We all have expectations and a list when it comes to picking out universities. Some of the expectations might be: a good program for your major, good sports teams, large/small campus, Ivy League, Big Ten, a college in a city or a college in the country. I had only three requirements on my list: it had to be far away from my parents, it had to be in Illinois and it couldn’t be a religious university.
The summer between my junior and senior year of high school my aunt packed my two cousins and I into a minivan to take us on a university road trip. Each of us had picked out three to four universities that we wanted to visit in Illinois. I picked universities that were either in the heart of Chicago or on the outskirts of the city. My cousins picked places like SIU and NIU to visit.
All of the universities on our list were public and not connected with any one religion. I refused to go to a religious affiliated university. I had been attending Catholic schools my entire life and I wanted no more of it as I entered college. However, with strong encouragement from my military father, one Jesuit university made the list: Loyola University Chicago (LUC).
The first moment I put my foot down on Loyola’s campus I got the feeling of home. This feeling had eluded me until now. This was a feeling that I had been searching for every time my family moved around the country and into a new town. I turned to my aunt and told her that this is the college that I would be attending. I went back to South Carolina, where I went to high school, and worked hard to get accepted to LUC.
Loyola gave me the four best years of my life. I joined a sorority and the quidditch team (yes, it’s a real thing). I found a great group of friends. I learned about different causes and organizations that I am now intensely passionate about helping. All in all Loyola gave me principles, helped me to decide what is important to me and helped shape me into the person I am today.
The university didn’t force any one religion down my throat. In fact, the university has many different religions and encourages people to learn about whichever one interests them. The Jesuits were a funny and cool group of people who attended basketball games and soccer games. We even have a nun, Sister Jean, on campus and she talks to everyone she can throughout the day. She always manages to put a smile on the faces of the students.
My advisors were all helpful, nice and wanted me to succeed. I graduated recently from the university and know that my former professors are happy to help me in any way that they can. They are a great support system and reliable source of advice.
My advice to you is that if you are uncertain about visiting a particular college to go ahead and put it on your list to visit. You never know where it may lead.