Tag Archives: colleges

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.

Q&A

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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Finding the Right College Fit

With an abundance of post-secondary options available to students, finding a college that fits each student’s needs can seem like a daunting task. It is important to determine what factors are most significant in order to begin the process of narrowing down one’s final college list. Every institution will offer a varied experience, so finding the college that each student will thrive in, both academically and personally, is individual to the student. This process includes self-reflection and proper research and knowledge of each school.

Karen HorvathAcademically-based factors to consider include: admission requirements, majors offered, student-faculty ratio, typical class size, accreditation of the institution, and internship opportunities. What type of learning environment are you seeking out? What type of teaching styles are employed? Even if you are undecided about your college major, you want to make sure that the college you choose offers a wide variety of majors, and gives you the opportunity to explore possible majors through course offerings.

Environmental factors can play a vital role in the college selection process. These factors include:  location, distance from home, size of student body, physical size of campus, school setting (i.e. urban or rural), religious affiliation, diversity, and type of school (public vs. private, co-ed vs. same-sex). Do you want to go to a school that is similar to MPA or are you seeking a different experience? Would you like to explore your independence further by going to a school that is far away, or would you like to have familial resources nearby? While public institutions can often be less expensive than private institutions, private institutions may offer each student more financial aid opportunities.

With college expenses continually on the rise, financial inquiries are necessary to consider, such as: tuition, room and board, application fees, deposits, percent of student population receiving aid, scholarships offered, and part-time employment opportunities. Is 100 percent of the financial need of each student met? Are scholarships merit-based, need-based, or both? Financial aid deadlines and appropriate forms to complete can vary by institution, so knowledge of each institution’s requirements is imperative.

Some additional factors to consider are: campus housing, food plans, clubs/organizations, Greek life, study abroad programs, athletics/intramurals, and alumni career services. Aside from academics, you will be engaging socially on campus as well. You want to make sure that each school provides the social and learning opportunities that you are looking for. These opportunities are a part of the educational experience.

Once all of these factors are prioritized, each student should research each school to determine college fit. Students can research online, visit with college representatives at MPA, attend college fairs and open houses, and arrange a campus visit. Since this is a lot of information to digest, my role as the College Counselor is to be a helpful resource to all students through what could be a daunting process. The MPA college counseling program provides students with the necessary tools to transition successfully to the next level by guiding each student through the appropriate steps of the college search, application, and selection process. A thorough evaluation process will lead to the most happiness with one’s decisions down the line.


By Karen Horvath

Mrs. Horvath is our College Counselor.

Meet Our Seniors: Brittney McKnight

brittneyBrittney is headed to Vanderbilt University to study neuroscience. She has been at Morgan Park Academy since ninth grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite MPA tradition:

I love Homecoming. It’s the first event during the school year that brings MPA students of all ages together to have a good time. It’s always so nice to see everyone dress for a different theme each day during Spirit Week and to see everyone come out and support all our sports teams for their Homecoming games.

Favorite co-curricular activity:

I love volleyball with all my heart, and being able to do that at a varsity level with my best friends was one of the best experiences of my high school career. Not only that, but having so much tangible success with our championships made that much better. I know for a fact that I would not have had that experience at any other school.

Proudest accomplishment:

Everyone at MPA is intelligent, so I wouldn’t choose an award or a sports accomplishment. I think mine is when I realized how aware I became of cultures that are different than my own, and how they all fit together to make the world the place that it is. There’s a difference when you can talk about global issues with personal knowledge or experience, and I definitely wouldn’t have that without MPA.

Favorite MPA memory:

During the dodgeball tournament sophomore year, while the teachers were playing the seniors, Mr. Kowalsky threw a curve ball, but fell into the stands into some students while doing it. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA opened me up to many different cultural, social, and academic aspects that I know college will have. My teachers challenged me academically, which helped me learn how to manage my time and my priorities, along with my co-curriculars.

MPA has introduced me to the strangers I now call my best friends. It has also made me aware of so many things I never thought I’d be introduced to. It’s definitely not the traditional high school experience, but it’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.

I know the connections I’ve made here, with faculty and students alike, will stay with me for the rest of my life. This place truly has become my home away from home, and I realize more and more each day how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to have this experience, travel the world, and figure out what my next step is. I’ve been given a wonderful foundation with an amazing support system that celebrated my successes and helped me learn from my mistakes.

MPA is unique without a doubt, the ultimate testament to the saying “Big things come in small packages.”

Meet Our Seniors: Jeffrey Eichinger

jeffreyJeffrey is headed to Washington University in St. Louis to study biomedical engineering. He has been at Morgan Park Academy since kindergarten.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Proudest accomplishment:

One of the proudest accomplishments of my high school career was my third-place finish in Engineering Graphics at this year’s WYSE (Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering) state finals.

When I joined the varsity team three years ago, as the lone freshman, competing in subjects previously foreign to me, I had many intelligent teammates with years of experience to look up to and learn from. They sparked my desire to study and compete. Our team won first place in the state competition my first year, and each year since them, I have pushed myself to live up to the high standards set by those older teammates. My finish this year validated all of that hard work and dedication.

Favorite class:

The best class that I took in high school was AP Biology with Mrs. Drown my sophomore year. Mrs. Drown is an incredible teacher and made the learning not only easy but fun.  The class was filled with interactive labs, creative projects, and intriguing lessons, all to help us better master biology. It was this class in which I discovered my passion for the intricacies of the human body, as I studied every function and process of the body along with various traits of evolution or individual parts of a plant.

Favorite teacher:

Probably my favorite teacher in high school has been Mr. Smith. Each day, he came into school ready to teach, armed with an arsenal of tools to help us to learn. Whether or not we realized it at the time, each assignment or project or discussion was aimed at preparing us for what was to come. The resources that he brought to class were so insightful and thought-provoking, allowing him to guide the conversations into completely unforeseen directions. After two years in class with Mr. Smith, I feel more prepared than ever to face the future.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA has prepared me in more ways than I could ever imagine. Most important, it has given me an open mind with which to approach the world and has introduced me to so many unique individuals with a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds. The countless lessons that I have learned from the excellent teachers, both pertaining to the class and those which are beneficial in other ways, will stick with me forever. I have formed so many strong relationships that will last me a lifetime, providing me with a growing network across the country. I could not have asked for a better education.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Nina Rathi

ninaNina is headed to Claremont McKenna College to study economics. She has been at Morgan Park Academy since ninth grade, and is our 2015 salutatorian.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite MPA tradition:

One of the things that initially drew me to MPA was its annual Project Week. Through this fantastic opportunity, I have been able to develop a global perspective of the world. My four years at MPA have brought me to places like Panama, Morocco, and India, where I had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences I will never forget.

Favorite class:

My favorite class has to be English my sophomore and junior years with Mr. Smith. With a class of only 10 people, I was able to form a strong bond with my classmates and Mr. Smith while learning about literature and the world.

Favorite co-curricular activity:

My favorite co-curricular activity at MPA was participating on the tennis team. Not only was I able to play a sport I loved, but I was able to connect with my teammates and create many lasting memories.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA’s close-knit community and small class sizes are what drew me to Claremont McKenna, a small liberal-arts college in California. I am confident that MPA has prepared me academically and socially for my next four years in college.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Ahad Hashmi

ahadAhad is headed to Purdue University to study biomedical engineering. He has been at Morgan Park Academy since sixth grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite class:

The whole learning environment in Mandarin class was intelligent, fun, and full of life. It was very easy for me to learn a complicated new language thanks to Ms. Zhao’s help and teaching.

Favorite co-curricular:

I was able to co-found a cryptocurrency club with my friends. It was great being able to discuss the economy of an online currency with my peers.

Favorite memory:

My favorite MPA memory, hands down, was the eighth-grade trip to Costa Rica — being able to visit a new country whose culture I had learned about in my Spanish class. Taking a trip to a different land opened my eyes to the other situations in the world.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA has given me so many opportunities to grow and mature throughout my seven years here. Whether it’s the amazing Project Week experiences, the ability to be a friend to anyone, or to just be able to be involved, MPA offered every tool to each student so that we could be strong, both individually and as a group.

I learned how to get along with my teachers and how to utilize their help as well as that of my peers. MPA has also introduced me to such a diverse environment of students, which has helped me learn about all kinds of people.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]

Meet Our Seniors: Amber Payne

amberAmber is headed to Vanderbilt University to study biology. She has been at Morgan Park Academy since first grade.

[Read more Class of 2015 interviews.]

Q&A

Favorite class:

My favorite high school class was AP Biology during my sophomore year with Mrs. Drown. It was my first AP class and I learned so much. It also inspired me to choose my career path of biology.

Favorite teacher:

Mrs. Drown is my favorite teacher because even though I only had her for one class, she has continuously encouraged and helped me in many areas. She has become so much more than a teacher, as she always supported activities around campus that I was involved in and also checked on me academically. She wants to see me succeed in all areas and has sacrificed so much time and energy for it to come to pass.

Favorite co-curricular activity:

Being a part of Student Council throughout high school, my classmates and I were able to accomplish so much to make everyone’s experience at MPA better. I learned so much about people through this co-curricular and cherish all of the memories.

Proudest accomplishment:

Directing the student-run dance show this spring was the most amazing school and life experience. Seeing students from every background, with different interests, come together, along with having teachers from all of the divisions participate, was so humbling. We raised about $4,000 for HIV/AIDS research through Dance for Life.

How did MPA prepare you for success in college?

MPA has, of course, prepared me academically, instilling good study habits, teaching me to juggle a heavy and intense courseload, and pushing me to do better; however, the most important lesson I have learned from MPA is how to do better. I have learned that there is a bigger world out there than our world here at the corner of 111th and Western. I have developed a wider cultural understanding and appreciation.

[Read more interviews with the Class of 2015.]