As the decision deadline fast approaches for Loyola’s 2019-20 incoming class, we’re stuck wondering how much worse the on-campus housing situation will get.
For the past three years, Loyola has welcomed its largest incoming class, despite the fact that it can barely physically fit all first-years and second-years on campus. The upcoming 2019-20 school year will likely experience a “March Madness bump,” and Loyola isn’t prepared.
The bigger each incoming class is, the more the university is squeezed for space. Loyola is currently knee-deep in a housing crisis as a result, and the incoming class will experience those same issues.
Students are crammed into converted triples. Upperclassmen are being pushed out of dorms and told there’s no room for them at the inn.
What’s worse is Loyola knows it’s been biting off more than it can chew. Year after year, it budgets for a smaller class size but takes one vastly larger than that goal.
Example: CFO Wayne Magdziarz said for the 2018-19 year, the university was budgeting for a class size of about 2,400 incoming students. Instead, the university accepted and enrolled more than 2,900, which, when you subtract last minute transfers, brought the incoming class size to more than 2,700.
Loyola was tied for 89th in U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 Best National Universities ranking. After the Final Four run and the revitalization of campus in the last decade, the university is making its way up the ladder of prestige. If it’s Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney and her administration’s goal to make Loyola an elite school, they have to get more selective. Accepting the largest class ever, yet again, isn’t the way to go.
In an attempt to amend housing issues on campus, the university is building a new residence hall, St. Joseph’s Hall, which will house about 400 students. But it’s not set to open until fall 2020 — not in time for the upcoming class.
Many students came to Loyola because it advertises small class sizes. A 14:1 student to professor ratio is displayed in bold lettering on the university’s website, implying personal experiences between students and their professors.
That ratio doesn’t reflect the experience of most of the students in popular majors. Someone sitting in a biology lecture hall of more than 100 students is going to experience something completely different from a student in a small School of Communication class.
That disparity will only expand with increased enrollment.
Rooney announced in January a 3.3 percent tuition increase — around $1,400 per academic year. The increase was Loyola’s highest tuition hike in three years. Loyola’s sticker price is $44,130, but a majority of students are awarded scholarships, and a lot of that scholarship money is given out as a discount to students.
A lot of students also come to Loyola for its financial aid offerings. But unless the university can build up a different source of revenue, perhaps from greater alumni fundraising, it can’t be giving out discounts hand over fist — as much as that’s a good-natured thing to aim for.
As Loyola’s class sizes and tuition increase and it continues to dole out large amounts of scholarships and financial aid to most of its students, it’s trying to improve its rank among the country’s top universities.
Loyola wants to be ranked among some of the most elite schools in the nation — including Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown University and New York University, according to a 2018 report titled “Loyola Peer Groups: Selected Urban Private Research & Doctoral Universities.”
Its current peers include American University, DePaul University, Saint Louis University and Tulane University, according to the report.
The average ACT score among Loyola’s “Aspirational Peers” is 30-33. Loyola currently accepts scores ranging from 24 to 29. There’s one way to achieve those aspirations, and it’s to be more selective. Stop accepting low ACT scores.
With the increased interest in Loyola after the Final Four run, and the likely increase in applications it comes with, Loyola can afford to raise its standards.