fall 2013 29 By Jim Welp Photo By Amber Sigman BellarmineBound A freshman-eye view of enrolling in college In the summer of 1950, John O’Regan ’54 walked to the 1801 Harvard Drive home of Frs. Alfred Horrigan and Raymond Treece and enrolled at Bellarmine College before the first building on campus was even built. “I don’t think they’d even broken ground yet,” he told Bellarmine Magazine in 2011. “They didn’t have applications, so I filled out an index card. I was there for maybe 10 minutes that evening. I walked back home and told my mother I was registered for school.” The process these days is a little bit more complex. As any high school student picking a college will tell you, college enrollment is often fraught with stressful, high-stakes decisions: choosing a short list of schools, further whittling that list down, deciding on a major, choosing where to live and how much debt to take on. The process seems to begin in infancy, but it’s almost always in fast gear by the sophomore or junior year of high school. Just when you start to get comfortable with the idea of being a high school kid, colleges start bombarding you with marketing messages and an annoying uncle starts asking you where you’re going to matriculate. Along the way, there are booklets, postcards, emails, tweets, campus tours, academic counseling and scholarship offers. There’s the daunting world of financial aid to decode and the FAFSA form to complete, which is about as much fun as having a root canal. Not to mention peer pressure. The process is also challenging for college admission officers. Colleges want students who are right for their schools, both academically and socially. At Bellarmine, a student must be comfortable at a small, private liberal-arts college in Louisville. Have your heart set on palm trees, Division I football or hiding in the back of a 600-seat Psych 101 auditorium? You’re probably not a good fit for Bellarmine. Besides the typical marketing mentioned above, Bellarmine uses some creative means to show students exactly what the university offers and to help them all the way through the process, often until well after they’ve begun classes in the fall of their freshman year. The campus visit, for instance, includes an option for a festive trolley ride through the Highlands, to give students and parents a better understanding of the neighborhood. Visiting students can also spend a night in a residence hall, meet faculty and sit in on classes. And once a student enrolls, highly successful support programs like Pioneer Scholars (for first-generation college students) and Molly Badgett of Louisville is one of 684 freshmen at Bellarmine this fall.
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