Program Overview

College Guidance

The OLMA College Guidance team is exceptional at navigating the college admissions process.

The mission of the OLMA Guidance Department is to create a supportive environment, to guide students academically throughout high school, and prepare them for the next stage of life.  At OLMA Guidance begins freshmen year as our counselors get to know our students individually. They discuss college and career interests and the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity to gain leadership skills, serve people in need, get involved in the school's life, and excel academically.  Our counselors introduce students to the many tools and programs available to them as they progress through their four years of high school.  They also let students know that they are never alone and can count on the College Guidance department and everyone at OLMA for support every step of the way.  


Transition Academy

transition academy image of compass new size

The transition to high school can be a difficult one.  To help students adjust more easily, we hold a Transition Academy the summer before their 9th grade year.  The main focus of this program is to teach students to advocate for themselves since that is a skill they might not have needed in the past.  This program is jam-packed with skills for time and stress management, get-to-know you activities and self-help techniques.  At the end of this week-long program students meet and have lunch with freshman teachers so they are more prepared for the first day of school.  We have seen students attend our Transition Academy show up the first day of school and already have a rapport with their teachers.

College Tours

college tour stop

When it comes to deciding which college or university is right, it’s all about fit.  Colleges, like high schools, come in all shapes and sizes.  They are large, medium and small; public and private; single gender and co-educational; in urban and rural settings — or even overseas.   They have different cultures, academic offerings, sports and clubs.  And, of course, they come with all sorts of price tags and scholarship opportunities.

At OLMA we believe that the best way to get a feel for fit is by taking to the highway on college tours.  During the summer,  OLMA will sponsor two college tours.  We will post dates and destinations this spring as soon as the itinerary is finalized.

Career Day

career day

Each year, OLMA hosts a group of professionals who speak about their careers, share their experiences and provide helpful tips and advice. Our most recent Career Day was a huge success with 15 professionals on campus. Among them were five OLMA grads and two from St. Augustine Prep.

Many thanks to: Maureen Morrin, Ph.D., Kathy Torrence – Software Engineer, Jennifer Clendining – ER Nurse, Doug Stefano – Sales/Marketing, Jessica Baliski – Speech Pathologist, Marianna Tasso – Speech Pathologist, Blake Trabuchi-Downey, DMD – Dentist, Ernie Alvino – Attorney at Law, Marissa Magid, DO – Ob/Gyn, Linda Hamidi, PharmD – Pharmacist, Brittany Parish – Art Therapist, Georgeann Bennett – Business Consultant, Deborah Masso, DVM – Veterinarian, Joe Bonzcek – Physical Therapist, and Matthew Pineo – Athletic Trainer.

If you have interest in being part of our next Career Day, please reach out to Melissa Szawlewicz at 

College Fairs

image of crowded college fair

College fairs are held throughout the year.  OLMA will keep you updated on the ones located in the tri-state area.  The first one of the year is on September 24, 2020 at St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, NJ.  Admissions officers from hundreds of schools will be on hand to answer your questions.  

Instant Decision and College Interview Day

student holding college acceptances

Instant Decision Day is one of the most exciting days on campus each year as seniors have the opportunity to interview with select colleges and get an admissions decision on the spot.   Twenty-seven OLMA seniors participated in our most recent event.  They earned 74 acceptances and more than $3 million in merit scholarship awards. 

College Visits to OLMA

photo of mouse and keyboard

Each fall, admissions representatives from a wide variety of colleges and universities visit OLMA to meet with students.  This year's visits will happen virtually but will be no less effective.  Admissions counselors will provide an overview of their schools and answer your questions.  We encourage juniors and seniors to participate in as many of these as their schedules allow.  It's a great way to learn something new as well as do some comparison shopping on the college front.  

Essays, Interviews, and Financial Aid 

parent meeting

Each summer, OLMA's guidance team works with college admissions professionals to host an essay writing boot camp for rising seniors with  a focus on the Common Application.  This is a great way for students to learn how to write an essay that's sure to impress.  Later in the year, juniors participate in an interview- and resume-writing seminar in preparation for Mock Interview Day.  College Guidance offers assistance to parents as well.  Throughout the year, OLMA guidance hosts class parent meetings and workshops to guide them through the college application process as well as provide pointers on  how to fill out the FAFSA.  

Mock Interview Day

mock interview

When it comes to preparing for interviews with colleges and potential employers, practice makes perfect for OLMA juniors.  Dressed for success and with resumes in hand, students participate in Mock Interview Day each spring. They each have two interviews and receive feedback in between provided by real-world Human Resources and College Admissions professionals.  Before Mock Interview Day, students participated in resume-writing and interview-skills workshops.  

Job Shadow Program

students shadowing at inspira medical center

As is the case when buying a new pair of shoes, the only way to know for sure if they're a good fit is to try them on for size first. Much the same is true when it comes to careers, which is why Our Lady of Mercy Academy (OLMA) juniors spend a day or two each spring  getting a real-world feel for careers that interest them.   Students shadow professionals from every walk of life including doctors, surgeons, veterinarians, physical therapists, police officers, attorneys, elementary school teachers, cyber-security professionals, engineers, and more.

mock interviews

Meet the Team

Melissa Szawlewicz
Director of College Guidance
Annie Trabuchi-Downey
Guidance Counselor and Teacher

Watch the Class of 2020 Tribute Video

Schools of Choice

Over the last three years, OLMA graduates (a total of 74) have earned more than $23 million in merit scholarships and grants.  They work hard and are recognized for their efforts in the form of acceptances to outstanding colleges and universities, as well as with generous scholarships.  The following is a sampling of the schools our graduates have attended over the last several years:
  • Boston University
  • Bucknell University
  • Brown University
  • Catholic University
  • Cornell University
  • Drexel University
  • Fordham University
  • George Washington University
  • LaSalle University
  • Lehigh University
  • Loyola University
  • Marymount Manhattan College
  • Monmouth University
  • Montclair State University
  • Moore College of Art & Design
  • New York University
  • Penn State University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Philadelphia University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rowan University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Diego State
  • Seton Hall University
  • Spelman College
  • St. Joseph University
  • Stockton University
  • The College of New Jersey
  • Towson University
  • United States Air Force Academy
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Tampa
  • University of The Sciences
  • Ursinus College
  • Villanova University
  • Widener University
  • William and Mary
collection of college logos