Author: Lori Greene

The Role of Parents in the College Application Process

The Role of Parents in the College Application Process

It’s mid-fall, and high school seniors all over the country are in the midst of trying to decide which colleges or universities they want to apply to and/or completing applications for early deadlines.

It is a busy time of year.

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

  • Continue to be supportive and understanding of their opinions and thoughts. They may change their minds when learning new information about each college choice. Some of you have been through this already with an older child, so you realize how stressful the college selection process is on a child. 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. The student needs to determine which colleges he or she is interested in applying to and ultimately what he or she thinks is really 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 college search process and staying organized. This is often the first major process that students manage independently. It is important. They need to dedicate time with approaching deadlines. They need to check back with recommenders and the Registrar’s Office to ensure letters and transcripts are sent on a timely basis. They need to learn to balance school, sports, clubs, and the college selection process. This is a great experience—developing some time management skills will serve them well as a first-year college student.
  • Don’t write anything for your student. Admission officers can typically 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. Yes, I think you should provide guidance and input and you can be very valuable as a proofreader in this day and age where “text speak” is far too common. You can also encourage your student to highlight an experience that he or she forgot about or didn’t think was as noteworthy. Just make sure that it is in your student’s own words.
  • Let the student communicate with the school. It’s a concern when e-mails and phone calls come from the parent, but the college or university has never heard from the prospective applicant. Is the student interested? Some schools use “demonstrated interest” in their admission process. The student needs to be his or her own best advocate.
  • Talk about financing. This is the number one issue that many students would love to hear more about from their parents, but they often don’t know where they stand and they don’t know how to ask. Are there restrictions/limitations based on the 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 a regular time to meet and discuss the process. Instead of approaching your son or daughter first thing Saturday morning when he/she has made other plans, set up a regular time when everyone knows it is the topic of discussion. Has the list of schools being considered changed? Where do you need to set up visits to? What did you really think about the last campus visit? What does it mean as a family if the student is really looking to go to school further away? Make it 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 OK 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 Application and Scholarship Deadlines

College Application and Scholarship Deadlines

It’s stressful and it can be overwhelming, but deadlines are the framework of the college admission process. Every step in the cycle revolves around the next deadline.

If you are reading all of the brochures you picked up from a recent college fair or online via a school’s website, you’ll notice that every college or university seems to have a different admission and scholarship process and yes—even different deadlines.

Probably the best way to wrap your mind around all of the different requirements and dates will be to put it all on paper. So go ahead and pull out a sheet of poster board and tack it up in your room or set up an Excel spreadsheet that you can refer to throughout your college search process. List the schools you will apply to and leave room for a few more you might consider later. When is the application deadline? What do you need to request from a teacher/counselor/registrar? What is the scholarship deadline?

Write it all out.

Visualization is an amazing trick. Believe me—it will help.

It may seem like it, but college admission officers don’t get together to try to confuse the process or add to your stress during your senior year. It is really just a matter that each school operates differently. We all have different committee review processes, admission criteria, admission decision dates, and ways that students can be considered for scholarships.

In the end, the deadlines help us to help you. By meeting the appropriate deadlines for each school, you put yourself in the best possible position for admission consideration and potentially, scholarship consideration. Once admitted, you are also set up to receive additional information on majors, clubs and organizations, residence life, financial aid, additional scholarships, and more.

All of this is in support of giving you an opportunity to drive the rest of the process. You see, the tables turn once you are admitted. From this point forward, admission officers are waiting to hear from you. So take time to visit each campus, sit in on classes, talk with students and faculty, and attend an open house or admitted student event.

I invite you to get organized if you haven’t done so already. Attack the deadlines, don’t fear them!

Will Loyola be your college “best fit?” Will you be part of our Class of 2018? The first step in finding out is to complete your application by the December 1 Priority Deadline. Doing so ensures that you have the best admission and scholarship consideration.

How Many Schools Should You Apply To?

How Many Schools Should You Apply To?

That is the question. I hear it from students and parents each year.

And my answer—it depends.

Many times students start out open-minded and add schools to their list to check out. Maybe mom or dad graduated from one of them or it’s a state flagship school or you’re a fan of the football team. But the reality is there is no magic number of schools to apply to because it is different for everyone.

It’s completely normal to wonder if you are applying to schools that are the ‘right fit.’ And, for sure, every student has a few hopeful ‘reach schools.’ But where do you start?

Begin by thinking of what you want to study and in what type of setting (city vs. rural, big vs. small, etc.). Pick some schools that match these criteria and then look at the academic profiles of each school. Ideally, you meet the middle 50% of most of the categories listed such as GPA, test scores, and class rank. If not, broaden your search. Be certain to include schools that you are interested in and you meet all of the criteria. Then move on to a few schools that you would love to get in to but realize it is a stretch; it doesn’t hurt to try.

In the end, be honest with yourself. Be realistic—and just as importantly, know yourself. What type of academic student are you? What type of environment appeals to you outside of the classroom?

When in doubt, try to not overextend yourself. I did and I admit it. I applied to some 15 colleges and universities many years ago. I didn’t know what I was doing. I kept thinking that if I applied to a lot of schools, I would end up with many choices. It really doesn’t work like that. Only in hindsight (and with the use of today’s technology) do I wish I had just taken a few weeks to really do some research ahead of time to see which schools really matched my abilities and interests.

Happy researching—and good luck!

Much More Than a Farmers’ Market

Much More Than a Farmers’ Market

When students and parents ask me where to begin their college search, I don’t really have any one good answer. For some students, it might be available majors that is the most critical must-have. For others, it might be location. Still others might find academic or social clubs highly important.

But one thing I feel is essential for students is to look for some value added in their college search. What do I mean by that? It’s pretty simple actually—search for colleges that are going above and beyond—something that demonstrates they are a growing and vibrant community. That value added might differ between schools. And some colleges like Loyola actually have multiple aspects that are value added. Take our new Institute of Environmental Sustainability for example.

The opening of Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) is founded on the basis of collaborative learning, research, and experiential learning in an urban environment. It is an opportunity for students to take their interest in sustainable issues and apply it to their community where they can lead change. It’s also a chance to enhance their career possibilities—from the natural sciences to government and politics to business.

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

So, what is available? You name it. Loyola has its own biodome. Loyola has the premier geothermal facility in the city of Chicago with a system that spans 91 wells that go some 500 feet underground. There is an ecotoxicology lab. Students continue to work to make our own biodiesel in the Clean Energy Lab. There is even an aquaponics lab.

Simply put, it’s amazing.

The IES was student-driven from the start and now it has come to fruition. TAKE A LOOK.

Ready, Set, Start Classes

Ready, Set, Start Classes

I overheard a student yesterday comment that “there are so many people on campus.” He’s right.

Last Friday, Loyola welcomed its largest freshman class in its 143-year history with more than 2500 freshman students and more than 500 transfer students. The East Quad outside the Information Commons played host to all new students as I had the opportunity to welcome Loyola’s Class of 2017. I was joined by Dr. Rob Kelly, Vice President for Student Development and Pedro Guerrero, President of the Unified Student Government. Moving from the East Quad to Gentile Arena, all new students then attended Convocation and eventually had the chance to participate in a variety of Welcome Week activities that will come to a close this weekend.

Classes are in full swing. Student attention has been diverted to a variety of academic subjects. Over lunch, I talked with a student who shared “classes are piling it on already,” referring to the amount of reading and the projects assigned for the term. So, good luck and keep working hard. You may not believe it now, but the year is going to fly by—enjoy it! We can’t wait to see all you back in Gentile Arena for a different kind of celebration in May of 2017—graduation.

Are you in the right mindset?

Are you in the right mindset?

Summer is coming to a close and the start of classes is just around the corner. This is the part of the year that many people visiting Loyola’s campus don’t have the chance to see.

It’s so quiet.

Loyola's East QuadI enjoy walking onto campus early in the morning and strolling through the East Quad (see photo). There are days when the sky is so perfectly blue, the wind is so calm, and the chapel seems to be framed perfectly next to the Information Commons. It is peaceful and inviting.

It makes you pause, enjoy your coffee a little more, and simply appreciate the day. As you round the corner along the lake, it’s also fun to see the swimmers, who each morning make their way to Loyola Beach one after the next.

This week is our move-in week, so today was one of those last quiet mornings of summer. It’s an exciting time with students and parents descending on campus. Everything looks beautiful with mid-80 degree temps and sail boats gliding across a glass-topped Lake Michigan.

We are all excited about welcoming the Loyola Class of 2017 and we have many events planned for this time of celebration. Ironically, the Beloit Mindset List is once again out to remind us how the average 18-year-old arriving on campus may not have experienced things that many of us are very familiar with. Here are a few that standout to me this year:

  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get some place, just an address.
  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
  • Java has never been just a cup of coffee.
  • Rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phone and Skype accounts than with getting a driver’s license and car.

While I enjoy the summer mornings, it makes me all the more appreciative of the chaos of the fall semester. Seeing students’ faces light up and get excited about meeting new people and diving into classes and organizations makes me realize all the hard work of the last admission cycle was worth it; they found their “fit” in their college search. I am glad it is Loyola.

Off and Running…

Off and Running…

My sister in-law took my niece for her senior picture yesterday. It’s so hard to imagine that she is starting her senior year in high school. And yes, I am one of those aunts who is quick to say, “I remember going with her for her first day of kindergarten. I remember her trotting around in the headdress I bought for her when she was about 3. I remember trying to teach her how to play volleyball. I remember that she loved singing Jimmy Buffet’s ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ at the top of her lungs while in the car.”

Time flies.

This year, she will experience very special moments—from her senior picture to football games to senior trips to fun times with friends. She will also walk into the work of making her college decision. She is a young adult now: mature, smart, and beautiful. What I hope she realizes is just how many choices she will have in finding the right ‘next step.’

There are more than 4000 two- and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. I keep trying to explain that there are likely many that will meet her criteria and many that she hasn’t even heard about yet.

I recommend that high school seniors keep an open mind and go beyond the initial search of just a few ‘big name’ schools that you know and recognize.

  • Attend a college fair at your high school or in your city and talk with the people behind the tables; they are likely the same people making the admission decision on your application.
  • Ask questions. Does the school have your major? Where is it located? What is its size? What are the popular clubs and organizations on campus? Can I study abroad?
  • Seek out college representatives that visit your high school—they have tons of information to share about the application process, scholarships, financial aid, and student life.
  • Make an appointment with your college counselor to see if he or she has recommendations for you based on your areas of interest.

And for one of you…make sure you talk with your aunt. She has some experience in this area.



For those of you who haven’t heard the announcement yet, Loyola just named Sheryl Swoopes as the women’s basketball head coach. One of the first stars of the WNBA, Swoopes is a three-time MVP and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. And, yes, she is also the first woman to have her own Nike basketball shoe named after her—Air Swoopes.

Hearing the news took me back to my high school days of playing basketball and college days when I remember her winning a national championship. The thoughts of the WNBA being announced come to mind too. As a fan, I am grateful for what she has done for the sport. As a new colleague, I hope she doesn’t challenge new friends and colleagues across campus to any one-on-one match ups!

Finalizing Your College Choice

Finalizing Your College Choice

Admission decisions are in hand. Colleges and universities across the country are hosting events in the hope of helping admitted students to finalize their college decision.

Do you know where you will be this fall? Which school is #1 on your list?

This past weekend, we hosted our annual Loyola Weekend for admitted students and their parents who visited campus from as far away as the Philippines, Ecuador, and Mexico and as nearby as Naperville and Des Plaines, IL. There is something to be said for all the excitement that surrounds a weekend like this. The admission staff plans for more than a year to secure the dates, facilities, etc. to make it happen. And we are joined by faculty, staff, alumni, and students who make it all come together as we prepare to welcome the newest members of the Loyola family. I admit it, we are very lucky here at Loyola; our community is extremely supportive and really enjoys meeting new students and parents who are looking to make Loyola their new home.

Take a quick peek at what prospective students thought of the weekend.

So, here we are after the big party is over wondering who will join us this fall. Colleges all around the country are thinking the same thing. Did she like us? Is he really interested? Did the family have a good time? What will be the deciding factor? How can we help further with any questions or concerns?

Finalizing your college choice isn’t easy. Most students have a gut feeling of which way they are leaning, but there are so many other factors at play that the decision gets a little cloudy from time to time. In the end, I hope that students considering Loyola (or whichever school is their top choice) think about the following things:

  • Does the school have the academic program(s) I am interested in?
  • Are the resources I need to ensure my success in place?
  • Can I see myself here? Living here? Having friends here?
  • Is it my ‘fit’?

Good luck as you finalize your college choice. We look forward to welcoming the Loyola Class of 2017 for Orientation this summer and of course, the start of the fall term.

Visit and Revisit Your Top College Choices

Visit and Revisit Your Top College Choices

Many students get a jump start in the college selection process. One example is a high school sophomore who just e-mailed me about her upcoming visit to campus. Being ahead of schedule and making an early campus visit is a great idea—you’ll get to see where the campus is located within the city/area, get a feel for who goes to school there, and learn about all of the opportunities that this particular college or university offers. If you like what you see and want to know more, keep that school on your list. You’ll always have the chance to revisit the same school in the upcoming years to see if it remains a top choice for you and to be certain that all of your questions are answered.

On the other hand, there are many students who wait until later in the process and then realize that they need to make time to see the schools that top their college lists. This might happen during senior year of high school and often becomes a matter of trying to find time in a busy schedule. But remember that it’s worthwhile and will likely help you decide where you will enroll. I always share with students and parents that you don’t buy a car without test driving it, so why wouldn’t you make sure to visit at least your top three college choices before finalizing?

Sophomore or senior—make sure you visit a campus and ideally, visit again. For students who visit early in their high school career, things will change at that school over time. The physical appearance of the campus, the deadlines/requirements in the application process, and your feelings about whether or not it is a real ‘fit’ for you are just a few of the things that may change. With this in mind, I encourage you to visit the schools on your short list again if it has been more than a year since your last visit.

For seniors, you may have visited by going on a tour and/or attending an information session. But now is the prime time to meet with an admission or financial aid counselor, attend an admitted student event such as an overnight program, or make sure you are on the list for the larger spring programs. These spring programs are especially important as universities typically invite admitted students and their families to campus to meet with faculty, staff, students, alumni and more. Here at Loyola, this event is called Loyola Weekend and it is coming up April 6-7. We hope to see you there and we can’t wait to meet the students of Loyola’s Class of 2017!