There are 28 Jesuit colleges in the United States of varying sizes. Georgetown University, founded in 1789, is the oldest. Wheeling Jesuit University (WV) founded as Wheeling College in 1954, is the youngest. These schools have undergraduate student body sizes ranging from just over 1,000 (Wheeling Jesuit) to more than 11,000 (Loyola University-Chicago). These are Catholic colleges. The Jesuits are one of several orders within the Catholic Church.
Jesuit colleges are listed in various classes of colleges and universities. The College of the Holy Cross, for example, is a National Liberal Arts College while Boston College is a National Research University. However, these schools are often cross shopped against each other among students who seek a Catholic college. Several of these schools are also cross-shopped against colleges that are affiliated with other Catholic orders. For example, Boston College is considered against Villanova University (Augustinian), Providence College (Dominican Friars) and the University of Notre Dame (Holy Cross).
Jesuit colleges, while Catholic, welcome students of all faiths. While all students must take courses in philosophy and/or religion they are not required to take a specific course in Catholicism. Some embrace themes in marketing such as cura personalis (educate the whole person) or magis (being more than you are or believe you can be).
Some Jesuit college have higher profiles due to athletics. Boston College, for example, is the only Jesuit school that plays in a “Power Five” NCAA Division I football conference. Five Jesuit schools have won the NCAA National Championship in men’s basketball (Georgetown, Holy Cross, Loyola-Chicago, Marquette and the University of San Francisco) since tournament play began in 1939. Georgetown and Marquette remain relevant in major college basketball as do Saint Joseph’s University (PA), Gonzaga University (WA) and Xavier University (OH). The majority of the Jesuit schools compete in Division 1 sports, granting athletic scholarships.
When costs and numbers come into play, are Jesuit schools “good colleges” or “good values for the money”? Colleges promote and manage services performed by people who have to deliver services well. Below are some quantifiable measures of these services that can be used, regardless of the size of the school.
Based on these criteria, the following schools received A ratings:
These schools came close and received B+ ratings
One of the concerns that I have noticed with Jesuit schools is student loan debt. The schools that receive ‘A’s’ had an average borrower indebtedness of less than $28,000 for their 2015 graduating class. The maximum that students can borrow over four years from the Federal Stafford Student Loan program is $27,000. All of the ‘B+’ schools, excluding Gonzaga, had average borrower debt in excess of $30,000. Gonzaga’s average borrower debt was approximately $29,500, $1,500 more than the ‘A’ rated schools.
I have visited seven Jesuit colleges in my travels (Fairfield, Fordham, Holy Cross, Loyola-Maryland, Saint Joseph’s, Santa Clara, Scranton). I have had little reason to fault the education at all of these schools. But also wish that the financial aid covered more need than it currently does. The Jesuit educational experience may be very good. But in many cases you might have to pay a premium to get it.
For more “inside baseball” about Jesuit colleges and other schools to help you in your college search, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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