On Saturday, December 4th, 205 eighth-grade students took the entrance exam at Mount Carmel. This number surpasses the recent average class size by quite a bit. With classes at MC averaging roughly 150 students, the future is bright for the class of 2026.
A group of eighth-graders with various backgrounds, demographics, and neighborhoods represented took the exam. Students can only take the entrance exam at one private high school, so many of the students who took the entrance exam have decided that MC is the place for them.
“I’m really happy with the turnout,” said Mr. Craig Ferguson, Director of Admissions at Mount Carmel, of the number of students that took the entrance exam. “There were more students than we’ve averaged the past couple years, so we’re on the right track.”
In a time where Catholic school enrollment across the country has trended downward, MC is fortunate enough to be headed in the right direction. The incoming class size at MC has remained steady of late, even slowly increasing.
The coronavirus pandemic has very recently boosted Catholic school enrollment as well. Many families want to be sure that their children will stay in person in schools should another situation like the pandemic arise. The vast majority of Catholic schools had at least some amount of in-person learning over the past year and a half. However, Mt. Carmel holds the distinction of being one of the only schools in the entire Chicagoland area, if not the entire state, to be in person for school five days a week for most of the last academic year.
While competing with other private schools on the South Side in athletics is seen as the most direct means of competition, the actual most important is enrollment. Compared directly to fellow South Side all-boys schools St. Rita, St. Laurence, and Br. Rice, Mount Carmel has seen a much better turnout at the entrance exams. The direct competition for students choosing between Catholic schools on the South Side is vital to the success of the school as a whole.
Having a good number of students is also important for keeping tuition down. The school has set operating costs, so more students mean more tuition money total, meaning that the tuition of each individual student can stay reasonable.
Most of the 205 testees will be freshmen at MC, especially those who were impacted by their shadowing experience at the school. “After he shadowed, we were sold,” said Jamie Guisinger, the mother of one student who took the entrance exam Saturday. “He thought it was cool that everyone felt like brothers and that everyone knew the sayings.”
Shadow days offer great opportunities for students who may not already have a Carmel connection to establish a relationship with students, teachers, or other members of the Mt. Carmel community.
What had especially left a mark on this student and his family was the sign hanging in the commons that reads: “You came to Carmel as a boy. If you care to struggle and work at it, you will leave a man.” The ideals and values instilled in young men as they go through their careers at Mount Carmel are the main reason many students and families choose MC. Families value the moral and spiritual education their sons receive just as highly of if not higher than the practical and academic education.
Mrs. Guisinger also said that all that had left an impression on both her and her son, selling them on Mount Carmel as the place to be.