After Crazy 2020, Students Seek No-Nonsense Catholic Colleges

During uncertain and troubling times, what’s a Catholic high school senior to think about attending college?

Christ promised, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” For young people across America, the year 2020 was tumultuous and often difficult, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the election, racial tensions and violence. Did any of this affect students’ resolve to attend a faithful Catholic college?

That was the question posed to high school seniors competing for scholarships in The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual essay contest, and the responses we received give me great hope for the future. Indeed, the events of the past year have made me even more certain of the need for wise and virtuous graduates of faithful Catholic schools and colleges. We rely on them to renew our culture.

Trinity Chester, a homeschooled student in California, writes that the “challenges of the past year” left her with the conviction that she “could not possibly settle for anything less” than a faithful Catholic college.

“As colleges across the country have shut down or taken classes completely online, faithful Catholic colleges have gone above and beyond to minister to their students in these trying times and keep classes in-person, if at all possible,” Chester reflects in her winning essay. “These schools are truly almae matres — nourishing mothers who care for their children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare.”

She looks forward to attending a college where “Christ is at the heart” of campus and the education “seeks knowledge of the true, the good and the beautiful.” She believes a liberal arts education is practical, too:

In a post-COVID economy … graduates will need a holistic education that will equip them for life and give them a versatile skillset. Catholic colleges, with their strong focus on the Liberal Arts, give students the knowledge, critical thinking skills and flexibility to succeed in any venture.

Chester will use her $5,000 scholarship to attend Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, where students are being prepared “each in their own way … to live lives of service.” About 10 percent of the College’s alumni have entered the priesthood or religious life, a third of the graduates have gone on to graduate studies or other advanced education, and others have pursued a wide variety of careers.

“Faithful Catholic colleges equip their students to be missionaries for the faith by carrying Christ with them into the world after graduation,” Chester writes.

“The events of the past year have taught us that our broken world desperately needs young people with a love for the Lord and a missionary spirit, who will dedicate their lives to service and evangelization,” says Chester.

Praise God for faithful Catholic colleges and for the students who attend them! They are a great light in the darkness of our culture today. May God bless Trinity and all her fellow students who are preparing to attend college this fall.

This article first appeared at the National Catholic Register.

More information about the Essay Scholarship Contest:

The Newman Society’s annual Essay Scholarship Contest is open to high school seniors in the United States who participate in the Newman Society’s Recruit Me program and use The Newman Guide in their college search. The innovative Recruit Me program invites Newman Guide colleges to compete for students while providing information about faithful Catholic education. Rising high school seniors who wish to enter next year’s essay contest can sign up for Recruit Me online at

Trinity Chester describes her use of The Newman Guide:

The Newman Guide was incredibly helpful to me in my college search. I found it so encouraging to read the winning essays from past years and know that there were other young people out there who wanted the same things I wanted in a college experience. The Newman Guide website made it easy for me to compare faithful Catholic colleges and narrow down the factors that were important to me. I also enjoyed the student takeovers on the Newman Society’s Instagram account because they allowed me an inside look at campus culture and student life.

Chester’s $5,000 scholarship is made possible thanks to the generosity of Joseph and Ann Guiffre, supporters of The Cardinal Newman Society and faithful Catholic education.

“We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Guiffre for enabling this scholarship,” said Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “They understand the unique value of a truly Catholic education, and they are thrilled to help a student experience all that a Newman Guide-recommended college can provide.”

The winner of the annual contest also has the opportunity to receive an additional $15,000 from participating colleges over the course of their college education. Sixteen of the Newman Guide colleges have agreed to supplement the Newman Society’s scholarship with additional $5,000 grants over three additional years, under certain conditions including full-time enrollment and academic progress.

Copyright © 2024 The Cardinal Newman Society. Permission to reprint without modification to text, with attribution to author and to The Cardinal Newman Society, and (if published online) hyperlinked to the article on the Newman Society’s website. The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Cardinal Newman Society.