In The Forest Scout’s “Decision Diaries” column, LFHS alumni from across the country submitted rationale pertaining to why they feel they made a great decision when they decided on their institution of higher education.
May 1st is fast approaching and the seniors of Lake Forest High School seem to be making their college decision by the dozen. Still, however, even those who are committed to colleges are seeking reassurance that they are making the right choice for their educational and social future. Thus, The Forest Scout elicited submissions from LFHS alumni in college across the country to explain why they feel they made the best choice possible when deciding to attend their current institution for higher education.
Joey Santello LFHS ‘13, University of Dayton ’17
“I truly never imagined myself spending 4 years of my life in the state of Ohio, where the main attractions consist of the Cavaliers, Indians, Browns, and Skyline Chili; but as I am about to graduate in less than a month, I couldn’t be happier that I chose to attend the University of Dayton. The school goes way beyond our #1 nationwide ranked St. Patrick’s Day celebration and #1 ranked intramural sport participation.
Dayton is a small Catholic school with an enrollment of 10,000. The campus is small–you don’t have to walk longer than 15 minutes to get from one corner of campus to the other. Being a small campus, you see someone you know walking to class every day, but you also get to see new faces every day as well. People are friendly with smiles on their faces and are always holding the door open for people. Dayton is a community that you just have to be there to understand, and I mean that sincerely.
What I love most are the opportunities that UD gives to students. Whether you want to be involved in any sports club, campus ministry, community service, greek life or just want to have a good time with friends, you are able to do it all. If you go to a larger school and join a fraternity you sometimes only have that group of friends. Here at Dayton, that is not the case; everyone welcomes everyone to parties and encourages each other to be a part of a club or group.
If there’s one piece advice to give an LFHS student, I would say to not worry about the whole college decision process. Everyone that leaves LFHS is blessed to go to a prestigous college in the country and will be getting a fantastic education.”
Charlie Yale LFHS ‘15, University of Illinois ’19
“At the University of Illinois, you can really be any person that you want to be. With hundreds of registered student organizations on campus, a diverse culmination of Greek Life, and philanthropy events aimed at raising money for good causes all over the world, it truly is a unique paradise located in southern Illinois. I will forever be indebted to this university for the experiences, knowledge, and networking connections I’ve gained along the way. Here you will find students from all around the globe providing you with a unique outlook of different cultural backgrounds and traditions. If I could rewrite my past during the college decision process, I can confidently say I wouldn’t have changed my decision to attend the University of Illinois. I encourage all senior LFHS students considering this school to attend a student campus tour and try to make it down for an unofficial visit to get a feel for the atmosphere here in Champaign.”
Stephanie Gaidas LFHS ‘14, CLC ‘16, University of Illinois ‘18
“As college decisions are being made and the excitement of where you will be spending the next four years approaches, I think it’s extremely important to remember that it’s not necessarily about where you start, but where you finish. I began my college journey at the College of Lake County while working harder than I ever had in hopes that one day I would get accepted in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Fortunately, my hard work paid off and I am now an Illini. Taking my time at CLC led me to finally discover what it is I want to major in, how to study, time management techniques, and also gain a unique taste of what college classes are like without paying the university tuition. For some, going off straight to a four-year institution is the most practical, but for others it’s not always the case. I am very proud that I attended College of Lake County because if it wasn’t for them, I would never be here at my dream school. Although UIUC sure is challenging, it is so unbelievably worth it. The opportunities for internships, research, jobs and a world-class education in general is something that those who work hard deserve to see and experience.”
George Quall LFHS ‘13, DePauw University ’17
“Going into college, I considered myself pretty shy, so I really enjoyed DePauw’s close-knit community. Walking to class each day, you’ll see a lot familiar faces and it practically conditions you to say “hi” to everyone you see on the sidewalk. Academically, I think it is great for teaching you intellectual mobility–a skill that is really important in today’s dynamic environment. One minute you might be off to Corporate Finance course and the next to Ancient Roman Mythology.”
Joey Franklin LFHS ‘16, DePauw University ’20
“Going under the “arch” marks the entrance to this quaint Division III university that resides in Greencastle, Indiana. DePauw University, a small liberal arts school with only 2,500, is where I chose to be for my next four years. Coming from LFHS, I was used to the small school environment and how fast news of couples or arrests travel through the halls. But when picking a college, size wasn’t a big factor for me. I was in between the University of Iowa–where my older sister currently attends school–and DePauw. I ended up choosing DePauw because of it’s alumni factor and with the thought of swimming in mind, it was a place I could maybe still play a sport. Not knowing what to expect, it has been the best decision I have ever made.
Although I may spend nine months of the year forty-five minutes west of Indianapolis in the middle of a cornfield, there is no other place I’d rather be. The first paper I was assigned I had a lot of trouble with. I was able to meet with a professor not once, but three times throughout the week in order for me to succeed. All the professors care not only about your grade, but also about your wellbeing, making sure you aren’t super stressed out or have too much going on. Just last week, a professor saw me studying in the morning and then again in the same place that night. He came up to me and said, “Joey, you’ve been here all day let’s go to Dairy Queen. I’ll treat you to a cone.” Yes, a little creepy from the outside but just the thought of him doing this brightened my day because I knew he cared and was looking for me to achieve. If you are looking for a small school with high school commitment when it comes to sports and a major greek life aspect, DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana is the place for you.”
Matt Begley LFHS ‘16, University of Indiana ’20
“Although there are many great aspects to IU, my favorite part about it has to be the campus. That may seem surprising for those who haven’t visited, but it truly is a hidden gem in the middle of southern Indiana. The limestone academic buildings are spread across tons of green space, including an arboretum, meadow, and small forest. In the fall and spring, when the weather is perfect and the leaves are on the trees, there isn’t a prettier place to be. Just west of the academic area is the one of the best college towns in the country, with tons of fantastic local restaurants. Bloomington has the perfect mix of plenty to do, natural beauty, and a homey, small-town feel.”
Jessie Martin LFHS ‘16, University of Alabama ’20
“What I love about going to Alabama is that you can always rely on having nice weather throughout the majority of the year; in this past year especially, Alabama has been in a drought so it has been sunny and humid all year and then here and there, we would get storms. Another thing I love about Alabama is the football games. Every week all the students at Alabama would literally only look forward to game days. Every Friday night before game day people would start to set up their tents on the quad (people are crazy here). Also, another thing about coming here is that you’ll meet people from the south (obviously) but they will make fun of you for your accent, especially coming from the north. Even if you are not considering looking at southern schools, you should definitely give it a try because it was one of my best decisions. Roll Tide!!”
Amy Wilson LFHS ‘15, University of Mississippi ’19
“Making the decision to attend the University of Mississippi was easily the best decision I have made to this day. From the row of Magnolia trees that represent students that died during the Civil War and the lyceum that was used as a hospital during the Civil War (that still shows the bullet marks from the violence of 1962 when the first African-American was enrolled), Ole Miss is surrounded by history. Saturdays in the fall are filled with cowboy boots, wedges, dresses and screaming “Hotty Toddy!” as Vaught-Hemingway Stadium fills up with students cheering on the Rebels playing football. I’ve had the opportunity to live in a completely different culture and meet people from all around the United States. I encourage everyone to visit Ole Miss. Because when you visit Oxford and the University, you’ll fall in love.”
Laura Blake LFHS ‘15, Santa Clara University ’19
After graduating in 2015, I moved to the west coast and settled in at Santa Clara University. This school has my heart. Being a Bronco means being a part of a true community. Since this school is on the smaller side, I never go more than a day without seeing a number of familiar faces; this is something that I love about SCU. Now, although I am a Midwestern gal at heart, the weather here beats Chicago weather any day of the week! I also believe that the full sunshine and 70-degree weather is a contributing factor to why this school has such a positive student body. Happiness is contagious, which is why I find it difficult to have a bad day here. Lastly, I love SCU because it is now my home away from home. Between the highly experienced professors, my wonderful friends, and the overall atmosphere, I definitely understand where the name “Claradise” stems from. Good luck and congratulations to the class of 2017!”
Grace Singel LFHS ‘16, University of Wisconsin ’20
“Wisconsin has everything I wanted in a school. The people are extremely nice, academics are great, our Big Ten sports teams are amazing and everyone has a ton of school spirit. Also, the food is so good and there is so much to do in Madison! My favorite part about Madison is living right on the lake and it’s just overall a beautiful campus and such a fun school. Everyone loves it here and I can’t express it enough how happy I am to be here!”
Olivia Murphy LFHS ‘14, Miami University ’18
“Even though some will make fun of you for picking Miami until the day you graduate, it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my young adult career. Miami really is the perfect school. Our size is big enough that you don’t know everyone after the first week, but small enough that you always see a familiar face. Sports might not be our thing, but students are die hard Miami fans no matter if we go a whole season without scoring a single point. Our night life is better than any other campus (you’d be surprised how many of my friends have visited and have been in awe of how we do it here) in the sense that there are bars open to 18 year olds, and that you can basically walk into any open party and have a great night (still salty Wisconsin is the opposite of this, but your choice). We are also the definition of “work hard, play hard”: our academic standing is top notch and highly respected across the nation and networking is by far the best compared to other schools (It’s no coincidence that basically every parent in Lake Forest went here). At Miami, we study our butts off in Club King and surpass national standards, and we sure know how to celebrate when those all-nighters pay off.
All I ask is that you visit Miami once, because once you walk around uptown and feel that ideal college town vibe and walk across central quad past all the iconic red brick buildings, you’ll know you’ll belong. Rise up!”
Brian Murphy LFHS ’13, Boston College ’17
“With graduation looming near, I can look back and realize that I have had a pretty great time at Boston College. The aspect that stands out most in my BC experience is the breadth of courses I was forced to take—and ended up loving.
I came into BC with a very narrow focus. I was in the business school and I planned on taking mainly business classes. However, Boston College requires students to take a wide-ranging core curriculum. This meant mandatory theology, philosophy, art, history, writing, and literature. At first, these were all areas of study I wasn’t thrilled about, until I took the classes.
Through the core curriculum, I found an interest in a wide range of topics; areas of study that I never would have considered as a senior in high school. I came in as a business focused student and I am leaving with minors in philosophy and history. A combination of amazing professors and engaging material drastically altered my path of study. In four short years, Boston College has broadened my perspective and provided for an excellent college experience.”