Shadow program aids student admission decisions

A+shadow+works+with+Bill+Grammatis+Cooke+during+a+recent+visit.

Ivy Frater

A shadow works with Bill Grammatis Cooke during a recent visit.

Ivy Frater, Editor, Campus Beat

This year, DePaul Prep has welcomed 282 eighth grade shadows, from all different schools ranging from public and private to charter. Shadows arrive at the school in the morning and follow around a student for a day to get a feel of what DePaul Prep is really like. They are provided lunch and end the shadowing experience after third period, when they are dismissed to Corboy Hall to discuss the events of the day. 

Shadowing is an important part of the high school admissions process. Annie Carbonara, a freshman here at DePaul Prep felt shadowing was very helpful for her when she was making her high school decision as, “It gave me a real feel for high school life.” 

Shadow Mary McGovern also felt her experience will affect her decision. She comes from St. Matthias, and believes that the experience will substantially affect her decision on what schools to apply to, specifically when thinking about her Catholic school options. 

Although shadowing is important for all students, Mr. Bizzieri, an admissions counselor who is responsible for overseeing all the shadows, believes that shadowing is more beneficial to students that are not as familiar with the school, as the kids who have already been exposed to the school often view the day as reinforcement for their already-made decision. 

Junior Sephi Favela is an example of this. She shadowed her sister in fall 2020 before the pandemic. Therefore, shadowing didn’t affect her decision that much, as she already knew she was going to DePaul Prep. Even with this, she did enjoy her experience and stated that although she shadowed at Gordon Tech, shadowing, “was pretty similar to actually going to DePaul and the teachers were really nice.” 

Additionally, sometimes there is a disconnect between the shadow’s experience and the parents’ expectation. As Mr. Bizzieri says, “Some parents probably expect it to be this groundbreaking amazing experience where they fall in love with the school and we certainly hope that happens but most of the time and with the students too, specifically students, they’re just going to a different school for a day.”  He noted that sometimes he gets complaints from parents, angered by the fact their child had to sit through a study hall. While the shadowing experience offers many benefits from students being able to observe what a normal day looks like at school, one major flaw is classes that are considered boring or teachers that don’t include shadows in the discussion, potentially harming the shadow’s view of DePaul Prep. 

The most common compliment shadows give to DePaul Prep is the teachers, especially those who strive to make shadows a part of the lesson, as it helps make their experience better, even when they are stuck in “boring classes”. When shadows feel included, they walk away happier, with a better view of the school, and more likely to apply in the fall. 

As shadow hosts, DePaul Prep students are also an essential part of the shadowing experience. Bizzieri notes, “High school students are important to this whole thing and when you’re asked to be a host take that responsibility fairly seriously and treat the kid well, because you’re essentially having an effect on their high school life.” The most important part of the shadow experience is the social aspect, which consistently sets DePaul Prep apart. 

Students do seem to understand this responsibility. Sophomore Caitlin Torio was a shadow host last year and believes that to be a good shadow host, you need to maintain a good balance between having fun and seriously talking about what it would be like to attend DePaul Prep. She believes she maintained this balance well and says at the end, her shadow did want to come to DePaul Prep, as, “She really liked the environment and how friendly everyone was.” 

Whether watching their host interacting with their friends, learning new things from a teacher, or meeting people they never would have met before, when students leave positive impacts on shadows, DePaul College Prep may continue to grow.