Rating America's Colleges
#7 Exceptional School
Providence CollegeProvidence, Rhode Islandwww.providence.edu
Hounds of Heaven
Based in a lively, culture-rich New England city, Providence is led by Dominican friars (Aquinas’s order) who are serious about Catholic education—laying equal emphasis on both words. The school hews closely to the Church’s ancient teachings, and insists that every student complete its expansive, six- to seven-course Development of Western Civilization program. Providence students read all or part of dozens of Great Books as they are marched from Plato up through NATO. (Aspiring intellectuals should seek out the Liberal Arts Honors program, which reads only whole books and requires extensive writing.) On top of this sound foundation, students are treated to mostly small classes taught exclusively by accessible professors. Most classes are free of extraneous politics, and students seem uninterested in activism—but for those who do care, free expression largely prevails. Most disciplines are solid, serious, and traditional. Strong choices include English, political science, history, philosophy and theology; the school also offers grad/undergrad options in engineering and optometry. The majority of students live on the compact, traditional-looking campus. All dorms but one are single-sex, most feature a live-in priest, and school policies restrict intervisitation. The favorite hobbies of students are basketball, theater, and (alas) drinking. Tuition is moderate, but financial aid is likewise limited, and the average student loan debt of a recent graduate was $33,297.
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