Pres. Becerra speaks on looking beyond brand recognition, prestige in college decision process

Pres. Becerra speaks on looking beyond brand recognition, prestige in college decision process


Amidst the college admissions frenzy, high school students can often find themselves drawn to the allure of an institution’s perceived prestige or cultural relevance. However, this fixation can lead to overlooking the wealth of opportunities at smaller, lesser-known universities.

Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University, emphasizes the importance of a measured approach to college selection. She shared her insights during a recent visit to Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic all-girls high school in Miami, at an event titled, ‘How to Successfully Navigate the College Selection Process and Your College Journey.’ Nearly 100 students, parents and educators attended her conversation with Heather Gillingham-Rivas, Head of School at Carrollton.

As a parent who has navigated the college process with her son and daughter, and as someone who has experienced the advantages of smaller universities, President Becerra encouraged students to align their school choice with their personal and professional aspirations.

“You want to consider universities with characteristics that help students thrive, and not get caught up in chasing the big-name institutions,” she explained. “Families need to take the time to explore all of the possibilities. There are a lot of wonderful universities like Marymount that are gems you might not have known about.”

President Becerra underscored the significance of campus culture in fostering a positive learning environment.

“You shouldn’t make a decision based solely on rankings, the school’s website or what you read about the institution online. Make sure you visit the campus so you can really experience the culture of the college,” President Becerra said. “Is the school you’re considering a hyper-competitive or a collaborative one? These are things that don’t always get factored into rankings.”

Carol Recicar, Academic and College Counselor at Carrollton, says the audience appreciated President Becerra’s perspective and emphasis on personalized learning.

“Her insights were reassuring to the families present,” Recicar said. “Everyone appreciated the opportunity to interact with a college president in such an intimate setting.”

Highlighting the advantages of attending a smaller, tightly-knit university like Marymount, President Becerra accentuated the benefits of intimate class sizes, hands-on learning experiences through internships and a supportive community conducive to holistic development. She also emphasized the importance of fostering intellectual diversity and inclusivity within institutions.

“It’s critically important to expose our students to diverse backgrounds, cultures and perspectives, and it results in a transformational experience for all involved,” President Becerra said. “We’re proud that our student body resembles the population around us in our community, and our status as Virginia’s first and only Hispanic-Serving Institution represents our dedication to providing higher education access for students of all backgrounds.”

Concluding her address, she shared her aspirations for Marymount students, envisioning a future where they embrace their passions and fulfill their potential.

“I just want our students to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities that Marymount and the region has to offer them,” President Becerra said. “We want them to find their purpose and explore their God-given talents in life through their future careers, and that they Learn with Purpose. I’m always thinking and planning about ways we can even further improve the Marymount experience for our students.”

After the presentation, President Becerra engaged with attendees and offered personalized guidance.

“President Becerra was adept at understanding the cultural experiences of the Carrollton families and easily related to their questions and concerns,” Recicar said. “As a mother who went through the college process recently with her children, she reminded them that there are colleges for every student’s needs and goals, including Marymount.”