“Why isn’t your application online?”
This has been a question that I’ve been asked numerous times during my tenure in the St. Lawrence Seminary High School Admissions Office. I must admit that on more than one occasion I have wondered if we should just put our application online. Most other schools do it, so maybe we should as well.
But then I stop and think about our admission process, and I can’t justify changing how we do things. And it’s because of the incomparable experience that comes with developing a relationship with both parents and students during the admissions process.
If a family/prospective student makes contact with us, we start the first step: Initial Inquiry and Assessment. An Admissions Coordinator talks with the family to make sure the candidate meets the basic criteria we look for, and if he does, the Admissions Coordinator then invites the family to join us for a Weekend Visit.
Here is the list of the basic criteria we look for:
- Male of high school age
- Practicing Catholic of good moral character
- Good grades
- 50th percentile or higher on standardized test results
- Free of tobacco, drug, and alcohol use or involvement
- Free from gang involvement, delinquency, and serious behavior
Once the Weekend Visit is scheduled, the second step in our admissions process is for the Admissions Coordinator to set-up a Home Visit with the prospective student and his family. The main reason for the Home Visit is for the family to put “a face” to the school. Most people have never been to St. Lawrence and don’t know anyone at the school. So the Admissions Coordinator meets with the family in their home in order to deliver the necessary permission forms needed for the Weekend Visit, to answer any questions they might have about the visit, and to address any concerns the student and/or parents might be feeling about the visit. We partner with our parents, because we know this process affects more than just the student.
After the Home Visit, the third step would be the Weekend Visit Experience. The experience is both for the prospective student as well as his parents. The visit begins with the student being brought to campus on a Thursday in order to attend classes on Friday and then experience some of the campus life activities. On Saturday, the parents are asked to travel to St. Lawrence to learn about the school as well. The Director of Admissions has a presentation for the parents to explain more about life here on the Hill and what it means to partner with us. After the presentation, the visiting students and their parents get a student-led tour of our campus. This also gives the family a chance to talk with our current students and get a few different student perspectives.
The visiting students are given a standardized test on the Friday of their visit in reading, language, math, and science. Those who score well on the test, have participated in a cooperative and respectful manner, and appear to have a positive experience will be awarded an application Saturday evening of the visit, which is the fourth step in the admissions process.
After an application has been awarded and the visit has been completed, the next step is for the family to submit the completed application and necessary forms.
The completed admissions file consists of:
- The application
- A copy of the applicant’s baptismal certificate with annotations
- A recent photograph
- Current report card
- Response to essay questions (questions provided)
- $50 non-refundable application fee
- $250 registration fee/tuition deposit
- Two teacher recommendations (forms provided)
- A pastoral recommendation (form provided)
Once all the necessary components have been received, the file is complete and ready for consideration.
The completed files are then presented to the Director of Admissions for review before being passed along to the Academic Dean and finally the Rector. Once all the files have been reviewed, the Director, Dean, and the Rector collaborate and discuss each applicant.
Acceptance of the applicant is not based solely on grades but rather focuses on the whole student.
- Is the student academically capable of succeeding and graduating?
- Is he open to discerning God’s plan for his life?
- Can the student benefit socially and spiritually from the experience?
- Will he contribute positively to the community?
- Will his parent(s) make good partner(s) with the school?
Taking all the information into consideration, the Director of Admissions and Academic Dean give their recommendation to the Rector who ultimately decides whether to accept an applicant or not. The families are then notified by the Rector with a letter informing them of the decision.
This is a long process, one that takes time for both the school and the parents to get to know each other. So back to the original question: can we put the application online? The answer is simple: yes, we could. But here at St. Lawrence, we believe that doing so would take away from the relationship that is built during the application process. We get to know our prospective students and their families very well during the process, and we believe that developing that relationship is essential to making acceptance decisions regarding each applicant as well as preserving a rapport with the parents/students for the next several years.
It isn’t the easiest or fastest process, but I believe it is the best process for our students and parents to really get to know us and what we are about.
Are you interested in attending a Weekend Visit? View a list of upcoming visit dates and request more information.