Month: April 2011

Is it just a cup of coffee?

Is it just a cup of coffee?

I was listening to a replay of an interview with Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, about his new book, Onward, that details the company’s recent transformation. During the discussion, he talks about a few key points that distinguish Starbucks from companies like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

This started me thinking about the similarities between Starbucks and Loyola. So grab your coffee and settle in for a good read:

First, Shultz talks about how every day, Starbucks employees need to believe in what the company set out to do 40 years ago—to “inspire the human spirit.”

Loyola is proud of its 450-year-old Catholic, Jesuit tradition that focuses on educating the whole person. Students have a choice in their education, and while they can choose to go elsewhere, will they have this same experience? Simply, the answer is NO. Loyola is a community where we strive for magis, or the more, the better, in our everyday lives.  We see this in our faculty, staff, students, and graduates who are constantly looking for ways they can improve themselves, their community, and the world.

Second, Schultz comments that you can’t underestimate the importance of people. He mentions that the most important person in Starbucks is the manager, who each day focuses on seemingly mundane tasks.

Loyola’s managers are our students. As a Jesuit priest once shared with me, Jesuit institutions like Loyola are situated in cities like Chicago so they can listen to the conversations taking place. What is needed? What is important? What makes a city stronger? Each day, Loyola students attend classes, participate in experiential learning, do research, explore social justice issues, and most importantly, they are active participants. Loyola students and graduates offer their time, skills, and abilities to make their communities stronger—and by doing so, they begin to see the extraordinary impact of ordinary, everyday activities.

Third, the company was founded on the belief that each person has the responsibility to help build a community. The experience isn’t just about a quick cup of coffee.

Loyola students continuously build ties within and beyond the Loyola community. They make these connections because they understand that building a truly global community means taking small steps as an individual—to share, communicate, and strive for understanding. These communities that students engage in are critical bridges between their life experiences and create a lifelong web of communities that connect vocation, family, and friends.

Fourth, Schultz mentions that one of the biggest questions lies in whether or not Starbucks can be BIG but stay small.

As the largest of the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, Loyola is indeed BIG. Yet, as a community that supports cura personalis, or care of the whole person, Loyola is rooted in a Jesuit tradition of academic excellence that creates numerous opportunities to engage individually. Students get to know their professors—and they build strong relationships with roommates, classmates, and those in the local community.

Finally, Schultz mentions that details matter. Starbucks can earn more profit by using re-steamed milk, but is it simply not the same experience as starting fresh.

Each August, we start with a new class at Loyola, all with different backgrounds and experiences. Each student comes seeking his or her own Loyola story, but we don’t want students to replicate their past experiences—we want them to create new ones. At Loyola, we encourage students to try things they haven’t before, to get to know people from different cultures, to pursue new memories, and to look forward to a future of possibilities.

We look forward to welcoming the Class of 2015.

Making the Final Enrollment Decision

Making the Final Enrollment Decision

We’re fast approaching May 1, the National Candidate Decision Date for high school seniors to make their college choice. Though many of the students who applied to Loyola have already made their decision, all of us in the Office of Student Financial Assistance know that finances can be a big part of your final choice. We have tools available to help you.

Your Bottom Line (Estimate) can be found in the LOCUS Campus Finances menu. The Bottom Line is a presentation of your financial aid award and how you can expect it to pay for charges.  It’s important to note that the Bottom Line isn’t a bill, but rather, it’s an estimate of charges, such as tuition, fees, and on-campus room and board versus the financial aid you have received. The result, or ‘Bottom Line,’ is the projected amount that your family can expect to pay after financial aid.

Looking at the Bottom Line is an important consideration for many families and we are happy to be able to provide a significant amount of funds from institutional sources. Many students find that their net cost to attend Loyola is actually equal to or less than the cost to attend a public four-year institution. It is important to use this type of comparison when weighing your options—to look beyond the advertised cost for a school and to investigate the Bottom Line.

One financial aid resource you won’t see in your Loyola Bottom Line is the PLUS Loan. We show you the maximum amount that parents can borrow through the PLUS Loan, but because this loan is applied for by parents, it will only appear in your Bottom Line after the application has been completed. Some colleges will show PLUS Loans in the list of awards and Bottom Line automatically, so remember look closely at the awards provided by other schools so that you have a better idea of where you stand.

Finally, we know that there are times when the FAFSA does not give us the full picture of a family’s financial situation. The Special Circumstance Appeal allows additional information to be included in the financial aid decision. If your family has experienced a significant change in finances, I invite you to contact us to talk about the appeal. It may be challenging to complete the appeal process by May 1, but we can help you work with the Undergraduate Admission Office to help make attending Loyola possible.

As always, when you have questions or want to talk about financial aid as you make your decision, contact my talented staff at Loyola. We’re here to answer your questions and help guide you through the process.

Heading to Prom?

Heading to Prom?

At this time of year, admission officers hear from anxious high school seniors preparing to make their final college choices in advance of the May 1 deadline. Of course, we also hear from students about preparing for their senior prom. It’s simple. There are certain rites of passage that high school students experience—whether it is getting their driver’s license or taking on a part-time job or experiencing one last high school spring break. Senior prom ranks right up there in the list of high school memories for most students, whether they are going with a group of friends or were asked by a long-time friend or are making it a special date with their significant other. Hopefully, you can soak it in and use this time to celebrate the end of high school with your friends to just have fun.

Far too often in the admission process, we see students lose the excitement that existed when they began thinking about choosing a college. Trying to make that final decision is tough. And, it’s a lot like all of the decisions that go into senior prom. Whether you’re looking for the right dress or tuxedo or want to do something a little more unique, it’s all about making the evening as memorable and as perfect as possible. I know some of you are frustrated with the college selection process and you probably just want it over right now. But much like making the decision on what to wear to prom, your college decision too will fly by. Before you know it, you will take that next step in your life that will also create cherished memories in college much like you have done in high school.

Take time to reflect on your time in high school, realizing that despite its ups and downs, you probably have many great things to be proud of and to celebrate. Similar to your prom, our Loyola seniors will be celebrating their achievements and the end of the year at the annual Damen Ball. Many of them are coming off of our Loyola Weekend of Excellence, where they had the chance to share their academic achievements as well as campus and community involvement with their families and friends. At Loyola, we are also excited to hear about high school graduation plans underway for our incoming students in Loyola’s Class of 2015.

Our hats are off to you!

Finding Your BFF

Finding Your BFF

As the May 1 national candidate deadline approaches, many seniors are anxiously awaiting the next step in the college process because they already know where they are heading this fall. Other students are anxiously awaiting some type of divine intervention to tell them which school to choose.  Either way, the next steps in the process are upon you.  This is where the fun of college really begins. Yes, I am talking about your housing choices and roommate matches.

I still remember the letter I received in the mail matching me with my own college roommate.  I filled out the roommate questionnaire hoping for the best.  Sometime in June of 1990, I learned that my roommate  was from Cincinnati, Ohio; that she wanted to major in finance; and that she was very involved at her small Catholic high school.  The following week, I got a letter from Cindy, my freshman roommate.  She told me about where she grew up, shared stories about her brothers and sister, mentioned why she chose the school, and asked a lot of questions.  What did I like to do for fun?  What was I involved with in high school? Did I like to work out?  Did I like golf?  Would I have access to a car?  Was I bringing a word processor? (Yes, I know what you are thinking.)

As the summer rolled by, Cindy and I talked on the phone a few times and wrote letters back and forth discussing how we wanted to decorate our room, who else we knew that was attending the school, what orientation might be like, and more.  Today, Cindy is my best friend, she still lives in Cincinnati, and she is the proud mother of three children, including my goddaughter.  We have shared so much over the years, and yet it all traces back to that first letter she wrote to me, when she took the time to share a bit about herself. It put me at ease and really made me look forward to going off to college. I still have that letter today.  I will go so far as to share with you a photo from our freshman year:

While I can’t promise that you will have the same type of “Best Friends Forever” match with your roommate, I can tell you that this is a great journey where you have the chance to go outside your comfort zone and meet and live with someone new.  One of the next steps in the process is to ensure that you fill out the housing contract, whether you are living on campus next year or not.  All first- and second-year students are required to live on campus unless they live with a parent or guardian a certain distance from campus and have the residence requirement waived by the Director of Residence Life.  The housing contract also has a section dedicated to roommate preferences. At Loyola, we have a number of different residence halls to accommodate first-year students, and the Department of Residence Life does a great job working with incoming students.  Be sure to check out the 3D views of each of the first-year residence halls, as well as a few guided video tours on YouTube.  There is also a list of FAQs to review in case you are wondering about about any details in the process.

Another great advantage at Loyola offers students is the opportunity to apply to a Learning Community.  Learning Communities are great ways to meet other students with similar interests. Students in Learning Communities also live in the same residence hall, making it easy to arrange study sessions or plan group activities. If you’re interested in joining a Learning Community, submit your application by May 1!

Loyola Weekend Rewind

Loyola Weekend Rewind

Have you ever watched a movie and it went so fast that you had to stop and rewind it just to make sure you got it all? This past weekend, April 2 – 3, the Loyola community hosted over 4,000 guests, including admitted students and their families, during the annual Loyola Weekend.

Having the chance to welcome Loyola’s Class of 2015 for a weekend of events is exciting. Some students are on campus for the third or fourth time and are just now sharing the experience with their families. Other students are visiting for the first time. They want to make sure they have the El experience going between our Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses, or they want to take the time to enjoy the beautiful view from the Information Commons on the shores of Lake Michigan.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the Loyola community felt energized by this new class. Countless faculty members shared that they never stopped talking to eager students about academic programs. Staff members enjoyed the chance to learn which of the 36 states students were visiting from and how they first discovered that Loyola was the right college choice for them. Current students commented on how much fun it is talking about major choices that they have in common and how students can get involved on campus and in the community. Loyola’s student organizations were already busy recruiting new members for the fall! I want to personally say “THANK YOU” to everyone who helped with the weekend, but more importantly shared what Loyola means to them.

I am now thinking of all the admitted students who have a tough decision to make. How do you decide which college experience is right for you over the next four years? Chances are you already know.

1.   You know which college or university offers your academic area of interest.

2.   You know what type of university setting you might feel more comfortable in, whether it is bigger or smaller or urban or rural.

3.   You know the make-up of the student body that awaits you this fall because you started to feel comfortable thinking about people you will get to know through a history class, or who you would be sitting next to in the dining hall, or who you will hang out with on a Friday night.

If you are an admitted student, don’t forget to let us know that Loyola is the right fit for you. Be sure to deposit.