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Reilly Scholars visit University

Jarrett Lantz | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

As the St. Patrick’s Day festivities were getting underway last Thursday, more than 80 of Notre Dame’s brightest applicants quietly arrived on campus for the third annual Reilly Scholars Visitation Weekend. Organized by the Office of Admissions and the Honors Program, the event offered some of Notre Dame’s top academic prospective students a chance to see the campus in an all-expenses-paid visit. This year, 85 high school seniors at the top of their graduating classes attended. The students, who have already been admitted to Notre Dame, were chosen for the program solely on their academic performance and faculty recommendations. “The Reilly Weekend is for the most academically talented students in our applicant pool,” said Office of Admissions counselor Erin Flynn. “It gives prospective students a broad understanding of what academic and community life is like at Notre Dame.” During the course of the weekend, the prospects had a chance to experience Notre Dame’s atmosphere first-hand and take a closer look at Honors Programs in Architecture, Arts and Letters or Science. The Office of Admissions usually does not allow prospective students to stay over on campus for a weekend – specifically on a Friday or Saturday. Due to conflicts during the month of March, however, the young scholars were able to visit during one of Notre Dame’s signature student holidays. “We didn’t have any other option but to host the prospects over St. Patrick’s Day weekend,” admissions counselor Julia Kelly said. “Spring break took up two March weekends and Easter took up another.” In order to keep the high school students shielded from the numerous St. Patrick’s parties, the Office of Admissions had hosts sign a contract saying they would not bring prospective students off-campus or offer them alcohol.Organizers of the weekend warned hosts to avoid the celebrations and kept the students’ schedules packed tight. “I personally did not spend a great deal of time with my prospect,” O’Neill freshmen and former Reilly Weekend participant Pat Lyons said. “We had some free time to hang out and talk about the weekend, but probably not more than three or four hours during the entire weekend.”Instead, Reilly prospects had the opportunity to explore Notre Dame’s academic, spiritual, extracurricular and athletic components. The students had the opportunity to see the campus, meet faculty members in their intended major, visit relevant classes, attend mass, listen to the sounds of the Glee Club in the brand new DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts and even take a tour of Notre Dame Stadium. In their few hours of spare time, the prospects could take advantage of their comprehensive meal package, Flex Points and passes to Notre Dame’s workout facilities, all free of charge. “The students are spoiled pretty nicely throughout their stay here,” freshmen Reilly host Kate Corcoran said. The money invested in the Reilly Weekend goes a long way, according to the Office of Admissions. The Reilly prospects have their pick of any of the nation’s top universities, and for the past three years, the event has been extremely successful in recruiting many of these students to Notre Dame. “Usually about 50 percent of the Reilly Weekend prospects end up attending Notre Dame,” said professor Nick Delaney, one of the directors of the Honors Program. “That is a very high number from that end of the [academic] pyramid.” Last year’s similar Reilly Weekend helped to convince several current Notre Dame freshmen that, despite the lure of other universities’ academic scholarships and mild weather, South Bend was the place for them. “When I came on Reilly, I felt like I fit right in with the ND students immediately, and I felt like ND was the place I needed to be,” Lyons said. “One night on Reilly, the directors of the program had us watch ‘Rudy’ together in the Main Building. While I had seen ‘Rudy’ many times before, I was just struck by the atmosphere created by watching such a great film and being a part of that atmosphere.” Christine Scacco, a McGlinn freshman who was invited to the Reilly weekend last year, said that the program made a large impact on her decision to attend Notre Dame. “My parents didn’t want to pay for me to go to Notre Dame,” Scacco said. “I remember on the plane home I was honestly crying because I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to come here. Because of Reilly, I had the motivation to make Notre Dame happen for me.” Already, 2005’s Reilly Weekend looks to be equally successful to previous years. “We’ve already received a lot of positive feedback from over the weekend,” Flynn said. “One student has already committed.”