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Weekend attracts top prospectives

Kaitlynn Riely | Monday, March 27, 2006

With other top schools like Princeton, Harvard and Yale knocking down talented high school seniors’ doors, Notre Dame Admissions officers, professors and even current students spent the past weekend encouraging 85 of the most accomplished of the admitted students of the class of 2010 to commit to the University.

The goal of the Reilly Visitation Weekend is to bring the premier students of the early action acceptance pool to campus and show them Notre Dame, Office of Admissions counselor Jacob Baska said.

“[Reilly Weekend participants are] literally the best of the best from early action, in all fields,” Baska said.

Of the 1,200 students who were mailed early action admittance letters in December, approximately 120 were invited to attend the weekend. The invited students average in the top one to two percent of their high school class, Baska said. Their SAT averages are in the mid-1,500s, and they average a 34 or above on the ACT. The students also boast an impressive array of extracurricular activities – Eagle Scouts, athletic team captains and computer programmers make up the group this year.

William Reilly, a Notre Dame alum and Board of Trustees member and founder of Aurelian Communications, set up a scholarship fund several years ago for students who had “amazingly high talent,” Baska said.

“Unfortunately that scholarship was so rarely used simply because that kid was also bright enough to get a full ride at many other great institutions,” Baska said. “So there were many years that that money just sat there.”

2006 marked the fourth year the Reilly trust has been used to pay for a weekend visit for many of the top admitted students. Baska estimates that more than half of the Reilly Visitation students will decide to attend Notre Dame next year.

According to Office of Admissions counselor and event coordinator Katherine Cardinali, the weekend’s events are designed to show students who have been accepted to several other top-tier schools how Notre Dame is unique.

“The goal is to give a portrayal of Notre Dame life,” Baska said.

During the four-day weekend, the admitted high school seniors toured the campus and the stadium, attended Mass at the Basilica and met with current students to discuss life at Notre Dame. Today they will attend classes, talk with professors and learn about the various programs offered.

The high school seniors stayed mostly with past Reilly Weekend participants. Freshman Margie Rosmonowski, who came to Notre Dame for the Reilly Weekend last year, hosted a participant. She said the event is a good program for undecided prospective students.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity to see campus and see what ND is really about,” Rosmonowski said. “You get to experience it as a student instead of as someone on a tour.”

Paul Dixon, a high school student from St. Louis, Mo., also applied to Stanford, Washington University in St. Louis and Villanova, but Notre Dame was his top choice before he even arrived on campus this weekend.

“When I walked on campus in November, it was at nine o’clock at night. I couldn’t see anything, but it just felt amazing,” Dixon said. “I felt right at home.”

Dixon, who stayed in St. Edward’s Hall this weekend, said his time on campus cemented his decision to attend Notre Dame next year.

“I was surprised by how there is such a sense of Notre Dame family. … There’s a spirit on campus,” he said. “When I visited Washington University, people were there to study and nothing else – here there was a real sense of community.”