Getting the Answers, Making the Choice
Question 1: Why Should I attend a Catholic School?
You might have answered this question for yourself already, but it is important to ask this of each Catholic college you have on your possible list. It is the age old question a religious education vs. a secular education.
We should have all aspects of our lives centered around Christ, and these schools could help you do that. The big question is, how can you take the degree you earn and use that in your chosen career path?
This question can be asked to the admissions office, but also to the students ~ from freshmen to seniors ~ and the faculty and staff.
Question 2: How does this school exemplify Catholicism?
Although this sounds like a repeat of question one, here is the difference. In question one, you asked the school to tell you what they are as a Catholic school. In question two, you ask them to show you. (Faith without works is dead, after all!)
Basically, it is saying: "All right, you say your a Catholic school, now how do you specifically show it to the students, as well as the local community? "
This question can be answered by academics, but should also include the well-roundedness of student life, service projects, opportunities to grow in your faith, etc.
Question 3: What are your academic strengths?
Sometimes students think that the smaller Catholic college don't offer as much on the academic side of a college experience. This is not typically true - but you do have to remember that the college will stress the Catholicity of it's programs, but you can't forget academics. After all, this is why you are coming to college - for an education. So academic strengths would include classes, faculty quality, graduate job placement, internships, studying abroad, and advisories.
Question 4: What are some of your strongest programs?
In this question, don't only discuss academics. Make sure to include extracurricular programs as well. This school could have some great student outreach programs in the community. Whether off campus or on, be sure to see if the schools programs are Catholic centered.
Question 5: How can I grow in my Catholic faith here?
This is a very important question. Some would assume that, because their education is coming from a Catholic school, their faith life will blossom automatically. This isn't true - it does require a conscious effort.
How does this school contribute to this effort? Adoration hours? Small prayer groups and Bible studies? Ask the resident staff how they would handle a situation when a student comes to them with a spiritual need. Ask the admissions office and students (this is important) what a typical Sunday looks like on campus?
Question 6: What is the rate of job placement for graduates?
Although it seems light-years away, this is also a biggie. What is going to happen after you graduate? What is this college's plan of attack for placing their students into the career world? How much is the percentage of job placement?
Also, if your career plan is looking like it will include grad school, please inquire about this as well. Another good point is the school's internship programs. The place to ask these questions would be with admissions as well as if the school has a career center or office.
Question 7: HOW CAN YOU HELP ME AFFORD SCHOOL?
OK, if the cap-locks didn't say it, I don't know what will - this might be a very important facet into deciding whether you will go to this school.
Even between private schools, there is a ton of variation between scholarships and financial assistance programs. Some schools will offer special packages for athletes, musicians, actors/actresses, service, community involvement, and leadership!
Admissions can defiantly point you in the right direction, but the brain really to pick is the financial aid office. It's great to hear success stories among other students - ask them how they are able to work financially to go to this college.
Question 8: How about social life, both on and off campus?
What is there to do after studying time? Do you have to go off campus for a good environment? What is there to do on campus? Always start by asking admissions, but this is one question the students will have the best answer too. If you can visit the college, see if you can arrange to stay overnight, to see how students interact with each other and what they are doing for fun.
Question 9: What is resident life like?
Chances are, you'll be staying on campus for your first year at least. Visit the student centers and dorm rooms. This is a question you'll be able to mostly ask by observation alone.
Perhaps your coming from a situation where you don't have to share a room with anyone - perhaps (like me) it's just the opposite, and you already share your room with siblings. But this might be an adjustment with shared-wing bathrooms, and other housing regulations and rules. So ask! You are going to have responsibility for your dorm, but a shared responsibility for the area as well.
Plus, this will be your home away from home for possibly the next four years.
Question 10: What makes this school unique?
Emphasize "unique." Listen! The admissions/students/teachers/faculty will each have something they like about the school. Does their academics emphasize theology? Do they require all students to take a course in theology? What percentage of their students are Catholic? What is their school scheduling and calendar like? What is their student and incoming freshmen orientation like?
Taken and modified from Christian College Guide 2012 Midwest Edition.
OK, so now you have your zillion and one questions packaged nicely into 10 top questions. Are you ready to embark on the college journey? Have you already made it through, if so, can you share some advice? Let me know in the comment box below ~ it makes my day when I hear from a reader!
God bless you all,