Getting to Know: Loyola-Chicago
Loyola-Chicago was the first school that I visited as part of a five-day college tour in October. With near 12,000 undergrads, Loyola-Chicago has the largest undergraduate population of any Jesuit university in America. It also has the third-largest undergraduate student body among Chicago-area colleges after the University of Illinois-Chicago (21,800) and DePaul (14,100). Interestingly, Loyola-Chicago does not use a Latin phrase such as Cura Personalis (care for the whole person) or Magis (more or greater)as other Jesuit schools do. However, the academic core requirements, including courses in philosophy and religion are essentially the same.
Loyola-Chicago has some interesting demographics.
- Although this is a Jesuit school, it is 49 percent Catholic; the majority of the students come from other faiths. However, as you walk around the Lake Shore Campus, you will see constant reminders that Loyola-Chicago is a Catholic university.
- Forty-nine percent of the undergraduate student body are men and women of color.
- Half of the undergrads come from outside Illinois.
Chicago is a larger (2.7 million people) and more transit-friendly city than Boston, which some may consider to be “America’s College Town.”
The Windy City is also easier to navigate than Los Angeles or New York. If you’re looking at urban and Jesuit schools, Loyola-Chicago will be somewhat similar to Fordham in that both have over 10,000 undergrads as well as two residential campuses, each one in expensive urban areas. However, Loyola-Chicago offers a academic options that Fordham does not and does a better job at being affordable to students and their families..
Before coming to Loyola-Chicago I had previously visited nine other Jesuit schools in my work life, most recently the University of Scranton (PA).
Loyola-Chicago has the nicest campus setting of any of them. In fact, it has two settings, the Lake Shore Campus on Lake Michigan, in walking distance of Rogers Park, the other downtown near Water Tower Place. Loyola-Chicago has a two-year residency requirement for anyone who cannot commute. The housing on either campus will put students in neighborhoods that they could not afford to reside in after they graduate. Rents near campus in Rogers Park are not cheap. But the eating places are student friendly. I’ve gathered some photos on Pinterest for you, but I also hope that you will also take a tour by drone to appreciate the setting of the Lake Shore campus
Loyola-Chicago is a “health and science school” among the larger Jesuit universities.
Over 30 percent of undergraduate degrees granted by Loyola-Chicago in 2021 were in the health professions, sciences and engineering. Among the larger Jesuit schools, only Marquette (WI) with 7,800 undergrads, came close at 27 percent. Loyola-Chicago grants degrees in Exercise Science, Health Care Administration and Public Health and offers three opportunities to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. There are also three opportunities to earn an engineering degree as well as a School of Environmental Sustainability with six undergraduate programs. I also heard that 64 percent of the university’s academic departments offer at least one course in sustainability, unique for any school of any size. Loyola-Chicago is also one of only four Jesuit universities that has a medical school. Creighton (NE), St. Louis University (MO) and Georgetown are the others. There will clearly be opportunities to do research and shadow physicians that will be less available in smaller cities.
Loyola-Chicago also has strong business and communications programs.
The university offers 13 business majors and 14 business minors as well as eight communications programs and nine communications minors. The connections within these programs are quite extensive throughout the city. The School of Communications also operates Inigo, a student-run advertising and public relations agency, that offers credit-bearing opportunities to work with real clients, which have included United Airlines, for as many as three semesters. The depth of talent, advising and connections available through Inigo is probably unequaled among college programs in advertising and public relations, although students in any major may apply.
Admissions to Loyola-Chicago are quite achievable for very good and excellent students.
About two-thirds of applicants to the current freshman class got in, with Nursing being the most selective undergraduate program. Among those who submitted SAT scores, the middle 50 percent scored between 1160 and 1350. For the ACT it was between 27 and 32. The average GPA among enrolled students was a 3.9. Those numbers are below mid-ranges that you might find for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign or the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But they are about the same as you would find for Indiana University-Bloomington.
However, unlike the public Big Ten schools where you must literally be direct admit to business and other programs, you can enter Loyola-Chicago undecided on virtually any major excluding Engineering or Nursing, and you can transfer into Engineering if you plan your courses right. The Nursing program is fairly large, taking 225 freshmen each year. But it has no room for transfer students from within or outside the university,
The university also operates Arrupe College, a two-year school that primarily focuses on academically and financially supporting economically-disadvantaged students in the Chicago area as well as preparing them for work or further education.
Loyola-Chicago offers generous merit scholarships, but it is also an expensive school.
Direct charges (tuition & fees, room & board) are just under $69,000 for the current academic year. Students pay for the UPass to take mass transit around the city as part of their student fees. That’s important because it can a longer schlepp into the downtown than you might expect. Merit awards range from $10,000 to $26,000 per year and require only good academic standing to maintain. Supplemental awards are also available. The brightest applicants will be invited to interview for the Ignatius Scholarship, which covers full tuition.
During the 2020-21 school year, the latest year that I could find information, the university gave merit awards to about a third of the freshman class. These awards averaged $21,000. The larger awards will make Loyola-Chicago competitive with out-of-state charges at the more expensive Big Ten schools such as Indiana University-Bloomington, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, the average debt of 2021 graduates who borrowed exceeded $34,000. The maximum that they could borrow from the Federal Student Loan program over four years was $27,000. On average, the university met 85 percent of need for the freshmen during the 2021-22 school year.
Costs also impact retention and graduation rates.
From 2018 to 2021 Loyola-Chicago retained at least 85 percent of its incoming freshman classes. However, this dropped to 81 percent for the class that arrived last year. Around two-thirds of every class that has arrived since 2011 has graduated on time. These are good numbers though I have seen other Jesuit schools closer to my home in New Jersey do better,
Loyola-Chicago has an interesting men’s basketball history.
In 1963 the Loyola Ramblers won the NCAA national championship in men’s basketball with a record of 29-2, They were the first national champion to feature more than one Black player on the court at any time. Two starters, Jerry Harkness and Les Hunter, went on to play professionally in the NBA and ABA. A third, Pablo Robertson, played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Former President Barack Obama honored the team in the White House in 2013. The entire roster was later inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. The Ramblers returned to the Big Dance in 1964, 1966 and 1968. They would not make another appearance until 1985, losing to Georgetown in the Sweet 16. The Ramblers returned to NCAA glory in 2018, making the Final Four inspired by their chaplain, Sister Jean. Similarly inspired, the Ramblers reached the Sweet 16 in 2021 but lost in the first round last year. Sister Jean is still the spiritual inspiration of the team at 104 and maintains an office in the university’s student center.
I really like Loyola-Chicago for someone who wanted an urban “prep for work” experience but also wants to have fun while pursuing the degree. This school is a great, alternative to secular private schools such as Boston University or NYU as well as the more selective Jesuit schools such as Boston College or Fordham. There are traditions as well as a successful men’s basketball program that bond this campus. However, it is more important to find your extracurricular activities quickly to keep your friends before most of your freshman class moves off campus as juniors. In addition, the costs really need to work out for the cost conscious.
Report Card: Loyola University-Chicago
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: B+/B+
- Freshman Retention: B+
- Costs: B
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A
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