Category Archives: College Counseling

Meet the Class of 2018

We caught up with several members of the Class of 2018 to get their perspectives on their time at Morgan Park Academy as they get ready for graduation, college, and beyond.

New York University
Hometown: Evergreen Park

“There’s nothing like the community here at MPA. I initially left after eighth grade before returning my sophomore year, because I learned from personal experience that there’s nothing like the bonds you form here with your friends and teachers.”

University of Michigan
Hometown: Chicago Ridge

“Basketball was my favorite co-curricular activity. I wouldn’t always look forward to practices, but it was truly my favorite activity because of the families I created over the years and the bond I had with Coach Drahozal. He was always there for me and for the other girls. Basketball was like a second family for me.”

Loyola University Chicago
Hometown: Blue Island

“I’ve been here since preschool, and the biggest thing that the Academy did to help me prepare for college was allow me to explore my interests and explore new activities that I usually wouldn’t do. My experiences I had inside and outside the classroom, from sports to theater to our unforgettable trip to Japan, will carry me into college and beyond.”

University of Southern California
Hometown: Crown Point, Indiana

“When I transferred to MPA, I was apprehensive about joining a school where many students had known each other for years. But everyone was incredibly kind and welcoming, and I quickly felt like a member of the community as well. Moreover, the teachers that I have had at MPA have been influential role models. They were truly invested in my personal success and advancement and guided me through the challenging college decision-making process.”

University of Chicago
Hometown: Munster, Indiana

“Four years on the tennis team have been both fun and challenging, and it’s been one of the best social groups I have ever joined. And when I joined theater my junior year, that gave me another group of incredibly friendly and fun people. I’ve spent the past four years of my life at an incredible institution, which makes me feel all the more prepared for the future.”

University of Chicago
Hometown: Mount Greenwood

“I’m so grateful to have met such amazing people and made such amazing memories at MPA. From performing in Little Women to laughing and crying with the basketball team, and everything in between, this has been a time to remember.”

Indiana University
Hometown: Schererville, Indiana

“Our annual Project Week trips were some of my favorite memories. I went on international trips each year and got to experience the rest of the world with my best friends.”

École Hôtelière de Lausanne
Hometown: Shanghai, China

“My favorite place on campus is Jones Bowl. It is beautiful in winter when covered in snow. In spring, it is even better; my friends and I would sit on the grass and enjoy the sun during our open periods.”

Alumni Speaker: Mike Bechtel ’94

Each year, Morgan Park Academy begins graduation season by celebrating seniors’ college choices on National College Decision Day on May 1. This year, we were joined by investor and entrepreneur Mike Bechtel ’94, who spoke to Upper School students about his college decision, his time in school, and how his MPA experience laid the foundation for future success.

Bechtel-sq2A transcript of his remarks:

I’ll tell you, senior year sitting down with the guidance counselor here at the Academy, I felt stuck.

I really felt stuck, because MPA, doing that thing that MPA does — MPA made me well-rounded. Whether you want to or not, you can’t help but come out of Morgan Park Academy being a Renaissance person. And I said, listen, I’m good at math and science, but I like reading and writing. What do I do? And I remember the advice in 1994 — I don’t know if it’s the same today — but at that time, the advice was to start in engineering because it’s easier to fall out of engineering than into it.

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Alumni Speaker: Jason Ervin ’92

Each year, Morgan Park Academy begins graduation season by celebrating seniors’ college choices on National College Decision Day on May 1. This year, we were joined by Chicago alderman Jason Ervin ’92, who spoke to Upper School students about how his MPA experience laid the foundation for future success.

ervin-sqA transcript of his remarks:

Diversity in this school was key. I’m a black kid who grew up on the South Side of Chicago … and fortunately for me, I was able to come to the Academy. I didn’t have to go through some of the struggles and challenges a lot of my neighbors had.

This was a diverse student body, a wealth of opportunities to give you the chance to do what you wanted to do. It gave you enough room to really kind of find yourself. I graduated in a class of 36 that looked like the rest of America — actually, that looked like the rest of the world — and that was very key as I left here to go to college at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale … [to study] business and accounting.

One thing that I will say is that you all have the excellent opportunity to change your mind about some things, but use this time as you get ready to go to college and as you finish up your high school careers to figure out, what is it that you like to do? What is it that you love? What is it that you’re passionate about? What is it you don’t like? Who is it you don’t like?

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Meeting the New Challenges of College Admissions

The college admissions process is constantly evolving. It is much different than it was 10 years ago, even a few years ago. Because of this, it is more important than ever to understand college admission trends, what influences them, and how best to prepare to apply to college.

Tanuja Rathi - Morgan Park AcademyThis year at MPA, we have improved our college counseling curriculum to keep pace with the ongoing demands of the college admission process and keep our students competitive in the applicant pool.

We already have begun to implement some exciting new changes. In eighth grade, we are beginning early college awareness through the use of NextTier College Counseling software. Students will receive assignments that parents and the college counselor can monitor as they progress.

College 102 is now a year-long college counseling class for juniors, while we have added College 103 as a fall semester class to help seniors complete the college application process. We plan to add College 100 and College 101 classes for freshmen and sophomores next year.

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Meet Our Staff: Tanuja Rathi

Tanuja Rathi - Morgan Park Academy

Please help us welcome our new Director of College Counseling, Tanuja Rathi!

Mrs. Rathi combines the business skills developed in her previous career as a management consultant with her experience as a college counselor for Chicago Scholars, where she helped underserved students with the college application process.

A member of the Illinois Association of College Counselors, the American College Counseling Association, and the National Association of College Counselors, she holds an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned her college counseling certificate, with distinction, from UCLA.


Why did you choose to work at Morgan Park Academy?

I strongly believe in the MPA education and how it helps prepare students for the future. My husband and my two oldest daughters are MPA alumni and I have one more daughter who will graduate in 2018. I have seen the value of the MPA education and how it has prepared them for college and beyond. I am excited to be a part of this wonderful faculty.
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Personal and Professional Growth in College

As our senior students are heading toward completion of their high school career, they are now thinking about the mark they will make at the colleges they will attend. I have no doubt in my mind that our students are prepared to continue their academic, personal, and professional development through the opportunities that their colleges will offer.

karenblogConsidering this, I am often asked by students and parents alike what to look for in a college. While this answer will vary for each individual student (i.e. program of study, size, location, etc.), some factors which I discussed in an earlier blog, there are a few others that I believe will apply to all.

I think it is important to find a school that will foster a student’s growth both inside and outside of the classroom. For a variety of reasons, a school with field or internship experience built into the curriculum and opportunities to learn from and engage with faculty is important. An internship can offer a closer look at an area of interest or field of study that the student is pursuing. It may ignite a student’s passion and additionally open the door to future employment. Working with and developing relationships with faculty through research or assistantships is also invaluable. Due to the time spent together, faculty can offer insight on a student’s future professional goals and how to achieve those goals. Through consistent interaction, faculty members are able to provide more comprehensive recommendations to a student’s future employer or graduate program.

Part of fostering a student’s growth outside of the classroom is a college’s emphasis on global learning. At MPA, project week and service-related experiences pave the way for our students in global learning. We encourage students to continue enhancing their global knowledge beyond high school. Colleges often offer field-based and/or service-based travel experiences for their students. Students can immerse themselves in a place that is foreign to them, learning more about the people, culture, and way of life in a new environment. Participation in service can provide a student with a sense of humility, self-awareness, and an enhanced level of empathy. These lessons will follow a student beyond the educational environment. Students should consider researching these offerings prior to their entry into the colleges they are pursuing.

Finally, gathering knowledge on a school’s career center is also imperative to the process. While it is always important to learn what services are offered to current students, an equally important factor is services offered to graduates. Are employment opportunities shared with graduates? Is career center staff available to work with students on cover letters, resumes, etc.? What efforts are taken to guide students regarding employment, graduate school, or other postgraduate programs? Schools can often provide statistics on the postgraduate plans of their alumni. This can give students a sense of the support provided to graduates.

While many factors will play a role in the college search process, these are a few that have become increasingly common. Students should seek out a school that will enable their personal, academic, and professional growth.


By Karen Horvath

Mrs. Horvath is our College Counselor.

Upcoming College Fair at MPA

This year we will be holding our second annual Spring College Fair (open to the public) on Wednesday, April 19th from 2:15 to 4:15 pm. Last year, over forty colleges/universities participated and provided families with information about their schools and the college application process. While this was an evening event last year, to encourage attendance, we decided to hold part of the fair during the school day this year so our freshman, sophomores, and juniors could attend this event during last period. We invite parents and families to the fair once the school day is complete, starting at 3:00 pm.  

2017-spring-college-fairLike last year, we have over forty colleges/universities who have signed up to attend. Some out-of-state schools participating are: Claremont McKenna College, Drexel University, Emory University, Macalester College, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Saint Mary’s College, Saint Olaf College, and University of Wisconsin. Some in-state schools are: DePaul University, Dominican University, Illinois Wesleyan, Loyola University, NIU, School of the Art Institute, SIUC/SIUE, and University of Chicago. We encourage all of our students and families to take full advantage of this event on campus.  

Many of our current and previous senior students have noted the importance of developing relationships with the college representatives who visit MPA or whom they meet on their college visits. Admissions representatives that visit are often a part of the admissions process, so developing connections with these individuals can be beneficial. Many students are able to reach out directly to the admissions representatives they meet with any questions they may have during the college application process. This guidance can be very helpful.

College fairs can additionally serve as a “one stop shop” to compare and contrast schools that a student may be interested in, prior to deciding which schools to visit. At a fair, don’t forget to prioritize the questions you would like to ask. Ask about the academic program you are interested in to assess your level of interest in the programs offered and the school. It is important to learn if the academic environment is what you are looking for as well. The school environment includes the size of the school, the type of school (a small liberal arts school, a large university, or an arts school, to name just a few), the average class size, teaching style, and the academic rigor of the school as well. Inquire about the admissions process; are there any tips the representative can offer that would improve your application? Find out about student life on campus. Always include discussions of financial aid and scholarships, internships, and support services following graduation.    

At this point, I am confident I have convinced you to attend the fair! I look forward to seeing you there.


By Karen Horvath

Mrs. Horvath is Morgan Park Academy’s College Counselor.