Sunday, July 28, 2013

PHACC Tour - Day 4

My apologies for the delay, but 11 schools in 4 days, I just couldn't bring myself to make a post on Friday. So, without further ado - here is a roundup of the final day of the Philly Catholic colleges tour.
The final morning began with a visit to Villanova University. An Augustinian school, Villanova was both the largest and the most selective (in terms of admitted student profile) of the schools that we saw. With 6,500 undergraduate students and 80% of them identifying as Catholic, this was also in the running for the highest concentration of Catholic students of the schools we saw this week. Though keep in mind, 20% of a larger student body will still be a higher overall number of students from other faiths than were found at the other schools. Aren't statistics fun? One of my other favorite stats: 60 Olympians have gone to Villanova and they have sent an athlete to every summer games since 1948. With an average SAT score over 1300 on the first two sections, Villanova falls into that unique category of being a medium sized school with a selective academic profile that also offers competitive Division I athletics and palpable school spirit. There was also a very strong emphasis on service, embodied by the short film we screened about the student run homeless shelter SREHUP.  Villanova should find its way onto many students lists if they want a high quality school and a strong sense of community.

Our last stop was at Neumann College, a commuter-friendly school with about 2,000 students. Priding themselves on having one of the private schools with the lowest tuition in the area, Neumann seemed to me to be a school investing in itself in hopes to be a school on the move. What I mean by that is the combination of new construction and expanded housing opportunities seems to me that this relatively young school is working to define itself as an up and comer. If our tour guide was any indication, it is working, because he was really passionate about this place. Like Chestnut Hill, I do have some trepidation about the graduation rate, but I am willing to cut a little slack for a school that does see a high transfer rate for athletes moving on to DI and a place that does open their doors to so many commuters (who do, statistically, have a lower completion rate than residents). Residents, also know that most students are automatically placed in triples, so living quarters are tight.

The thing that probably left the biggest impression on me though was that there seemed to be a real marriage between progressive thought and faith on this campus. There seemed to be strong ties to the religious mission of the school, but ties that focused on social justice, progressive opinions, and equality in the eyes of god. On our visit to the Ministry Center on campus, our tour guide specifically mentioned the school's efforts to eliminate the use of the word 'illegal' in reference to undocumented people. This was the first tour in 11 that I heard a student mention this population. There was also a Pride flag hanging on the wall of the Ministry Center along side a poster denouncing torture (see above). So students, before you write off Catholic schools for being too conservative check to see if you are the one with preconceived stereotypes.

Thanks for all of the schools and their generosity in hosting us last week!