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Loyola University Chicago

First-Year Experience

Raul Urquiza

Sophomore, Nursing, Chicago

Everything about college is new to me but hopefully as the year progresses I will not be as confused. Adjusting from high school to college has been tough.  If it was not for ACE [Achieving College Excellence] I would be clueless and have had a much tougher transition period. I owe my first semester successes to my mentors from MOCI and STARS; they put me on the right path. Things such as registering for classes and studying for finals were less stressful than I had imagined. Being a first generation student is empowering, knowing that I can be an academic role model for my family and friends has been my biggest accomplishment. My dream has always been to go to college and now I get to live out that dream. I am embracing the different experiences with openness to growth in hopes to become the best version of myself. I love Loyola, the resources and opportunities are endless. I was afraid I would not be able to keep up in my classes, but by advocating for myself and using the tutoring resources I discovered that the workload is very manageable.

The summer before I started school, because I had to fill out many forms and Loyola University accidently billed me for housing. I knew that if I did not straighten everything out I could have been in a difficult financial situation. I had many questions about college but my advisors cleared everything up. Another big moment would be when I realized that College is nothing like High school. You cannot study the day before an exam and expect a great score. To get the score you want, you should study weeks before the quiz/exam. A strategy that I worked for me was making a schedule and planning out my week, ever since then my productivity has skyrocketed.

The Nursing program here is outstanding. It is a direct 4 years that will ensure I graduate with a degree in Nursing. Compared to other schools where I would need to apply sophomore year with the probability of not being accepted. Another reason is the location, only being half an hour away on the red line makes it effortless to commute. Being on campus I felt that Loyola’s staff genuinely cares for their students and this aspect was really important to me. It is an environment I could not see myself without. Another reason was that my high school, Loyola Academy offered a scholarship to Jesuit Colleges.

What role, if any, did your family play in your decision to come to college? What role, if any, did your family play in your decision to come to Loyola University Chicago?

             After migrating here to America from Mexico my father stressed the importance of higher education. Their dream was to give me the chance to go to college. The role my family had would probably be in supporting my brothers and me in achieving our dreams. Loyola’s financial aid is more generous than some of the other schools I applied to making it easier to attend. My brother Raunel is attending Dominican University in River Forest and after spending 12 years at the same schools we both decided it was time to create our own separate paths.  

I was very excited and ready to take on the world. We went over the syllabus and it seemed straight forward. I made the mistake of carrying all my books in my backpack. After that I decided to get a locker in Damen.

Studying not because you have to, but because you want to. Classes require self motivation in the highest form. No one is going to beg you to do your work. Another thing is the conversations; you can always expect a good conversation in a college atmosphere. College offers diverse experience options that can help you grow as a person.

I created a schedule. It worked wonders to keep me sane. That and the calendar on my phone is how I managed my school work and stayed focused.  

Do not be shy to ask questions! Discover what resources are available to you! Use your resources as much as possible! Ask upperclassmen what they wish they could have known as freshman. Have a mentor, always go to class. It is very important to stay on top of everything and become organized. Try something new and explore your interests.  Talk to your parents about how you are doing and tell them about your experience. Your college experience is created because of parents who care enough to encourage you to go to college. The first wave of exams can be challenging, do not let them put you down. Once you get in tune with your classes and professors, the rest of your semester should flow very smoothly. 


The Office of First Year Experience · 255 Sullivan Center 1032 West Sheridan Road, Chicago IL 60660
Phone: 773.508.7381 · Website: www.luc.edu/firstyearexperience

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