Our Very Own “Fantastic Beast”

This weekend, Harry Potter lovers will be flocking to movie theaters everywhere in anticipation of seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as the world of J.K. Rowling comes to life once again on the big screen. Rowling’s writing brings out the kid in all of us, whether we’re in high school or college, or even as adults with our own children. Rowling’s work has inspired millions of readers to stand up against the enemy for the greater good alongside great friends, magic and mystery. The lessons learned in the Harry Potter series are remembered long after the books are closed, but this weekend, as Newt Scamander searches to find his fantastic beasts, Villanova University recognizes our very own fantastic beast, Will D. Cat.

Shannon Gross ’16 and Will D. Cat celebrating at graduation!

At six feet tall, with brown fur, and sporting a Villanova jersey, Will D. Cat is an icon on and off Villanova’s campus. Whether you’re cheering at a basketball game, moving in for orientation or simply strolling along campus, there’s a chance you’ll run into Will D. Cat, Villanova’s most famous Wildcat. He’s a superstar at every football game, and you can constantly find him on the field at halftime. At basketball games, he’s always on the sidelines getting the crowd and the team excited. Will has a way of really blending in with students, as ridiculous as it might sound. When he’s not on the sidelines, he’s always willing to take a selfie or high five-ing fellow students near the Oreo. Like other Villanova students, he takes his academics very seriously, and manages to graduate every year sporting a sophisticated cap and gown.


The “Oreo” is an abstract sculpture adjacent to the Ellipse.  Learn more about the Oreo.

Will D. Cat is more than just a mascot we take pictures with at sporting events. He’s a symbol of Villanova’s fantastic energy and spirit and the excitement of being a Wildcat. He never fails to bring a smile to the face of anyone at Villanova. Your day can completely turn around if you spot Will D. Cat and stop for a picture or a wave. He’s friendly, spirited and hardworking, whether he’s at games with Coach Jay Wright or encouraging passersby to visit a certain table or booth on campus.




If you see Will D. Cat on campus, be sure to say hello!

Like in J.K. Rowling’s books, there is something about Villanova that truly makes students, faculty and families fall in love with it over and over again. At Hogwarts, you’d find great friendships, thought-provoking courses and adventures around every corner, and as the search for the perfect college continues, we hope Villanova will provide you with that same sense of magic. As our most famous fantastic beast, Will D. Cat symbolizes the greatness one can achieve at Villanova, while remaining a humble and friendly face for everyone who visits. There are fantastic beasts all over the world, many of which have yet to be discovered, so when you ask where to find them, our answer will always be: At Villanova University.

Living Saint Augustine’s Lessons

As an Augustinian University, Villanova takes great prides in its efforts to live out the values of Saint Augustine. As a bishop from Africa, Augustine’s life transitioned from one based on material satisfactions to one devoted to opportunity and faith in God. As one of two Augustinian institutions of higher education in the nation, Villanova strives to maintain a positive appearance as both an Augustinian and Catholic university.

No matter what religion you practice, Saint Augustine’s values are applicable to every student, employee, and family member of our great university. While we read his work in the classroom, or discuss his ideas at our masses, the legacy of Saint Augustine does not solely exist on paper. The discussions taking place inside and outside of class allow for the ideas of Augustine to be seen anywhere on campus. In honor of Saint Augustine’s birthday on Sunday, November 13, we’ll explore the lessons of the man that not only shaped our university, but continues to influence us today.

The-confessions.jpgThe world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

While Villanova University has an incredible campus and community, students can study abroad during the Spring, Fall, or even Summer! Spend the summer exploring countries like Ireland, France, or Greece. See your Italian textbook come to life as you practice the language while interning with the Vatican. Join students from other universities to explore countries in Asia, South America, Australia and Europe or spend a week volunteering in nations like Nicaragua. At Villanova, studying abroad is seen as the opportunity to explore, build confidence, and grow not only as a student but also as an individual.

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.

Villanova is a Catholic university, but the faith students have is not solely religious. Students of all different religion in cultures have faith in one another. They have faith in the families that support them miles away from home. They believe in the sense of community that encourages them to work hard and have fun. They believe that our men’s basketball team can win it all (and they did!) And while students truly believe in the community of the Nova Nation, each individual is encouraged to work hard and pave their own path. Students are hardworking and determined to succeed, and our university only admires those who are ready and responsible to take on new opportunities as often and as successfully as they can.

Love, and do what you like.

At Villanova University, students LOVE to be involved. Whether you play sports, join a sorority or fraternity, give tours to prospective students, perform on stage, or work toward a specific career, students have endless opportunities to be involved at Villanova. Students thrive inside and outside of the classroom, making friends that can last a lifetime. Our activities fair every Fall allows for students, new and old, to make time outside of the library just as, if not more, valuable. Joining a club or organization on campus helps students realize what it truly means to be a part of the Villanova community.

In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty.

Students and faculty at Villanova University are determined to make our university the best that it can be.  We do not do it for the press releases, the Bookstore apparel, or the extremely generous donations. We support our university because we believe it, along with our Augustinian identity, molds students, employees, and loved ones into better people, both intellectually and socially. As a student at Villanova, I am proud to tell people where I go to school, but I never expect to be congratulated on my GPA or my school’s new construction project. I’m proud to be a Villanova simply because I believe it has shaped me into a stronger individual with values like leadership, community, and determination.

Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.

As a prestigious university, Villanova encourages students to challenge themselves academically. No matter what your major, classes like our Augustine Cultural Seminar, Philosophy, Ethics, and Theology teaches students to ask the difficult questions. Who am I? What can I know? What do Christians believe? How should I live? While these questions seem intense, students at Villanova develop the skills retolle lege.jpgquired to tackle obstacles like these. Students have endless potential to succeed, and Villanova’s unique core curriculum builds this potential. In doing so, students become more adaptable to changing situations, more skilled in a variety of areas, and more prepared for life outside of the classroom. Our Augustinian values advise students to take advantage of our opportunities, to “tolle legge,” or “pick it up and read,” opening the eyes of students to interesting new topics and discussions that are introduced in the classroom but lead to real-world conversations.

The soul, which is spirit, can not dwell in dust; it is carried along to dwell in the blood.

As mentioned before, the Nova Nation is unique from every other university. Our Augustinian foundation, our core curriculum, our campus activities, and our opportunities abroad are only pieces of the puzzle that create the overwhelming sense of community at Villanova. Villanova thrives on its ability to make connections on and off campus, with family members, alumni, and prospective students as well! The spirit of the Nova Nation runs through the blood of each and every one of us, and it is with this running that motivates each student and employee to continue thriving. When you become something greater than yourself, you realize how special and contributive you can be as an individual. At Villanova, every student makes a difference. Unlike larger universities, students are motivated to be themselves, and use their unique skills and talents to spread the word and make a real difference at Villanova.

As an Augustinian university, Villanova wants students to develop their talents, seize every opportunity given, and ultimately use academics and activities to become better people. Villanova University encourages adults, students, and prospective students to do what you love, study hard, and ultimately live the life you’ve always wanted. Like Augustine, faith, regardless of religion, drives us to live well and we hope that with the guidance of Saint Augustine and Villanova University, you all will too.

Application Submitted? What Next?

We are a few days beyond the November 1 early application deadline. You’ve submitted your application, yet you feel as though you should be doing something more to improve your chances of being admitted to the school of your choice. There are a lot of people out there who would echo this idea. However, I’m of the opinion that this notion is feeding into the frenzy and stress associated with the college admission process.

In all actuality, my advice is that once your applications have been submitted, it’s time to move onto the next thing. And since regular decision deadlines are not for another several weeks, your next immediate thing should not be related to the college admissions process.

Now, I think it’s perfectly natural to be curious about the status of the application as soon as you hit “submit.” Certainly, technology has fed into this. Sometimes, when you place an order for a book or a sweater, you can track exactly where things are almost immediately after the order is submitted. Unfortunately, the admission world has not yet achieved this ability of immediate tracking.

While you may have mailed or emailed another document for your application to the university, there are many different things that must get sorted before that specific item can be registered. It may take as long as a few weeks for these items to be logged into the system. You’ll need to do something that may sound very hard, but will eliminate a lot of stress: TRUST THE SYSTEM.

If you mailed or emailed items to our office, the postmarks help us accurately track what’s been sent and when. Additionally, there is a level of flexibility and reason that is being employed for items beyond the application. So while the deadline for the submission for the Common Application is very specific, we are being flexible and reasonable when it comes to other items. Ultimately, if you did everything that you were supposed to regarding deadlines, it will all work itself out in the end.

The other advice that I often see is people suggesting to students that they need to use this time to let the colleges know that they are interested in the college. In the higher education field, this is the idea of “Demonstrated Interest.” The idea is that the more a student interacts with a university, the greater their interest is in that particular school. An interaction could really be anything, like:

  • An e-mail to an admission counselor asking a question
  • Attendance at the college open house
  • Meeting with an admission counselor at a college fair
  • Interacting (liking, sharing, retweeting) a social media post

Many would say that the more interactions a student has with a school, the greater their interest and the greater the likelihood that they will end up matriculating to the college. Oftentimes, when a student begins to explore colleges, they are given advice like “Write a letter and make sure that they know that you’re interested,” or “When we visit campus, introduce yourself to the counselor so he or she knows you’re interested.” But why does your interest level matter?

An idea that you should keep in mind is that when a college sends you a letter of admission, they are hoping that you are seriously considering it. This idea relates to the idea of yield – the percentage of admitted students that end up exercising their option at your school. It is the goal of many schools to keep this percentage fairly high, and as a result, fill the incoming class in an efficient way.

To look at it another way, some admission offices might be reluctant to provide the letter of admission if there is little chance of the student considering the offer. With all this in mind, there is a growing push in higher education to measure interest and utilize it as a factor in the admission process. This is a relatively new idea, and for this reason, among others, not everyone has jumped on board.

So, does Villanova use demonstrated interest as a factor in the admission process? Let me make this as clear as possible.

The Office of University Admission at Villanova does not utilize demonstrated interest as a factor during the Early Action or Regular Decision Application Processes.

Let me also emphasize this point as well: Every college out there handles this differently, and it is a fair question to ask of every college that you’re considering. Additionally, things can certainly change during the wait list process. Keep in mind that demonstrated interest is considered at Villanova when students are being considered for admission from the wait list.

As to why Villanova does not lean on this specific measurement as much as other institutions, there are certainly reasons.

  1. There is a lot of information out there. It can be phone calls, attendance at events, legacy status, emails and many other things. Tracking all this information can be a challenge, and then synthesizing this data into something that is measurable and fair to the application pool can be an even greater challenge.
  2. Some students have more opportunity to demonstrate their interest than others do. This can be affected by many factors:
    • Proximity to campus
    • Ability to travel
    • Guidance from others to reach out to schools
  1. A student’s first choice in October of senior year can change before April of senior year.
  2. And related to that is the idea of how genuine some of these interactions are. If you’re telling a school that they are your first choice because you think it will help you be admitted, how genuine is that interaction?


These are just some reasons, and based on these ideas alone, there are others in the admission field who would be cautious about including demonstrated interest as a major factor in their review process. Villanova’s preference is to focus on a holistic review of the application that emphasizes academic performance.

Going forward, have you been wasting your time by telling our admission staff about how much you like it here on our campus or how you can really see yourself being involved in our community? Absolutely not! We in the admission office love hearing this, and I would certainly admit, it’s one of the reasons I love this job.


However, as mentioned, when the admission staff is discussing your file in committee, we will not be using your level of interest as a reason to advocate for your admission. I am confident that you have provided many other great reasons for us to support your application.

We thought it was important that we address this idea as the college admission process causes so much stress already. Feeding into the idea that there is some sort of secret admission game to play with secret rules that you don’t know about creates unnecessary anxiety and stress.

You’ve just reached one of the milestones of your senior year. It’s time to celebrate that, hang out with your friends, and have some fun. You will have to go back and hit the books at some point and continue the good work you’ve been doing.  Graduation is still a few months away!