Loyola University Maryland

First-Generation Student Success

FAQs

General Questions

How diverse is Loyola?

Loyola’s current student population is more diverse than ever. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a large focus of the University, particularly over the last several years, including the founding of The Office of Equity and Inclusion, which helps coordinate faculty, administrator, and staff-led initiatives. For students, ALANA Services provides support, services, and programs that encourage the success of students of color.

How does commuter life fit into the Loyola community?

The number of commuter students at Loyola has been increasing every year. At Loyola, commuter students are defined as any student who is living at home with a parent, guardian, or relative, and is commuting to and from campus. There are many open study spaces on campus where students can work and spend time in between classes, including the Study, the Library, the Fernandez Center, and study rooms outside Starbucks. Follow Loyola’s Commuter Student Organization on Instagram (@commutersatloyola) to get all updates and notifications about events and initiatives for commuter students.

Commuter Student Resources

Visit the Commuter Student Organization page on the Bridge for more resources and ways to be involved!

Will my college experience be the same as my peers? What is the true college experience?

There is no one college experience! Ultimately, everyone is here to earn a degree, and take the first step toward a career. However, the ways in which you choose to enrich your experience are up to you. Loyola’s Jesuit values of cura personalis encourages us to focus on the whole person and find your own balance of activities and academics that is meaningful to you. Academics are of course important, but joining a club, working out or taking classes at the FAC, applying for a fellowship or internship, networking, and going to events, are all ways to enrich your experience. Students shouldn’t worry about comparing their experience to others’, but you can take inspiration from others’ experiences and pursue those opportunities that sound interesting to you.

Don’t worry if you don’t figure out your own college experience in your first semester. Take some time during the beginning of your first semester on campus and think about what you value and what you would like to get out of it. At the beginning of each semester, take time to revisit your goals – do you still value the same things? Have some of your priorities changed? Talk with your professors and your advisors about these topics and take advantage of their insight.

Questions related to Academic Transition

See resources related to academics

How much of a difference is there between the workload of college and high school?

Remember that one of the main differences between high school and college is structure. In high school, you were in class all day, and likely had the same classes every day. Your afternoons may have involved after-school activities, and your evenings were for doing homework. Your routine was already set. In college, your schedule may differ from this. It will be up to you to set your study times and figure out your own routine, which may be different from some of your friends and peers. The important part here is to be proactive in creating your schedule.

You may have an adjustment period when you first arrive, which is expected. This is a good time to think honestly about what habits you need to be successful. Setting some short-term and long-term goals can be helpful in keeping yourself on track. Your university experience will be influenced by the amount of time and effort you put into it, and there are a variety of resources to help you if you are unsure of how to navigate these changes. Your Messina advisor or the office of undergraduate studies (ODUGS) can be good places to start if you are looking for guidance.

Your university academic experience comes with a little more independence, and at the same time accountability. Be sure to take advantage of the many resources on campus to make sure you are making choices that will move you in the direction of academic success.

Who is my advisor?

For your first year, your advisor will be one of your Messina professors. During this first year, you may have an intended major, but you will not have officially declared your major yet. Once you submit your Major Declaration Form, you will be assigned a new advisor who will be a professor in the department of your major. It is important for you to get to know your advisor, since they will be the one to help you choose the right classes for your interests and for your major. If at any point you are unsure of who your advisor is, you may contact AASC, or check Student Profile in Self-Service/Student Planning.

How do I choose my courses?

During registration, students are able to sign up for courses they intend to take for the following semester. Students will be assigned a specific time and date to register based on their class year. There are many people and resources at Loyola to help you with registration.

Although you are only registering for one semester at a time, it can be a good idea to look at the following resources in order to get an idea of what you will need during your four years at Loyola, however, remember to be flexible in your planning. If a class is full when you go to register, that is okay. There might be other options, or a slot may open up during the add/drop period. Talk with your advisor to figure out what the best option is for you.

  • Academic Worksheets are provided by AASC as a summary of the requirements you need for any major at Loyola.
  • The Catalog is the ultimate reference guide to Loyola. It contains all the information that you will need to understand University policies and course requirements. For each major, the Catalog includes a list of courses, as well as a recommended schedule of the order and semester in which students typically complete each requirement, along with other notes and advice. You can use these recommendations as blueprints for when you speak with your advisor and create your own schedule.
  • Self-Service/Student Planning is the software that Loyola uses for students to register for classes, keep track of their academic progress, and make sure they are on track for graduation. When you log into Student Planning, you can view your degree audit (which shows how far along you are in your degree) under My Progress. It will show a list of categories for each major and the classes that fulfill these requirements. Once you have taken a class and/or completed a requirement, it will be marked as complete. You will easily be able to see how much you have left and which classes will satisfy these requirements, which you can use as a guide during registration.
  • You are not on your own for registration! Before you can be cleared to register, you must meet at least once with your advisor to discuss your plans for the following semester. Your Advisor is always available to answer any questions you have, and help you resolve any issues you have as you register. AASC is also there to help. They will also help you look over requirements and make sure you are taking what you need to graduate. Don’t wait until the day before or the day of registration to contact your advisor. It is much better to talk to them well before so you have time to have productive conversations that will help you in the long run.

How do I change my schedule?

Once a student has registered for their classes, the Drop/Add period will begin, during which students are able to change their schedule through Self-Service/Student Planning. Any changes made during this time will not be shown on a student’s transcript. It is recommended that students discuss any changes they intend to make with their advisor, or with someone from AASC.

The Drop/Add period ends usually after the first four days of the semester (check the academic calendar online for the exact deadline each semester) for most classes, although changes in level ONLY for language/math are allowed for the first 2 weeks of the semester with approval from the department chair.

After the Drop/Add period is finished, students are no longer able to add sections to their schedule, however students may withdraw from a course from their schedule if their professor or advisor thinks it may be necessary. If the class is dropped before the withdrawal deadline, the grade for the course will be listed as “W” on the student’s transcript, however this will not affect the student’s GPA.

What do I do if I have difficulty in a class? How do I get back on track?

We know that things happen and sometimes stressful life events can impact your academics. Being proactive is important in order to prevent smaller problems becoming larger ones.

  • Reach out to your professors right away if you feel you need help. It is much easier for them to help you and work with you if they are aware of issues early on. Don’t wait until the end of the semester, as your options will be much more limited. All of your professors will have their office hours listed in their syllabus. These are the times that professors are available for you to stop by and ask questions or get help with an assignment.
  • Maintain regular communication with your advisor and professors throughout the semester about your progress and academic interests. This can be as simple as sending an email from time to time, or having a quick check-in with your professor after class.
  • The Study and the Writing Center are available as study spaces, along with tutoring, workshops, coaching, and other academic help.
  • The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies is a good place for you to go if you are not sure where to start, or if you are having difficulty reaching out to your professor(s). They can work with you to make a plan, and can help you contact resources around campus.

Who can I reach out to if college becomes overwhelming?

Depending on what you need assistance with, there are a variety of resources, but the ODUGS office or the Counseling Center are always good places to start with:

  • The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies (ODUGS) can help if you are feeling overwhelmed in your academics. They can help determine what other resources you might need around campus, and can be a point of support if you need guidance in reaching out to other offices. They can also assist you if you feel you need to take a medical or personal leave of absence.
  • The Counseling Center is another good place to start. They can help provide you with tools for managing stress, and can also connect you with other resources around campus depending on your needs.
  • First-year students also have the option of reaching out to your Evergreen, a peer leader who can help direct you to resources and offer their own perspective. For students who live on campus, the Resident Assistant (RA) in your hallway is an additional resource. RAs are peers trained to help offer strategies to help balance your social life and academic life. As fellow Loyola students it is very likely that they have been in a similar situation as you and they are here to help!

What do I do if I want to learn more about a subject that I’m interested in?

Your first year on campus is a great time to explore new subjects and learn more about your own interests. If you find that there are subjects that you particularly enjoy, take advantage of the resources in the Loyola community to learn more!

  • Talk to professors in that department. Learn about their own interests and what type of research they do. Ask them if they know of any clubs or other opportunities that are related to topics that interest you, or if they can recommend any further reading for you to do on your own.
  • Talk to students in that major to see what they like about their classes, what type of classes they have taken, and what kind of activities or internships they have done that relate to their major
  • Join an academic club in that subject
  • The National Fellowships Office has information on opportunities available for a variety of majors and areas of interest. There are fellowships available for after you graduate, but also awards that you can apply for as an undergraduate student. The process of applying for a fellowship can be rewarding by itself, and can help you learn more about your own interests and encourage you to build relationships across campus.

How do I choose a major?

Many students wonder how they will know if they have chosen the “right” major. Remember that there is no “correct” major for you to choose – you only need to worry about what is right for you. Additionally, choosing a major does not mean you can never change your mind or pursue another field. While a few career paths may require specific majors or skills, the majority of fields are flexible, so students should not worry that they will be “stuck” if they change their mind later and would like to pursue a different field.

  • Your Messina advisor will be one of your first resources for exploring your interests and figuring out what you would like to major in. Spend some time preparing for your discussions with your advisor — don’t be afraid to ask them questions and be honest about what you are interested in. They can help you find courses that will help you explore topics that you are interested in, and may be able to suggest some good major/minor pairs that work well together.
  • Consider – What are you good at? What do you enjoy? What makes you feel fulfilled? What do you value? Why have you chosen the major? What classes did you enjoy in high school or in your first semester?
  • Visit the Career Center early – they can talk with you about “Transferable Skills” and other concepts to keep in mind so you can feel more confident regardless of what you do with your major. They can help you set up Informational Interviews with alumni or students in your major to help you get more information as to what a “day in the life” is really like.
  • Attend the Majors, Minors, & More Fair or Academic Exploration Fair to talk directly to people in departments around campus.

Questions related to Social Transition/ Relationships

See resources related to Social Transition

How can I connect with other students like me? What is the best way to find a friend group?

There are many different ways to make friends and no approach works for all students. Building friendships and social networks take time. Give yourself time to meet people, explore campus, and settle in. It is not uncommon to experience some anxiety, or even loneliness, around new people and in new settings. Identify spaces, groups, or activities where you can be yourself and have opportunities to connect with others. Even if it is a little out of your comfort zone, say hi to other students in your classes, invite someone to lunch, or spend time in community spaces. Remember, too, that friendships change and evolve over time, and that you will continue to shape your social network during your full Loyola career.

For students who live on campus, residence halls often host events and programs for social as well as personal development. You'll meet plenty of people by attending events in your building. For commuter students, there are a variety of clubs and events on campus where you can meet other students who share your interests and values. Talk to your Evergreen or advisor for other suggestions.

What are the social spaces on campus? Where do students spend time?

Some suggestions include: The Loyola Quad, the volleyball court (behind Southwell), the hammock village (Behind Campion Tower), Center for Intercultural Engagement (Student Center, 3rd floor), Starbucks area (Student Center, 1st floor), Humanities Center porch (adjacent to Loyola Quad), Fitness and Aquatic Center, and residence hall lounge spaces.

What do I do if I don’t get along with my roommate?

Conflict is a normal part of co-habitation, so don’t worry if you and your roommate don’t always get along. For help navigating conflict with a roommate, speak to a Residence Hall staff member for resolution strategies or mediation help.

  • Your Resident Assistant (RA) on your building floor will assist you in navigating conflict with any peer. They are trained staff members of the Office of Student Life invested in your success and transition to college life. Your Graduate Residence Coordinator (GRC) is a graduate level staff member of the Office of Student Life who can also assist in roommate conflicts. These staff members work hand-in-hand with the RA as a supervisor and are well versed in mediation and conflict resolution. Your Assistant Director (AD) is the professional staff member for the Office of Student Life that oversees the GRC, the RA, and the entire building or cluster of buildings you live in. They are an excellent resource for help with any residence issues.
  • Additional resources:

How can I build supportive and healthy relationships?

Understanding your own needs and values, communication, and openness to others' experiences and identities are all foundational pieces of building supportive and healthy relationships. It is common to get stuck in pitfalls of assuming our friends "just know" what we need without us having to express it or to assume that the way we perceive or intend something is the same as how others will receive it. Communicating with respect, openness and compassion helps to build stronger friendships.

Understanding Self and Others – relationships group through the counseling center on relating to others and building trust

What do I do if I feel homesick?

It is normal to feel some anxiety or homesickness. Feeling sad is a normal response to being separated from the people, places, things and overall culture that give you a sense of belonging. Most people feel homesick at some point in their lives. Everyone's pace for adjusting to change is different, but most feelings of homesickness will subside over time. The Counseling Center offers these suggestions for coping with homesickness.

Questions related to Finances

How can I keep up with Financial Aid deadlines?

Checking your Loyola email is essential for keeping up with information from the Financial Aid office, as many Financial Aid deadlines and opportunities are communicated via email.

The Financial Aid office also welcomes students reaching out to them directly via phone, or making an in-person or virtual appointment.

What are scholarships that I can apply for?

The Financial Aid Office will be able to guide you through any opportunities that are available to your specific situation. They recommend being proactive about financial assistance, so be sure to be familiar with their website, which includes valuable information about FAFSA. The National Fellowships Office may also have opportunities available for students, depending on class year and field of interest.

What are the options for working on campus?

There are multiple options for working on campus:

  • Work Study positions: The Federal Work Study (FWS) program is a need-based aid program, eligibility for which is determined via the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), offers full-time students valuable work experience and flexibility to work around their class schedule. Federal Work Study (FWS) student workers have funds available within their Financial Aid package to support a work-study position. Not all students are eligible for Work Study positions, and if you are unsure about your status, please contact the Office of Financial Aid. See also HR student employment web page.
  • Direct Hire: Non-Work Study positions are referred to as Direct Hire Student Workers. Any student may apply for jobs which are listed as Direct Hire.

All open positions will be listed through Handshake, but you may also see listings being advertised on social media or on posters around campus. Don't be afraid to stop by an office you’re interested in working for and seeing if they have any opportunities.

First-Gen Forward Institution logo