Author: Lori Greene

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

The holiday season is here again. I’m looking forward to spending the next week with family and friends. I’m also looking forward to a little relaxation!

Whatever your tradition, I wish you a happy holiday season!

Tree lighting at Loyola

And if you have a moment, take a look at some of the festivities around our recent tree lighting.

How are high school and college finals different?

How are high school and college finals different?

Here on campus, exams are finished and students are heading home for a welcomed and needed break for the Holidays.

For high school students with final exams finished, you might be wondering if college exams are the same.

The truth is that they are actually pretty similar. But college finals tend to cover more information and require more specific knowledge, so you’ll have to spend more time studying. Here are some ideas to help you prepare for success when you arrive at the college of your choice:

  • Plan ahead. The best way to prepare for exams is to study a little bit every day. You’ll retain information better and you’ll avoid the stress that goes along with cramming.
  • Build a routine. Schedule a time for study and stick to it! Also, studying in the same place will help add some stability to your routine.
  • Manage your time. Time management skills will be an asset throughout your life. So start developing them now. Prioritize your tasks and use your time to your advantage.
  • Make a list. Does it seem like there’s too much to study? Take control. A ‘to do’ list will not only clarify what you need to work on, it will show you how you’re progressing.
  • Create some balance. Studying is important, but remember to maintain a healthy balance. Take time out to do things that you enjoy: read a book, see a movie, or hang out with your friends.

With a little preparation and by sharpening your study skills, you don’t have to be stressed out during final exams.

Parents’ role in the college application process

Parents’ role in the college application process

It’s mid-fall, and high school seniors all over the country are working on their college applications.

As a parent, what can you do to support your son or daughter in this process?

  • Continue to be supportive. Some of you have been through this already with an older child, but if this is your first time through the process, know that there may be some stressful days ahead. Encourage your son/daughter to talk about it and share what they are thinking and why.
  • Let your student drive the process. Your student needs to decide which schools to apply to and ultimately, which school seems like the best fit. You may have a particular school you’d like your son or daughter to consider, but make sure you let your child make the final decision.
  • Emphasize allocating time to the process and staying organized. This is often the first major process that students manage independently. There are many things to keep track of—from admission deadlines to checking in with recommenders. But even with its challenges, this is a great experience—developing time management skills will serve your son/daughter well as a first-year college student.
  • Don’t write anything for your student. Admission officers can usually tell when the essay is written by a parent. And it is particularly embarrassing when a student is asked about the topic in an interview and doesn’t know anything about it. Provide guidance, proofread, offer ideas, but make sure your son/daughter pens their own essay.
  • Let the student communicate with the school. When frequent e-mails and phone calls come from the parent, but admission staff never heard from the prospective applicant, we wonder. Is the student interested? Some schools use “demonstrated interest” in their admission process, so make sure your son/daughter acts as their own best advocate.
  • Talk about financing. Many students would love to hear more about financing from their parents, but they don’t know how to ask about it. Are there limitations based on family circumstances? Will the student share in the responsibility? Make sure you address these questions sooner rather than later with your son/daughter.
  • Set up meetings to discuss the process. Instead of sporadic check ins, set up a regular time when everyone knows college is the topic of discussion. Has the short list of schools changed? Do new visits need to be scheduled? What did you really think about the last campus visit? What does it mean as a family if the student wants to go to school further away? Make this a time for updates, questions, exploration, and to be your son/daughter’s “cheerleader.”

In the end, know that it will all work out. Each senior will realize that it is okay if he or she doesn’t know what major to declare right now. Each senior will make it through the holiday season waiting to hear from schools on top of their lists.

And ultimately, come May 1, each senior will have the opportunity to enroll at some great colleges.

College Applicants in Disguise

College Applicants in Disguise

Halloween has come and gone. The costumes were great despite some chilly weather here in Chicago last Friday. Kids dressed up as princesses, pirates, monsters, policemen, and more. My nephew dressed up as Kiss’s Gene Simmons. I loved the fake tattoo sleeves and the rockin’ wig. I’m not sure anyone paid attention to his glasses; he definitely sold it. I also had a friend who dressed up as Mr. Snow Miser and her daughter went as the Mr. Heat Miser. Fantastic!

But here we are in November. Clocks have been set back, so it is darker out earlier in the evening. It’s cooler and all the leaves have fallen.

November is also the time of year when high school seniors aim to meet their application deadlines. College counselors are ensuring transcripts have been sent. Recommenders are following up to ensure a letter was received on behalf of a candidate. Students are curious if everything has been received by an admission office.

Most admission counselors are wrapping up visits to high schools and attendance at college fairs or interview days. They are now reviewing applications and getting to know students and their interests. They want to know if a student might be a good fit for their campus.

But are you being authentic or are you in disguise?

Think about your answer carefully. When choosing a college, you have a lot of choices, but relatively few are going to feel like a good fit. Just because one school is perfect for one of your friends or because a family member is an alum, doesn’t mean that a particular school is good for you.

And remember that admission counselors want to get to know the real you. Make sure your application materials—like your essay—reflect your true interests, goals, and dreams. Doing so will go a long way in helping you find your best fit college.

There are many important components in a successful college search, but don’t underestimate the value of honest reflection on what you really want out of your college experience. Think about it like finding the right Halloween costume—you have to like it and be comfortable wearing it for the whole night.

In the end, just know that the admission process is all about you feeling confident in yourself and your eventual college choice. The next four years are for you—and you shouldn’t feel like you have to talk yourself into believing that a particular school is your best choice.

What is the Loyola Experience?

What is the Loyola Experience?

If you look at Loyola’s website or see a Loyola ad or receive a printed Loyola brochure, you will likely see this phrase, The Loyola Experience.

In truth, I think it is a pretty common phrase that prospective students hear from one university to another—particularly during the admission process—the (fill in the university here) Experience.

Well, if it is so common, why do we use it at Loyola? What does it really mean?

Years ago, we looked at our history as a university as well as the Ignatian belief that education should prepare leaders to better serve their communities. Jesuit colleges and universities were established in proximity to the city to ‘lend an ear to the discussion and needs of the community so students would know how they could best make the city stronger and a better place’ given his or her unique gifts, talents, skills, and interests.

And for all of us at Loyola, our mission is just that—to ensure that students have a Loyola Experience that equips them to leave the world better than they found it and, just as importantly, to add value to the lives and experiences of others.

It doesn’t happen overnight. There is no prescribed formula that tells you that if you just follow these steps, the Experience will occur. The Loyola Experience is designed to empower you to establish goals, map out a plan, critically think about who you are and what you want, and shape your individual and professional journey. It is deeply personal and yet, your Loyola Experience will connect you with thousands of other students and alumni around the world.

Your Loyola Experience is about the adult you will become and how society will view you and your contributions. Your Loyola Experience is the foundation for the rest of your life. In short, the Loyola Experience is what you want it to be.

I think most of our students ‘get it.’ They seek out resources on campus and dive into conversations with others. They take an active role in clubs and organizations and typically have multiple internships and research opportunities. The Loyola Experience that is alive today is quite different than the Loyola of years past. Our community has been fortunate to build on its strengths and provide more and more opportunities for those who have yet to start their experience. Every class seems to make it better for the next.

Our students really do seek out the magis—striving for more—and they leave Loyola better than they found it.

Securing a glowing recommendation letter

Securing a glowing recommendation letter

Like essays, different schools ask students to meet different criteria, but typically, most institutions are looking for one or two letters of recommendation. Make sure you read the guidelines carefully.

Here are a few other things to remember when asking for a letter of recommendation:

  1. Identify recommenders who can speak on your behalf. Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make is to ask someone who doesn’t know you. I recall receiving a letter from a U.S. Senator on behalf of an applicant. Sounds great right? Unfortunately, the letter consisted of one statement where the Senator stated he knew this student was an upcoming high school graduate, but he couldn’t share anything additional as he had never met the student.

    This is a missed opportunity. Your list of recommenders should consist of your guidance or college counselor (required by many colleges and universities), at least 2-3 teachers (one should include a teacher from a core academic class), and someone who can attest to your interests and leadership outside the classroom. Choose wisely.

    Can this person attest to your aptitude, interest in a particular school, leadership qualities, maturity, character, and drive? This person should be able to accentuate your strengths and discuss instances where they saw you confront challenges head on.

  2. Ask in advance. If the deadline for your application materials is November 1, ask now. Give your recommender(s) plenty of time. Two to three weeks is very helpful. If you request a letter at the last minute, you can imagine it won’t be as convincing as it could have been. Respect the fact that your teachers and counselors have a lot on their plates too.
  3. Provide a resume and some background. When you approach your recommender(s), ask for a few minutes of their time. Schedule 15-20 minutes on their calendars. Show up on time. Take a minute and share highlights on your resume as well as your interest in the school(s) you are applying to. Let them know about deadlines and how they should submit their letter. Also, let them know when you’ll check back with them, and give them your contact information in case they have questions.

    Most recommenders have done this before, but it doesn’t hurt to let them know about specific things you hope they can call attention to. For instance, if you founded “Meals on Wheels” in your town, but it is only one small line on your resume, you might want to mention how much time you have spent on it and how important it is to you. You may want to call their attention to your academic achievement that prepared you for a specific school’s program.

    If you are applying to more than one school, remember—it is important that if they use the name of a particular school in the letter, ask them to make sure it is changed for the appropriate university throughout the letter.

  4. Check back with your references. As the deadline approaches, there is nothing wrong with checking back in with your teachers or counselor to make sure everything is set.
  5. Check with the college or university. Many schools invite students to check their application status online to see if something is in or still missing. If that option isn’t available, be sure to call the office and make sure all of your credentials have been received.
  6. Send a thank you note. Say “Thank you.” A handwritten note is even better. Take the time to let your recommender know you appreciate their time and update them when you have made your final decision.

In the end, keep in mind that the letter of recommendation is one more way to share who you are and what unique traits you will bring to the university community.

Write a Great College Essay

Write a Great College Essay

If you are applying to a selective or highly selective college, you’ll probably be required to write an essay or a personal statement. Chances are you’ve already started to write them. But if you haven’t, don’t panic. The essay is your chance to bring your application to life.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Read first. What is the question? How many words can you use? This is one of the biggest mistakes applicants make: submitting an essay that doesn’t answer the question or fails to stay within the guidelines.
  • Brainstorm. Think about what you want to write. If you only had a few minutes to share something unique about yourself, what would you say? Use your essay to tell admissions counselors how you stand out. Something you learned, a novel approach to a problem, or an experience that shaped who you are today—these are all things that can set you apart.
  • Stay away from the resume. Don’t use your essay to reiterate your resume by listing all of the sports, clubs, and organizations you are a part of in your school or community. Think of the essay as a great cover letter or an opportunity to tell a story.
  • Be honest. This probably goes without saying, but be truthful and passionate. Paint a picture for the reader as if he or she is there. You don’t need to use a laundry list of adjectives. Build the story by sharing something about yourself or your point of view.
  • Take a risk. Some of the best essays I have ever read started with an unusual statement. To this day I still remember an essay that began, “Old people are stinky.” The student brought to life his experience volunteering at a senior living home, where his initial bias changed due to some great chess games with a war veteran named Charlie.
  • Remember the basics. Spell check. Read your essay out loud for grammar and transitions. Use an easy-to-read font size. If you used the same essay for a different school, take the name of that school out of the essay. If you e-mail the essay or upload it to your application account, put your name and address on it. Sending something from “” doesn’t help the admission office match it to you application.

As you prepare to apply to Loyola, I hope you include a great essay that will make me walk out of my office and share it with other admission officers. Each year, we are amazed by students who take the time to tell their unique story. And we look forward to what these talented students will bring to the Loyola community in years to come.

Time to Give Thanks

Time to Give Thanks

This Thursday, we celebrate another Thanksgiving. For many, it’s a day comprised of good food, family and friends, football, and the kick-off to the holiday season. More importantly, it’s a day where we are able to reflect on our lives and of course, think about those less fortunate.

Here at Loyola, the HUB staff members (our one-stop destination for questions, answers, and directions) put up a Tree of Thanks at the desk. Each leaf is hung by a student, faculty, staff member, or guest indicating something or someone each person is thankful for this Thanksgiving. Thank you HUB staff for taking a moment and asking us to step outside of our day-to-day lives for a bit to reflect and simply say ‘Thank you.’

Personally, I want to say “THANK YOU” to the many admission staff members, student workers, and ambassadors who go above and beyond their required responsibilities each day. Your hard work is appreciated!

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.: Please don’t forget that if you are applying to Loyola for Fall 2014 as a freshman student, the priority application deadline is this coming Sunday, December 1. APPLY NOW!

Two great weekends

Two great weekends

On November 9 and 16, Loyola hosted high school juniors and seniors as well as transfer students for our annual open houses. Students and their families came from all around the Chicago area, across the state, and from many states outside of Illinois. We welcomed more than 2,100 students and approximately 3,800 family members.

It was an exciting and busy two days on campus!

It was great to see so many students interested in the Loyola Experience. Our faculty and staff were very excited to talk with members of the Class of 2018 and beyond!

Take a look at what you missed.



A few weeks ago, my niece sent me a college essay to review and provide her with some feedback. Last week, she called me and screamed, “I GOT IN!”

I could sense the grin on her face.

But now, my question was, “Where?”

She shared that she was admitted to Ole Miss and how it was so nice to know that she ‘got in’ to at least one school. She knew other decisions would be arriving later, but she was excited that this was the first college she had heard from. She planned on setting up a campus visit soon.

I enjoyed the conversation for many reasons:

  1. I might get a text message or a message sent via Facebook, but this was a phone call from my niece. I love hearing from her and learning how she is doing.
  2. She knows what I do for a living and how I have been excited for her to start this process. She thought enough at the time to share her first admission letter with me.
  3. After 20 years in college admission, I can honestly say that it is still a thrill to hear the excitement in a student’s voice when they get admitted to a college/university.

Hopefully, my niece will share the rest of the decisions as well as her impressions from her campus visits. I am sure our discussions over the holidays will be quite lively. Hopefully you have similar discussions as well!