New Guide Recommends Faithful Catholic Colleges

**Entire Contents of Guide Free Online **

Today the Cardinal Newman Society published a new, second edition of the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, a free online resource for parents and students seeking a faithful Catholic education.

This comprehensive Guide recommends 21 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States plus eight international, online and unique programs based on the strength of their Catholic identity. In addition, the Guide includes several essays to help families better understand the search for a strong Catholic college.

The culmination of four years of research and hundreds of interviews, this edition of the Newman Guide builds substantially on the successful first edition which was published on All Saints Day in 2007. All told more than 8,000 copies of that edition were distributed to Catholic leaders and families.
Full article…

What a resource!! Thank you:p

Consider the source.

Absolutely! The source is what is so exciting about a resource like this.

The Cardinal Newman Society has precisely identified and described the ways in which the majority of nominally catholic universities have utterly betrayed their founders and their catholic identity.

Now they’ve taken those lesson and used them in a POSITIVE way to identify and laud those few colleges that have AVOIDED those spiritually fatal pitfalls.

I have to admit that I am pretty miffed about the CNS guide because I think that it offers pretty bad advice to prospective college students. Truth be told, the vast majority of the reccommended schools don’t deserve their money or four years of their life, despite overstated claims about glowy-happy-super-orthodoxy.

I’m an alumnist of Franciscan and I would personally NEVER reccomend that anyone go there, under any circumstances. The claim of “Catholic safe haven” is grossly overstated and the quality of the education available is far from adequate.

I think its better to go to a good public, nationally recognized university if you are upset about the lack of Christian furvor (and prevelant mediocrity) at the overwhelming majority of Catholic universities.

Out of curiosity, what were your experiences like at Franciscan University?

To put it concisely, my experience was very bad. My wife and I moved across the country, to do the “Steubenville experience”, only to feel completely ripped off at the end of it all. Essentially the school does not live up to its lofty claims of being unequivocally/universally orthodoxically Catholic, while also being a challenging and fruitful intellectual experience.

Plenty of professors and administraitors don’t actually care about Franciscan’s supposed spiritual mission. This being the case, then it is a misrepresentation of reality when the school implies that every single class/moment/event will completely reflect faithful Catholic teaching. Also, the school as a school is something of a bad joke. The library is inadequate, they have prof’s teaching with MA’s as their highest degree, classes are run like a high-school, etc. It’s all really quite bad.

My wife and I both met at UCLA where we absolutely LOVED our college experiece and we, having both taken classes at Franciscan, feel that students attending Franciscan are being cheated out of something MUCH better. Many will defend this place no matter what, turning a blind eye to its many glaring problems and inconsistencies but I think that their will to do so is fulled almost entirely by ignorance. Not only do they know nothing about how good a university can be (as UCLA no doubt is), they have a completely FALSE understanding of what going to one of “those” schools must be like thanks, in part, to illinformed propaganda like the CNS guide. I think that if they themselves had gone to a GOOD school, that they would see how incredibly deficient Franciscan is and how wrong they are about the “conspiracy of liberal evil” that they believe permeates reputable colleges at every level.

they have prof’s teaching with MA’s as their highest degree,

My experience is at the undergraduate level, at least in engineeering which is my degree,
an MS is fine. It’s more about teaching ability. I had excellent teachers with an MS and poor teachers with a PhD; also vice versa.

My personal preference would be to send a child to a secular school with an active Newman center.

Absolutely! That is what this is such a valuable guide for those searching for an authentic catholic College

I’ve heard this kind of thing before, oddly enough just the other day from a friend who was attempting to defend Franciscan’s decision to allow a third acquaintance of ours to teach undergrad classes at the university part time (which I think is atrocious and only shows Franciscan’s lack of integrity as a supposed center for a “Catholic intellectual renaissance”).

The truth is, an MA or MS is not sufficient (this day and age) for instructing undergraduates through an entire course. This is especially true for undergrads who are very diligent or perceptive, and armed to the teeth with the kinds of excellent questions that deserve the attention of an actual expert in the field. To think that students would have to pay FULL TUITION to have a teacher who is unable to address their most burning questions is atrocious in an age when it is the norm to have a qualified and highly specialized Ph.D. at the helm of a give course.

The assumption that “it’s all about teaching ability” is pervasive, though I think ultimately misguided. While it is true that at many colleges there are plenty of PhDs who are themselves uninformed, bad teachers, lazy, etc., the fact remains that at the nation’s leading research institutions the best teachers (with the most positive feedback from students!) are overwhelmingly PhDs. Therefore a distinction needs to be made, I think, between “just any PhD” and those who have PhDs from competitive graduate programs in their field and/or have done work relevant to and recognized by their respective fields “community of scholars”. (There are very few of these at Franciscan, in any department).

Often you’ll hear school schools like Franciscan, which generally (overwhelming) lack the kinds of intellectually rigorous PhDs described above, that they emphasize “teaching” over “research”, and that somehow having a famous, respected intellectual as a professor will translate into boring lectures and inaccessible office hours. Yet my lived experience runs completely counter to this common intuition. At Franciscan I had all sorts of “teaching professors” who are not recognized in their fields of research, and yet I more or less found them proud, inaccessible, indifferent, and very disorganized (many lectures were poorly prepared, etc). At Franciscan my wife had professors unable to address technical questions, I had professors unwilling to even take questions (and when one was allowed, they were received with hostility!). At UCLA however, where many of my political science professors (ALL Phds) were quite famous, the very opposite was true. I could ALWAYS see them in office hours, they would ALWAYS hear my questions (and have excellent feedback), they were ALWAYS organized and engaging in their lectures, etc. It only makes sense, if you think about, these are PROFESSIONAL SCHOLARS who are used to giving all sorts of lectures/talks/speeches on their chosen topics, not just before students, but before their peers in the scholarly community. Thus, they are far better orators and far more prepared because, well, THEY HAVE TO BE! PhDs who fall outside of this active category, the so-called “teaching specialists”, then tend to be a mixed bag because they lack such incentives.

If you think an MA in adequate, just consider that I (of all people) have an MA in theology and am thus supposedly “qualified” to teach at Franciscan. I think that this is absurd, despite walking out with a 3.9 GPA, I know that I am in NO WAY qualified to teach smart college kids theology. Not by a long shot. I hope that, at the very least, my own testimony as an MA is enough dissuade anyone from thinking that it is OK to pay full tuition and have an MA as your professor.

C. S. Lewis taught at Oxford for 29 years. He never got his Ph.D., and said that it would have been a waste of time getting a Ph.D. Do you think a “smart” student would have been wasting his time taking a class with C.S. Lewis?

Plenty of Universities have experts on their teaching faculties who do not possess a Ph.D. in their field. I can think of Yale University, for example.

Some people are really into credential-ism to their own detriment.

What you’ve said is logically fallacious. That is like saying that “chimpanzees orbit the earth in outer-space” because back in the 60’s there was an example of a chimpanzee that went into orbit! You can’t take instances of outlying exceptions to the rule and then reapply them as if they were the norm. Also, you are comparing wildly different circumstances to each other as if there were no major differences.

First of all CS Lewis was a don at Oxford, which at the time, was probably the leading research institution in the world. Comparing MAs from Franciscan (who teach at Franciscan) to CS Lewis teaching at Oxford is absurd.I hate to tell you this, but the average Franciscan student would probably not be able to hack it at Oxford. That “smart” Oxford student is in an entirely different set of circumstances than the “smart” Franciscan student, who could hypothetically have ME as a teacher (which would be a disaster for both of us, I’m no CS Lewis). (Note: some Franciscan students could indeed hack it at Oxford, which is really sad because they made the blunder of going to Franciscan!)

Second, the MA and PhD meant different things back then, the university system was different back then, very few people went to college (much less grad school) back then…we live in another universe with radically different standards and practices. This is why I was very careful to frame my argument as a matter of Franciscan not living up to MODERN standards. It is no longer the norm that someone of CS Lewis’s intellectual stature would go without a PhD. In fact, in today’s intellectual job market, he would have been forced to in order to even be considered for a teaching position at any good/reputable institution, even more so at Oxford.

If you were to do the research and just look at the percentages of professors at leading universities who have obtained a PhD in their given field, you will find that it is nearly 100% the fact! This is the norm. Why should Franciscan be able to claim that it is an “intellectual renaissance” when it cannot even adhere to normalized standards such as this? Therefore, I think that you are mistaken about your assumption that “plenty” of professors at universities have no PhD, you need to seriously look into this. In fact, its becoming less and less likely to even be able to get a relatively low paying job at a community college without a PhD!

However, like I said, there are exceptions to the overwhelmingly prevalent rule. Many community colleges still hire MAs, many low ranked universities and colleges do occasionally hire people who only have an MA as their highest degree (typically as adjuncts, like at Franciscan, which they don’t have to claim as official “faculty” on their websites…its so they save a buck paying part-time pay and still collect full tuition from hapless students)…but you will be VERY hard pressed to normalize this kind of thing with regards to schools like Yale! Other than the CS Lewis example, and your unspecified yale example, I can only think of MacIntyre at Notre Dame (who is VERY old) as an individual teaching at a major/reputable university without a PhD.

I don’t have enough experience to form an educated opinion on Franciscan, but JKSoren makes some good points.

I think it is very important for there to be a faithful Catholic presence in non-Catholic schools, as well as Catholic schools that are not labeled as ‘faithful’. It’s a great opportunity for a properly catechized young Catholic to hone his or her faith through apologetics - and possibly even teach their peers. Many conservative youths have picked up a copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s Letters to a Young Conservative and become footsoldiers in a new generation of politics. Catholics can do the same from a religious perspective.


You clearly hated your time and experience at FUS. Gotcha.

But I wonder what your expectations were and whether you did reasonable research before developing them. What degree did you pursue there?

As an alum of a Big Ten University, I find many of your claims laughable. I can’t speak about UCLA, but in my undergrad years 70% of my classes were taught by grad student TA’s (this is early 1990’s). Sure we had a lecture by a ‘big name’ professor, but those might as well have been videotaped for all the personal contact and interaction they contained. It wasn’t until my senior year (and one or two my junior) that I had close contact with real professors in small classes in my chosen field. Nevertheless, that turned out to be enough. If you are agressive and push your way into the attention of the professors, you’ll get what you need.

I’m not sure what you expected at FUS, but it sounds like you anticipated an academic garden of Eden. That’s just naive, it doesn’t exist on Earth at this time - sin you know. But I have many friends who went to FUS. Every one of them is far more educated and well rounded in history, literature, philosophy (not to mention theology) than ANY public university alum that I know (including me). I went to a highly prestigious midwest university and never had ONE course in those areas (granted I’m an engineer, but university is supposed to provide EDUCATION, not just technical training). I suppose you COULD consider the “History of the Environmental Movement” class I had to take as history. :rolleyes:

Sorry to hear of your disappointing experience, but I suggest you take a closer look at just how poorly educated the average American undergrad is today before taking such a harsh stance on FUS.

I did plenty of “research” (as far as that can go I suppose) and had every reason to believe, as you obviously do, that Franciscan is precisely what it sells itself as. How could I doubt the united front of Scott Hahn, EWTN, and all of my well intentioned Catholic friends associated with the school? With so much positive feedback, from trusted sources no less, I would have been kind of crazy…no, obstinate! ever think for a moment that Franciscan could be anything but “great”. I just turns out, as a matter of fact, that I was wrong. Franciscan is a mediocre and miserable place, more memorable for its large concentration of mental illness and immaturity than the spiritual fruits that it allegedly bares.

I did the MA in theology, because I thought (like so many before me) that this would somehow translate into “service for the Lord”. I was even a little bit less quixotic than most insofar as I realized that I couldn’t really feed my family as a street preacher or DRE. Thus, I saw my time a Franciscan as an opportunity to build up the requisite education for future PhD work in theology. Only NOW do I know how big a mistake this was. Almost no Franciscan students, despite good grades or good GRE scores, make it into a credible (not Ave Maria) PhD programs upon graduation with any kind of financial support (many have gotten into CUA without funding…which is wrong of CUA to do I might add). This isn’t always because they can’t, though I think it probably often is, instead it’s because Franciscan is not at all geared toward the academic study of theology, in any credible fashion. The classes we take are preposterously condescending, seriously no different than what is probably taught at Catholic high schools. The course requirements are nonsensical: no languages required at all (not even GreeK), but you can bet your pants that you won’t graduate until you’ve taken “Vatican II” (which was a huge waste of time, as a class).

I’m not sure if you are being honest about “70% of your classes being taught by TAs”. What do you mean by “they taught classes”? Because at UCLA we had supplementary discussion groups that accompanied every course which were in fact always (100% of the time) led by a TAs working toward a PhD (these were individuals who had already gone beyond an MA by the way). But these were not actual classes, all of my actual classes were taught/lectured by PhD’s. Do you have something like what I am describing in mind?

I would like to point out that if your “giant lecture hall classes” were good enough to be described as “video-tapeable”, that you then probably got your money’s worth. I’m sure they (the professors) would see that as a complement! The truth is, small lectures really ought not be different. If its a lecture based class, why should it be any worse/less organized just because you have fewer students present? Anyway, I too had giant lecture hall style classes at UCLA and I loved them. This didn’t mean that the professor wouldn’t field questions though, they did. Nor did it mean that they were never available in office hours, they were there…it’s there job. You probably could have had far more “personal contact” with professors if you had simply sought it out. At Franciscan however, this was a real problem (despite the intimacy of our class sizes). Some professors were NEVER in there posted office hours, questions/discussion was discouraged, etc. In part this is due to the fact that Franciscan puts too much of a burden on teachers, sometimes making them teach like 6 classes a semester, but often one got the feeling that professors at FUS had very little respect for the hordes of students seeking them out (in vain). After-all, if we were any good, why didn’t we go to a recognized graduate program? (I ask myself the same question from time to time).

I expected no “garden of eden”. I did expect the school to live up to its lofty claims though. The fact is, the school completely misrepresents (lies) about its academic standing and Catholic atmosphere. Just reading the dubious claims off of the website now makes me cringe to think that other Catholic students might be lured into what is really not much more than a big scam (I wish I had the time to point out, for you, all of the blatant lies I’ve noted from just the website, but I don’t).

I would also just like to point out that your tacit claim that you’re friends are more educated than you because they went to Franciscan is a non-sequitur. I remains logically possible that your friends could be more educated than your in-spite of going to Franciscan or any other school. What you perceive as “being more educated than you” probably is nothing more than “they majored in something other than engineering and now know things in other fields that you do not know”, I doubt that they are really “more educated than you” just as much as I doubt they have anywhere near the level of technical expertise that you probably have. My brother, who is also an engineer, always beats himself up in this way and it drives me crazy. We can’t all be philosophy majors!

I think that the average American college graduate, coming out of the top 50 universities or so (see my distinction?) represent some of the most educated people on the planet. Perhaps not the wisest, but trust me, Franciscan is NOT the answer to the lack of wisdom problem. It’s a mad house.

The classes we take are preposterously condescending, seriously no different than what is probably taught at Catholic high schools.


Couldn’t you twig on to this in the first semester and gone elsewhere? I take continuing education courses at the local seminary and these are most often taught by PhD’s and are excellent. They “toe the line” with regard to orthodoxy, but also teach realistically.

Why would you ever lend credulity to EWTN? They do a lot of good, but apologetics and theology are not their strong suits.

I too graduate from Franciscan University. I came as a transfer student after my sophomore year at a small, liberal arts school in the Midwest. I’ll admit that when I transferred to Franciscan I was in a bit of a culture shock. I had never been around people who were so excited to share their Faith, or (and I completely agree with the post before this) were as educated on a variety of topics. Finally I could carry on a debate with someone, or talk about something besides the last party we went to.

I graduated with honors from Franciscan, received my M.A. in my chosen literary field, and was accepted into an MFA program, and for an MLS. I have been published both academically and creatively, and was invited to attend one of the top literary conferences in the country. Except in the end I chose to pursue a teaching certification instead of spending time working on a terminal degree right now. Despite these accomplishments, my greatest accomplishment has been getting married, and I am currently expecting my first child I thrived in my academics at Franciscan, but I also learned how to put my Faith as the priority. I learned what it truly meant to be Catholic.

I’m sorry you had a bad experience with Franciscan, but let others make the choice of where they would/wouldn’t attend college. Do I think Franciscan is right for every Catholic? No. But I think your claims about the education at Franciscan are outrageous and false. I’ve had lectures and discussions with some of the prominent writers and researchers in my field that were uninspiring,did not engage the class, and more. These were Ph.D’s, these were the theorists/critics that I held up to the highest regard, and these were the people that I wished to have respect from as well. I’ve worked in college admissions to put myself through graduate school, and I can tell you for a fact that UCLA doesn’t have every top student/professor in the United States.

You seem so angry about your experiences at Franciscan, and maybe the fact is that it was not a good college choice for you, and that is the root of the problem, not the instruction. And yes, I’ve had several friends study at Oxford from Franciscan who came out of their experience at Oxford with high grades and a wonderful experience.

I do NOT think that having your Ph.D makes you qualified to teach. Since I have been working towards teaching thus far, I’ve learned it’s not so much what you know, but how you reach a student. You could have all the knowledge in the world, but if you can’t share it with anybody why have it? You seem like you have had some phenomenal professors at UCLA, but I have had some phenomenal professors at Franciscan as well. Was every single minute of every single class engaging when I was at Franciscan? No to that as well. If that has been your case at UCLA then you are one lucky student.

If someone wants to buy the book and go to Franciscan, let them. It’s not your decision. If someone wants to go to UCLA, great! I am sorry for your experience with Franciscan, but I don’t think one bad experience makes the University a poor choice for a student.

JKsoren, yours is an interesting viewpoint. Being a tech guy rather than a theology/philosophy guy I tend to revert to those methods of evaluation. Right now, you are a total outlier in the data set, completely at odds with every other FUS alum I know. In statistics, outliers get a fair bit of scrutiny and suspicion (sorry about that).

Perhaps the difference is that all my other FUS friends and acquiantences were FUS undergrad students. It should be no surprise that it is much harder to develop a world class graduate program than undergrad. But the “mental illness” jab suggests you simply have rage issues regarding the place. (Unless you describe the notorious reluctance of most FUS men to date as “mental illness.” Personally, I think it is rather a culture shock and a necessary move young men need to make when adjusting from the meat market mentality of conventional US culture to viewing women as uniquely created daughters of God.)

And for clarification, my “video-tape” comment meant that the student body would have gotten no less from most lectures if you replaced the prof with a big screen TV and merely reran recordings of his previous lectures. The whole point of a live lecture is so that the presenter can gauge the reaction/comprehension of the audience and adjust the presentation accordingly. I might as well have skipped all the lectures and simply read the book. Often it was nearly verbatim anyways. (Not always, mind you. I had a very few great lecturers.)

But back to that suspicion about statistical outliers… Is it possible that your contempt comes from disgreement you have for the theological stance espoused by the Catholic Church and loyally taught at FUS? Are you a dissenter in areas like contraception, abortion, homsexual behavior, women priests, etc? I’m not familiar with FUS Vatican II class, so I don’t follow your sneer about that one. Do you think Vatican II itself is not worthy of your time to study or just the presentation of it at FUS? Forgive the posibly accusatory nature of these questions, but as an earlier poster said, it helps to consider the source.

A review of the material presented online by the various “Catholic” institutions listed in the guide indicates to me that Providence College and the Catholic University of America are the only ones worth parents’ $ for tuition. I say this as a person with a PhD who has taught some 40 years at a midwestern university.

Are you a dissenter in areas like contraception, abortion, homsexual behavior, women priests, etc?

This is off topic, but why does the question of dissenting seem to taget these topics? Many Catholics have convictions regarding the death penalty and just war theory that fly in the faace of Church teaching, yet that dissension is never questioned?

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