Bagpipes, Internships, and Other Bits of College Advice

Bagpipes, Internships, and Other Bits of College Advice
De Smet Jesuit Communications

So the class in bagpipes may not ultimately enhance his expertise in finance…but it did flesh out his college experience. He was studying abroad in Scotland at the time. And he’ll still graduate with a degree from one of the highly selective universities in the country.

In four years.

Drew Boland ’15 returned to De Smet Jesuit on his winter break from Boston College to share advice and talk practical college prep with current Spartans. Joined by fellow 2015 alumni Peter Koetting, now at John Carroll University, and Jack Morris, who attends Loyola University Chicago, the three college seniors met with more than two dozen high school seniors to answer questions ranging from how to best search for scholarships to what can they really expect on the social scene.

The Alumni-Student Mentorship lunch program has inspired students and created networking opportunities for more than 10 years and is co-sponsored by the De Smet Jesuit college counseling department and alumni office. During senior lunch twice a month, pizza boxes pile on the tables and boys pile into the Innovation Center classroom to hear advice from former students who are current professionals in a wide variety of career fields including law, medicine, education, business, and architecture.

“The Alumni-Student Mentorship Lunch program has been a win-win for all involved,” said Dave Boland, College Counselor at De Smet Jesuit. “It obviously offers an extremely valuable occupational resource to our juniors and seniors, while bringing our alums back to campus to interact with current students.”

Upcoming favorite career lunches include engineering, IT, and media and marketing. “Engineering is always a popular session,” said Patrick Morris, Director of Alumni Relations. “We’ll have at least 60 guys or more show up. We’ll have to move into the arena for that one.”

Another definite favorite lunch addresses the more immediate needs of high school seniors: college life in general. In the short-term, during these final months of college decisions, the alumni suggested researching untapped scholarships, visiting campuses, and making pros and cons lists…or going with your gut. Once college begins, the alumni offered a variety of tips (see their Top 10 below) and unanimously agreed on the importance of working hard, meeting people, and being flexible.

“You don’t have to have everything figured out right now,” said Peter, who recently shifted his plans from being a high school chemistry teacher to pursuing graduate school and a future in chemistry research.

“Being comfortable with being uncomfortable…that’s key,” added Jack, who graduates in May with a degree in bioinformatics. Like many students, Jack experienced the concept of being open to growth—one of our six characteristics in our portrait of a graduate—while at De Smet Jesuit. “Kairos…El Camino…anytime I had to give a talk in class…that’s uncomfortable.” Such practice is good preparation for college.

“Flexibility is huge,” said Drew. “Be prepared for unexpected changes. I changed my major three times.” Despite the pursuit of several programs, Drew will also graduate with a degree in four years because he had flexibility in his schedule, an advantage that Drew credits back to the Spanish classes he took while at De Smet Jesuit. Although Boston College did not accept the SLU 1818 Spanish credits he earned here, he passed BC’s language requirements with his entrance exam scores, thus freeing up his schedule and enabling him to explore new paths as well as spend a semester studying in Scotland.

“The plan you set senior year of high school for your four years will not be the plan you graduate with,” said Drew. But he adds, “De Smet Jesuit has given you the tools to thrive in many different environments.”

In Drew’s case, he has returned to his original major of finance, but it wasn’t a straight line. His four-year degree plan culminates this May with a well-rounded and adventurous college experience, thanks to high school Spanish, parental support, hard work, and of course, a class in bagpipes.


Top 10 Tips for College Success…According to Spartan Alumni

To learn more about the strength of our world languages department, check out this article, Latin in Real Life, or and find out where our high school students travel.

For more information about our college counseling program contact Dave Boland. If you are an alumnus wanting to reconnect, contact Patrick Morris.

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