21 June 2011

The Kansas City Tales; or, Contemplating College Education for One's Brood

Just a random post about the vagaries of life inspired by my day yesterday when I took my nearly seventeen year-old daughter on a field trip to an unnamed legal tribunal in Kansas City, Missouri to observe her father's mild-mannered disguise-related job.

It must be noted at the outset that Kansas City is home to the Royals, who are still in search of their first World Series title, after coming oh-so-close in 1985.  But I digress.

I thought this would be one of those wonderful father-daughter moments, the kind that she would wistfully discuss with Oprah's mummified remains in 2045 (as opposed to the kind of horrified moment that she would scream at Jerry Springer in 2014).

We loaded up the sled and drove West on I-70.  We passed two Hooters restaurants on the way there, and again on the way back, without stopping to dine.  Just for the record.

My daughter is considering which college to attend; she is entering her senior year at a very prestigious private high school where she has managed the unusual feat of being the top student in her class as well as being simultaneously the bottom student in her class.  Wide World of Sports-like.  Feel free to put your college suggestions in the combox, but anyone who says Steubenville will be banned.  I kid because I love!

It is difficult to justify the outrageous expense of most private colleges and universities, though the typical public university is expensive enough.  It has long since happened that I have gone from Urbane Young Professional to Catholic Dad of Seventy Children.  So money is an issue, though I don't want to put any unreasonable limits on the universe of choices.

This universe of choices is painfully small for our parameters.  Why?  To begin with, unlike Bishop Williamson, we believe that it is an affirmative good for a young woman to have a college education.  However, we don't believe that every University provides a good intellectual and spiritual formation.  Hey, forget spiritual formation-- we would be happy if the school didn't affirmatively try to lure her into mortal sin.  Most schools fail on this count.

Certainly, she would like to have a Catholic university education.  Most Catholic universities fail on the Catholic portion of that equation.  How many Catholic universities are there, really?  Even taking Ex Corde Ecclesiae adherence as a minimal start, the list is short.  And then there is the liturgical question.  For us, the liturgical question is a product of the philosophy/theology question.  To boil it down-- a school that tries to be Catholic while forbidding the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to its students shoots itself in the foot.  Such a school falls prey to the forty-five year-old trap of separating the "Whats" of our faith with the "Hows" and "Whys" of our faith.  St. Prosper summed up the Catholic position on this relation in the maxim "lex orandi lex credendi", or "the law of prayer is the law of belief".

The derisive term used by modernists for the Catholic position of unity between faith and prayer is Integrism.  If a school would call my daughter an integrist, it would get points for the use of fancy words, but would not get her tuition check.  The last thing I would want for her is to attend a school that teaches adherence to Catholic dogmas and doctrines and then insist on providing a protestant "campus ministry" that undermines these teachings in practice.  Sound harsh to you?  Maybe it is, but I truly don't mean it to be.  This is just a stream-of-consciousness post.

Ultimately, the school needs to be in close enough proximity for her to assist at the EF on Sundays.  Thanks to Summorum Pontificum, there are more options available on that score.

Regarding cost, after any scholarship and aid, we have a serious concern about saddling her with debt, especially at the undergraduate level.  The undergraduate degree has nearly become the equivalent of a high school diploma these days, and I don't recall having tens of thousands of loan debt after escaping high school.

Oh, and it would be great if it were within a reasonable drive of St. Louis, so she wouldn't have to have her modesty violated to fly there.

Any suggestions-- or are we homecollege-ing?


Andy said...


Perhaps not quite within the driving range you were looking for but I know the College President and a professor or two up there. They are doing good things, and getting better every day.

Of course, if you are shooting for just an associates degree there is always this option: http://www.smac.edu/?CollegeMain

timh said...



I will be on Life on The Rock, with John Thorkelson (one of our students), on EWTN TV and radio on Thursday, June 23 at 9-10pm. We will be talking about St. Mary's and campus ministry. You can listen locally on RED-C Radio, or you can watch / listen here or on any EWTN station.



Anonymous said...

Well, SLU of course! What a great Catholic collegiate experience. BLAHHH HHHAHHAA

dmw said...

As a double-graduate (B.A. & M.A.) of Christendom College, I must nominate by beloved alma mater. My in-laws are both professors there too! Come visit Front Royal, Virginia!

Louis IX said...

Christendom College.

Orthodox and intellectually challenging. This is the alma mater of ICRSP priest Canon Michael Stein and seminarian Jonathan Fehrenbacher, as well as a number of former candidates. There are a good number of traditional Catholics there (even among the faculty, though admittedly many professors are so devoted to JPII that it makes me gag).

Between the school and the local parish (>10 minutes away) the traditional mass is offered in Front Royal 6 days per week. Plus, you can't beat the beautiful location in the Appalachian Mts. on the Shenandoah River. And it is close, but not too close, to Washington, DC.

PLUS, their mascot is the Crusaders. I heard talk that they were going to launch a crusade to recover Steubenville for the Catholic faith...could be just a rumor, though.

Just visit, you will love it.

Delena said...

Wait a minute here...you're saying you were in KC, and...we didn't even get the MEMO that you were here?! Is it because we've failed to meet you for lunch the last two times you've asked? Dang my husband's job always getting in the way.

So...while we start Kindergarten over here, you're looking at college. Good to know I have something else to worry about in the future. Can't wait to hear what college she chooses!

X said...

Have you thought about Vatterott College? Seriously, the entire university system, especially the small private "Catholic" colleges are a financial boondoggle and little more than a playground for trust fund babies and the idle rich. Those of you with rich parents/grandparents or from very small families need read no further. Unless you are there with a specific, well defined, practical profession in mind, it's just an expensive self indulgence. Unlike most self indulgences however this one can haunt you for years to come. Someone recently said that the most effective form of birth control was student loans. Students loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, that is no accident. College has become just another extension of the debt servitude state we now call America. If a trade was good enough for our Lord and his Apostles it should be good enough for us. What really is the end game here after all? An MRS I can understand but does the world really need another snotty waiter at Starbucks with a PHD in Philosophy and Medieval History with six figures of debt?

Doug said...

Why settle for a college that merely tolerates the EF Mass? How about one that integrates traditional liturgical practice with the great intellectual traditions of Catholicism? What you want is a college that serves what used to be called "indult communities." You need something solid, traditional, and perhaps most of, affordable. A place you can send your children with a reasonable expectation that they will come back not merely as traditional Catholics, but as smart and educated traditional Catholics.

It doesn't yet exist. But be assured that you are not the only one who knows what is needed. We are working on it. Help is on the way.

The Happy Mother said...

University of Dallas. I think it meets all of your criteria (a 9 hour drive isn't THAT bad!) I don't know if they offer EF on campus, but there is an EF parish close by. And the ROME program!!!
My husband and I both attended UD and we are both daily-Mass attenders, plus we have a bunch of kids and are ready for more. AND he has a good enough job that we can afford the student loan payments.

dogfish42 said...

How about Fontbonne? Too close to home? (My daughter graduated from there 13 years ago and loved it.)

A non-Catholic college with a great active Newman center, the University of Tulsa. My son graduated from there and he and his wife are still conservative practising Catholics. He graduated 10 years ago.

Elizabeth said...

Thomas Aquinas College www.thomasaquinas.edu fits your criteria except for the distance. They even have a daily EF Mass on campus.

Anonymous said...

Benedictine College has most, if not all, of what you're looking for. (It's the one in Atchison, Kansas, not the Benedictine University near Chicago.) One of my sons graduated from there and has done very well. You did not describe your daughter's interests, so check to see whether what she may want is offered there. We were very pleased with the strength of its Catholic identity, its encouragement of students' virtues and spiritual lives, and its dedication to serving the Church. You can get over the fact that it's located in Kansas--it's less than half a mile over the border (the Missouri River), anyway. (Actually, I like Kansas, lots of good people there and it is not nearly as flat and boring as St. Louisans believe.) Check Benedictine out.

Jim Cole

Anonymous said...

How about Rankin? It's non-denominational and a money saving commuter college. Your daughter will be able to attend EF Mass daily, and learn a trade like carpentry, which if she were to go one and become a stay at home Catholic Mom would be extremely useful.

I'm just sayin...

thetimman's daughter said...

X: Do not mock the Starbucks waiters, or you may find an unpleasant surprise in your next cup of joe. Just a warning. :)

And as far as colleges go, I have heard so many reasons for me not to attend college that I hate bringing it up in conversation. Going into debt is a big worry for me, and some people have said that I shouldn't go to college because I'm just going to get an MRS degree. (And no, I am not planning on getting one anytime soon, Dad!)

I want to go to college because I want to further my education and learn a profession. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to be, and I would rather learn how to do it in a Catholic environment, though I am not opposed to going to a non-Catholic school.

So, Doug, when you get that college up and running, let me know!

And for the record, Dad, I am not planning on being on the Springer show anytime soon!

--Your Daughter

Doug said...

Dear Timman's Daughter,

Up and running? One year ... maybe just two months. Can you wait?

But firing on all cylanders? We're working on it. At least a year, maybe two. We need money. Please pray for us.

Anonymous said...

Oh, no, please don't send her to Steubenville, there are to many strange influences there. Besides, the student body is mostly drawn from blue collar backgrounds with very coarse manners. Surely, decorum, or what we used to refer to as, "being well turned out," should count for something for a young Catholic lady. There is a lot to be said for courtly graces, sadly lacking in today's youth. The Madames of the Sacred Heart used to excel in this area...not so much today.

Check out Christendom or St Thomas in CA, or contact the traditional Dominicans in France to see if they take girls for finishing school.

ATW said...

Christendom College, Front Royal, VA.

Andy S. (Delena's brother-in-law) said...

All things considered, I think a good state-university is the way to go. I graduated from a Catholic university (Mt. St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, MD). It was good for what I wanted: philosophy and theology.

Before that, I attended KU. I think the academics (besides theology and philosophy obviously) beat any Catholic college I've come in contact with. Plus, the St. Lawrence Center is simply outstanding: orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I would highly recommend KU. STAY AWAY FROM THEIR RELIGIOUS STUDIES DEPARTMENT!!!

Q said...


Don't believe the hype.

Thomas Aquinas is good but I don't want my kids to become sophists that look down their noses at the EF. Christendom is good, very good. It is cetainly a solid choice, but you will have to swallow a heavy dose of neo-conary. And the MONEY! Benedictine? Please. Steubenville-wana-be? No thank you. Fontbonne? .... ? University of Dallas? Remember Timman, it is run by the Diocese. Meditate upon that for a few minutes (and it ain't a 9hr drive). Texas A&M ... Let me quote, "George Weigel sang its praises ..." Again, "George Weigel sang its praises ... " Q. E. D.

Oh bother!

Traditional Cathoics of the World Unite!

L said...

Y'all must be driving at poky grandma speed if it takes y'all longer than 9 hours to drive to Dallas.

Anonymous said...

Though I am very much a fan of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals, they very much won that Series. The blown call aside, Darrell Porter and Jack Clark missed an easy foul pop up. The next pitch was a base hit. Though Worrell got the runner out at third on the following bunt attempt, Darrell Porter proceeded to allow a passed ball, on which the two runners advanced to second and third. After intentionally walking Hal McCrae, Worrell gave up a base hit to right field, allowing the tying run to score. Andy Van Slyke's throw was right on the money, but Darrell Porter wasn't in position for the play at the plate, and the winning run scored.
And this was only Game 6! The Cards had another game, their ace John Tudor would be on the mound. Instead, they fell apart, getting totally destroyed by Saberhagen and the Royals.
Good teams should overcome bad calls and not be defined by them as the Cards were. Furthermore, good teams catch foul pop ups and don't allowed passed balls.
And the blown call at first wasn't the only one! The Royals got one, too, in that very game. Frank White was called out stealing second, though he was in fact safe. The batter proceeded to get a base hit, which would have driven the run home. In a one run game, that could have made the difference.
In the end, the Cards' Game 7 performance was nothing short of disgraceful and unsportsmanlike.

thetimman said...

Let me see if I can sum up. What I have gathered from all this is that someone is stuck in the Matrix and thinks KC won that series. I can only show you the door. You're the one who has to walk through it.

Delena, I had no spare time but I figure we'll get together soon.

I appreciate the insights; lots of good takes. I think X had the line of the day-- "does the world really need another snotty waiter at Starbucks with a PHD in Philosophy and Medieval History with six figures of debt?"

JJR, stay out of Starbucks. ;-)

Elizabeth said...

Hey Q - Thomas Aquinas will not teach anyone to look down on the EF. The first Mass on every day is EF; they definitely appreciate it! (BTW, that is the first of three daily Masses on weekdays.)

Anonymous said...

X said it best! College these days is a waste of money! Send her to the local community college, save your money and finish up with a degree form a local university (public or private) that doesn't cost an arm or a leg. Let's face it, except for certain professions that require a post graduate degree and licensure - it's what you do, how you act and who you know AFTER you get out of school that will dictate the jobs you get.

You know I'm right - think about it.

Anonymous said...

I would second Benedictine in Atchison....though I don't know about EF - there is of course the oratory in Kansas City - it would be less than an hour's drive. But Benedictine is well ranked on many lists of Catholic colleges for being orthodox. My niece graduacted from there - and has a job. I know a professor there who is a cantor at one of the parishes where I sub in as organist on a regular basis - so if you would liek me to get you in touch with him I am happy to do so. It is a pretty campus in a pretty river town.

Guardian said...

To parents of daughters,
I know this may elicit a firestorm, but i do not think that parents should send their daughters away to college, especially a secular one where morality is non-existent. Going to college in town, where they will be home every afternoon after classes is fine, but sending them away to a campus filled with parties and drinking, where immature men and women think that hooking-up is the thing to do instead of date is just dangerous.

A very wise family once told us that it is the father's duty to protect his daughter until he hands that very grave responsibility over to her husband. Sending a home schooled girl who has been in a loving home out into a den of wolves is not training her to be an adult. She will live in a single family home with a husband and children as an adult, or a convent, not in a virtually unchaperoned dorm where several untrained, immoral men might be just across the hall, just waiting for their prey.


Anonymous said...

The Saint Cecilia Dominican Sisters of Nashville run a small, four-year unambiguosly CATHOLIC college in Nashville: Aquinas College. It might not have boarders; I'm not sure, but nearby housing is available. It's not so well known because it only changed its status from being a junior college to a four-year college within the last twenty years. Trust Aquinas. Furthermore, when I want to find out what Catholic college to trust (after studying Father Groeschel's book of the same or a similar title - you do know about that book, don't you?), I try to find out where the Nashville Dominicans Sisters, the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George, the Ann Arbor Dominicans, and other TRULY Catholic convents send their young Sisters. I'm not going to study the question myself, but I know that for starters these schools are on their lists: Benedictine in Atchison (NOT THE ONE WITH THE SAME NAME IN LISLE, ILLINOIS); Ave Maria in Florida; and Aquinas in Nashville. Good luck. Place yourself under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of schools, in your search.

Fenian said...

As someone who went to a private school for undergrad and a public university for grad school, I would strongly encourage your daughter to attend a public university. The costs associated with Catholic universities are absurd and a 4 year degree is not worth the 10-25k per year premium.

As long as there is a solidly Catholic church near by, your daughter will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Duly noted - thank goodness I do not like coffee. Now, maybe I could satisfy the "snotty Deli clerk" role when I go back to that grocery store job from my high school days!


Patrick Kinsale said...

Wife and I are TAC grads and non-sophists. We have a nephrew and some nieces at Wyoming Catholic College, which is a lot like TAC with an even better outdoor setting.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Long time reader first time commenter. Speaking from personal experience, the University of Kansas is the Catholic dark horse of the country. It may be secular, but with the exception of the math department, you can still get a good liberal education. The St. Lawrence center is a force to be reckoned with in campus life and provides comprehensive, no-charge college-level classes. Here is a video of one of their doctors (they have, I think, 6 at the center now) in a recent debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXmTkSaFDqc

Q said...


The first thing you need to do is stop talking about "Catholic" Colleges and start getting a whole lot more specific. As the posts here demonstrate, everyone who went to Christendom, TAC, Stueby, Benedictine, or knows someone who went to these places, thinks they have just the thing for which you are looking. You are a trady Catholic, which many think is just a bit too far to the right. When you say "Catholic" College they don't think "Trady" College.

Give us five criteria that would satisfy your wishes. And please, don't hold back. Be divisive!

Anonymous said...

Christendom College (http://www.christendom.edu/) is a great one,
Thomas Aquinas College (http://www.thomasaquinas.edu/) is another good, and
Ave Maria University
is also good but, the closest is 13+ hrs away.

Anonymous said...

Guardian, you assume a lot.

Who is to say what is the best way to protect one's daughter (or son, for that matter, both genders have souls, after all)? One would think that all depends upon the particular child, their attitudes and personality, the way that they have been raised, etc. For somwe children, it might be best to let go and let the child find his/her own way (after having given the child the proper tools and of course praying all the way) than to force the child to do something that the he/she doesn't want and force a rebellion, potentially against the Church.

I have also often wondered to what degree it is necessary for parents to offer their children free will (the same free will that the Father offers to all of us, and the same free will that is a central philosophical underpinning for so much of what we believe)? Practically, and at the extremes, free will exists anyway. Kids from good families have been known to rebel, after all.

Anonymous said...

Guardian, "thou protesteth too much."

IF you were a freshman, would you be partying, drinking, and hooking-up? Would you be one of those "untrained, immoral men ... waiting for their prey?"

Honestly, this says far more about you than it does anyone in college.

Guardian said...


No, it just says that I am not a naive parent who thinks that a coed dorm, or even college for that matter is a good way to "grow up". I know what goes on now because I have young friends and relatives and I lived in the party town of two college campuses first hand. Many don't bother going on real dates anymore, just casual sex. Yes, many young guys in the real world want to hook-up with girls and now more than ever, many girls think it is just fine. Not a great atmosphere for a good, young lady.

Anonymous said...

While its not a catholic college and its definitely a campus were protestants have their "Campus Ministry" in full swing, Lindenwood University in St.Charles MO has a small catholic campus group that needs help.

There's a group called the Catholic Student Union on campus and is holds a catholic mass with catholic priest's sent from the archdiocese every sunday night. Lindenwood University did not have any established group for campus until about a decade ago when it was fought for by a catholic professor and a young catholic student.

It now hold a mass with about 40 students present every week during the regular school semester. While it is hard to pioneer the way this young group is looking for new students who are devoted catholic men and women.

Good luck with finding that college! :) It is truly necessary to have a campus support Catholic Faith.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you aren't giving your daughter the trust she deserves. From what I've read on your blog it seems as though you instilled solid values as you raised her, why don't you trust her to be in an environment that challenges her?

Speaking as a recent (private, secular) college grad, I learned so much more and grew immensely in my faith because I was in a place that challenged me. How do you know what you truly believe if you don't put it into practice?

Don't shelter her- allow her to discover what it means to be a virtuous Catholic woman in the world. Mary didn't simply stay at home hiding from those who opposed her Son's teachings, but stood by His side as he provided the truest example of living faith in a world that shunned Him. I firmly believe we are called to do the same, and that doesn't happen in a sheltered place but in the dorms and in the classroom where the challenges are rampant. Go forth and preach the gospel!

what now? said...


Blessed Mother was sinless and born without original sin. So, a teenager going into a situation where they are encountering a lot of sin is not always the best idea, no matter how wonderful and perfect your child is at the present time.