#067 Who Should Consider Catholic Colleges with Dean Kilgour and Joyce Masek Transcript



Lisa Marker Robbins  01:03

There are 115 colleges and universities and the National Catholic college admission Association. They range from the East Coast to each state along the west coast and include highly selective schools like Boston College, to less selective institutions. So it seems there might be just about something for everyone, but are Catholic colleges only for students who are Catholic. I’ve invited Dean Kilgore of Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, and Joyce Mason, who leads the National Catholic college admission association to share what both Catholic and non Catholic students might expect from the schools in their organization, and detail how that’s different from a secular university. I’m Lisa, Martha Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Welcome, Joyce and Dean,


Dean Kilgour  02:06

welcome. Thank you for having us.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:08

Great to have you guys here. So I, you know, this idea came about when I thought there are there are universities that have such specialized missions, right, we’ve got Catholics, we’re going to do one for Jewish students, we’re going to do one for Protestant students. And I know each one of those niches have something special offer for our students. And so I wanted to just dive right in a little bit deeper to what sets the Catholic institutions apart that are part of your group, you’ve got an organization choice, why don’t you tell me a little bit tell our listeners a little bit about your organization, first of all?





Joyce Masek  02:46

Sure, happy to. So the National Catholic college admission Association, or we call it national CCA, for short, has been around for awhile since 1959. And it really just started out as an informal small group, where a small group of Catholic college dean and admission vice presidents would informally get together every now and then and just talk about their schools talk about how things were going. And then it grew both exponentially. And activity wise, just in terms of what the organization has done. Currently. Now, and you mentioned this before in your intro, we have 115 members, so our schools are from across the country. And also we have a few international members. Each year. We collectively as a group of Catholic colleges and universities, promote Catholic higher education and what we all as Catholic schools can offer students were all different schools, as you mentioned, small schools highly selective schools, not as well known schools. But basically as a group. We’ve worked with each other so member schools, as well as counselors, so those on your side of the desk both high school counselor and independent counselors, community based counselors, to encourage students to look at our schools. We have a wide variety of activities, from starting with our website, which is usually for many students and parents. Their first stop in looking at a Catholic college to consortium trips where our schools will travel together to a particular area and visit high schools engage in college fairs, council receptions, we also have a scholarship for first year and also transfer students who end up coming to any of our one of our member schools. But I work with now and Dean is one of them. I work with a wonderful board of directors who represent a number of these schools and together, we put together these activities and just as a big group, promote what our schools are all about. I love


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:57

your website. We’re going to link to that website in the show notes below. cuz I was impressed with when I went there, that interactive map that you have. So that’s where it’s like, oh, it’s even international, you guys have both coasts covered everything in between, and a lot of variety. So I for sure would say to listeners who might be thinking about this, like, I love the interactive piece of the map. And just regionally because we know, a lot of kids want to stay close to home, that’s statistically what we know, even though some will cast a wider net, it’s a great way to see like, what the options are in the regions that you’re thinking about. So, Dean, you’re on the enrollment side, here. And as a board member, you guys are looking for, really how to showcase what you guys have to offer as far as Catholic colleges and universities. So what are the things that sort of stand out to you? You know, I hear you, you’ve got events, and you’re connecting at the high school level? How do you describe what the benefits are what students can expect at your schools?


Dean Kilgour  06:02

I think, as you mentioned, it’s an opportunity to partner and it’s there are a lot of students and there are a lot of the more I should flip that there are a lot more students and there are schools, and you’re just not aware of all the schools that are out there. And so, you know, Mount St. Mary’s University being in Los Angeles, primarily, our students come from the West Coast, a lot of students on the East Coast aren’t aware of us. But when we participate in events, the CCA holes, we have an opportunity to expand our reach. And also provide opportunities for those students, whether it’s joint travel, the receptions that we do for the high school counselors, the different community forums that will do providing opportunity for the counselors to ask questions. And in addition, the best that we do for the students. So they may come to the event online, because they’re interested in you know, a very name Catholic institution, but then they may discover a smaller institution. And that benefits everybody.


Lisa Marker Robbins  07:04

So when you’re looking at and I know you so you both are interacting with everyone from enrollment and admissions across the universities, how do you position or share what a student can expect when attending one of your member institutions? Because I, there’s things that are alike. So I guess let’s start with what’s the like, right?


Joyce Masek  07:25

Sure. I think, you know, all of our schools were all different in terms of many different factors, selectivity, size, location, but I think some of the common hallmarks among Catholic colleges are member schools, there are a few of them. And you know, I’ve been student and I did, I was on the admission side as well and heard a lot of these questions. You know, basically, for Catholic colleges, besides the strong academics, and I will add to that our colleges, we focus on educating students in the Liberal Arts. So certainly getting them not only a strong background in their particular major, but making sure that they are strong writers, they’re strong analytical thinkers, they’re able to grasp areas and also enjoy studying different subject areas, regardless of their major. Another common tenant that I think a lot of our schools have, is this dedication to service community service is a common thread for a lot of our schools. I wouldn’t say you know, some schools might have a requirement, others don’t. But I think overall, there’s this general commitment to serving the greater community, both your campus community, the local community, around your school, and even the global community, just as far as extending the student’s talents and seeing what is out there and where they’re greatly needed. Another common tenant that our schools have is alumni engagement. Now, certainly everybody has an attachment to his or her, you know, Alma Mater, once they leave that school, but with Catholic colleges, there’s, I think, this stronger attachment to it, in terms of getting alumni together in your particular region, supporting your school, wherever you are. There’s also a number of Catholic colleges that will engage alumni in community service. So extending that that piece of it that they learned as undergraduates into their postgraduate life. I mentioned the critical thinking part. I think, for many of our Catholic colleges, they have a mission driven curriculum. So not only are they learning how to write, you know, very well, getting some analytical skills, but it always focuses back to a sense of purpose. Why are we here? Why did you choose this Catholic college? You know, where you say,


Lisa Marker Robbins  09:50

I have a question on that when you say they have a mission driven tenant to their curriculum, is that going to be the same mission Across all the schools, are you saying like Dean’s university might have a different mission than say, you know, University of Dayton that, you know, you’re in Columbus, Ohio, I’m in Cincinnati. So right in between us, Dayton, Ohio, another one of your schools, will you find a difference in the mission among the schools?


Dean Kilgour  10:19

I think you will, to some extent, you know, Joyce mentioned, the Jetsons and the service piece, you know, Mount St. Mary’s was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph Chrono led in 1650, in France, and that started out of their desire to minister to the people of their community, they were the first group to go outside and to conduct walls, and they taught the group, they taught people how to make lace to be able to support themselves, but that is carried all the way through to where we are today, that Mount St. Mary’s, again, focuses on helping their dear neighbor, the social justice piece. And so those traditions are strong and come from the original, you know, founding of the those institutions. And so they differ from university University, but I do think there’s a core piece there.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:13

I love that, because it’s not just, you know, in the Catholic tradition, and it’s not just, oh, here’s our roots that was started by this group, but like, carrying that, I mean, 1600s carrying that mission all the way through that historical piece of that. That is, I love that. That’s really neat. Joyce, were you gonna I interrupted you, were you going to as I was asking you about, you know, those hot you are naming those hallmarks. And you know, you said strong liberal arts base, regardless of your college major service, strong alumni engagement, you found that enjoys? You didn’t, you’ve worked it, you’re at the university level, but not just at Catholic universities, right? Yes, yeah. And then you’re comparing this both to the secular side and the Catholic side, as you’re not just saying like, Oh, as Catholics, we do this, you’re actually basing that on a wide variety of your own experiences and leading, right.


Joyce Masek  12:10

Absolutely. And not to say that, you know, the secular college that I worked at, wasn’t strong in its own right. It definitely was, it has a very strong liberal arts background, a very good sense of community. But you know, the Catholic piece of it when students ask, what does that mean, for me, especially for students might not be Catholic. You know, oftentimes, I would get a question from a student who isn’t Catholic, and that student would say, am I going to fit in, I don’t go to maths. I don’t know anything about maths, I don’t have an interest in T classes. And usually what will will tell students and what they’ll find is that our colleges are open to students of all different backgrounds, all different faiths. I went to a Catholic College as an undergraduate and one of my best friends was Jewish. And she loved it. She loved taking a variety different courses. I mean, part of the academic experience we had was just conversing with each other about Catholicism about Judaism. What are the differences? I mean, I think overall, that kind of made us stronger, as people,


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:15

as they’re, let me ask you that we’re talking about so you said, you know, your best friend was Jewish, and she was at a Catholic University. Do you guys have any statistics on percentage of students that attend one of your member institutions who are not Catholic?


Joyce Masek  13:32

I think, oh, go ahead. D No, I


Dean Kilgour  13:34

say I’m sure each individual school does. I mean, I can speak to Mount St. Mary’s, we’re about 70% Catholic, and those are people who check off that box on the application. So that, you know, there’s a variety in any religion, there’s a variety of levels out participation, right. And so yeah, take that with a grain of salt. But that’s where we are. And I’m saying that that’s relatively common, that there’s a wide variety of students, different religious faiths that attend go to Catholic University, because they’re attending partially for the the faith and the traditions, but also for all the other pieces that that university may offer, whether it’s the strong majors that they may be interested in the athletic teams, the clubs, the opportunities for internships, or was located in a large metropolitan area, a lot of different advantages drive the students desire to attend a particular university. Well, like


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:29

if you guys have, for instance, at your campus, Dean, and each student can ask admissions like, you know, what are your ratios, right? So 7030, so 30% of the students are saying I’m not Catholic, and that’s a good numbers. You know, when students say to me, like, I have to have a campus with a strong Greek system, if I see even 25% of Mike, that is going to have an active presence on that campus 25% of anything. So when you’re saying you’re 30% for sure, and Non Catholics not going to feel, you know, left out or out of the loop. You know, that, to me seems very welcoming, I think, I think a nice present there, so that they’re not feeling left out, or when I think about as a student, and as a teenager, I would have wanted to know that. So I’m, I’m thinking way back to my teenage self. You mentioned Joy’s math. So do some of the universities require attendance at maths? Or is it optional? Are those courses or the religion based courses? Are they required of all students?


Joyce Masek  15:36

What does that look like? Sure. So, you know, we represent a wide variety of Catholic colleges, and they all have their own individual requirements. So, you know, as we advise students, we always tell them, check with that individual college, because one college might require, it might look drastically different from another. But you know, generally, and Dean can certainly add to this, I would say, for most of our Catholic colleges, mass is not required, but it is there. And it’s there for the students to take it, or to attend it if they want, but they also don’t have to. And so you’ll have students that will take advantage of that others won’t. And I think that provides a great compromise. For students who know, okay, I’ve got this resource here, I’ve got this whole campus ministry department, if I want to develop my spirituality or not, as far as the courses that are available, I would say that most Catholic colleges and again, it’s up to the student to check in individually, depending on their liberal arts curriculum and the requirements, the theology piece is pretty flexible. It doesn’t have to be a course in Catholicism, it doesn’t have to be Christianity, you’ll find that most schools will say, this is our theology department. And we’ve got classes in comparative religions world, the legends, it’s really up to the student, and the students interest in what he or she would like to take. So I would say, you know, all of these resources are there at Catholic colleges. But as part of, you know, going to college and really finding yourself and growing it, it’s up to the student, as far as whether that student would like to take it, you know, row in that particular area or not, Dean, I don’t know, if you want to add to that.


Dean Kilgour  17:17

I’m pretty agree with you, Joyce and I, they’re the majority, you’ve spoken for the majority, as far as I think if you focus on some of the stereotypes of a Catholic institution, where you have to go to Mass, and you know, there are uniforms, and you know, curfew hours and things like that, you know, that doesn’t exist anymore. I think, you know, as everybody’s evolved, Kyle learned that you grow, when you learn from others. And so having a diverse community, and having diverse opportunities, and not compelling everyone to follow a certain path really benefits everybody involved. And so I think that majority of schools, and I’m sure, there are a number of Catholic schools that if you were to ask your listeners, they wouldn’t realize that that’s a Catholic school. You know, the name doesn’t allude to it being a Catholic University, it’s got a reputation that perhaps is focused on other items besides being faith based, and people wouldn’t think that it was a Catholic institution.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:20

So it’s really a continuum. And you’ve got to do your homework, because you’re gonna have we’re gonna have listeners that are like, Well, I really want a school that’s rooted. And you know, we think of them first as a Catholic institution. And then you’re gonna have others that are like, that’s not as important to me. I’m focused on one of the other aspects. Absolutely. Right. So what advice we’re talking to families who are navigating the college admissions process, that’s where our listeners are, why don’t you do you each have a piece of advice that you would want to leave our listeners with? When it comes to things to be thinking about when it comes to Catholic universities while they’re in process? So if you’re talking to a family with a 10th grader, or an 11th grader, the time we’re recording this 12th graders laugh decisions are coming in right now. But if you’re there earlier in the process, what would your advice be?


Dean Kilgour  19:14

Wow, I think to keep an open mind, I think so many students have a fairly defined list. And they go into saying, I don’t want whatever, I don’t want to learn the city. I don’t want this, I don’t want that. They need to really explore all of that the universities and colleges that they may really be remotely interested in. Especially you It’s unusual to be able to check every box. And so you’ve a long list of all the things you want. It’s unusual to find a university that meets all of your criteria. So don’t rule anyone out just because it doesn’t check all the boxes. And you really may find that I mean, if we think about each of us are we’re entirely different than we were at 18 and probably changed a lot in those four years at school. They said the average college student changes his or her major four times in four years. So to go into the selection process with a narrow view really won’t won’t benefit you, you really need to keep a wide perspective.


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:13

Twice, what would you say? Was your parting advice be anything?


Joyce Masek  20:17

I mean, in particular, for a student who’s maybe even just having little thought of a Catholic University thinking, okay, maybe. And we know that there’s a lot of development that happens through that college church, you know, what a student might be thinking on at the end of their sophomore year may be drastically different than what they what they’re thinking of come May 1 to their senior year. So but for anybody who is thinking, maybe a Catholic college, you know, as Dean said, keep an open mind, do your homework, know that each Catholic college while we do have those hallmarks, and then I talked about, that, you’ll find out Catholic colleges, each one is different. So it’s really up to the student to do some investigating. And also, keep in mind that, you know, our Catholic colleges, as I talked about with that liberal arts curriculum, and that service piece, I think those are really two important pieces to all of our schools, being open to the fact that you’ll be taking some great philosophy classes and engage in some great debates, even if you’re an engineering major, you know, and that will strengthen what you do, ultimately, whether it’s engineering or whatever it is. And I say that because I am married to a philosophy professor at the College, but what he, you know, when he engages with his students, he’s got nursing students, business students, philosophy students, and he’ll see them as they grow in their class through the semester, in their thinking skills, and how they contribute to that class. So I would say a student who’s open to that to thinking, I don’t know anything about philosophy than that sounds really interesting. I’m open to having that well rounded background as a student,


Lisa Marker Robbins  21:59

I like that you just brought up that your husband who’s you know, in the classroom, has Nursing majors, you know, engineering majors. So while we’re stressing the liberal arts side of the education that your member institutions will offer, there, you don’t only have the arts and sciences, humanities, as your majors, you have some more technical majors that don’t necessarily fit into it. Arts and Science college, right?


Joyce Masek  22:32

Yes, absolutely. I need he would. He has more Nursing majors, more business majors, than he does blaspheme majors. I mean, the philosophy major count is very small, in comparison to others, but every student has to take philosophy. So he will see a wide variety of students with different majors. And the great thing about his class is that he applies a lot of what they talk about to real world situations. So, you know, I think students find that to be to benefit from that regard. Right.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:04

One last quick question, what is the size range of your member institutions like Dean, how many students are at your institution?


Dean Kilgour  23:13

Or the traditional undergraduate program? And we’re an all women’s university, we have 1400 students. Okay.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:19

And then. So, Joyce, working at the central office of all things for your organization? What was the range of sizes?


Joyce Masek  23:29

And it’s a, you know, we have some schools that have less than 1000 undergraduates probably around, I think we have a couple of schools that are probably in the 500 to 800 range, they’re really small, all the way up to the largest two, which are DePaul University in Chicago, and St. John’s University in New York, and those have allowed, probably around 20,000 undergraduates,


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:55

they’re the largest one. So I already mentioned that, because a lot of times kids will say like, I want a big, you know, rah rah school, and when they hear the word like, oh, there’s a liberal arts underpinning they right away, go like, Oh, that’s going to be small, which is not necessarily the case. Dean, do you want to speak to anything about women’s colleges? Like you’re at an all women’s college? Is there something special that you want to share about that niche as well?


Dean Kilgour  24:24

I mean, I do think that, just as you said, it’s a special niche. I mean, I think some of the advice for concerning Catholic University also applies to a Woman’s University, which is basically you need to come and experience it, many of the stereotypes that you may think are true or not. But that, you know, we definitely realize that it is a coed world. But what happens if you want these universities is an opportunity to prepare women to compete in a co ed world and there are a number of facts and figures that that support this Some we’re talking about the National Catholic college admissions Association. But there’s also a woman’s college coalition. And so if any of your listeners wanted to visit the woman’s college coalition page, there are a lot of information about the advantages of ending a Woman’s University, the ability to go to graduate school, how the graduates wants universities earn more than their counterparts from a code institution. There’s a whole long list of facts and figures, Nicholas Carr will have to


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:25

have you back to talk about that topic. Right, exactly. Why and I find it interesting at the higher ed level, we have fewer of those gender specific universities. But you know, here in Cincinnati, when I look at, like Catholic high schools that we have, there’s very few coed options. Most of them are single gender high school options. And so it almost like it’s flipping then when we get to the higher ed, so that would be an interesting topic for a future episode, for sure. Great. Well, you guys have been a wealth of information. You know, I did my I went to public high school, Protestant nondenominational College, and then I went to a Catholic graduate university. So I’ve experienced the whole menu, which is why I have a special interest of highlighting some of the many benefits. So thank you for being with me today.


Dean Kilgour  26:19

Thank you for having


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:25

another great episode. Well, I spiritually identify as a Christian, I did attend a Catholic University for graduate school, and I don’t have any regrets. nearly 30 years later, I chose the University of Dayton based on the criteria that they offered my desired major that would lead to my career of choice. The location was right. The school had a good reputation for my field of study. And the price was right for my budget. Those boxes to check off shouldn’t be any different when making the choice for a bachelor’s degree. When I was on campus for classes, was there a Catholic presence? Yeah, there was. And did I find as a Protestant that I felt out of place or something was forced on me spiritually? No, not at all. My suggestion for your family for your college bound challenge this week, is as you build a college list that fits in you’re checking off the boxes I just listed, you keep an open mind. Consider the schools listed on the National Catholic college admission Association website. Their interactive map is a great, easy to use tool. I’m going to link to it in the show notes. Then check out a school or two using the information provided by Joyce and Dean. And when your family approaches this journey with an open mind, you might just find a hidden gem that fits. The only way I am able to fulfill my personal mission of helping overwhelmed confused families figure out what comes after high school graduation is to get the word out. If you are finding my episodes helpful, in your journey, do me a favor, and share a favorite episode with a friend. When we are all in this together. Your team can be motivated, clear and confident about their future.