The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College: 2012-2013 edition

Adam Wilson of The Cardinal Newman Society (which watches the state of the question of Catholic colleges in the USA) sent the following:

I am pleased to announce to you the 2012-2013 edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. After several months of work, we are able to provide Catholic families with this dramatically expanded resource for finding and choosing a faithful Catholic college.

Our website includes the entire book (plus around 400 pages of extra content) for free. You can order the hard copy as well. We want The Newman Guide to help as many students and parents as possible. Can you help us spread the word about it this week?

Since the last edition, we’ve added two new institutions (University of Mary and Walsh University). We opted to not include one previously recommended institution (Providence College) due to insufficient information from the college. Our website is replete with many new features, including answers from each recommended college to our in-depth questionnaire. You’ll find the online profiles connected to college social media pages too. I hope you are able to check it out and help us bring more Catholic families to this resource!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. lhuizenga says:

    I teach Theology at the University of Mary, and we’re very pleased to have the Newman Society recognize our efforts to invigorate and buttress our Catholic identity. The Newman Guide’s description of us is here. Bottom line:

    “The University of Mary’s renewed vitality as a Catholic university is exciting and pervasive. The faithful curriculum and attention to ethical development, the Catholic Studies Program, the responsible campus residence policies and new halls for seriously Catholic students, the new Rome campus, and other factors combine to make UM a wonderful new addition to The Newman Guide.

    “But UM is also unique for the Guide, with its heavier emphasis on career preparation in health, business, and education. We anticipate that its impressive renewal is not complete, as Fr. Shea and a number of committed officials and faculty members continue to strengthen the academic program and campus life, so that Catholic students will find a faithful and increasingly fervent atmosphere at UM. The University is seeking students who are eager to take advantage of the current offerings while contributing to UM’s development.”

    I have to mention that tuition is only $13,600 this year.

    I can’t begin to tell you of all the exciting things going on at Mary (read the Guide for more) and in the Diocese of Bismarck. Of especial interest perhaps to your readers in particular is that I’ve been instrumental in establishing a TLM in the area, while our chaplain, Fr Benedict Fischer, continues to strengthen liturgical and devotional life on campus. Feel free, readers, to email me with any questions.

  2. Bryan Boyle says:

    I noted with interest that my nephew’s High School was cited by the Newman Society (JP-II The Great in the Arlington Diocese) as an aside. Only graduated its first senior class in 2011…and it’s already listed as one of the best. Dominican Sisters (in full habit…no polyester pantsuits here), 4 years of bioethics, religion, science…rigorous education.

    The restoration of our faith will take many forms and along many paths. Besides the higher education, we have to get our elementary and secondary tracks going in the right direction, too. Here’s one school which is doing just that. No surprise it’s in Arlington.

    (FWIW, my sister asked me for advice; it came down to JP-II or Gonzaga. Even though I’m Jesuit educated…could NOT see sending my nephew to Gonzaga. Nope. Not if she wanted my nephew to keep his faith. He’s loving his experience and doing well. Amazing what challenging a young mind will do…)

  3. Phil_NL says:

    I hope someone can teach me a few things here: why seem all American Catholic academic institutions to focus on a Liberal Arts program? Where are the medicine, engineering, maths, economics, or law schools? If I would be an 18 year old (which I’m not, and I’m not an American either), I’d steer clear of all of them simply due to an overload of literature in just about any program.
    So, am I missing something essential, or is this just a lacuna in the market?

  4. Sissy says:

    Phil_NL: in the US, most of the degree programs you mentioned are pursued as graduate degrees, following the 4 years of undergrad. Liberal Arts programs might feature a heavy dose of literature, but they might not. In Catholic universities, they more often include classes in philosophy and theology, as well as a general survey of the humanities.

  5. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Where are the medicine, engineering, maths, economics, or law schools? If I would be an 18 year old (which I’m not, and I’m not an American either), I’d steer clear of all of them simply due to an overload of literature in just about any program.”

    Science and math degrees do not lead to high paying jobs with just an undergrad degree and, sadly, many students, enthralled with worldly desire, want a big paycheck after college. There is no sense of delayed gratification. That is why so many students are going into business programs. The 1960’s and 1970’s were the heyday of science degrees. Today, we practically have bribe students to become scientists. Many students just can’t handle the rigors of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs, anymore.

    The Chicken

  6. Sissy says:

    The Masked Chicken said: “Many students just can’t handle the rigors of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs, anymore.”

    That’s another piece of the puzzle, Chicken. In many areas, the public education system doesn’t even prepare students for the first year in college, let alone STEM degrees.

  7. wmeyer says:

    It is also true that many (most?) colleges must provide remedial classes in English, math, and science (basic) to enable students to survive even undergrad college-level courses.

  8. Phil_NL says:

    @Sissy: thanks, but even that observation only delays the question. Why would good Catholic institutions focus only on the udnergradute part? It’s not as if a 22 year old is always rock-solid as a Catholic and a 18 year old would be a shaky one. In fact, most of the time, those who were in need of a Catholic education in a Catholic institution (which is something more than just the education) at 18 will need the same at 22.

    @the Chicken: I think you should distinguish even more. A decent STEM program doesn’t necesarrily lead to a career in science. (if that’s what you mean by ‘become scientists’). In fact, many opportunities for people with a sound grasp of these matters exist in business – one could even say that Wall Street had – and has – an overkill of them. Likewise, a sound business / economics program would resemble much more a science program than a liberal arts one. Optimization, econometrics and abstract reasoning using models are very much needed in that field too.
    In fact (and I’ll put my chainmail armor on now), Shakespeare is about the only subject that has no application at all in the world of big paychecks, yet liberal arts programs swaer by the bard…

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    The biggest single contributing factor to that is probably the breakdown of the traditional family. That, and student are taught a psychology of unjust self-esteem and immersed in a fantasy psychology of ease frm early on. The modern version of walking five miles in the snow (up and down a hill) to get to school is not being able to get a double fudge latte for breakfast at Starbucks.

    The Chicken

  10. Studying philosophy gave me a greater appreciation of my physics and math (being a physicist and mathematician)…but perhaps. I never realized how much philosophy was needed to understand math and physics until I went to seminary for a brief time.

  11. Bryan Boyle says:

    It seems to me (being the recipient of a ‘liberal arts’ education), ending up in a technical field (IT security) as compared to my friends who spent 4 or 6 or however many years in an environment where literature, natural science, theology, philosophy, arts, etc were NOT required…one teaches you what to think (e=mc^2 +/- 3dB or 2+2=4 (or 5, for sufficiently large values of 2)) where the other teaches you HOW to think, which is more useful once you actually get out into the Real World.

    I’m not saying one is better than the other. Well, maybe I am. If all you are concerned with is rote memorization and formulae…go for it. I hear being an actuary is a good field. But, there is a certain beauty that can be found, if you have a broad-based imagination, even in engineering, IT, or some of the more technical fields if you can see more than just the cold equation or register contents or packet header flags. I guess it’s the difference between seeing things as a whole as opposed to seeing just the parts. I’m more comfortable with the former, while still able to appreciate the latter.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    “A decent STEM program doesn’t necesarrily lead to a career in science. (if that’s what you mean by ‘become scientists’).”

    Actually, it is supposed to, since we can’t hire enough native scientists. 50% of scientists in graduate schools in the U. S. are not American.

    As for the”Quants,” they would be better of service teaching high school algebra. They have, as a class (with some exceptions) really ruined Wall Street. In fact, one can go so far as to say that we might not be in our present woe if only practical people had been involved with the Stock Market. Silly mathematical models (and most economic models are highly speculative, as in having exactly zero good experimental basis) don’t help anyone. The Stock Market is treated, for all intents and purposes as a far-from-equilibrium system (in the physical sense). That is the only way I can explain how investors think they are either owed or will actually get a continually increasing return on their investment. That is just insane. The Earth is a practically closed system; far-from-equilibrium systems tend to be open, with unlimited resources. We don’t live in such a world, except, apparently, on Wall Street.

    Of course, I have never understood the Stock Market, since I think it is based on an underlying contradiction. Unfortunately, this is the wrong place for those discussions. I’m just saying that many Quants are good at understanding math, but lousy with understanding either money or people. That is not universally true, but I have not been impressed with what I have seen, so far.

    We need knowledgeable people to teach science (including how it is supported by a correct understanding of the Faith) to young people. The U. S. has a 28% science literacy, which has gone up a point. We are now tied with Denmark.

    As for the liberal arts, an education is not supposed to be for a big paycheck. It is to become immersed in Mystery. All acts of mercy (when someone ignorant is instructed, for example) push one into Mystery, since God’s mercy is a mystery. Some people have to study Shakespere. It is their calling. For the rest of us, the Bard and the Bible should be the standards of speech. Everyone should have their words in their ears.

    The Chicken

  13. wmeyer says:

    Bryan, as a liberal arts buy (theatre major) who spent decades in broadcast engineering, and in software development, I agree. My mother used to say that the two essential things to learn in college were 1) that there was a huge amount you do not know, and 2) how to find the answers when you need them.

    A liberal arts grad who believes he is ready for a career has almost certainly failed to learn #1, above.

  14. wmeyer says:

    guy, not buy… can’t type today

  15. Phil_NL says:

    @The Chicken:

    One can wonder if the non-native component is a question of Americans not willing (or being ill qualified due to poor education earlier on), or the others being too willing. More often than not, institutions like foreign students, it supposedly enhances the university’s reputation, and if they come from countries where memorization is still in vogue, they might be easier to handle students too. Anyway, that’s an aside.

    Equally tangential, but the problem in Wall Street is not the presence of quants, but the fact you need that rarest of spieces, namely a quant that also understands the underlying economics, or a Finance guy who also understands quantitative modelling.

    Then coming back to the core issue: an education, in my opinion, is a route to a paycheck. We all need marketable skills to keep our children housed and fed, and frankly, otherwise the expense it’s justifiable either. It’s good to have a faithful education to go along with it, but that could be organized much more efficiently in other ways, if that was the main goal. ‘The reason why it is good to combine the two is that in today’s world it’s dangerous to know a lot about one’s coresubject, but nothing about the context of it, including the metaphysical. In fact, being unable to make those connections would be a serious defect in one’s professional education.
    But a university isn’t a seminary (and even that is and should be a highly goal-oriented program), the first requirement is getting those grey cells to work, and in a way that justifies the expense.

    PS: And I’d say Shakespeare doesn’t. In fact, why on earth do something in college that should have been completed long ago in highschool?

  16. Phil_NL says:

    I agree. However, those 2 lessons can and should be learned in any education. Moreover, the can be learned in any context (from finance to biology, from maths to theology), including those that are more useful in the labor market.

  17. wmeyer says:

    Phil_NL: The answer to why something is done in college which should long before have been completed in high school, is, of course, that the high schools have failed dramatically in their own roles.

  18. wmeyer says:

    Phil_NL: I think you are assuming a level of competence in high school teaching which vanished with McGuffey’s Readers.

  19. Sissy says:

    Phil_NL said: “Why would good Catholic institutions focus only on the udnergradute part?”

    I don’t think you understood my response to your question, Phil. I didn’t say that Catholic colleges only focus on the undergraduate part. I said that liberal arts degrees are generally undergraduate programs with more specialized training for professions coming in graduate school. Many Catholic universities do, indeed, offer graduate training in law, medicine, engineering, and so forth. Smaller colleges might offer only an undergraduate education. It’s often a matter of funding. The Newman guide is for high school students about to enter college. In the US, we don’t have programs that would allow a high school graduate to enter directly into law or medical school. You have to get an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree first.

  20. mamajen says:

    I studied architecture, so I didn’t even consider a liberal arts school. One priest our family knows was alarmed that I was going to a “secular” school, but I did just fine. I got a great job with my four year degree and didn’t need to waste time on a masters. There are a few “Catholic” universities that have architecture programs, but they’re not great with the Catholicism part. I agree with Phil–it would be nice if there was a good Catholic technical school. I don’t wish to knock the great Catholic institutions, but for some of us liberal arts is a waste of time and money. It would be nice to have more options.

  21. Phil_NL says:

    @Sissy, while I don’t wish to be obtuse, there are BSc programs, and there is something like pre-med and pre-law in undergradute education, right? A bachelor doesn’t have to be a liberal arts one.

    My point is that I continue to find it strange that all these – commendable! – efforts seem to be focussed on what is only part of the educational market. Granted, a bigger chunck of the field in the US than what it would be over here (liberal arts programs are rare in this neck of the woods, hence my original question) , but still relevant – for someone like me, liberal arts would be plain hell (unless done in a very different way than the bits I encountered, perhaps, but I have a hard time imagining that.) Some of us need the more technical stuff, as that’s where talents and callings can lie as well.

  22. Sissy says:

    Phil_NL, you’re right of course, BUT, as I alluded to earlier, cost is major factor. There aren’t that many solid Catholic colleges that work hard to preserve Catholic identity. The Newman guide doesn’t really feature that many schools, you’ll notice. A school like Notre Dame offers numerous undergrad majors. But many of the schools listed by Newman are smaller schools or newer schools. They can’t afford to offer a smorgasbord of majors. So, they focus on a core of offerings that usually adds up to a Liberal Arts degree. For example, Christendom College in my state is a very fine Catholic institution, but it’s small and new. They can’t afford to invest in extensive science programs. If you are looking at “Catholic” universities in general, then you will find a wide array of majors. But if you are looking at just the small subset of Catholic schools approved by the Newman Guide, you are more likely to see “just the basics”, at least for now. I’m sure these fine institutions like Wyoming Catholic College, Christendom, and other newer schools will expand with time.

  23. wmeyer says:

    Phil_NL: A liberal arts school I would love to attend is Thomas Aquinas College, in California. Completion of that program would make all that came after much more approachable, and valuable. Four years in a good liberal arts school would not be a waste. See the syllabus here:

  24. Sissy says:

    wmeyer: I agree with you! I wish some of these terrific Catholic schools had been around when I was a high school senior (and that I’d been Catholic, of course!) ; 0

  25. Eoin Suibhne says:

    It is important to understand that a traditional liberal arts education is an education for man as man, prior to any consideration of what that particular man will do for a career. It is a true education rather than simply career training.

    As Newman himself said, “When the intellect has once been properly trained and formed to have a connected view or grasp of things, it will display its powers with more or less effect according to its particular quality and capacity in the individual. […] In all it will be a faculty of entering with comparative ease into any subject of thought, and of taking up with aptitude any science or profession.”

    Modern man has been snookered into believing that he is primarily a worker, not a thinker, and thus considers a classical education a waste of time. Ironically, however, many businesses and graduate schools have begun to lament the disappearance of traditional liberal arts education because the very skills their employees and students lack — the ability to read with penetration, to write with clarity, and to speak with eloquence — are the very skills acquired through a traditional liberal arts education!

  26. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Phil_NL, I have been told (which may of course be due to national, or in that case rather continental pride…) that basically College is in America what the university-qualifying degree, Abitur, Matura, Baccalauréat, etc. (sorry don’t know what you call it in the Netherlands), is with us. [The names, at least, could give indications: the degree qualifies for University, it is in France basically called “bachelor”, and in Bavaria the last two years of Gymnasium were called Kollegstufe.] Now that may be quite deranking against the American High School; though I bet it is not really so, given that High School in America is for all pupils, whereas university-qualifying high school is for the best one pupil in four. Thus, systematically the American High School would have to be compared with the General School (with us the Hauptschule), which it outranks by far.

    Long story short sense: I think you will find that in our high schools, there also is much focus on literature. Technology and engineering are completely left out; the natural sciences are rather presented than really (thoroughly) taught; mathematics are taught a bit, even to the point of getting those pupils who try to understand it (and I still wonder how the other pupils, who do not bother to understand but only try to get through the tests, even achieve that, to the point of having 50 out of hundred points [“passed” is 40]) to get some mathematical feeling, but still it is, after arithmetics, elementar geometry and basical set theory, a rather arbitrary collection of calculus, linear algebra, and probability theory without measure-theoretical background. To ask a pupil to do a proof is considered extraordinary hard; it’s all about learning some techniques and getting some results. (All that is on the Extended Studies level, which were abolished in 2011.)

    Dear @The Masked Chicken,
    just saying: I think the problem is not too much but too little of self-esteem. He who does have self-esteem need not have a big paycheck or an academic degree to tell him so, but can approach these with a more healthy attitude; I speak of course not of dishumility. Humility is called Demut in German, presumably because it requires a lot of courage to accept oneself still after tearing down all imaginary self-exaltations. On the other hand, the desire for a big paycheck or also a degree is, I see, a lot motivated not by the feeling that I deserve it but by the feeling that otherwise my life is failed. (Classical self-description thing, that was. I do hold that the Lord my God will sort it out in the end; but I can’t at this point get rid of some such feelings.) As an aside of this, I do think that money is to an unhealthy degree not used to what is meant for use (viz. buying things you like), but as self-reassurance, with the paycheck being a certificate of someone’s worth.

  27. The Masked Chicken says:


    I understand your point, but the sort of self-esteem to which I was referring was the pathological variety pushed by American educators, which has no basis in either just (in a moral sense) accomplishments, nor the dignity of the human person. According to them, a gang member who holds the record for the most killings in his gang is entitled to have self-esteem.

    There is a form of esteem that if rightly accorded to each individual bu virtue of the Imago Dei from which each person is fashioned, but the pathological and psychological idea of self-esteem common in American secular education does not base itself on that, but rather on the apparent (so they will tell you) need of each person to feel “special” or to feel good about themselves, no matter how despicably they may be living their lives.

    The Chicken

  28. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Chicken,

    thank you for your kind reply. I guess that is a cultural thing; around here there is still the attitude around that “not scolded is praised enough”, as a saying also goes. Coming to think of it I do remember that I once played a sort of one-on-one basketball with an American friend and, not really knowing that sport so much (nor, for my laziness among other things, the most sportive person in general), was praised and what you would probably say encouraged each time I made a some blunderous mistake. The very friendliest reaction in Europe would have been a giggling smile.

  29. ndmom says:

    “Ironically, however, many businesses and graduate schools have begun to lament the disappearance of traditional liberal arts education because the very skills their employees and students lack — the ability to read with penetration, to write with clarity, and to speak with eloquence — are the very skills acquired through a traditional liberal arts education!”

    We are big believers in the importance of a liberal arts education. However, it must be acknowledged that most employers simply are not interested in recruiting or hiring liberal arts graduates for entry-level jobs, especially in the current economic climate. On-campus recruiting is largely limited to students with business and engineering degrees. Our recent college graduate has first-hand experience with the difficulties faced by those with less-marketable but still (in our opinion) valuable degrees in fields such as history, philosophy, or political science. Many employers pay earnest lip service to the importance of a well-rounded education, but when push comes to shove they hire the accounting and finance majors. Our student did recently find a well-paying job, but we were in the position to provide his education without incurring any debt, and so he was able to take his time to find a good position.

    “Well, they can always go to graduate school” is a common response to this situation, but what graduate program? Most PhD programs in non-technical fields are overflowing with graduates with no realistic hope of securing an appropriate academic position. Medical school is really a calling and requires both considerable science coursework and financial resources. Law school is also expensive and makes sense only for those who can be confident of top performance at a top school. MBA programs are expensive and generally require at least several years’ work experience, and the jury is still out on whether they are worth the cost. And many master’s programs are exercises in consumption rather than an investment in job-related skills.

    These are the reasons that the Newman Guide, as valuable as it may be to a small number of families, continues to disappoint with its emphasis on micro-colleges offering limited courses of study that will not necessarily lead to gainful employment upon graduation without additional post-graduate study.

  30. Sissy says:

    ndmom said: “These are the reasons that the Newman Guide, as valuable as it may be to a small number of families, continues to disappoint with its emphasis on micro-colleges offering limited courses of study that will not necessarily lead to gainful employment upon graduation without additional post-graduate study.”

    Thank you for your first-hand account of the difficulties facing today’s graduates. That was very well said. I may be entirely wrong, but my impression is that the purpose of the Newman guide is to help parents who want to find a truly orthodox Catholic experience for their college-bound children. Sadly, the number of schools that fit their criteria is vanishingly small. If I’m wrong in my assumption about the purpose of the Newman guide, I’d appreciate being corrected. Congrats, ndmom, on having your recent graduate happily employed!

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