Essay: Why College?

Mar 18, 2024

Why College? was the title of a presentation that Maura Brennan, Director of College Counseling at the Loyola School, gave to a group of LSA (Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service) high school students and their parents during a College Access Workshop at LSA on March 8th. The audience comprised eighteen students, predominantly sophomores and juniors, who are the first generation in their families to apply to college.

This year, the workshop took on a new dimension as Olga, a freshman at College of the Holy Cross and a recent graduate of our College Access Program, shared her experience with those in attendance. Her story served to prove that the college dream is real. Danny, a current member of our College Access Program, also shared his college application experience with those in attendance. Both are incredible ambassadors and embody the community spirit that is involved in assisting LSA families to realize their college dreams.

We are blessed in our partnership with the Loyola School because Maura shares the same passion, and she welcomed the opportunity to give this presentation. Melina Gonzalez, LSA Community Engagement Manager, and Lucia Bravo, LSA Director of Advocacy, were her guides and translators. One of the earlier impactful slides was how the range of college degrees available relates to a college graduate’s expected salary. FAFSA, Pell, HEOP, EOP, SEEK, IEP, Questbridge, Posse, and BigFuture were mentioned as some of the programs and organizations that will now become welcome allies in easing college attendance financial concerns for the families of our future software, biochemical, and electrical engineers and social workers in attendance.

The word ‘families’ is mentioned a lot during the workshop. This is our third year providing this type of presentation to LSA. In the first year, we had the mindset that we were supplementing the sparse and sometimes unhelpful college guidance currently available to these students in school. We were pleasantly surprised in our feedback to discover that we were also providing a tremendous benefit to the parents in attendance, as they were excluded from the college guidance process provided by their children’s high schools. After the presentation, I spoke to some of the families in attendance. I shared their excitement about having their parents in attendance as they embark on the college application process on equal footing.

— Jimmy Coffey, Ignatian Social Justice Ministry member