Seniors and teachers give advice on navigating the college process

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Christine Guido ’20

As the school year comes to a close, Sacred Heart Greenwich seniors and Co-Directors of College Guidance Mrs. Christine Gerrity and Mrs. Alycia Crane weigh in on the college application process and share their advice for younger students. In an interview, they provide tactics for applying to colleges and, in their opinions, the most important tips to remember during the college application process. 
Mrs. Crane explained that colleges want to see more of what students do outside of the classroom on their applications, to get a better sense of their personality. Yet, she shared that the number of activities is not as important as the quality of the activities that students choose.

“Colleges want to see students who do other things outside the classroom, but they’re not counting the number of activities. It’s really about what you choose to do. If you have interests, join a club, get involved in an organization outside of school, sign up for volunteer work in your community that looks interesting and continue to participate in those activities,” Mrs. Crane said. “Continuing to be part of something that you enjoy and are passionate about is going to be more important than trying to be involved in many projects for a short period of time.”

Sports recruitment is another way in which colleges accept students. Some students only apply to certain schools that have their particular sport of interest. St. Lawerence University recruited Sacred Heart senior Kalyna Carroll. She will be attending the University in the fall for swimming. After participating on Sacred Heart’s Swimming and Diving team, Kalyna decided swimming in college would be the best option for her.
“Joining the Sacred Heart Swimming and Diving team was such an amazing experience. I was getting in shape, and it taught me to be more disciplined. Swimming in college will give me more of a structured schedule and a group of new friends,” Kalyna said. “College will be difficult balancing an academic life with sports, but swimming will be worth it in the long run.”

A map in the College Guidance suite displays where the Class of 2018 is going to college next year. 
Christine Guido ’20

Mrs. Gerrity discussed the thought process that goes into selecting colleges and universities to apply to. She highlighted that it is a very personal decision and that the decision may even change as the student learns about different colleges.  
“Through the lens of the student, I would say that the most challenging aspect of the college process is identifying where you may actually want to go to school. Many times when [the students] get into the process, that image of ‘college’ gets re-sculpted and re-shaped,” Mrs. Gerrity said. “Students have to allow room for new ideas. The process is all about picking where they want to go to school, and finding out what they like. Maybe they’ve always told themselves that they want to go to a larger school, but they find out that they’re more comfortable at a smaller to midsize college.”
The college application process differs for each student based on what they are looking for in a school. While teaching the juniors and seniors about the college process, Mrs. Gerrity tries to convince students that everyone’s process is different and that students should not get caught up in what others have done in the past.
“I think another most important thing for students is to recognize that their process is, should, and will be different from any other student ‘s process. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for the college process. We don’t treat this as a cookie cutter approach to college admissions,” Mrs. Gerrity said. “Each student is afforded the opportunity to explore her passions, her abilities, and her dreams while finding a college that aligns with her needs and preferences for her future.”
Sacred Heart senior Laura Holland, who will be attending Cornell University in the fall, shared her advice for students going through the college application process. She suggested that students visit as many colleges as possible because visiting the campuses will allow college-bound students to see if they can visualize themselves going to the school and if they feel genuinely comfortable there. 
Co-Directors of College Guidance Mrs. Christine Gerrity and Mrs. Alycia Crane sit in the College Guidance Suite. 
Christine Guido ’20

“During junior year, I visited a bunch of schools, and instantly I knew if I could see myself there or not. Visits, also, can save a lot of money; they prevent you from applying to a place where you cannot see yourself going,” Laura said. “Also, for me, I have spent my entire life going to Cornell, since my Dad and sister are alums. But, in April I visited for the first time as an admitted student, and it was completely different. That trip validated that Cornell was the place for me.”  
Laura also pointed out the importance of the college essay and how to best approach it. She suggests that students start their essays sooner rather than later, and give a lot of thought to them in advance.
“Start early and remember that everything happens for a reason. Writing the personal statement and each specific supplement really is not that difficult,” Laura said. “Also, do not over-think the process and be yourself. If you get overwhelmed with the statistics, acceptance rates, and all the other people applying, you will get stressed. So, go with the flow and try not to have your heart set on one school. Keep an open mind.”
-Celia Daigle, Staff Writer and Christine Guido, Staff Writer
Featured Image by Christine Guido ’20 and Celia Daigle ’20