Holy Cross Honors Program: Something to Work Towards

All students at Holy Cross are bright and academically motivated. These two criteria are prerequisites for being accepted to the College. With this being said, Holy Cross offers a College Honors Program for a select group of especially curious students aimed at offering  more chances to further explore their academic interests. The program includes two seminars and a handful of honors colloquia. The culminating aspect of the program is a self-selected senior thesis project completed with the guidance of a Holy Cross professor.

Being invited to the Honors Program is something that comes as a surprise to many second year students.  One comes into the college excited to do well and find classes about which they are passionate.  Even without knowing that the Honors Program exists, some rising sophomores will be pleasantly surprised to find an invitation to apply to the program in their email inbox.  One should work hard and become involved in the community regardless, but knowing that an invitation to an exclusive program comes as early as the beginning of sophomore year is one more reason to immediately invest one’s self in the Holy Cross community

If one is fortunate enough to get accepted to the program, one is able to work towards completing a graduate school level thesis concerning a topic of their choosing.  The thesis can be related to their major if one so chooses, but this is not mandatory.  Important to note is the fact that the Honors Program does not award one many “perks”.  In other words, there is not necessarily a palpable reward for being a part of the program.  Instead, one is able to explore one’s academic interests more rigorously and in more depth.  That particular question that has been raised in many classes, or a difficult topic one is struggling to form an opinion about can serve as fodder for a thesis.  One is hard pressed to think of a more rewarding undergraduate academic experience than producing a thesis one has worked on for a full year.  Thus, first year students have more than enough reason to dive head first into their studies and fully explore the questions they may have.


Holy Cross Dining

How good is the food? Is a common question asked on all of the tours and overnight stays that Holy Cross offers. While food may not be one of the first things that comes to mind when considering which school to attend, once one has curated a short list of viable college options, food becomes a potential deciding factor.  With this being said, Holy Cross’s dining has consistently been getting better over the last few years.

As a freshman, I asked a senior student in my Chinese class how the current dining experience compares to when he was a freshman.  He said that the difference is massive.  He highlighted specifically the large increase in the number of choices one has on a daily basis.  I only have two years to use for comparison’s sake, but I too, have witnessed an improvement in selection and quality of food. 

Kimball, the main dining hall, has to represent the overall dining experience at Holy Cross since that is where a majority of students eat the most meals.  Over just one year, Kimball has significantly increased the vegetarian and vegan options, cut down on their use of sodium, added many great options to the salad bar and started offering new, unique entrees.  Moreover, Kimball is using ingredients normally found in expensive health food store such as tempeh, farro and quinoa.   A healthy option that has been improved is the salad bar.   This year the salad bar has regularly offered avocado and hummus, two very popular options. 

Of course, Kimball is still offering the crowd favorites such chicken parm, steak and cheese and improved grilled chicken.  No matter what type of food to which one is referring, Kimball has committed itself to a healthy and sustainable initiative that looks to source more local ingredients, use more whole foods and less oil and salt.  This is great news for Holy Cross as an institution, and those students considering attending. Holy Cross’s academics set it apart from other schools, but the food is in no way a weakness.

First Weeks: Emails and Deadlines

Many Holy Cross students joke about how they erase a large mass of emails before reading them just to keep their inbox somewhat organized.  However, Holy Cross students are more likely to be interested by a great majority of emails, especially in the first few weeks on campus.  Sure, there is the type of email that simply never pertains to your particular interests, but from personal experience, checking my email has been one of the most important parts of my day.

For Sophomores, the emails often times will contain new information. Maybe they had never heard of a club or activity as a freshman on campus, but now feel excited to join right away. The more common sentiment among sophomores is that deadlines for a litany of exciting programs are quickly approaching, be it the Honors Program, SPUD, or the widely popular study abroad program.  

While freshman students should surely be thinking of these programs and opportunities, the sophomore class is in the midst of completing the paper work and thinking long and hard about what programs are right for them.  The freshman class is finding out that every hour that passes, brings with it at least five emails.  Within those emails is an almost endless list of programs, clubs, activities to be a part of, and resources to make use of.  There seems to be a few main mantras on campus.  One being that it is best to take part in a lot of things freshman year in order to explore interests, both old and new.   Others say that freshman year is a time to get into a routine and that joining extracurricular activities brings unnecessary stress.  While there may be merits to both schools of thoughts in isolated cases, I have found that common sense and introspection lead to a healthy balance.

More specifically, a freshman student may find out quickly that four classes do take a lot of time out of the day.  One may also find that their roommate is their new best friend and love the hour or so before bed when the day is discussed.  This means that there may not be enough time in the day to accommodate a laundry list of extracurriculars.  So, a simple way to go about getting involved and attending the information sessions sent via email is to think critically about what one really wants to be involved with, and how many hours of expendable time they have in a given day.  If this means a freshman student can join one extracurricular, then that is perfectly fine!  Many Holy Cross students are very busy.  But a more defining feature of a Crusader is how meaningfully they are engaged in their activities, whether they belong to one extracurricular or many.