Holy Cross and St Joesph's (PA)

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Holy Cross and St Joesph's (PA)
By Bluejay (Bluejay) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:09 am: Edit

These 2 schools keep coming up in conversations for kids who need more matches after applying to the likes of Tufts, Brown...Does anyone have any personal and specific knowledge about them? Key areas of interst are: academic rigor, location in their respective cities, and religious feel to them. (this from a non religious person)
Thanks for any input. This board is so much more enjoyable than the princeton review used to be with all of the snide comments going back and forth. Thanks for all of the useful information that people provide in such a positive manner.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:23 am: Edit

St Joe's is in a nice part of Philadelphia , and alot of Catholic kids have it on their list along with Villanova and U of Scranton and possibly Lasalle. St Joe's can give some generous merit aid and is considered a good solid school. One young lady I worked with used it as her safety and got a full ride there with 1390 SAT1s, and top 5 of her class standing. She was deferred at her top choice schools including BC, but got into Holy Cross without any merit offers, but ended up at Vanderbilt. Loyola, St Joe's and another Catholic school were her safeties, but she did get into schools that she considered a level higher in selectivity but with no merit money.

Holy Cross is an excellent school, and not a school to use as a safety. It is one of those schools that looks over the applicants carefully for a fit, and demonstrated interest can be an issue. It is a top choice for many kids I know who go to Catholic schools, so it is not a school to just stick onto your list as there are many applicants going all out to get into the school. Merit aid is tough going there . It is in the Patriot League for sports, and is comparable to many of the schools in that League-Colgate, Bucknell, Lehigh, etc.

I have found that most Catholic schools do not have a heavy religious emphasis, and know a number of kids who are adamently non, nearly anti Catholic going to them. But if it is an issue, your student should visit the school to ensure that it is not to pervasive an item in that school. I know my son's only object to Holy Cross was the name. His feeling was that a number of Catholic schools would jack up there app numbers if they changed their names (Misericordia, Salve Regina, Catholic were some of his examples--Notre Dame, oddly was not) My younger son who visited Catholic felt the same way. Neither wanted any "Catholic" feeling at the schooland had their noses out for any whiff of it--both had gone to Catholic school and were adament that this was not going to be a factor in college.

By Irishbird (Irishbird) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:25 am: Edit

Both strong Jesuit schools. The main distinction (imho) that this brings would be an emphasis on a liberal arts core combined with a student's major. This can be an excellent preparation for life-long learning, but if someone doesn't like alot of required courses it could be a turn-off. Also, core courses will not necessarily be easy, professors don't care that "it's not your major". The liberal arts core could be 16-20 courses worth, so check each website. Social justice and service to others will be highly promoted along with community/school spirit.
Worcester, MA (HC) didn't seem to have much to recommend it, but I visited (briefly)over 15 yrs ag, so perhaps it's improved...seemed like a small, industrial town. Philadelphia (St. Joseph's) is a different game altogether and provides a big city environment while attending a small-size school. Saint Joseph's is to the western edge of the city in a more suburban location, close to Center City, but not inundated with urban hustle&bustle. Can be most places downtown within 20-30 minutes usually.
If you're interested at all, try to visit each or go over their websites with a fine tooth comb & take the virtual tours to help you visualize the campus.

By Bxian (Bxian) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 02:29 pm: Edit

My D moved into her freshman dorm at St. Joe's last Friday and starts classes today. We have been favorably impressed with all of our dealings with St. Joe's so far. There appears to be a tremendous amount of school spirit (undoubtedly fueled in part by their undefeated regular basketball season earlier this year). D is Catholic but not at all religious. She did and overnight last winter and asked about whether there was an overtly religious feel to the campus. All the kids told her that there was not and that she would feel comfortable whether she went to Mass or participated in campus ministry activities or not. D's dorm (all freshmen) is beautiful with a good amount of storage space, air conditioning (great on move-in day) and a walkway to be used so that the kids do not have to cross City Ave (a busy road) to get to the other part of the campus.

By Goodmom (Goodmom) on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 03:13 pm: Edit

My daughter moved into Holy Cross on Saturday and has been going non-stop ever since with planned orientation activities. As irishbird said, there is a strong focus on service to others, and although it is undoubtedly a Catholic school, there is no pressure to participate in religious activities. The atmosphere seems to be welcoming of any or no faith. The campus is beautiful with apparently award-winning landscaping. Worcester is not great, but has many positives according to people familiar with it: great restaurants, excellent music performances, a very good art museum to name a few. Holy Cross offers a free shuttle on weekends to Boston and Providence.

The academics are reputedly excellent and rigorous. The alumni association is strong and involved. There are 10 core requirements but many courses to choose from to satisfy those requirements. The students seem very friendly.

As you can tell, I have been impressed thus far with all of my experiences at Holy Cross. While not an expert, I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have from a parent's perspective.

By Ocmom (Ocmom) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 04:12 pm: Edit

Thanks Goodmom. My D is a Sr. We are visiting HC in a few weeks. We are both very interested and impressed with what we know so far. She will do an overnight visit there.

We are coming from CA. I've heard rumors, that kids from out of the NE area are sometimes treated as outsiders. Where are you from?

By Goodmom (Goodmom) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 08:13 pm: Edit

New Hampshire :)
I did ask my daughter her overall impression of the other freshmen and she said "really friendly, but how else would they be?"!
Good luck on your visit. Is she rooming with a freshman? My daughter did several overnights in her selection process and we felt it was a huge mistake for colleges to put prospective students with freshmen. They really aren't representative of the student body yet, especially when they've only been there for a few weeks.

By Ocmom (Ocmom) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 09:14 pm: Edit

I'm not sure who she's rooming with. I wouldn't think they'd put her with a freshman this early in the school year.

Thanks for your post. Best of luck to your daughter! Did she apply to any other Catholic schools on the East Coast?

By Par72 (Par72) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 12:02 am: Edit

Holy Cross is a very good LAC-only one with Catholic/Jesuit tradition. St.Joe's isn't in the same league. HC has one of the strongest alumni giving rates and unlike St.Joe's is a national school. Only other Catholic schools with rich academic tradition are ND and Georgetown. Boston College like BU is pouular recently but for most of its history was a local commuter school and BC's alumni giving rate is half that of Holy Cross. HC is similar to Colgate, Bucknell, Trinity, Colby etc.

By Leanid (Leanid) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:39 am: Edit


I disagree with leaving out BC from the "rich academic tradition" that Georgetown and Notre Dame enjoy (Holy Cross too). The fact that BC was a commuter school for a long time is not a reflection of its academics. Consider that it was founded in what must have been the most openly hostile, anti-catholic city in the country (if not the world)-- puritan-tinged Boston! On top of that, "The World's Greatest University" lay just across the river, whose mission, among other things, was the denunciation and repression of catholicism! None of the three colleges above had to put up with either of those two obstacles! BC has always been in the shadow of Harvard, but unlike others in that shadow, such as Tufts and BU, it had (today it is far less an issue) the added onus of being catholic. Is it so far-fetched to infer that that is the reason it has been "unrecognized" (until recently) on the national scene and beyond for its academics?

For BC to not only survive but to thrive in that oppressive atmosphere, it had to have superior academics just to prove to the "good" people of Boston that it was a legitimate institution of higher learning -- not 'superior' or even 'good', but merely LEGITIMATE. And, with Harvard as the "standard bearer" you can be sure that BC's academic goals always had to be, and remain, high.

BC's resources until about twenty years ago were modest, at best. Then it finally realized a long awaited measure of financial success, and its endowment grew steadily from 5 million dollars back in the early seventies (a situation of near insolvency) to over 1 billion dollars today (larger than Georgetown's and Holy Cross', possibly 'combined' though I am not sure).

BC has always had the strong, Jesuit based academics. Even before it became "discovered" and "popular" it was known as "the catholic Harvard" -- a moniker that BC insiders bristle at, knowing the long and bitter struggle BC had to "prove" its merit in the eyes of (what was) that bastion of Bostonian, self-righteousness -- yep, you guessed it: Hahvahd!

Now that BC has the resources, financial and otherwise, to back up its always lofty academics, it is on a building and expansion journey of unprecedented proportions.

True to its motto: "Ever to Excel"

By Tom1944 (Tom1944) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:47 am: Edit

Was Doug Flutie a big reason for the academic prestige and selectivity for BC?

By Leanid (Leanid) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:29 am: Edit

Tom 1944,

Flutie was perhaps the "icing on the cake" who brought the national exposure to BC, through television, that made it a houshold name. With that exposure things began to snowball and resources started pouring in. It has been called "the Flutie factor" and it has helped more than one college raise its profile.

Another factor, and insiders believe a more important one, is that the BC presidency was given to a man of outstanding ability in 1972 (just about the time that BC was facing insolvency). He was J. Donald Monan, SJ, a man of exemplary administrative and interpersonal skills. He in turn appointed Frank Campanella as Executive VP (I believe) and was rewarded with a person who ran a tight fiscal ship. The two men combined proved to be the elixir that BC needed. Monan retired after 26 years as president (he is now the univerity chancellor) and Campanella did so too a while later. BC is now in the very capable hands of President Leahy and is in very different circumstances that it was in 1972!

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:43 am: Edit

Thank you, Leanid, for an eloquent exposition of the history of BC as well as its excellence. My daughter - who had been #2 in her class - went there and got an excellent education. The Honors Program was phenomenal.

By Leanid (Leanid) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:54 am: Edit


You're welcome. It was a pleasure.

By Tom1944 (Tom1944) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 12:19 pm: Edit

Leanid- Thanks for the information. Marketing is a big factor in a college getting the respect it deserves academically. Villanova 1985 NCAA champs also benefited. My school Trenton State now TCNJ also benefited from good press and increased its prestige level. I often ? if the education one receives is any different(better) as prestige increases.
My sister attended a top college when I was at Trenton and our text books in many classes were the same. I had a Princeton professor for a class and he said there was no difference in his class requirements. He did acknowledge that he would give more A's to the Princeton students but an A was an A even if earned at Trenton.

By Weenie (Weenie) on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:29 pm: Edit

We visited Holy Cross and drove around Worcester for quite awhile. Frankly, the city is appalling. Really bad. Everything else about Holy Cross seemed like a good fit for my son, in spite of the fact that he attends a Jesuit high school but does not want to be at a religous college. He has a friend who attends St Joe's and his only complaint is that so many kids vanish on the weekends. I think that is a problem with nearly every school that is in a large metro area.

By Par72 (Par72) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 01:24 am: Edit

In this month's online edition of the Atlantic Monthly, Holy Cross is the only Catholic school mentioned in research conducted on alumni success-the usual Harvard,Princeton,CalTech lead but HC was listed with other highly selective LAC's Washington&Lee and DePauw. Enrollment wise Holy Cross is perhaps one of the smallest major Catholic schools but its alumni giving rate is usually 50% and HC's endowment per student is second only to Notre Dame.

By Bxian (Bxian) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 02:43 pm: Edit

For what its worth, I think you will see fewer students leave St. Joe's on the weekends in years to come. At the parent portion of freshman orientation this summer, I met parents from California, Minnesota, Missouri, Massachusetts, Connecticut and upstate New York-and almost no parents from the immediately surrounding area (not what I expected).

By Dmitrypetrovna (Dmitrypetrovna) on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 03:05 pm: Edit

Worcester isn't completely dead. There are about 7 colleges in the city alone.

By Goodmom (Goodmom) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

Holy Cross was the only Catholic school, and she didn't apply to it because it was Catholic! Her Irish Catholic dad grew up in Auburn, the town next to Worcester, so they visited last summer and she decided to apply. She felt it was quite different from all the other schools on her list, which may be why she was accepted. Anyway, we are very glad she was!
Good luck on your visit!

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