Belvedere College - Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now?

Leaving Belvedere can seem a scary process. After 6 years it starts to feel like home, its faces a constant source of security, and its walls an unerring presence that keep you grounded in its storied culture. However, we all must leave it eventually, and try to make our impression on the world in which we are ensconced. For me, leaving Belvedere meant travelling abroad to Princeton, and from there I will do…something else. I’m still not quite sure what follows on from here, where next to go, although I know that I’m going to have a great time trying to figure it out! Since coming here I’ve had so many opportunities arrayed in front of me, constantly at my disposal. I was able to join the varsity lightweight rowing team, an activity which entails hours upon hours of practice every week. Crew taught me about perseverance, a quality that is a decided requisite of success in life, and showed me the values of teamwork and mutual dependency – the fact that, in life, others are always necessary in the pursuit of your desires, and that you can’t achieve everything by yourself. I was also able to join a marching band (I say marching, I’m not quite sure this band has any knowledge of what it is that an American marching band should look like), and let myself decompress while wearing god-awful orange and black plaid jackets and ridiculous boater hats. Aside from the group gluttony for punishment both in the physical exertion of rowing and in truly horrendous fashion sense of band, I also became a leader for Princeton’s Outdoor Action program, an organization which deals with Freshman orientation, as well as with local community outreach. I learned a lot through these co-curriculars – how to push myself, how to rely on others, how to develop further as a person. In short, I learned how further to carry across my experiences in Belvedere, and continue to push myself to be the sort of man for others that I would wish for you all to be.
                         In as far as academics are concerned, I’m still figuring things out, and trying my hand at whatever tickles my fancy – endeavouring to partake in everything from philosophy to sociology, from the hard sciences to the pursuit of a greater understanding of language. Although I have not yet made up my mind about what exactly it is that I want to be when I grow up, I have decided that maths is not for me. Maths is a specialty here in Princeton, and I thus found it incredibly difficult to keep my head above water, and discovered an adversity quite unlike any I had ever faced in Belvedere. However, one of the greatest things about this university, which I have now come to love, is the abundance of support. I came to rely on friends, and, for the first time, began attending tutoring sessions, and going to office hours (times professors allocate for discussing their material with students), and was able to weather the storm that was multi-variable calculus. Although there were certainly adversities to surmount, there were also a number of great moments throughout the year; I was able to study ethics under one of the most influential modern philosophers, and through him challenge my prejudices with scores of new opinions and ideas. I was able to study in depth the sociology behind criminal enterprise, the intricacies of the writing process, the ins and outs of the French language, and a whole multitude of other things besides. I hope to continue learning new things here, and to challenge myself during every waking moment (and probably some non-waking moments too!) that I have to spend here at Princeton. I have learned so much about myself and about the world that surrounds me that it has hard to convey in words precisely the emotions and impressions that swirl through my head. Suffice to say that deciding to come here was one of the better decisions I have made. Here at Princeton, I feel as if I were a member of a much larger community and am confronted on a daily basis with new experiences, both my own and those of others. I have met people from all over the planet, and am still sometimes caught dumbstruck by the myriad life views that exist all around me, and by the diversity of opinions that going to Princeton has furnished me with. I feel that, aside from any personal discovery, I am now highly attuned to the sentiments of others, and am better able to have productive debates, and to question the status quo in a way I never would have previously envisaged of doing. I think that, in coming here, I have been able to set about my idea of what a man for others should be.
                       In terms of the actual application process, if any are interested in pursuing goals similar to the ones I pursued during my senior cycle, I’ll share what little I know of it. The US application process is very much different to the one we are all used to in Ireland. It involves a much more holistic process that takes into account not just your grades from school (yes, they do look at your marks from Belvedere) and from their exams (you can take either the SAT or the ACT, however I took the SAT so that is what I will address in this part of my prose), but also at your involvements outside of academics, whether they be athletically, musically, or service oriented. They also place a considerable amount of weight on your college essay(s), as well as in who you are as a person. In order to deal with all these constituent parts of the application process, my first piece of advice is to not be humble in your application. I know that for me certainly it seemed alien and uncomfortable to write about my accomplishments and involvements without first prefacing it be some kind of self-deprecating epithet, but it was what was needed for the game of admissions. Leave nothing out, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to you – really all that can happen is that they are furnished with a glut of information about you, and will end up only paying attention to certain things. You stand to lose nothing by talking about yourself, and have everything to gain. I would also advise you to begin writing your essays during your 5th year summer, and to check out some of the sample essays US colleges offer, and find out what style of essay is most cohesive with who you are as a person. Never be afraid to ask for help; this is a new process and you might not be aware of its varying intricacies. Also, don’t assume you can take the SAT and the SAT subject tests on the same day, that would be silly and obviously not a thing you can do… Read the books and do practice tests, the SAT is not a terribly difficult exam, but it will try to trick you. Practice essay writing in short windows of time, and learn the different expectations for the SAT essay vs the many requisites of your college essay, they are not the same. Email your teachers for recommendations – they’ll probably be willing, but it’s best to ask them politely first. Lastly, have fun with it! Applying to the US and trying to balance grades and expectations from home at the same time can be a challenge, but it was definitely worth it for me. Even if you don’t think that you can do it, I think that it’s at least worth giving it your best shot. Being here, and having the capacity to discover what it is I want to do, in a fabulous institution such as Princeton has made me so incredibly happy that I feel I must implore you to give some serious thought to coming here. So please, if you are considering studying abroad, take a look at applying to the US, you won’t regret it.
Conor O’Brien
OB 2015



Shane O’Dea OB15
“I think it was at the end of 4th year that I knew I wanted to go over to America to study at 3rd level. I had heard of people going over ahead of me and I really liked the way I could continue competing at a very high level of tennis while getting a degree! It is a very long process to apply as an international student to study in the US and especially if you are going to be a student athlete.
The NCAA are the governing body of all student athletes and they have to clear you to make sure you have never been paid to play because college sports are "amateur" even though you are practicing like professionals. So the first thing I did was send emails to the coaches of the universities of which I wanted to go to. In this email I would send them my tennis CV and a video of me playing. If they were interested, then they would ask for my grades and there would be general discussion. I had to get a lot of paper work in order to send to the universities to which I wanted to apply. I had to send them my transcripts from Belvedere since 1st year and I also had to take the SATs. They are a series of tests which determine your scores to get into university in the US.
The final stage is discussing what scholarship you are going to be on. They usually split your scholarship between academic scholarship and athletic scholarship. It is very rare that someone is on 100% athletic scholarship. College is very, very expensive in America compared to Ireland so you need to make sure that your scholarship is affordable as some universities can cost you $50,000 a year!

I have just completed my first year at Lenoir Rhyne University which is just outside of Charlotte in North Carolina. I noticed very quickly that university sports are taken extremely seriously. We were launched quickly into preseason training when I went over in August and I struggled a lot with the humidity and heat of around 30-35 degrees! I soon got used to it but it is very different from our weather! The spring is when the tennis season commences and we are very busy in this period. We were practicing 6 days a week as the NCAA states we have to have one day to rest a week. We would be training on the court all 6 days and in the gym 4 days as well. It can be very demanding and sometimes difficult to manage your studies with your athletics but they are the pressures of being a student athlete!
We had around 20-25 matches against other universities and we travelled quite a bit with the team. That is one of the main things I loved is that we got to see other places in the US. I went along the whole east coast of America over the year. I went as far north as New York and as south as Miami! Our tennis is mainly based around North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. We would travel in a minivan and would stay in hotels a lot of the time because the drive to some universities could be 6-7 hours.

I am studying health and exercise science in America and I am enjoying it a lot! This year has flown by and I am now home for the summer! I will be going back to America in August to start my second year of university. The school was hugely helpful to get me through this whole process! Don't hesitate to ever reach out to me if you have any questions or you are thinking about going over to America to study and play a sport!”



Cillian Dunne OB15
Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Soccer Scholarship

I graduated Belvedere College in 2015. I am currently studying and playing football at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
The process for getting into a U.S college is slightly more difficult and time-consuming than it is for Irish universities.  Firstly, you have to take SATs, which is a four hour long test containing hundreds of multiple choice questions on maths and English.  If you do not do well in the SATs it’s okay because you can take them up to three times in one year.  You to apply to the college(s ) using the Common Application website, and then the site will show you certain requirements needed for you to get into that university.  Fortunately, Northeastern didn’t have any additional requirements other than the SATs.
Boston is a fantastic city, especially for college students.  To put it in perspective, there are four different college campuses on my street alone.  Northeastern, and many other Boston-based colleges, is highly international.  Students come from all over the world to study at this school.  The Business, Medicine and Law departments of the school are among the best in the United States, and have thousands of applicants each year.  Luckily for me, I had football to help me get into the school.
Being an athlete in a U.S college is indescribable. You are given different treatment than normal students.  Although being an athlete is time-consuming, you’ll always find time to get your work done and spend time with friends.  At our first home match of the season we had over eight hundred fans attend our game, with a further three hundred more that were unable to travel to our stadium.  The atmosphere is unlike anything I have ever seen for players of our age group.  It almost feels like professionalism.
If anyone were ever given the opportunity I would highly encourage them to study in the U.S.  For me, it was something different that I knew was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Belvedere is excellent at helping with the process and can essentially help you with any concerns you may have.

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