Long ago in a galaxy far, far away (well, up I-10 a few miles anyway), I transferred from a big school to a small one. People called me crazy (to my face) and wondered if I hadn’t made a career-limiting mistake. And that was my mother!
Others asked why I’d give up the vast array of opportunities available at one of those schools with 30,000+ students to take up residence at a tiny (by comparison) institution with admittedly more limited things to do, classes to take, professionals to connect with.
I couldn’t verbalize my reasons, but I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing. Looking back, I just wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. A small(er) school gives you a chance to meet more people, to make the types of personal and professional connections that help you throughout life. It creates an atmosphere where one-on-one learning is not only possible but happens every day.
A small faculty-student ration allows me to be able to tailor my advising recommendations to a student’s needs, to identify specific openings that a prospective intern is seeking, to share the right business cards with a graduating senior looking for that all-important first job, to get to know students as more than just assignments and grades.
A student from another school remarked recently how cool it was that Loyola professors know our students’ names and talk with them outside of class, whether it’s in the hallways or on the way to the Danna Center. This student said that doesn’t happen at many other schools (even small ones). It’s one of the reasons I love teaching at Loyola and why students flourish here.
I was reminded of this during the weekend; I rode along with Loyola’s Ad Team as they participated in the District 7 National Student Advertising Competition in Mobile.
After an outstanding performance by the team, I feel even more strongly that Loyola’s size and the resulting ability to forge connections between faculty and students help make this a very special place. It’s created a strong bond between Dr. Yolanda Cal, in her first year as Loyola Ad Team adviser, and her senior-level students.
The 12 students who comprise In the NO Advertising may be bone tired just now, but they’re also excited about the prospects for the future. They’re eager to start fund raising for a trip to a professional development workshop in NYC in the fall, and they’re already talking about next year’s District 7 competition. They’re ready to mentor those coming after them and pass along what they’ve learned to the next Ad Team.
I encourage you to say congratulations to the members of the Ad Team when you see them; they deserve it. If you don’t know who they are, just ask. You’ll get to meet some really interesting people. Ask Diego about being Cuban, even though he’s Panamanian. Ask Mallory if there’s more water. Ask Alysha to say “thank you!” Ask Kristin about Chick-fil-A. Ask Diane what a plasma car is. Ask Thomas about hair spray (the product, not the musical). Each team member has some great stories to share.