The Augustana Difference: a magic shield of unshakable greatness.

What makes Augustana different? People

ask me this all the time. We aren’t just another college, teaching stuff.

Our location in the Quad Cities – a smaller liberal arts college in a metro area – is a distinct advantage.  That we are the best in the area – that companies want our students more than others; that is a huge distinction.  Maybe Chicago or Denver is a bigger market…but think of all those college students competing for internships, job shadow options, and such…Augustana students very simply have more access to experiences that matter for job experience and graduate school placement and way less competition to land those opportunities.

Augie Choice each student gets $2000 to do something amazing that will further their future plans: international study, internship, research…since it’s inception in 2010, no longer will the cost keep some of our best students from participating in these life-changing opportunities.  With over $2 million already spent on student experiences since – this is a fantastic advantage for Augustana students.  Where might Augie Choice take you?

Balance – our students do it all – and do it better. Really. Augustana students do more, are involved in more, and balance more successfully than most college students.  We are not just great students…but great contributors both in and out of the classroom. And not just good students. Not just involved. We are talking involved and successful at the highest level possible. A provable stat on that is the number of Academic All-America honored students: we are ranked #6 in the country, #2 in Division III and #1 in the CCIW conference. Our students are excellent students AND excellent athletes. In fact. That matters. And this translates beyond student athletes, to student musicians, student volunteers – it’s a balance of greatness.

But here’s what we really do at an unprecedented rate: Inspire and challenge students until achieving and making a difference is inherent – it’s a part of them. Then, Augustana launches students into the world and they strive to be greater everyday – because it (this Viking quest) is now part of who they have become.

When a student arrives on campus he has accomplished a certain amount academically, she has made an impact on her activities to a certain degree. Some students scored a perfect ACT. Some barely accomplished the national average. Some were all-conference football players. Some were mediocre piano players. Each student arrives at Augustana as they are and this campus, the connections, the opportunities, the interactions, the requirements – make each student better when he leaves. She is more impressive. He has accomplished more than he ever dreamed possible. She has achieved a GPA or written a final paper that far exceeds what she thought she could do. He has made a difference.

At Augustana, it really is about a PR – a personal record. How will each student approach each day and achieve a PR? Will it be volunteering with the immigrant population? Will it be designing a website? Will it be hiking the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu?  Will it be the first generation college student applying to graduate school? Where was the bar set this morning when she woke up?  How far did he vault over that bar by the time he went to bed?

And this culture, this inherent Viking quest — to be better than one ever expected, to reach heights unfathomable on day one — permeates Augustana College.  No student can avoid it, can escape, can graduate untouched.

This stretch for personal achievement, for the next level, the next goal, the next accomplishment – it becomes who we are as Augustana graduates. It’s unshakable as we approach our next life stage. Be it graduate school or the workforce or parenthood or care taking or civic engagement or community softball…each of these is important work.  And graduates of this great school, Augustana, are launched into a lifetime of achievement.

The culture of Augustana – the strive and passion and dedication to reaching – it is like a magic shield of unshakable greatness that impacts everything our graduates do. Not everyone will be researching the cure for cancer or write the great American novel, but to a person, Augustana graduates will strive, and reach, and be greater tomorrow than they were today.

That is what truly makes Augustana graduates different.


About meghancooley

Meghan Cooley has worked in admissions for over 15 years. She's served in a variety of roles, ranging from tour guide to admissions counselor to her most recent position as Director of Admissions and Recruitment. Through many admissions cycles - she's experienced the ebb and flow of the higher education landscape in the Midwest, become an expert on family dynamics within the college search, guided many through the details of the college search and witnessed the joy and disappointment of student college decisions.

Now, as the Director of Recruitment Communication and Manager of social media at Augustana College, Meghan and her team of talented students focus on marketing Augustana to prospective families, educating families about the college search process, and enhancing professional development opportunities in the profession. She is passionate about increasing diversity (socio-economic and ethnic) in private higher education, alleviating the fears and frustrations that often come with a college search (especially in first generation families), and above all, helping students find the best fit for them as they explore all the educational opportunities available.

Meghan often invites guest bloggers mostly including Augustana admissions staff and current students to contribute. The talented students and staff offer a perspective in the trenches of the college search and college experience.

A 1999 graduate of Augustana College, Meghan holds Bachelor's Degrees in English and Spanish. An avid international traveler, she recommends hiking the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu in Peru, eating Gelato in Rome, Italy, and seeing an opera at the Volksoper in Vienna, Austria. She is married to Augustana graduate and Modern Woodmen project manager, Luke Cooley. They have three sons, Charles, Oliver and Bennett.

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