse community and to remaining financially accessible to all qualified students. Therefore, we remain one of a small number of schools that meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. Historically, we have been able to meet this commitment with a completely need-blind admission process. This has become increasingly difficult to accomplish. In order to build the diverse community that we seek, and ensure that we are able to fully meet their full demonstrated need, it is possible that a small number of our admission decisions may need to be made with an awareness of financial need going forward.

McDermott: Our process remains the same highly personalized and holistic one. We have read and evaluated our entire pool of applications with no awareness of need. Toward the very end of our process this year, we will be calculating the cost of the class, which we have not had to do in the past. So there is a possibility that we will need to admit some small percentage of the class with an awareness of need.

Learn more about Holy Cross’ admission process on the Admission & Aid website.

Related Information:

| More
Tags
Categories
News

Comments are closed.

07/18/19 10 Things to Know About Academics at Holy Cross
07/17/19 National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Supports Major Exhibition of Buddhist Ritual Art at Holy Cross
07/15/19 Holy Cross Professor’s Greenway Art Project Uses Augmented Reality to Take Visitors Back in Time
07/12/19 Puerto Rico Newspaper Features Holy Cross Professors’ Trip to Study the Effects of Hurricane María
See All

HC Libraries are Your Libraries : Archives Tour and Refreshments
7/25/2019
Holy Cross Libraries
Smith Laboratories SPILLANE
The Holy Cross Libraries are hosting an open house for campus staff on Thursday,...
See More >>


Passport - Stress Busters
8/16/2019
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(09)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Passport - Stress Busters
8/16/2019
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Passport - Stress Busters
8/16/2019
Academic Services and Learning Resources
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/26/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite B - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/26/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite C - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/27/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(09)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/27/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite B - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/27/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/27/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite C - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/27/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


MPE Training
8/28/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/29/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(09)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


MPE Training
8/29/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/30/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Odyssey 2023 Program Workshop
8/30/2019
Odyssey
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


MPE Training
8/30/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 328
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
9/4/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Handshake on the Hoval
9/4/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 3
Stop by the Hoval to meet Handshake, the new career platform...
See More >>


Handshake on the Hoval
9/4/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
Stop by the Hoval to meet Handshake, the new career platform...
See More >>


Handshake on the Hoval - Rain Location
9/4/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Stop by the Hoval to meet Handshake, the new career platform...
See More >>


Handshake on the Hoval
9/4/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Outdoor Oval
Stop by the Hoval to meet Handshake, the new career platform...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/9/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
9/10/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/11/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
9/11/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


LibFest Rain Location
9/12/2019
Holy Cross Libraries
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Crossroads Lounge
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


LibFest
9/12/2019
Holy Cross Libraries
Kimball Hall Kimball Quad
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/16/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
9/17/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/18/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
9/18/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Lecture: Daniel Philpott on Religious Freedom in the Muslim World
9/19/2019
Religious Studies
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Daniel Philpott, professor of political science at the University...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/23/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


GE Meet & Greet Session
9/23/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406
Students selected to interview with GE will be invited to attend this...
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
9/24/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/25/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
9/25/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(07)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Nielsen Meet & Greet
9/25/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 403
Students selected to interview with Nielsen for their Emerging Leaders...
See More >>


Axon Meet & Greet
9/26/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Come to the Axon Meet & Greet to learn more about the company...
See More >>


Lecture: Met Curator John Guy on the Ritual Use of Vajracharya Crowns
9/26/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Crowns of Transformation — John Guy, the Florence and...
See More >>


Wake Forest MS in Management Program Info Table
9/26/2019
Center for Career Development Open to Campus Community Only Categories: Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Stop by Hogan Lobby Table 1 to learn more about the Wake...
See More >>


3rd Festival of the Arts at Holy Cross
9/27/2019
Music
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Outdoor Oval
Arts Transcending Borders, in collaboration with the departments...
See More >>


Holy Cross Chapel Artist Series-Ezequiel Menendez
9/29/2019
Music
St Joseph Memorial Chapel St Joseph Chapel
September 29th, 3:00 pmDr. Ezequiel MenendezHoly Cross' Organ...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
9/30/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Luncheon with Lauren Markham
9/30/2019
Latin American and Latino Studies
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
10/1/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/2/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
10/2/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/7/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
10/8/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/9/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
10/9/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Lecture: Erin Kelly on the Failure of Retributive Justice
10/9/2019
Philosophy
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Stranded Behind Bars — Erin Kelly, professor of philosophy...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/16/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
10/16/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/21/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
10/22/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/23/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
10/23/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/28/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
10/29/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Hanify-Howland Memorial Lecture
10/29/2019
Featured
Hogan Campus Center Ballroom
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Holy Cross Chapel Artist Series Halloween Concert with Matt Luca and Michelle Sacco
10/29/2019
Features
St Joseph Memorial Chapel St Joseph Chapel
A Hallowe'en ConcertHoly Cross' Organ Scholars Matt Luca...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
10/30/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
10/30/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Poverty Simulation Workshop
10/30/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Ballroom & Dunn
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
11/4/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
11/5/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
11/6/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
11/6/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Andrew Davis and Mahri Leonard-Fleckman on Moral Ambiguity in the Hebrew Bible
11/6/2019
Religious Studies
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Wrestling with the Word — Andrew Davis, associate professor...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
11/11/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Lecture: Anthropologist Juliana Flinn on Mother Mary in Micronesia
11/11/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Mary as Breadwinner, Protector, and a Strong Model for Women —...
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
11/12/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 407(08)
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Resume Writing Workshop with Deloitte and the Center for Career Development
11/12/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to all students! Create a resume the write way!Come hear from...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
11/13/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
11/13/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Lecture: Holocaust Scholar Alan Rosen on Memory as Protest
11/13/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
In this free, public lecture, Alan Rosen, Kraft-Hiatt Scholar...
See More >>


Into the Deep: My Journey from Feminism to Catholicism
11/14/2019
Featured
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Professor Abigail Favale, Director of the William Penn...
See More >>


Lecture: New York Times Art Critic Holland Cotter on Reviewing Religious Art
11/14/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Holland Cotter, co-chief art critic of The New York Times, will...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
11/18/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
11/19/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 409
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Holy Cross Chapel Artist Series - Olivier Latry
11/19/2019
Music
St Joseph Memorial Chapel St Joseph Chapel
November 19th, 7:30 pm Olivier Latry, Titular Organist at...
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
11/20/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
11/20/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
12/3/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 409
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


RHA Weekly Meeting
12/4/2019
Residence Life & Housing
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(08)
RHA weekly meeting in which all hall councils are invited to share...
See More >>


Holy Cross Concert Band Concert
12/8/2019
Music
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Ballroom & 328
Open to the Public
See More >>


Eta Sigma Phi Weekly Meeting
12/10/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 409
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
1/27/2020
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Multicultural Peer Educators Meeting
1/27/2020
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Latinidad Identidad
1/29/2020
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
See More >>


Manuscripts Hack-A-Thon
2/15/2020
Featured
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
A one-day workshop for secondary school teachers and students to...
See More >>

See All