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Dreams really do come true for ND students

Joe Piarulli | Monday, March 27, 2006

If you attend Notre Dame, now might be a good time to call your parents and tell them to pinch themselves.

According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by The Princeton Review entitled “Hopes and Worries,” parents of college applicants ranked Notre Dame fourth among “dream colleges” they would want their children to attend, placing the University behind Princeton, Stanford and Harvard.

The ranking is the highest Notre Dame has received since the survey first began in 2003. In all previous years, the University ranked eighth – though 2005 was the first year the survey separated parents’ dream schools from those of their children.

Notre Dame did not rank in the top 10 for the 3,890 high school students surveyed. The No. 1 college named by students was New York University.

According to Director of Admissions Daniel Saracino, the positive results for the University are far from shocking.

“It’s no surprise,” he said. “We’re always going to be up there for the same reasons you and I are here – it’s just a great place.”

Saracino said comparable studies have made similar conclusions. Two years ago, a survey asked high school guidance counselors “If you had to do it all over again, which school would you go to?” According to Saracino, Notre Dame was the No. 1 school – and for the right reasons.

“What’s really neat and humbling is that students aren’t choosing [Notre Dame] because it’s in a New York or D.C. … Kids are coming to Notre Dame because they really want to be a part of this place,” he said. “Notre Dame has just got so much going for it. The place is just quietly each year getting stronger academically, and the students that come here just want to be here.”

Despite Notre Dame’s reputation, students nationwide are not rating the University above schools like Yale, Brown and Duke – even though their parents are, according to the survey.

“I guess for parents, they’re looking at it for … safety and in the long-term what a Notre Dame education would mean,” Saracino said. “I think students don’t have that perspective yet.”

Freshman Dan Perkey said there are serious differences between the perspective of parents and that of students.

“Parents are looking for what will get you a good job or make you a good person,” he said. “Students go after Ivy League schools, party schools and schools that are in Florida and California, depending on the person.”

But Saracino said the discrepancy between students and parents is not a major issue, and the survey will not affect Notre Dame’s admissions.

“We’d be most interested in surveys if it be the type of students who would be good matches for Notre Dame,” he said. “What we do in admissions is not sell Notre Dame – far from it. What we do is we tell the story of Notre Dame.”

The admissions numbers tell a more important story, Saracino said. The national average for yield (whether or not a student will come to a university if admitted) is around 30 percent. But Notre Dame’s yield is over 50 percent, meaning most students who apply to Notre Dame really want to attend the University, Saracino said.

According to freshman Paul Oddy, Notre Dame was not just any school on his application list.

“If you really want to test yourself you’ll apply to Ivy League schools just to see if you can get in,” Oddy said. “For Notre Dame that doesn’t really happen because people that apply here seem to apply because they have a passion for the school.”

The Princeton Review’s study is not entirely useful to Notre Dame because there’s no way of knowing what kind of students are being surveyed and whether or not they would match the profile of a Notre Dame student, Saracino said.

“I would match the non-academic profile of our students against any college in the country in terms of extracurricular [activities] … Our kids are second to none,” he said. “Then when you look at that in addition to the academic profile, that would be the kind of student that I would want to survey.”

The survey told parents and students not to factor in chance of admission or cost when ranking their dream colleges. Cost is becoming less and less of an issue anyway, Saracino said.

“Money is not a concern for the students and the parents that know that financial aid is available,” he said.

In recent years Notre Dame has significantly increased financial aid, currently offering over $64 million to undergraduates, Saracino said.

This week, admissions for the class of 2010 are “down to the wire,” Saracino said. Admissions decisions will be mailed to students at the end of March and will likely be making quite a few dreams come true for both students and parents.

Oddy said he knew the feeling of realizing that dream when he was accepted a year ago.

“My parents were tremendously proud and felt secure about me coming to Notre Dame,” he said. “It was definitely a dream school for them. It’s a dream school for me too – you can’t really ask for more than what Notre Dame offers.”