A week before most Loyola students arrived on campus, classes at Arrupe College were already in session. On Aug. 17, Arrupe — the world’s first Jesuit community college — opened its doors to its first cohort at Water Tower Campus.
Dean and Executive Director of Arrupe College Stephen Katsouros said he believes the first week of classes was successful.
“I accredit this to the outstanding orientation program we held in July,” Katsouros said. “We accomplished a lot. The student were able to meet each other and build community. We also rehearsed how to get to school for those [who were] unfamiliar, so the first day of classes would not be a blind date.”
Arrupe offers a two-year program in which students work toward achieving their associate degrees in business, arts and humanities, or social and behavioral sciences. It allows students to get a jump start on earning a four-year bachelor’s degree.
Arts and humanities major Mikaela Labar said she is excited to earn a degree in two years.
“This program is awesome because after two years I’ll have an associates degree and I’ll be able to get a job above minimum wage,” Labar, 17, said.
Berenice Sanchez, a social and behavioral science major at Arrupe, said she is excited to expand her knowledge.
“Right now I’m looking forward to learning new things,” said Sanchez, 18. “I’m taking a Christian theology class and I’ve never read the Bible or anything, so it’s really interesting to learn something new.”
At Arrupe, students take two classes a week; one class is held on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays are left open for students to work on schoolwork.
Sanchez said she likes the class schedule because it allows more flexibility in her homework schedule.
“I have one class a day that is three hours long, which is actually not that bad because we get 15-minute breaks,” Sanchez said. “I’m only in school from 2 to 5 [p.m.], and I really like that because I have more time to do my homework.”
Students also have the option to take morning or afternoon classes. They can take morning classes from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. or take classes from 2-5 p.m.
Undergraduates will also be placed into learning groups, similar to Loyola’s Learning Communities, to help students connect.
Labar said learning groups are a great way to meet new people.
“We have been hanging out in the lounge with our groups, and it is just a great time to talk about our classes and study together,” she said.
A major draw of the program is small class sizes. Brian Hernandez, 18, said he enjoys the one-on-one time he gets with his teachers.
“You’re able to talk to teachers when you need help,” said the social and behavioral science major. “For me, that’s helpful because my high school was too big, and I really didn’t get as much help as I wanted to.”
The program stresses faculty advising. First-year students are required to meet with an advisor at least twice a month. One student in particular, David Lokton, said he appreciates the extra resources.
“The teachers are very friendly, and they know we are new to everything so they are very helpful,” said Lokton, a 19-year-old arts and humanities major. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I came here I thought it would be hard, but they make the program kind of easy. They gave us a lot of resources to help us.”
To help its students enjoy the college experience, Arrupe provides students access to Loyola facilities such as the Loyola libraries and the WTC fitness center. In addition to accommodating students with disabilities, the college allows students free admission into Loyola athletic events and the ability to participate on Loyola’s intramural sports programs. Students are also given a U-Pass.
Hernandez is excited to join Loyola’s intramural sports because he was an active athlete in high school.
“When I heard Arrupe didn’t have any sports teams, I was bummed because I am used to staying after school and doing sports,” Hernandez said. “But then I found out we can join the intramural teams and I thought that was cool.”