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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

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A week from decision day, current and incoming students reflect on admissions

“I was really nervous to leave high school, but also ready and excited to leave high school,” junior Mary Grace Walsh said. “I wish I could go back and tell senior year Mary Grace, ‘Don't worry. You’re going to find your people, and it's going to be really hard, and you won't always be sure, but it all works out.’ [Notre Dame is] a place that's filled with a lot of joy and love and warm fuzzy feelings for me.”

With the May 1 commitment deadline just one week away, prospective college students around the country are finalizing their post-high school plans.

Earlier in the semester, Notre Dame held two in-person admitted students days, which were termed “The Rally,” and online admitted student sessions as well. High school senior Michael Camilleri applied and was accepted to Notre Dame through the restricted early action application process.

“It’s always been on my mind, and it’s always been a dream and goal to go here,” incoming freshman Michael Camilleri said. “But within the last few years, I really got my heart set on coming here instead of thinking about it like, ‘Oh, it would be nice to go to Notre Dame someday.’ So during the process of looking for colleges, I found that Notre Dame is actually the place that I really want to be and not some impossible goal.”

Because Camilleri found out he was accepted in the winter, he did not apply to any other colleges. Camilleri grew up familiar with Notre Dame, and he participated in the Notre Dame Vision high school summer program.

The program “really kind of solidified, ‘Oh, this is my top choice,’” Camilleri said.

According to Camilleri, meeting people through the program such as camp counselors affirmed the idea that he could see himself on campus. Similarly, freshman Kaitlyn Dooley found a sense of goodness in the people she met at last year’s admitted student days.

“That was probably the thing that sold me, coming here and having literally no expectations, because I knew nothing about here other than I applied,” Dooley said. “Having no expectations coming in, it just felt very comfortable, very welcoming.”

Dooley thinks interacting with people at Notre Dame is what “sold” her into attending. Dooley discovered the University through college search filters and applied for regular decision.

“It was very much not a top contender,” Dooley said. “I kind of forgot I applied to it and was very much not tracking [the application status] when the decisions were coming out for regular decision.”

Dooley found out that she was accepted when she received an email inviting her to attend admitted students day because she missed the initial email stating she was accepted. While she was much less familiar with Notre Dame a year ago, according to Dooley, her time here has only affirmed what she thought to be true of the school.

“I think it affirmed and grew what I thought to be true that it was a great school with a good environment,” Dooley said. “I think the community is even better than I expected, particularly in the dorm I’m in. I knew they had the whole dorm culture stuff, but I didn't expect it to be as fun and [have as] great [of] people, my closest friends.”

Coming into his college search, sophomore Demi Olawoyin was focused more on the degree and less on the school. However, he knew he wanted to attend a school with a faith background.

“As I transitioned from junior to senior year [in high school], I'd say I was praying a lot for more discernment and just whatever school I end up going to just let it be the right one for me,” Olawoyin said. 

Olawoyin had heard of Notre Dame from his sister, who was a big fan of the school, and admired it for its campus. Olawoyin ended up applying to the University through the regular decision process.

“The day I found out, I was really excited,” Olawoyin said. “I was jumping around like ‘Oh wow, I got into Notre Dame.’”

According to Olawoyin, talking to counselors and current Notre Dame students is what set the school apart from other universities.

“I just really liked the culture at Notre Dame based on the experiences I heard from those students I spoke to. I’d say that was definitely the tipping factor in me choosing Notre Dame," Olawoyin said. 

Olawoyin is “100 percent” happy with his decision to attend Notre Dame, despite originally wanting to stay closer to his home in Houston. Additionally, Olawoyin found a Nigerian community here, which is something that he was not expecting to find.

“The biggest thing I've experienced here — community,” Olawoyin said. “There are a lot of different communities you can involve yourself in which I think is really important. Regardless of whatever you're studying, you can always mingle and mix with people of different backgrounds. I think there are a lot of students with similar backgrounds as you, regardless of where you come from.” 

While Olawoyin is the first in his family to attend Notre Dame, Walsh said that Notre Dame was “in my blood.” Although Walsh’s aunt, uncle and father attended Notre Dame. Walsh said that the school was not only appealing because of her family history.

“I thought that Notre Dame was going to be my first college decision, but it was not,” Walsh said. “I got accepted into [Loyola University Maryland], hours before I opened my Notre Dame decision, and I had about three hours of really, totally spiraling of being like, 'Oh gosh, like, do I know what I'm doing? Is this where I want to be?’ I got really good financial aid from [Loyola University Maryland]. I was reminding myself that even if I didn’t get into Notre Dame, there were really good things ahead. But then I got in.”

Walsh wanted to go to Notre Dame since she was a kid because she wanted to attend a school with a strong theology, Catholic roots and community.

“It didn’t take me that long to decide,” Walsh said. “I knew that Notre Dame was the place that I really wanted, and I also felt a lot of peace with Notre Dame.”

At the time Walsh was considering colleges, she was also discerning religious life and considering what it means to be called somewhere.

“I really felt in addition to really wanting to go here, I felt it was where I was meant to be,” Walsh said. “And that there were people that I needed to meet and things I needed to do, and it was a community where I would learn a lot and grow a lot and be challenged in a lot of really good ways.

“I was just telling someone the other day that I feel like I'm finally at a place in my life and in my time at Notre Dame where I feel like I belong, like I have a home,” she added. “I mean my family is great, and I love my home, but I never imagined that there would be another place where I could feel that way. Notre Dame has become that for me in many, many ways.”