, ,

It’s College Admissions Time!
 – By Katie Kennon ’17


Advice from Courtney Kelly of Notre Dame - Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame

Advice from Courtney Kelly of Notre Dame – Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame



Here are some tips from Courtney Kelly, a University of Notre Dame admissions counselor.


If you’ve been walking the halls of Kennedy Catholic recently, you may have noticed most seniors looking awfully stressed. There is a simple explanation for this mass hysteria: the college admissions process!  Ever since the Common Application became available for students on August 1st, the urgency to complete college applications has continued to grow. This madness will persist through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even into early 2017. What will seem like just a few months for most people, to high school seniors will feel like the longest and most stressful time of their lives.

Luckily, there are many opportunities for students to learn about and become more comfortable with the college admissions process, during and even before their senior year to ease some of the stress. There are school guidance counselors, college seminars, Naviance, numerous websites filled with advice, and friends and family that can share their experiences and tips. One of the best opportunities for students is when college admissions counselors visit their High Schools.

Aerial View of ND, Fighting Irish

Image courtesy of The University of Notre Dame

This Thursday, September 22nd Courtney Kelly, an admissions counselor for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, is coming to Kennedy Catholic. I reached out to her last week to see if she would share her experiences and give the seniors some pointers on this daunting admissions process. In the true “Spirit of the Irish” she agreed to help and so began our “Cyber-Interview.”  These are Miss Kelly’s much valued responses to my inquiries:
The first question I had for her was about what had attracted her to her job as an Admissio
ns Counselor and how long she had been doing this type of work.

My college experience meant the world to me.  I gained knowledge, independence, and became a better person in four years.  I decided to work in admissions in order to help students achieve a similar experience.  I am  passionate about aiding students in finding the right ‘fit’ for them during their college search process.  It is important to find the college or university that fits the type of experience you want and that will help you match the person you want to become. It took me two years to complete my master’s degree in higher education administration with a concentration in enrollment management.  During this time, I was able to work in that institution’s admissions office.  I have only been working at Notre Dame for about six months but I am often able to utilize the experiences I’ve gained at a previous institution.  As soon as I started at Notre Dame, I felt engulfed by and immediately welcomed into this community, so it feels like I have been here much longer!“

Many students help out with our own Kennedy Open Houses so my next question was if Miss Kelly also was involved in open houses before she decided to make this her career.

“I wasn’t!  I originally wanted to work in marketing so after receiving a business degree, I moved to Manhattan and worked in corporate marketing for Conde Nast, a major magazine publisher.  After about three months in this job, I realized the corporate world wasn’t for me.  My passion lied in higher education, being on a college campus, and working with students about to embark on four years of discovery.  If I had realized this earlier I would have tried to get involved.  But hey!  That just goes to show that what you major in doesn’t have to define your career for the rest of your life.  The University of Notre Dame’s most successful finance major is the romance novelist, Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, anyone?!)” 

Since Miss Kelly is responsible for a large geographic area that spans not just Westchester but also NYC, Connecticut, and Long Island, I inquired about her favorite moments in what must be a very hectic career.

“Easy question.  Answer – the students.  I absolutely adore the opportunities to present to, meet with, and advocate for prospective students.  They are all amazing and simply looking for guidance about the leap they are about to take.  I love to hear their stories, offer advice, and talk about whether or not the University of Notre Dame might be the best fit for their college experience.

By hearing her response, it was evident that she loves her job so I then asked her main reason for coming and visiting the schools. I also inquired about the options for a student isn’t able to meet with her.

Two reasons.  To learn and to share.  I want to learn about the region I represent, the high schools in the area, and the students interested in Notre Dame.  I also want to share about the college experience at Notre Dame, the mission, the application process, and answer any questions that students might have.  Applying to college can be stressful and confusing so I want to ease the pressure and help students in any way I can.
 If someone can’t attend my visit and still wants to learn about the University of Notre Dame, they can see when I will be hosting ND on the Road Information Nights near their area (https://enrollment.nd.edu/ndontheroad/).  If those dates don’t fit in their schedule, they are welcome to learn about Notre Dame through the website, or email me directly if they have any questions.  It is not a big deal if students can’t make the visit, so don’t stress!”

I then asked if she felt that these visits were mostly for students to learn about her school or if she wanted to learn about the students.

“Both!  I want to meet the students and guidance staff, and learn about the school.  I also want the students to ask any questions they have about the University of Notre Dame, the application process, or applying to college in general.

I know many Kennedy students were raised University of Notre Dame fans. Maybe it comes from memories of watching “Rudy” and “Knute Rockne, All American” or, perhaps, hearing our parents and grandparents talk about Lou Holtz, Touchdown Jesus. Or maybe it was seeing pictures and hearing about The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Golden Dome. Some may even know that one of the writers of the “Victory March” (Without a doubt the most recognizable collegiate fight song in the nation) Father Michael Shea, was a pastor from St. Augustine’s in Ossining, where many Kennedy students are parishioners. But I wanted to hear from Miss Kelly what she felt was unique about Notre Dame. She did NOT disappoint.

I could spend hours talking about what I think is unique about Notre Dame.  To keep it short, the community and mission of Notre Dame are particularly unique.  The community here is awe inspiring.  At the home football game against Nevada, I sat behind six alum in their 70’s who returned to campus together to watch the game.  They were decked out head to toe in gear and cheered, high fived with every point scored, and at the end of the game stood up along with the entire student section, linked arms, and sang their Alma Mater.  I teared up sitting behind them because there is such an undeniable passion for this university – whether you are/were a student, a staff/faculty member, or simply a Fighting Irish fan.  You feel it with every alum you speak with, every step you take on campus, and every current student who tells you their story.  Notre Dame is a community of support, exploration, and faith.  The mission of the university is what inspires this community.  The broadly stated mission gives students the opportunity to develop students as whole human beings and have them graduate as a force of good for the world.  We are looking for students who are willing to be this force for their local community, the nation, and the world.  We want our students to be successful, of course, but to use that success in a way that enhances their surroundings.

As we wound down the interview, I asked what the most important “take-away” is that Miss Kelly could share with students.

 Find your fit.  There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States.  Each one offers a unique college experience.  I know that the Notre Dame experience isn’t the fit that each prospective student is looking for so I try my best to help students figure out exactly what they want from their college experience.  Think about academics, location, community, mission, clubs, activities, sports, size, research opportunities, study abroad opportunities etc. and try your best to picture yourself on each campus.  Where will you excel?  What experience will guide you to be the person you want to become?  Where will you have fun?

Lastly, I asked Miss Kelly if she recommends that people visit the schools to which they are applying. As someone who is considering schools that are far away, I have had difficulty organizing college visits.


“Personally, I think visiting colleges or universities is very beneficial when decided where to attend college.  Prospective students can see the campus, speak with current students, and really get the feel, or vibe, of the place.  The University of Notre Dame, however, doesn’t take demonstrated interest into account so if you are too busy to visit before you apply, that is not a problem!  It might be a great option to visit after you’re admitted so you can really lay out your options and see what college experience, community, and campus if the best fit for you.  College is an adventure and you want to be sure to pick the adventure that is best suited for who you are and who you want to become.”

I would like to thank Miss Kelly for participating in the interview and for coming to Kennedy this Thursday! The story about the group of 70-year-old alumni especially brought a tear to my eye and without a doubt, made me want to experience the “Fighting Irish” spirit for myself! In the meantime, I will review Miss Kelly’s helpful pointers and follow her advice throughout the college admissions process and hope that all my fellow seniors will do the same.

 

Comments

comments