Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Legacy: Feeding the Applicant Pool

When Emily Bertsche (SFS ’12) arrived on campus three-and-a-half years ago, she may have been across the country in a brand-new environment, but she was surrounded by some familiar faces.

As one of 10 graduates of St. Ignatius College Prep, a Jesuit school in Chicago, Ill., to matriculate into Georgetown from her grade, Bertsche could tackle college with a built-in community.

“The best part of going to Georgetown [with so many people from high school] is that you have a guaranteed support network from the get-go,” she said. “It’s great because we have a shared past andpresent.”

St. Ignatius is among several of Georgetown’s “feeder schools” ­— high schools that regularly send large numbers of applications to the university. The close relationship these schools have with Georgetown can be a boon to prospective students both during the application process and after they have found their way to the Hilltop.

Tallying the Numbers

During the admissions cycle for the class of 2015, the university saw upwards of 50 applications from seven high schools across the country that admissions counselors target.

Four of the Northeast’s elite boarding schools — Phillips Academy in Massachusetts, Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey — topped the list, sending 69, 66, 65 and 62 applications respectively.

The next six schools on the list include Regis High School in New York with 55 applicants, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Chaminade High School in New York with 53 each, St. Ignatius College Prep with 48. Harvard-Westlake School in California with 45 and Winston Churchill High School with 45.

The Jesuit tradition can often play into many students’ application processes. Regis and St. Ignatius are two premier Jesuit high schools on the top-10 list.

Georgetown Visitation, an all-girls Catholic school just outside the front gates, regularly produces more than 20 applicants to the university each year, nearly half of whom end up studying on the Hilltop, according to a Visitation college information packet. Of the 26 Visitation seniors who applied to Georgetown in 2010, nine now attend the university.

Application information for the Gonzaga College High School, an all-boys D.C. Jesuit standard, and Loyola Academy in Chicago, was not yet available for the class of 2016’s application process, but in years past an average of five to 10 students from each of these schools have matriculated each year.

“I can’t really speak for all of Gonzaga but if it were a feeder for any college, I guess it would be Georgetown,” said Brian Potochney (SFS ’15), a graduate of Gonzaga. “People definitely seemed particularly excited when I would say I was coming here, not just because Georgetown is well-known, but also because of the whole Jesuit connection.”

According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon, Georgetown relies on these schools to supply a substantial number of applicants.

“Year to year, we know we’re going to get a good number of applications from [them] and a regular flow of students,” he said.


The Office of Undergraduate Admissions reaches out to prospective students at high schools that regularly send students to the nation’s top universities through receptions for local students, college conferences and personal visits by admissions officers at about 350 high schools every year.

According to Deacon, the majority of these stops are at schools with a strong history of student interest in Georgetown.

“High school visits are a traditional, but not the most effective, form of outreach in the college process,” he said.

After all, students at feeder schools often hear about Georgetown from their high schools’ alumni and faculty with a Blue and Gray background before visiting the school.

“The president of my high school had also gone to Georgetown and is close friends with my family, [so] I also had the great fortune of hearing about Georgetown through his eyes before making my final decision,” said Madeline Molo (COL ’12), another Ignatius alum.

Although Georgetown is not required to accept a certain percentage of students from the surrounding area, the university makes an effort to establish ties with many of D.C.’s Catholic schools. For students at these targeted schools, a closer connection with Georgetown and their shared institutional values play into their May-time decisions.

“I definitely feel like the Jesuit universities were more popular choices among Gonzaga students than among kids in other high schools around here,” Potochney said. “Coming from Gonzaga, I had a lot of Jesuit universities on my radar that I would never have considered had I gone to public school, includingGeorgetown.”


Despite their high application rate, college counselors and students at feeder schools often reject the title.

“I don’t believe in the word ‘feeder.’ We send a good number of students to Georgetown every year, but Gonzaga students look all over the place,” Eli Clarke, director of college counseling at Gonzaga, said.

“I can’t give an average of the number of students we send to Georgetown, since it varies: some years there are more, some less,” he added.

Suzanne Colligan, director of college counseling at Georgetown Visitation, also hesitated to put her school in this category.

“Georgetown is a popular choice, but [it] is only one among other schools to which we send a lot of students,” Colligan said.

According to Molo, high schools’ unwillingness to call themselves “feeders” may link back to the term’s negative connotation.

“I think of feeder schools as schools that automatically have an ‘in’ with a university and [that] somewhat gives it a negative connotation,” she said.

Deacon denied that students from feeder schools have a higher chance of admission at Georgetown.

“The only advantage that these feeder schools have is that admissions knows the schools better and is familiar with their curriculum,” he said.

Deacon emphasized that, despite the number of students that come from feeder schools, over half of the students at Georgetown are the only individuals to come from their respective high schools.

Molo added that the large number of alums from her high school that attend Georgetown is more attributable to the schools’ shared values than her high school’s “feeder school” status.

“[It] has a lot to do with the Jesuit identity of Ignatius and of Georgetown and the experience that students have going to a Jesuit high school that they might want to continue at university,” she said.


For alumni of Jesuit feeder schools, the benefits of attending lasts beyond the application process.

“I really enjoy going to college with people from my high school,” said Hannah Klusendorf (COL ’12), one of 11 Loyola graduates to join the Class of 2012.

Though Klusendorf did not intend to keep in touch with her high school classmates while at Georgetown, she ended up living on the same floor of Harbin Hall with two other Loyola graduates her freshman year and has roomed with them for the past two years.

“I love that we have a common history, and we can talk about ‘that kid from high school’ or ‘that teacher’ or ‘that dance,'” she said. “I love Chicago, and I get to hang out with it every day [through friends from Loyola].”

George Burton (COL ’13), a graduate of Georgetown Prep, agreed that matriculating to Georgetown from a feeder school offered social advantages during his early days as a Hoya.

“I feel like [knowing so many classmates] provided for an easier transition into college,” he said.

Potochney said that, though he felt a similar sense of camaraderie on campus with his peers from Gonzaga, the larger campus size caused many of them to drift apart.

“Having a few familiar faces around campus has been nice, especially in the first few days when I didn’t really know anyone else. But these days, I’ll only run into kids from Gonzaga maybe once or twice a week. I’m friendly with all of them, but we’re not super close,” he said.

Aside from the familiar faces and longtime friends, graduates of feeder schools value the ability to study at a university that carries out the same values that their high schools do.

“Even though my high school and college religious experiences have been very different, there have definitely been common threads: the opportunities to do service, have a meaningful liturgy, focus oncura personalis.”

Klusendorf agreed.

“I believed [in high school] and still do now that Georgetown’s Jesuit identity sets us apart from other top-tier universities. I am proud to still be part of a community that wants to be men and women for others,” she said.

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