Making The Loyola Investment

As you walk around campus in this nippy February weather, you’ll notice here and there signs of spring popping up from the earth. Along with the new blooms follow a new crop of students, coming in droves to tour the school and attend information sessions with their families. Pretty soon the quad and bridge will be clogged with newcomers on Saturdays, and you just might get asked by a lost parent where to find Boulder.

Sometimes, if you’re really lucky (and I’m being serious, this is pretty cool), you’ll be asked what you like the most, what you don’t like, and the most personal question, why Loyola at all? What was the deciding factor? What was in the balance?

For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, you already know some of the answers. But not all!

To give you an idea of where I was by this time senior year of high school, I had heard back from a few schools, was still waiting on others, but had more or less narrowed it down to Loyola, Fordham, and Rutgers.

After taking the tour and seeing the freakishly large campus of my state university (and learning I’d have to take a bus to get to classes), I crossed out Rutgers from my list. I had already visited Fordham before I applied, but after I went to the accepted students day, I just wasn’t feeling it. I loved the programs they offered: their History, Women’s Studies and Irish Studies departments were very strong and they, too, had core requirements. I loved how it was in the city with the world at my fingertips. It was tied with Loyola, until I got their financial aid letter.

Suddenly I was faced with two schools I wasn’t very keen on and and third I had visited multiple times, but hadn’t had that “This is it” feeling which everyone talks about.

Don’t get me wrong, Loyola was on my Top of the Top List from the first time I took a tour! I really liked the campus, the students were nice, the department representatives I met were so friendly and open to questions, and the emphasis on service and core classes drew me in tenfold. But between the first time I visited to merely consider it and the second time for my interview, I still hadn’t been able to say “I can see myself here.”

February passed, and then some of March, while I watched my friends make their deposits to their dream schools. Then one bleak and rainy day (I’m not kidding, it was downpouring on the walk from my bus stop), I received a letter from Loyola saying I’d been awarded a merit based scholarship, which added a new factor to my interest in the school.

I attended the accepted students day in April, which included a breakfast for scholarship and honors program students, along with the crazy amount of activities to keep you busy. And that’s when something changed. There was no Eureka moment, no fairy chanting Abracadabra over my head to result in a poof of inspiration.

It was a gradual acceptance.

As the day wore on, I saw more that I liked, I heard more challenging and simultaneously appealing ideas, and I met more people I saw as like-minded peers. There was a sense of community I hadn’t felt at other schools, a deep grounding in the Jesuit teaching of core values. There were so many ways I could get involved on and off campus, I just had to know where to look. Even the dorms and living-learning communities were calling to me (give me a kitchen and I’m happy). I found myself being able to say that I could truly see myself as a Loyola Greyhound.

And that was more or less it. By the end of the day I had submitted my deposit and triumphantly called my sister to tell her the news. But there was a moment during that afternoon that’s always stuck in my memory and is one of my biggest motivators to do well.

My parents and I stood outside Boulder and figured out the financial difference between Loyola and Rutgers (I may have taken it off my list, but that didn’t mean it was off my parents’). Loyola was a stretch, even with financial aid and the scholarship. But my dad put it into these terms, “This isn’t just a monetary investment. It’s an investment in you.” And honestly, it’s an investment in Loyola.

Midnight Inquisitons and Afternoon Examinations

My roommate has taken to asking me questions before bed, but they aren’t the kind of questions you’d expect. Nothing mundane like “How was your day?” or “What do you have coming up this week?” (She already knows those answers, anyway.)

No. She goes for the obscure, strange, and surprisingly morally probing questions:

  • “Would you rather have to live with a smudge on your glasses for the rest of your life, or have a constant ringing sound in your ears?”
  • “If you could go inside the belly of a whale, would you do it?”
  • “Which would you rather wake up and have under you in bed, a rat or a snake?”
  • “Would you rather save 5 people that you knew (not intimately) or 100 complete strangers?”

I usually stare at some of my postcards as I contemplate the answers.

postcardsmore postcards

Sometimes the answers take a while to think of, sometimes I refuse to answer, and sometimes I respond with my own questions like, “How did the rat or snake get there in the first place?”

Yeah, these questions are really weird, but I think they give a fairly accurate representation of my relationship with my roommate:

Really weird but adorable at the same time (aaaawww, she just came over to give me a hug!)

Now, I’ve gotten used to these random once-a-month inquisitions, but imagine my surprise when a group of friends (those folks I talked with about authenticity) started a meeting with similar questions. Well, they didn’t include any weird animals, but they got pretty deep.

Would you rather be able to speak every language or play every instrument in the world?

Well … I used to sing in a choir (homeschool choir, actually), and I’m not a big fan of singing solos, or drawing unnecessary attention to myself (I have horrible stage fright), so I would have to say I’d rather be able to speak every language. I love learning from others and about different cultural experiences, and I think the best way for me to go about that would be through listening and talking to others. Some people in the group said music is a universal language, which I won’t deny, but I don’t know if I’d ever be comfortable using it in front of others.

Another question from our meeting that had me stumped:

If you were a member of the opposite sex (or whichever leaning you prefer), would you date yourself?

I don’t know if I want to say “Yes” because I hope there’s someone out there who wants to date me, or if I truly think I could put up with myself. I’m starting to think it’s the former. Because let’s face it, if I heard the excuses I come up with about being too busy and not being able to give enough of my time to the other person, I wouldn’t want to date me either.

Here’s the question that revealed more about ourselves indirectly than any other I heard at that meeting:

What is one belief, value, or priority that you will pass on to your own children someday?

Although I never see myself having children, or getting married for that matter (a topic I’m not about to get into), there are three things I want to impart to my nephews as they grow up:

  1. Acceptance of yourself and of others, for all your differences and similarities.
  2. The ability to celebrate those differences and at the same time understand people even if you don’t agree with them (empathy).
  3. Curiosity in the world around you and a love of learning for the sake of learning

There were so many different values shared; everyone had a different answer. Somehow by talking about what we wanted to teach others, we explained more about ourselves than we ever could have in a year of knowing each other.

Asking questions of each other is so crucial to building relationships, and it is so often overlooked. No matter how strange or intimate the Q&A process is, I think we all get something unique out of it.

So surprise each other. Ask a question next time you’re with a friend, or new acquaintance, or me.

I’ll try to answer as best I can.