With a combined 3.12 grade point average and a graduation rate in the top seven percent of all NCAA Division I schools, Loyola student-athletes are successful in the classroom as well as on the playing field.
The academic success of Loyola student-athletes can be attributed to several factors: the hard work of the student-athletes; the priority placed on academics by coaches and staff; and the academic support available to all athletes. "At Loyola, academic success comes first, but that doesn't mean that athletics can't also be a success," Senior Associate Athletics Director Carolyn O'Connell said. "Our coaches emphasize the importance of academics and so we help our student-athletes if they are having problems."
The academic program director for Loyola student-athletes since 1988, Phyllis Williams builds relationships with the student-athletes that span their academic careers. "I am here the day they are recruited and I'm there at graduation, taking pictures," Williams said. "In between I try to help them reach their goals."
Freshmen and new transfer students get special attention from Williams as well as academic advisor Pat Hoffmann. They meet with the student-athletes regularly to monitor their progress and make sure they are on the right track. They send academic progress reports to professors during the semester to get information about class performance and suggestions for improvement and they share the responses with the student-athletes and coaches.
Williams and Hoffmann help student-athletes select courses and choose a major. Williams believes that by steering them toward what they love to do, she can help them be successful in school. As needed, they can direct student-athletes to a range of services to help them become the best students possible. This includes learning assistance workshops on topics such as note taking, textbook reading and test anxiety, to help students develop their study skills. It also includes other services, such as the Career Center, the Wellness Center and supportive services for students with disabilities.
Another resource for student-athletes is the NCAA Life Skills Program, which is offered at nearly 200 schools nationwide. The program is designed to help student-athletes bridge the gap from the college experience to life in the work world and in the community. Student-athletes are encouraged to do community service projects or attend workshops on topics such as career development, financial planning, eating disorders, alcohol abuse and date rape.
Beyond the support programs, Tom Hitcho, Senior Associate Athletics Director, credits Loyola professors for being helpful to student-athletes. "Without compromising academics, our professors are sensitive to the commitment student-athletes make to their school," Hitcho said. "Our professors are extremely helpful to our student-athletes and all students here at Loyola."