Since 1996, Webster University has led a campaign through a program called UNITE to educate…
Staying in the neighborhood
On her way to Webster’s dorms on move-in day, Caroline Amos, freshman acting major, passed her alma mater, Nerinx Hall High School. After spending four years in Webster Groves for high school, Amos was excited to see a new side of Webster Groves.
“The area is still relatively new to me,” Amos said. “It’s not something I’m bored of yet.”
This year, Webster’s freshman class had four graduates from Nerinx and eight students from Webster Groves High School, according to a press release by the Public Relations department. These students prove location isn’t always the deciding factor when choosing a university to attend.
“Initially no one wants to cross the parking lot to go to college,” Nerinx High School College Counselor Chris Clark said. “In the end analysis, it’s not as a huge a factor as it (Webster’s proximity to their high school) starts out being.”
After graduating from Webster Groves High school, Andrew Case, junior international business major, spent his freshman year of college at the University of Dayton in Ohio. He transferred to Webster for the international opportunities and financial advantage of having his mother, Francine Case, on staff.
As he returned to Webster Groves for school his sophomore year of college, Case said the setting was familiar, but in many ways still new. He wasn’t at his high school and was surrounded by new people.
“It’s home, but I’m getting out of here after I graduate,” Case said.
Considering his aspiration to travel abroad after graduation, Case wasn’t thrilled with the idea of spending four years at a college away from home. He appreciates the time he has now to spend with his family.
“I know when I do go out and travel the world, those are the people (his family) that you miss the most,” Case said. “It’s nice being with them now.”
Marsha Dempsey, Webster Groves High School College and Career Counselor, said for some students, close support from family, friends and community is an important benefit when choosing a college. Dempsy said, depending on the student, having a familiarity with the neighborhood when starting college can be comforting.
“(In the beginning of their college search) everyone wants to get far, far away,” Clark said.
Throughout the rest of the college search process, Clark said some students decide “far away” might not be the best option for them.
Julie Rechtien, sophomore advertising/marketing and German double major, said she didn’t consider Webster or other St. Louis colleges until her senior year at Nerinx.
Webster used to offer scholarships specifically for Nerinx and Webster Groves High School students. Effective this fall, Webster offers scholarships for St. Louis area high schools instead of singling out specific schools. Nerinx and Webster Groves High School students can still apply.
After being accepted and awarded Webster’s Nerinx scholarship, Rechtien attended an open house and felt comfortable with the familiarity.
She liked the Webster Groves area and the Loretto background Webster and Nerinx share.
“It (Webster) felt like the college version of Nerinx,” Rechtien said. “I really liked that.”
She takes advantage of her proximity to Nerinx and visits often.
“Sometimes it’s like I never left high school,” Rechtien said “I’m okay with it. I love it.”
For Amos, Webster has been her first choice for college since her sophomore year of high school when she decided to major in acting. When she was in high school, Amos often noticed Webster’s conservatory students in Webster Groves. She also noticed their passion.
“I wanted to be at a school where I could be really passionate,” Amos said
She said she doesn’t feel that having her high school nearby or staying in the same neighborhood for college interferes with her college experience.
“As long as you’re doing your own thing at college, I don’t think having your high school right next door can be any hindrance at all,” Amos said. “But it is nice to see a friendly face at Starbucks every once in a while.”