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Post Graduate Preparation FAQ

Q: How can I get ready for the jobs of tomorrow?

A: Taking the nonlinear path — that’s where liberal arts students shine. The capacity to become a lifelong learner, solve problems and develop exemplary communication skills — in combination with the good work ethic fostered at Holy Cross — enables a person to create, learn, perform and excel at the jobs of tomorrow. Your generation, after all, will be creating those jobs.


Q: What major is best for getting into medical school?

A: Medical schools (and other health profession schools) are interested in well-rounded students who understand the basic language of science. Our students can major in any field and still get admitted to medical school because our science programs are so strong. We advise students to major in a discipline that interests them. You will do best if you’re passionate about what you’re studying. We also encourage students to focus on the quality of their overall educational experience and to take advantage of the many educational opportunities here: such as Junior Year Abroad, the Washington Semester Program, and interdisciplinary concentrations (such as Peace and Conflict Studies.)

Q: What major is best for getting into law school?

A: What ultimately counts to law school admissions committees is how well students perform in their chosen field of study. Choose a major that you find interesting, exciting and challenging — one in which you have the ability to do your best work. The majority of Holy Cross students come out of five majors — political science, English, economics, psychology, and history. But you can get into law school from any of our majors, from Chinese Studies to religious studies.

Q: Do I have to know what area of law I want to practice in before I attend law school?

A: No. Most students don’t know for sure what area they’re going to practice in. That’s normal. So go to law school with an open mind.

Q: Do I have to get involved with the Chaplains’ Office my freshman year?

A: The Chaplains' Office is open to every student at Holy Cross. You haven’t missed the boat if you haven’t talked to a chaplain before your senior year.

Q: Is the Chaplains' Office just for Catholics?

A: Chaplains reach out to students of all faiths, not just Catholics. We believe that God is a central part of who we are and the world in which we live. We meet students wherever they are. God, Buddha, Allah, and creator: Whoever that god is in which the student believes, we trust in the fact that God wants to have a relationship with the student.

Q: Do I have to have all the answers before I talk to a chaplain?

A: We hope this is a place of discovery. If you’re not sure about what you think and believe, it’s OK to talk to us.

Q: How does a chaplain help me figure out what I want to do with my life?

A: We help you come at it from a faith perspective, paying attention to what you love, and seeing how it’s connected to God. That kind of thinking is rooted in Ignation spirituality and is at the heart of what Holy Cross is. We give students the opportunities, experiences, space and time to slow down and think about why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Q: How is the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning different from volunteering?

A: In community-based learning, the focus is on reflection and learning in the context of a class. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how you fit into the world around you. That’s what makes CBL different from a professional development internship or service for the sake of service.

Q: I really want to go to law school/med school. Does that mean I need to give up the chance to get a Fulbright grant?

A: You can take a detour between undergraduate school and post-graduate school and still get to the same end goal. Become a Fulbright scholar. Take a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Explore your passions. You’ll likely end up with a more specific understanding of what your end goal looks like and be better prepared — because you’re fully engaging in a more holistic process.

Q: What’s the value in spending a semester in Washington, D.C.? Does it guarantee me a job?

A: Immersing yourself in a Washington Semester will give you a sense of the diversity of skills and knowledge it takes to operate successfully in the world outside of campus. As with an Academic Internship, it doesn’t guarantee anything, but the experience will certainly put you in a competitive position.

Q: Does networking with alumni guarantee me a job?

A: Networking with alumni is about beginning relationships that evolve over time, not about asking them for a job. Trust that good things (such as internships, shadowing experiences, practicums and more) will happen down the road.

Q: I’m a senior. Do I need to know for sure what I want to do after graduation?

A: Career development is not necessarily a linear decision or progression. There are many ways to travel a career path. If you’re a studio art major, for example, you may end up in business. And keep in mind that the job you get right out of college is not necessarily the career you’ll be in forever. Fortunately your liberal arts education prepares you for a variety of possibilities because you know how to think, communicate and solve problems.

Q: What should I do if I’m uncomfortable about approaching alumni?

A: You shouldn’t feel anxious about approaching Holy Cross graduates. Our alumni are approachable because they’re fiercely loyal to Holy Cross. They’re willing and eager to help students by offering invaluable information, insights and advice — all of which can feed into the career decision-making process.

Q: Why should I be a teacher instead of a business executive, doctor, lawyer or other profession?

A: Start with the understanding that education is a vehicle for social change. To be a teacher is to be part of that work. It’s not just about getting in front of a classroom, but part of a greater work. To teach is to give back and transform the world.

Q: I want to be a teacher. How do you decide where I’ll do my student teaching?

A: Understand that matching a student to a teacher is not a random process. Some history students really want to specialize in teaching world history. There are math students who want to teach geometry, not algebra. Our goal is to have students learn from the best. So there’s a very conscious decision that happens with those placements.


Q: Do I have to get a master’s degree in order to teach?

A: No. Our program requires you to pass the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure before you student teach. Once you complete Holy Cross’ Teacher Education Program, you will be a fully licensed teacher.


Q: I want to do a summer internship. What do I do about housing?

A: The Summer Internship Program does not provide housing. Even though you may have to relocate, try not to let geography dictate to which internships you apply. Even though you’re on your own to find housing, we provide resources to make it easier to find a place to stay. We’re created the Roommate Finder on the website, for example. And we also list links to housing sites that our SIP students have used in the past. There’s a place for Holy Cross students to say they’re looking for a roommate.


Q: If I get accepted into the Summer Internship Program, am I guaranteed an internship?

A: No. Since most employers want to interview multiple candidates for their internships and because some students admitted to SIP decide to pursue opportunities on their own, the number of students admitted to SIP exceeds the number of internships which are available. Getting accepted to the Summer Internship Program is the first step in a competitive process.


Q: If I get into SIP as a sophomore, do I need to reapply as a junior? What if I don’t get in as a sophomore?

A: If you get into SIP as a sophomore, you don’t need to reapply as a junior. If you don’t get in as a sophomore, you can reapply as a junior. Having applied or been part of the SIP does not prevent you from applying for the Academic Internship Program, the Washington Semester Program, or the Summer Research Program. The Career Planning Center also posts internships.

Q: If I get into the 3-2 Engineering Program, does that mean I’m getting a master’s degree?

A: No, you’re not getting a master’s degree. At the end of five years, you’ll get a bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.


Q: If I’m in the 3-2 Engineering Program, will I graduate with my class?

A: No, you will not graduate with your class. You cannot march in the Holy Cross graduation ceremony until the end of the five-year program. You will be invited back to Senior Week to participate in other types of activities with the rest of your class. If you take part in the 4-2 program, you will get your bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross before moving on to Columbia.

Q: Do I have to start grad school/law school/medical school immediately after I graduate?

A: You do not have to take a linear path to an advanced degree. Most people don’t even apply to law school or medical school until after they have graduated from college. If you do, you can easily defer medical school or law school to do a year of service or take advantage of a Fulbright scholarship. In fact, professional schools love having Fulbright scholars in their student bodies.


Q: Do I have to know what I want to do before coming to Career Planning?

A: No, that’s the whole point of Career Planning. Staff members are here to help you figure that out; there is zero expectation that you know what you want to do. That being said, there are advantages to beginning your undergraduate career with the end in mind. So keep your options open. If you’re interested in the field of communication, but don’t know how things are going to play out, think about co-curricular experiences that let you develop writing, presentation and communication skills.

Q: I’m a freshman. Am I already supposed to know what I want to do after I graduate?

A: Some students do, but most don’t have a clue. And that’s normal. You need to spend your first year making friends, getting settled and sorting out all the facets of Holy Cross. But you should begin your undergraduate career with the end in mind, because four years goes by in the blink of an eye. Keep your options open as you choose your classes and your activities. Take communications, for example. If it interests you, but you don’t know how it’s going to play out, go after extracurricular experiences that let you develop your writing, presentation, and communication skills. If you’re good at a language, or have an aptitude for math and science, go beyond the academic requirement for that subject. Stick with it even though the end goal may be unknown.

Q: I’m not a business major. Does the Career Planning office have anything for me?

A: We’re here for all students, not just seniors, and not just students interested in business. It may appear that way because businesses are often the entities who can afford to recruit on campus, so they’re very visible. The truth is that the number one employer for the Class of 2011 was Teach for America.

Q: It’s fall of my senior year and I don’t have a job lined up yet. Have I missed the boat?

A: You still have plenty of time to find the right position. Keep in mind that the hiring cycle is very industry driven. Bankers are planners, for example, so they do all their recruiting in the fall. But non-profit organizations may not want to interview students until two weeks before the organization needs someone to work. So do your networking now, find out who the players are, and make yourself known to them in the fall and spring. By late spring you’ve got great contacts for your job search; you’re not starting from scratch. And that’s a good thing.

Q: What chance do I have of winning a Fulbright or any other big fellowship/scholarship?

A: Most Holy Cross students don’t know very much about these opportunities. And they tend to operate with a lot of humility. We’re here to help you understand the process of achieving whatever you want to achieve, and to identify the skills or experiences you will need to get to the next step. That’s important because each foundation or competition has specific procedures that need to be followed. Take the Fulbright, for example. The most important factor in any application is that the applicant demonstrates his or her potential for cultural exchange. Last year we were one of the top schools in the country in terms of producing Fulbright scholars. Eleven Crusaders won Fulbrights (one in five of our applicants won). Those are great odds.

Q: How will a liberal arts degree help me succeed in business?

A: Businesses value a liberal arts education because it prepares students to be good at communication and problem solving. Businesses like to see these skills in their people. A person who can speak, write, persuade, give presentations, work with teams and understand people will advance. That’s why it’s better than a technical business education.

Q: I want to be part of the Summer Research Program. How do I get chosen? Do I need to have a specific project in mind?

A: You need to do your homework. Narrow your research interests down to a particular discipline. Look at the faculty members in that department: What did they publish recently? What are their research interests? Narrow the list down to a couple of professors. Initiate dialogues with them. Get your feet wet during the academic year. You need a faculty mentor in order to apply for a research fellowship. The collaboration starts with the application.

Q: I want to do summer research. Do I have to have a high grade point average?

A: It depends upon the area in which you’re interested. Humanities and science, no. Economics, yes. For the latter, the ranking of applicants boils down to a combination for writing skills, math, and statistics skills.

Q: Do you look at my application essays?

A: Yes, that's one of the services offered by the Fellowships Office. We also teach weekly personal statement writing workshops.

Q: How do I know I'm making the right decisions when I'm still unsure about my eventual career goals?

A: There’s no single path to a particular career. A lot of our students think they need to follow a particular pathway. But there are a lot more careers out there than you realize. And the skills you learn in one field can likely be applied to another. They might bridge law school or med school with a passion — such as environmental justice — they didn’t know they had.