Formerly a counselor for four years at Loyola, Angela Reno is very grateful for the opportunity to become Loyola’s new Director of Admissions. With COVID-19 disrupting the usual admissions processes, Reno has accepted the challenge of pivoting from a traditional, in-person application process to a completely virtual one.
Reno stated, “While I do know Loyola and feel that I have a relatively good pulse on the student experience—I am bringing that to the table because I was a counselor for four years at the school—my prior background is based in both communications work as well as college admissions. So, I am bringing those years of experience to the table in addition to having a good understanding of the depth and breadth of the Loyola community.”
The Director of Admissions at Loyola organizes events at prospective middle and elementary schools and oversees the process of admissions for eighth-grade students and transfer students. The questions Reno has tackled amid the pandemic is how Loyola will convert previous in-person meetings for interested students to an online format and how Loyola will engage families without being able to bring them to campus.
Reno stated, “Pivoting to an online format is pretty simplistic in terms of utilizing Zoom meeting rooms as well as Zoom webinars.”
Loyola’s 2020 Open House will be hosted on Nov. 1 via Zoom for both students and their families to learn general information about the school. The Shadow Day for eighth-grade students, which has been held on Veteran’s Day in previous years, will take place instead through a Snapshot Day program in November, where prospective students can watch a current day in the life of a Loyola student both in and out of the classroom.
Reno mentioned, “Current students will show their engagement to prospective students, giving applicants the full experience of a Loyola student. When we pivot our admission information sessions online, we will have students available to answer questions. The personal connection of the community is a hallmark of Loyola High School. The goal is to make this as much as personalized experience as possible. Families will have the same opportunities to call and email with their questions.”
On Shadow Day prospective students would have been touring campus during a real school day with a current Cub while parents would have been attending several discussions about Loyola’s mission and the opportunities available for their sons. In order to continue to offer this information to prospective families, the Admissions Committee will host a series of webinars in November that will provide a deep dive similar to the meetings that would have been held for students and parents on Shadow Day. With this unlimited amount of time online webinar format can offer, there will be even more informational meetings for parents to choose to attend virtually.
The interest to become a Cub is still prevalent, even during the pandemic. The number of inquiries and questions received from prospective students and parents, emails regarding application information and phone calls are still high.
Reno says, “This has been a big reason for the growth in the interest of other prospective students and current students as well. We will not rest on our laurels. We will also continue to spread the word about our community today and how we will continue to evolve as we move forward.”
Because of this pandemic, numerous institutions have been significantly more flexible with their application process, and Loyola will follow that pattern. If prospective families are concerned about grading scales from their previous school(s) or if students had to transfer due to the pandemic, Loyola promises to be more understanding, adhering to deep-rooted Jesuit principles.
Reno went on to say, “For me, it raises less of a question of ‘What? Oh, you changed schools?’; that question will not exist anymore. We follow the motto of ‘Cura Personalis.’ We are not going to look at students just as academic numbers. We also want to see what they are contributing to the community, what they have been a part of in their present communities and how they will contribute as part of the Loyola community.”
Potential students will no longer have to write multiple essays. Now, prospective students will have just one required written essay and two video essays. The first video essay is a “one-take” video, meaning it is not edited. This video serves as an introduction, asking why the prospective student wants to attend Loyola. The second video essay includes either a face-to-face discussion or a montage video of that student performing one of his extracurricular activities.
Reno said, “The issues of equity and social justice are at the forefront of my mind constantly. It is part of what has drawn me to Jesuit education. What has sustained me is the call to action. In admissions, we need to be highlighting that work, that call to action and how we are showing it. Loyola is comfortable approaching those topics and that we are not alone in the work that we do. The best part of going to Loyola is experiencing the Jesuit network and collaborating to create ideas for the greater good.”