More than 100 St. Mary’s High School students took advantage of a new program to get an up-close look at some New England colleges this summer.
The College Prep and Visit program is a guidance department initiative that was introduced over the summer. Students were given the opportunity to visit as many as seven colleges – Boston College, Brown, Clark, Holy Cross, Providence, Regis and Stonehill – escorted by Head of School Grace Cotter Regan and other teachers and administrators.
“This gave the students an extra opportunity to visit schools and get a good feel for them,” said Frank Sarro, St. Mary’s interim guidance director. “They still need to follow up and get more information, but this was a nice introduction for them.”
There were four trips, three of which combined visits to two schools: BC-Regis, Clark-Holy Cross, Brown-Providence; and a separate trip to Stonehill.
“We are very excited about this program,” Regan said. “We take great pride in the colleges our graduates attend, and we want to do everything we can to give them all the resources possible to find the school that best fits them.”
St. Mary’s senior Sarah Ryan went on the trips to BC, Regis and Stonehill. She said the experience will help her as she tries to narrow her college choices.
“I got a feel for the differences in the colleges,” said Ryan, who plays hockey and lacrosse. “”It will help me make my decision, no matter where I end up. The tours were very good.”
Junior Jack Carroll went on the Brown-Providence tour with other St. Mary’s Scholars, a program that recognizes the academic excellence and leadership skills of select students in each incoming freshman class.
“At Brown the school looked older from the outside but really modern on the inside,” Carroll said. “The students were enthusiastic and there was an impressive information session.”
At Providence, the St. Mary’s contingent toured the Michael and Elizabeth Ruane Center for Humanities, named for two St. Mary’s alumni.
“Providence has a lot to offer,” Carroll said. “The students seemed really active in the school and happy to be there. We liked it.”
Carroll also went on the BC-Regis tour and, while he has plenty of time to make a decision, he is already leaning toward the Heights.
“I really love BC,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”
Carroll is the grand-nephew of the late Bill Connell, for whom the BC School of Nursing is named as is the Connell Center at St. Mary’s. Carroll also has two aunts who are BC alumni.
“Visiting the colleges was definitely a positive experience,” Carroll said. “It will help me get a head start on the whole college process.”
Social studies teacher Sarah Dyer, the faculty adviser to the St. Mary’s Scholars program, said these visits gave students a foundation for their college search.
“It can be difficult to know where to begin with the college process,” Dyer said. “This gives them an opportunity to visit different types of schools in an environment with adults they know and can feel comfortable asking questions.”
Other highlights of the visits included a writing seminar and interview skills session at Holy Cross; a visit to the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark, named for St. Mary’s board chair William Mosakowski; and a presentation on cyber security at BC from St. Mary’s parent and BC faculty member Kevin Powers.
At Regis, St. Mary’s students were given a creative writing seminar and a presentation from the vice president of Academic Affairs. Regan met with the college president and senior admissions staff to discuss enhancing the relationship with Regis.
“Regis has an excellent nursing and health sciences program, and they offer one full tuition scholarship to a Catholic high school senior,” Regan said.
The St. Mary’s students and staff were treated very well everywhere they went. “The colleges really laid out the red carpet,” Sarro said. “We’ve gotten really good feedback.”
The College Prep and Visit program was borne out of a guidance assessment done as part of an academic dashboard study St. Mary’s conducted with the Public Consulting Group. The objective is to allow students to explore colleges and get exposure to the admissions process and financial aid opportunities.
Regan said the program will be formalized for summer 2017 with trips to state, private, NESCAC and Ivy League schools.
“For families looking at middle or high school, this will be a differentiator for St. Mary’s,” Regan said. “We are thinking about the college fit and choice early on in the student formation and experience.”