Author: Petrusch, Suzanne M
Date published: November 1, 2011
Choosing a college can be a daunting task for students and parents. Presented with the myriad of private and public options, a student must wade through print and online materia) and make the ever-important campus visits to narrow the choices to schools that best match the characteristics the student seeks. National research suggests students should consider the availability of their intended major, the quality of the academic offerings and access to professors as among the most important characteristics they are seeking. What if your students are looking for more?
The more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States prepare students not just for careers, but to live meaningful lives. They educate the mind and the heart.
Return on investment in post-secondary education often is considered only as a quantitative measure based on annual starting salary or lifetime earnings potential, butthat one-dimensional view does not allow for a qualitative analysis of the profound benefits to be reaped overa lifetime.
BASED ON CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITION
Rooted in history, but extraordinary in linking the past to both the present and the future in significantly relevant ways, U.S. Catholic institutions provide a distinctive education. While the settings differ and there is diversity among institutions-in enrollment size, location, student body composition and governance- the common heritage is the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. At the core, the liberal arts provide a foundation for understanding what it means to be human and the way in which our human experience and condition are intertwined with God. Yet the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is not limited to the liberal arts. In fact, it opens the path to the study of other disciplines through a particular lens.
Ethical behavior and the worth of the individual, created in the image and likeness of God, are themes that resonate throughout courses in all disciplines. Faculty use the framework of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to shape the curriculum. Questions and discussions about ethics and faith are not isolated, but flow throughout all academic areas and courses. Future engineers consider not just the technology of water-filtration systems, but the benefits to the citizens of developing countries and how the operation of new structures will affect people and the environment. Business students are concerned with issues including sustainability and corporate responsibility. Graduates of Catholic institutions are instilled with a strong sense of duty and purpose to act for the common good.
With the values-based education provided by Catholic colleges and universities, students learn to think critically and act ethically. Magnified by the uncertainty of our tumultuous domestic and international economies, parents and students can be confident that Catholic institutions will prepare students for the future by sharply honing their critical thinking skills. Students will learn how to learn, a trait valued by many top-tier employers, as well as how to embrace a love of lifelong learning. Whether the future holds times of widespread economic, political or environmental uncertainty or prosperity and peace, graduates of Catholic schools are equipped with the intellectual tools to navigate successfully. The well-rounded education that develops students intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually provides them with the ingenuity, fortitude and compassion to weather life's most critical challenges.
Catholic institutions educate for service, social justice and peace. Professors and student development professionals strive to nurture servant leaders who hone their skills and commitment while still in school. Countless examples demonstrate that graduates actively use their talents in service to their local and extended communities, their parishes and their families.
Students enrolled in Catholic institutions are invited to explore issues of spirituality and strengthen their faith regardless of whether or not Catholicism is their faith tradition. Learning in and out of the classroom, students can use numerous resources offered through outstanding campus ministry organizations to actively engage in liturgies, retreats and service.
Renowned faculty who are researchers and scholars choose to work at Catholic colleges and universities because they are first and foremost teachers who are dedicated to helping students achieve their aspirations. Learning takes place within caring communities that support and nurture the gifts and talents of each individual. It's common to see the descriptors "welcoming," "family" or "community" used in viewbooks produced by all types of colleges, but the terms truly are manifested on the Catholic campuses across the country.
Graduates of Catholic colleges and universities possess excellent records of accomplishment, including entrance to the nation's most competitive graduate and professional schools and access to the top regional and national firms for career placement immediately following college. Academic excellence and career achievements are important. However, young men and women who believe the true measures of success are found in the quality of the relationships they develop with God, family and others and the contributions they make to society as servant leaders will find that private, Catholic education is distinctive in how it connects and celebrates the development of the mind and the heart.
Suzanne M. Petrusen is vice president of enrollment management at St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas (firstname.lastname@example.org).