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Avoid Small Catholic Colleges, Please.

Higher education is great business. Government loan programs allow colleges to charge high tuition for the most mediocre programs. Men and women make careers from working in small colleges that wouldn’t exist if they had to sustain themselves financially.

These small colleges make a living off of modern mediocrity.

Here’s an example. I saw this come across my Twitter feed this morning, from a professor at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Maryland.

I objected to this and made it clear that students should be studying in college with their future resume in mind, and that our college achievements remain on our resumes for life.

He responded with this:

First, college is for grades and degree titles. No one needs to pay college tuition to “learn challenging things”, especially in 2024. We pay college tuition for credits and grades and degrees. The cost of college courses is not determined by how “challenging” the course is, but by credit-hours.

Second, this claim that no one puts “grades and degree titles” on their resumes is ridiculously false. Every college awards graduating students based on their GPA. Awards are given as follows:

  • Cum Laude = GPA 3.5-3.7
  • Magna Cum Laude = GPA 3.7-3.9
  • Summa Cum Laude = GPA 3.9+

If grades don’t matter, then why do colleges award GPA-based honors at graduation?

Moreover, students are inducted into Honor Societies based on their college GPA. To be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, for example, a student must have a 3.8 GPA or higher. Do honor societies not matter?

The truth is that everyone who earns good grades and honors puts their grade and degree titles on their resumes after graduation and throughout their careers.

I shared a simple proof from a well known Catholic academic–Dr. Scott Hahn:

It’s very clear that Dr. Hahn (like most professionals) includes all of his academic awards on his resume. We can see that Dr. Hahn had a 3.7+ GPA at Grove City College, a 3.9+ GPA in (Protestant) Seminary, and a 3.9+ GPA at Marquette–and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (3.8+ GPA).

Dr. Hahn was an excellent student.

Everyone does this.

That’s why colleges offer these honors.

Warning: Stay Away from Small Colleges

Don’t allow these small college professors and admission reps to persuade you falsely that their lack of success is somehow good for you. Mt. St. Mary’s University is ranked #69 in its own region, which should be embarrassing to a Catholic university. U.S. News & World Report says that

“At Mount St. Mary’s University, the total cost is $63,390. The net price is the average cost of the university after aid and scholarship funds are discounted from the total cost, which comes in at $30,965 for the average student receiving need-based aid.”

In short, it’s ranked #69 in its region yet costs twice as much as Harvard. For a student living in Maryland, it would be cheapter to attend the University of Maryland, a Big Ten university ranked #46 in the nation.

Further, Mt. St. Mary’s accepts 80% of students who apply, and graduates around 50% of those students after 4 years; only 70% after 6 years. That’s terrible.

These small college employees want you to believe that none of this matters. They live off of mediocre students being encouraged to pursue low-quality, loan-funded colleges. These students can’t earn high grades and are probably wondering if they should even be in college (probably not). These professors are advising them to continue and continue in worthless colleges for worthless degrees that cost more than the most valuable degrees.

My Advice

My advice for students is to attend the most selective university possible and work as slowly as it takes for you to earn high grades. There are many ways to gain admission to the best universities and if you don’t understand how to do this, don’t settle for a low-quality college or listen to this nonsense.

Ask for help.

You’ve been warned.

God bless your studies,
Mr. William C. Michael, O.P.
Classical Liberal Arts Academy

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