College Applications Interview with Patrick McLain

Photo Credit: Mohamed Hassan

Samuel Menerey, Editor

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As you progress through the forms, things tend to get more difficult. The most apparent jump takes place between eighth grade and ninth grade, from middle school to upper school. The most popular opinion in the school is that junior year is the hardest, filled with massive SATs, filled schedules, and the toughest classes that the students take throughout their time here. However, the seniors also are swamped with work, but theirs has to do with college. One of the most important aspects of their year is applying to college. The process started in junior year, where college visits and meetings started to become more frequent, but it becomes the main focus during senior year. In an interview with Patrick McLain, I was able to learn more about the college application process.

The biggest task when applying for colleges is writing your college essay. The nature of the essay causes the seniors to be almost completely preoccupied, and leads them to spend most of their free time writing. The essay not only highlights your skills and academic achievements, but also shows who you are, as a person. Writing these essays is an arduous process, and “very difficult, as writing about your own strengths is hard to do.” This is an important point, as reflexive writing is challenging and easy to mess up. For this reason, the seniors seek the help of many teachers and friends. Patrick told me that one of the most influential people that has helped him so far is Mr. Blackwell, Cistercian’s college counselor. He is extremely helpful because he is able to contact college representatives, set up meetings for the seniors, and convey to the seniors many key ideas and values that colleges are interested in. The whole college process would be much worse without Mr. Blackwell. According to Patrick, “the application process is very difficult and time-consuming, but Mr. Blackwell makes it easier and more manageable.”

The essays often mean that the seniors have to drop an activity or club in order to fit all the extra writing into their schedule, but some can maneuver around that. For example, Patrick ran Cross Country in the fall season, which is where I met him. As mentioned earlier, seniors are highly encouraged to visit college campuses. In addition to the nearby UD and other local colleges, the seniors can also travel abroad to other colleges they have an interest in. In Patrick’s case, he will visit Notre Dame later this school year in order to more fully evaluate what the school has to offer. However, just because the application process is extremely important, the classes stay rigorously difficult. Massive tests, projects, and homework still need to be addressed by the seniors, although the classes aren’t as hard as the ones in junior year.

In the end, the school itself helps the seniors in the process, as the prestige that Cistercian carries is taken into account by colleges. With help from teachers, especially Mr. Blackwell, the process is smooth and practical for the seniors.

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