All of the following FAQs are taken from past issues of the weekly online newsletter, The Chronicler, and are answered by Admissions Director Tom McFadden
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My daughter is taking classes at a community college. Which classes should she take so that they will transfer to Christendom?
I want to make sure I apply early enough so that I can avoid getting placed on a waiting list, and was wondering what timeline I should follow when applying. Thank you!
This year (2011-12), we did end up with a small waiting list, but I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about that. Simply focus on getting everything together for your application and everything will be just fine, I think. As you are probably aware, Christendom has a little over 400 students this year, and our hope for next year is to have a little over 400 students. So, we are not growing, which means that sometimes there are more people interested in what we have to offer than we have room to handle. As long as applicants follow the timeline laid out below, there should be nothing to worry about.
For those applying for the Spring semester, it's best to have your completed application into us by November 15 at the latest. Then, we normally can let you know whether we can accept you or not by mid-December. At that point, you send in your $500 deposit and arrive on campus mid-January, ready to begin your academic career at Christendom! By the way, we do take first-time freshmen in the Spring, so if any of you are real eager to get on with life and come to college in January, you are welcome to apply for the Spring semester.
For those applying for the Fall semester, the schedule is as follows. You can apply now, if you want, and then, have your letters of recommendation, your SAT scores, and your transcripts sent in later. There is no need to wait to have it all submitted at the same time. You can apply online for free. If applying online, it is best to write and save your essays in Microsoft Word or some other type of format on your computer, and then copy and paste them into the space on our application. That way, if something bad happens to your computer while filling in the form or if it doesn't go through, then you will not have lost your essays. If you apply now, there is a good chance that you will receive notification from the Admissions Committee sometime around mid-October or early November.
If you choose to wait a little to apply, that's fine too. Our Early Action Deadline is December 1. What this means is that if you get all the parts of your application in to us on or before December 1, then we notify you of the Admissions Committee's decision on or before December 15th. At that point, you do not need to do anything about your acceptance, or make a decision as to whether you wish to attend Christendom, until March 15th, when you will have to send in a $500 deposit if you wish to attend.
Financial Aid applications will be available on our website (remember, we do not take Federal funds –but we do offer loans, grants, scholarships, and work study jobs - therefore we use our own form, not the FAFSA) around February 1, and that is also the time that we set our tuition, room, board, and scholarship amounts for the next Fall semester. You can download the form at that time and send it in, but you must have filed your taxes in order to apply for financial aid.
If you do not apply by December 1, and instead, choose to apply leading up to the March 1 Regular Application Deadline, then, if accepted, you will be notified by April 1 and you will have until May 1 to make your $500 deposit. But sometimes, if someone submits a very good application, the applicant could hear back from the Admissions Committee prior to April 1, so it is still a good idea to apply as early as possible, and not wait for the March 1 deadline to roll around.
If someone wishes to re-take the SAT or ACT, even if they have applied, been accepted, and even sent in a deposit, they are welcome to do so. The reason someone may wish to do this is because if their scores reach a certain level (1920 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT), they automatically receive a Presidential Academic Scholarship, and we use the best score that a student has submitted prior to entrance into Christendom (not prior to acceptance or deposit).
And finally, you have up until May 1 to ask for your deposit back if you end up choosing a different college - not that we want that to happen - but we understand that sometimes there are other issues affecting students' choices that require them to attend a different school, rather than their first-choice, Christendom.
We'd love to have you visit with us this fall. We have a couple of different times that we recommend students come to visit us, but if those times don't fit your schedule, we can work out other times that meet your needs.
We have a number of, what we call, Visit Weekends. These weekends are selected because these are weekends that have a lot of student activities going on and a student could better experience the social life on our campus on one of these weekends.
Students arrive either on Thursday night or Friday morning. They meet their Student Ambassador who will serve as their host for their visit. Visitors sit in on classes on Friday, attend Mass, eat lunch, meet with me, and get a tour of campus. Then, over the weekend, students do a bunch of various fun social events, depending on the weekend, and depart either Sunday or Monday.
If none of the planned weekends work for you, you are able to schedule a visit during the weekday pretty much anytime. We need about a week's notice, but you could come on a Monday and leave on a Thursday, if that works better for you. While here, your meals are free and if flying, we provide your sheets, towels, and pillow, and we pick you up from Dulles Airport for free. If driving, you are asked to bring your own bedding and towels. All visitors sleep either in the Ambassador's bed or on a comfortable inflatable air mattress.
If someone would rather arrive on a Thursday and leave on a Saturday, we can make that happen too. Admissions Counselor Liz Twaddle is the visit program coordinator and is more than happy to help you plan your visit to our campus. Please look to our visit page on our website for more information and I hope to see you this fall!
If I want to transfer to Christendom, how do I go about doing it? I know that Christendom has a very solid and involved core curriculum, so I was wondering what kinds of courses might transfer? Thanks!
Each semester, we have around 10-20 students join us who have previously attended other colleges or universities. But also, we have lots of students who have taken some college courses at community colleges who are interested in having their credits transfer. We refer to the first set of students as transfer students, and the second set as students with transfer credits. Many homeschooled students who take a class here or there at a community college fall into the second category. I will do my best to try and explain how this all works.
As you mentioned in your question, Christendom does, indeed, have a very solid core curriculum and as a result, most of the time, classes taken at another college (unless it is very similar to Christendom) will not transfer as part of our core curriculum, but, rather, as electives. But, classes in math, science, or a language will normally transfer to Christendom and fulfill our requirements for those subjects. But if someone has taken classes in English, history, philosophy or the like, our academic affairs department will have to read over the course description, talk with the student, and review the type of subject matter taught in order to evaluate whether those courses would transfer as core requirements or elective classes.
If all of this doesn't make that much sense to you, it may have something to do with the fact that we deal with each transfer student individually, and as a result, we do not have a blanket statement about transfer credits or students. If you are interested in transferring from another college or university, you would fill in the application as normal, marking that you are a transfer student. You would submit your letters of recommendation, your SAT or ACT scores, and your college transcripts. As a transfer student, you are able to receive all the same scholarships or financial aid offers that you would have received if you were applying as a freshman.
Once you have been accepted to Christendom, our academic department will review your transcripts to determine if /how they will transfer.
Here is the page on our website, which may be helpful to you.
What are the deadlines for admission? Do you offer alternatives to regular admission such as early decision, early action, rolling admission? How many applications did you receive last year? What % were admitted?
Good question. Our admissions deadlines are December 1 for Early Action, and March 1 for Regular Admission. Early Action means that those students who complete their applications and send them to us by December 1 will be notified of our Admissions Committee's decision by December 15. At that point, any students who are accepted do not have to notify us of their intent to enroll at Christendom until March 15, although plenty of students tell us earlier than that. In fact, we've already received 4 deposits for the Fall 2011 semester! Even after a student deposits their $500 to reserve their place in the incoming class, that deposit is fully refundable up until May 1, as long as we are notified in writing on or before that date.
Regular admission means that students send in their complete application to us before March 1 and are then notified on April 1 of the Admissions Committee's decision. Those students would then have until May 1 to make a non-refundable deposit of $500 to hold their spot.
But, we also do a type of Rolling Admission in that we normally review the applications as they come in and notify students of our decision within a couple of weeks. So, in reality, although we have these official dates set up, we do try and move through applications and send out acceptance letters on a more regular basis. So, if someone completes their application today (essays, letters of recommendation, SAT or ACT scores, transcripts), there is pretty good chance that they will be notified of our decision by next week.
My advice to anyone truly interested in attending Christendom is to apply early! In that way, you can know whether you have been accepted to Christendom early and that would give you plenty of time to discern whether you want to join Christendom's family in the fall.
Even though I have been accepted, can I still retake the SAT or ACT to see if I can get a higher score so that I can get a better academic scholarship? Do you superscore SATs?
Students who have been accepted can continue taking the SATs as many times as they want to try and improve their scores to get better academic scholarships. If a student hits a 1920 on the SAT (combined best scores of reading, writing, and math), he/she automatically receives a certain amount of money. If the score goes up to 2061, more money is given. And if they get a 2300, even more money. So, many believe that it is well worth the $49 fee it costs to take the SAT or ACT again. The next ACT test date is June 11th and the scholarship levels are 29-31 gets a certain amount of money, and then 32-34 gets more, and 35-36 gets the most.
On a personal side note, although my children are ineligible to receive academic scholarship (due to the fact that they get free tuition), I have them take the SAT a number of times to try and get academic scholarship level scores. I have them take it for the first time when they are about 14 (or just about to turn 15) since I know that I am going to have them take it again and again until they do the best that they can do. I never want anyone to tell me that since my kids are, well, children of the Admissions Director, that they are getting a pass on doing well on the SATs. So far, my two eldest have done quite well, but only after taking it a second time. They both used a book called, Cracking the SAT, and they raised their score by a couple hundred points each. If you are going for scholarship, this is the book to get!
Whatever the final score is the day that the student arrives on campus in the fall is the final scholarship score we go with. I hope this helps!
I am only a Junior right now, but I am very interested in possibly attending Christendom after my graduation from high school next year. What are some things I should be doing to prepare for my senior year that would better my chances of being accepted to Christendom, and better my chances of doing well there if I enroll? Thanks!
My biggest recommendation for anyone who is seriously considering attending Christendom and is finishing Junior year is to attend one of our “Experience Christendom” Summer Programs (ECSP). I can’t tell you how important these programs are in helping interested students determine if Christendom is the place for them.
During the week-long ECSP program, students are taught by Christendom’s finest professors in Theology, Philosophy, History, and English Literature. You get the opportunity to experience real Christendom College classes and to see what this whole liberal arts business is about. You get to meet some of our current students who will be serving as Program Counselors and see if they are the type of students you want to be around or become. You get to spend time in our residence halls, eat our food, enjoy our surrounding areas, spend time with faculty and staff at their homes, and just have a lot of fun with about 40 other high school students from across the country who are, normally, quite similar to you in beliefs, family background, experiences, and outlook.
Secondly, take your SATs or ACTs as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. We will be having a competition for two full-tuition scholarships this year, and in order to be eligible to compete, students must have a 2100 or higher on the SAT (all three sections) or an ACT score of 32 or above.
Third, start looking around at college websites and reviewing college-guides, such as The Newman Guide, if going to a Catholic college/university is important to you. You should also come up with a list of things you “need” at college (location, major, price, etc), a list of things you “want” at college (certain extra-curricular activities, free laundry, wi-fi, etc), and a list of things you “don’t want” at college (intervisitation, anti-Catholic clubs/groups/speakers, cement wall dorm rooms, etc). Then, once you come up with your lists, call around and talk with Admissions Directors/Counselors at different schools to see what they say about all of these things. At that point, you could probably cross off a couple of your top schools, based on the answers you received. Then, once you have it down to two or three colleges, plan to make a campus visit during the fall semester of senior year.
For Christendom, the admissions committee is looking for a number of things in order to accept you. They are looking for SAT scores of 1650 or above or ACT scores of 24 or above (they do make exceptions, but that is their standard); they want to see well-written and thought-out essays; high school transcripts are important to them and they hope to see a GPA of 3.0 or above; and lastly, they want to see two letters of recommendation – one personal, the other academic. The academic letter of recommendation should be written by someone other than a parent (even if the parent is the main homeschooling teacher), if at all possible.
I see you have an Early Action Deadline. Do I need to wait until December 1 to apply, or can I apply earlier than that? Also, when will I hear back from you about the Admissions Committee's decision?
We do have an Early Action Deadline of December 1, and what that means is that if someone gets all their application materials into our office on or before that date, we guarantee them an answer from our Admissions Committee on or before December 15th. That's what the whole Early Action business is about.
But, we have already been receiving lots of applications for the fall semester, and, we have already sent out acceptance letters to some of our applicants. If someone applies during the month of October, there is a very good chance that they will receive an answer from us during October. We sometimes hold off on making a decision, but normally, as soon as an application is complete (SAT or ACT scores, two letters of recommendation, essays/application, and transcripts), we send them off to the Committee for review. At that point, once someone gets the acceptance letter from us, they do not need to respond or send in any money until February 1, so there is still plenty of time to think about whether Christendom is the place for you.
I wanted to let you know why I will not be attending Christendom for college. 1) It seems that there is less intellectual rigor at Christendom than at some other schools that I am looking at. 2) The emphasis, at Christendom, appears to be on the Catholic moral/spiritual environment and less on the "faith seeking understanding" education that could be offered by a Catholic school such as Christendom. This second point is the most important thing that has caused me not to consider Christendom. It appears that, at Christendom, the moral life trumps the intellectual life (which I do not find desirable at an institution dedicated to learning). I'm not saying I object to a Catholic atmosphere, but I get the impression that, at Christendom, ideas, both opposed to and in favor of the Catholic faith, would not be subject to the rigorous examination that ideas ought to be. I feel that the difficulties brought up by works contrary to Catholic theology would be glossed over, and that the ideas of orthodox theologians and philosophers would be accepted without as much inquiry as may be desired.
Although this is not actually a question, I believe it is a very important topic to address. I have heard this line of reasoning before and I think that what we are doing here is somewhat misunderstood. So let's see if I can answer these objections. This might be a little long, but hopefully worth the time it takes to read.
As to the first objection. You say that we offer less academic rigor than other colleges on your list. The answer to this objection is a bit subjective, I think. It is almost impossible to prove that we are more or less academic than this or that school. Every college, from the lowliest of community colleges to the loftiest of the Ivies tout that they are "academically rigorous."
Two years ago, when US News & World Report came out with the top Liberal Arts colleges in America ranking, my office called the admissions office at the top college on the list: Williams College. We asked a number of questions, with this one being the most important: Each year you are ranked as one of the top colleges in the nation, and are considered by many to be very academically challenging and rigorous. Why do you think this is the case?
The admissions representatives we spoke with did not really seem to know why they are ranked so highly for their academic offerings. I asked how many classes the freshmen take each semester. The young lady said four. Hmmm. Our students take six (and sometimes seven). I asked if their students write a lot of papers in their classes. She said, "Not particularly." Again, our students write research papers in just about every Sophomore through Senior class (as well as in some Freshmen classes), and they have to write a Senior Thesis prior to graduation. I asked if there is a core curriculum required of all students? "No," she said. Christendom offers two and a half years of a solid well-rounded core curriculum of all of our students. Do your students do a lot of reading outside of classes? "Yes," she said. So do we. Lots! Do the students have the ability to meet with teachers outside of class? She said they do. And our students have that same opportunity. OK, so the average SAT scores of their students is a bit higher than ours, and their admissions selectivity rate is much better than ours, but I am not sure how one can say, objectively, that their program is any more academically rigorous than ours. Maybe their students are smarter, at least on paper, but that does not mean that what they are offering is any more academically rigorous than what we offer. I guess the whole thing comes down to your understanding about what makes a place academically challenging. I think Christendom is academically rigorous for these reasons:
- Our students are required to do a lot of "outside of class" reading to prepare for their classes and to keep up with what's going on in class. They are expected to attend class and to pay attention, participate, and take plenty of notes.
- Our faculty are top-notch and well-educated (with doctorates from such places as Yale, The University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, University of Virginia, Duke, The Angelicum, and Northwestern University), with the vast majority holding a terminal degree in their field of study. All of our classes are taught by our faculty, rather than by teacher assistants.
- Our students write a lot of papers, specifically 8-10 page research papers, for the majority of their classes, and prior to graduation, our students must submit a (normally) 40+ page Senior Thesis (and may have to defend it as well in front of their peers and professors).
- Our students are given a lot of quizzes and tests throughout the semester to gauge their level of knowledge in the class, and normally, the mid-terms and finals involve a lot of essay-type answers, rather than simply fill-in-the-blanks.
- The students are exposed to a wide array of subject matter in the core curriculum, having to read many original works – and many of the so-called Great Books – as well as secondary sources, in order to get a deep understanding of the material. There are no "Philosophy of Star Trek" type classes, but rather, classes such as "Metaphysics," and "Euclidean Geometry."
- With a 15:1 faculty-student ratio, our students can meet and talk with their professors outside of class, in their offices or at lunch, to get a better understanding of their coursework. At many "academically rigorous" colleges, the faculty members spend a lot of time doing research and getting published, which may take away from the time that they can spend actually teaching their students. At Christendom, although many of our faculty do go on the "lecture circuit" and are published frequently, they are expected to be teachers first, and spend as much time as possible helping their students both in and out of the classroom. To hear the caliber of our teachers, you can listen to a number of their public lectures here. Look for lectures by Mark Wunsch, Brendan McGuire, John Cuddeback, William Marshner, Mark Clark, Eric Jenislawski, Douglas Flippen, and Timothy O'Donnell (http://instituteofcatholicculture.org/media.htm).
- Our students normally take an 18 credit-hour load per semester for each of the first two years of college, then they take normally 15 credit hours per semester junior year, and 12 credit hours per semester for senior year.
- Many of our graduates do very well on their various "getting into grad school" tests, such as the MCAT, LSAT, GRE, or GMAT, gaining acceptance to colleges such as University of Virginia, William & Mary, Fordham, Notre Dame, Oxford, The Angelicum, Northeastern, Catholic University, and so many others. And many of these students get very good scholarships to attend these graduate schools due to their academic records and achievements here at Christendom.
Now, on to the second objection. It is true that we tend to talk a lot about the very Catholic atmosphere that we provide our students. In fact, we are so bold as to say that at Christendom, "Catholicism is the air that we breathe." All but two of our students are Catholic, all of our professors are Catholic, and all of them (not just the Theology teachers) take an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church each year. For some, maybe this sounds "too Catholic" and they may want to breathe some other type of air.
But we, at Christendom, do not see any type of opposition between offering our students a very Catholic environment and rigorously examining all ideas (good, bad, moral, immoral, Catholic, atheistic, or even just plain old stupid), while at the same time, teaching all of our subject matter with a Catholic worldview. In fact, we examine all of the great (and not-so-great) ideas under the guiding light of the Faith, as the Catholic Church says we should do, but that does not keep us from discovering why we believe what we believe, or why this or that idea is contrary to the natural law, or why this type of philosophical thought goes against reason.
On the contrary. We discuss and examine many things that go against what the Church teaches, and then, after examining them, and lining them up with what the Church actually teaches (i.e. The Truth), we are then better able to come to an understanding of what we believe, and why. For example, we spend class after class learning about all the main modern philosophers, and what they had to say about things and how they thought. From my recollection, this course was one of the hardest because we had to learn how to think like the various philosophers: Hume, Kant, Hegel, Descartes, and the like. Then, after we learned how to think as they did, we then examined each of these philosophers' thought in light of St. Thomas Aquinas' philosophy. So, we examined ideas, learned both sides of the issue, so to speak, and then brought the teaching of the Church to bear on the subject matter so that we can know the Truth of the matter.
We do this all the time. In the class, History and Theology of the Papacy, we learn that there were lots of bad guys at the helm of the Church over the years, in fact, many of the former popes are not canonized saints, yet, the Catholic Church has continued to be the Bride of Christ! In Catholic Apologetics, we learn to defend the teachings of the Church against heresies and misunderstandings by learning how the enemy thinks, and why they hold differing views on the Truth. In Moral Theology, we take on many of today's greatest moral issues and examine them in light of the Truth so that we can thoroughly understand why we are to act in accordance with God's law and how we can talk with others who are living lives that do not conform to the moral law.
The idea that somehow it would be more academically rigorous or academically beneficial to wrestle with these ideas in a less Catholic setting is unfounded. If all we were doing was indoctrinating our students, telling them this or that and expecting them to simply read, memorize, and write the answer on the test, then I think we'd have a real problem. But this is not the case. We examine many ideas here at Christendom, even if they are contrary to Catholic thought and belief, and we come out knowing why we believe what we believe and are ready and able to help others come to the Truth.
As the Admissions Director, and not being a Professor, I may not have answered this objection to everyone's satisfaction, but I hope that it at least gives you something more to ponder in this regard. If you have more specific questions about how exactly we teach this or that subject, or how we handle this or that way of thinking or intellectual argument, please let me know and I will try and connect you with one of our esteemed faculty members who can, I am sure, answer your questions to your satisfaction. Thanks for sticking with me on this long answer.
Christendom accepts both the SAT and ACT, and it doesn't matter at all to us which you take. We are generally looking for a 1650 or higher on the SAT or a 24 or higher on the ACT in order to accept someone (although we certainly make exceptions to this policy).
One of the benefits of taking the SAT, though, over the ACT is that we superscore the three sections of all of your SAT tests that you have taken, whereas, for the ACT, we simply take the best one time composite score, regardless of whether you improved in one section or another. The superscoring can help with you getting academic scholarship too.
So, say you take the SAT the first time and get a 650 in Reading, a 490 in Math, and a 700 in Writing. This is a total of 1840. Congrats! You have a high enough score to be admitted to Christendom. But now you want some free academic scholarship money. In order to get that, you need to have a 1920 or higher on the SAT (or a 29 or higher on the ACT). So, you just need another 80 points in order to get your scholarship. You take the SAT again, and this time you get a 600 in Reading, a 540 in Math, and a 760 in Writing. This is a total of 1900, which is better than the 1840, but it is even better because when we superscore it, we take the best Reading (650) and add it to the best Math (540) and add it to the best Writing (760), which equals 1950. Yay! You now automatically get an academic scholarship!!! If you get a 2061 on the SAT or a 32 on the ACT, you get even more money. And if you get a 2300 or higher (SAT) or a 35 or higher (ACT), your scholarship would be even a greater amount.