As the cost of college attendance becomes a larger expense for families, some have begun to question whether the cost of attending college is worth the value promised. For faith-based colleges assessing their efforts, the findings are encouraging.

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Reap: Proven impact of Catholic colleges

By Sister Mary Reap

As the cost of college attendance becomes a larger expense for families, some have begun to question whether the cost of attending college is worth the value promised. Legislators as well as families seek answers to this question. In order to be accountable, colleges have become more diligent about assessing their effect on not only success with job placement and earning power, but also on graduate school acceptances and overall contributions to society for their graduates.

In addition to assessment in these areas, faith-based colleges also engage in assessing their efforts in student faith and spiritual formation as well. The findings are encouraging.

For example, a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, at Georgetown University finds that Catholic students at Catholic colleges are less likely than Catholic students at other colleges to move away from the church and more likely to turn toward it. Further, the study finds that the Catholic students at Catholic colleges -- while moving away from the church on some issues -- move more toward the church on others, such as the reading of sacred texts. Overall, the study finds that Catholic students "remain profoundly connected to their faith" as they progress in college.

Other researchers have devoted growing attention to the related subject of Catholic mission, in terms of assessing both "ways that mission is communicated to students, faculty, and staff and ways to measure progress toward mission," observes Mark Gunty, chair of the board of directors of the Catholic Higher Education Research Cooperative.

 

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