Ms. St. Hilaire’s College Advice to Seniors

Sophia Scott ‘21, Arts & Entertainment Section Editor

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With college application deadlines quickly approaching, pressure mounting, and Marymount’s seniors anxiously awaiting their college decisions, it is an extremely stressful, scary, and exciting time for the class of 2019. For seniors who are intimidated and overwhelmed by the application process, for seniors who are nervous about being accepted into their top choice colleges, and for seniors who have already been accepted into college(s), but are apprehensive or indecisive, Ms. St. Hilaire offers you some wisdom, encouragement, advice, and shares some of her own college experiences.

Ms. St. Hilaire: “It Will All Work Out in the End”

Ms. St. Hilaire grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended a Catholic co-ed high school. When applying to college, she was excited about a variety of new experiences that she would have, such as “living in a new city, meeting new people, and the opportunity to focus on the subject matter that [she] enjoyed best.” Despite her excitement, she was also nervous about “living away from family, making friends, doing laundry, [and] managing the intense academics.” Ms. St. Hilaire’s college search process was very similar to that of most students today; however, students at her high school typically “visited and applied to fewer schools” than they do now. She did not have a dream school, but she knew that she wanted to attend a “larger university with a beautiful inclusive campus, lots of options to study science or engineering, and a collegiate sports atmosphere.” She visited around six schools and applied to four, still unsure of which one was truly the best fit for her. She recalls that “online applications didn’t exist back in those days,” so she had to “type [her] responses onto the printed forms using a digital typewriter.” She says, “if you made one mistake, you had to start the entire form over again. It was awful! And you had to physically mail the application to each school. I, of course, didn’t complete each application until the day it was supposed to be postmarked, so it was always a mad rush to the post office!” Her advice to the senior class is that “it will all work out. Put your best effort into your application, submit it, and move on. You’ll get accepted to some schools, you’ll get denied from others, but ultimately you’ll find a place that feels like home for you.”

Don’t be closed-minded and think deeply about your options and ultimately which school will provide you the best opportunities to accomplish your dreams.[/pullquote]When it came time to make a decision, Ms. St. Hilaire could not choose between two schools. For seniors who have already been accepted to several colleges that they like, but have difficulty deciding on a college to attend, Ms. St. Hilaire advises that “if you haven’t already, be sure to visit the schools. Visiting the campus, talking to current students, and attending a class allows you to see whether the school is the right kind of fit for you. Don’t be closed-minded and think deeply about your options and ultimately which school will provide you the best opportunities to accomplish your dreams.”

Don’t be closed-minded and think deeply about your options and ultimately which school will provide you the best opportunities to accomplish your dreams.”

— Ms. St. Hilaire

In order to make her college decision, Ms. St. Hilaire ultimately “flipped a coin and chose the University of Notre Dame,” and she is so thankful that she did because she “was able to study science in a challenging, but not competitive environment and ultimately received a complete education that included a focus on philosophy and social justice. Outside of academics [she played] intramural flag football and club lacrosse, along with participating in many service opportunities and retreats.” After graduating from Notre Dame and earning her Masters in education through a program offered by Notre Dame, she notes that she is “the teacher that [she is] today because of this education.” During her undergraduate years at Notre Dame, Ms. St. Hilaire fondly remembers “being swept up into the football culture on Saturdays in the Fall. The entire campus is vibrant and excited on gameday and every student plus many alumni and visitors attend the football games. It is an unbelievable atmosphere that you just have to experience.” Apart from football, many of her best college memories occurred when she studied abroad in London during the Fall of her Junior year. She remembers how she “was able to experience a new culture and travel all across Europe with my best friends.” She highly recommends “that every college student studies abroad, even if just for a few weeks during the summer. Living in a new place, rather than just vacationing there, opens your eyes to new kinds of people, cultures, foods, religions, etc. You [will] make memories that last a lifetime!”

For seniors who are not accepted into their top choice college, Ms. St. Hilaire says, “I’m not going to lie, it really sucks in the moment to not get into a school that you had set your hopes on, but know that you will find another school that is right for you. Be positive and optimistic about life at another university and give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, you always have the ability to transfer. I know it might not be your ideal path, but it will all work out in the end.” Ms. St. Hilaire’s advice to the seniors is to “live life to the fullest. Study and work hard, but take risks, befriend others, and take advantage of new opportunities. College is an amazing time where you get to choose what you study and what your future will look like, while at the same time meeting people who will ultimately be your friends for the rest of your life.”

For seniors who are anxious about receiving their responses from colleges, Ms. St. Hilaire suggests that they “relax. Once the application is submitted, it’s out of your hands. Also, realize that an acceptance or a denial isn’t an accurate reflection of who you are. There are so many other factors outside of your control that influence whether you will be accepted. Your personal value and worth is not reflected in whether you are admitted or denied from a particular University.”

Your personal value and worth is not reflected in whether you are admitted or denied from a particular University.”

— Ms. St. Hilaire

Ms. St. Hilaire reminds the seniors to “be sure to thank your family, counselors, teachers, and friends for supporting you through the long application process. College is the best, but high school is pretty awesome too. When you’re finally finished with the applications, breathe, relax, and have so much fun in your senior year with your Marymount sisters.”

*Photos courtesy of Ms. St. Hilaire.

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Ms. St. Hilaire’s College Advice to Seniors