By BISHOP JOEL M. KONZEN, S.M., Commentary | Published October 29, 2021 | En Español
We are at the time of the calendar year when parents begin to think about school choices for their children for the coming school year, and the open house season is beginning. For any who are not really familiar with Catholic schools, I want to encourage you to use the present opportunity to attend an open house, to request information from a school, or to arrange a visit on your own.
Our Catholic schools offer an excellent overall education, and they do it in an environment that includes attendance at the holy sacrifice of the Mass, religious instruction, service to the school and larger community, daily prayer, a cultivated atmosphere of respect for all students, academic preparation that is evaluated on demanding national standards and faculty who see their work with young people as a vocation.
As you may or may not know, Catholic schools in our area require students to apply, rather than to simply come to the school and register. It is especially good to begin inquiries about what might be the best education for your child long before it is time to apply to one or more schools. This allows you to talk to helpful persons at the school as well as parents who can offer an idea of what you could expect to experience having a child enrolled at the school. Some schools begin the application process in the fall; others have a rolling admissions process, allowing applications to be submitted at any time, provided that the necessary requirements for admission have been met.
It may be that interested parties, seeing the annual costs associated with attending a Catholic school, conclude that they would not be able to pay the full cost. Those who are interested in our schools should always contact the school to learn how they may be assisted in the payment of tuition. Catholic schools have methods available for providing some amount of assistance to those who qualify for aid in meeting the costs of attendance. It is not a limitless supply, though. Schools do run out of financial assistance when they meet a cap for the year. This is why it is good to apply as early as possible, for admission and for aid if needed.
Many parents in Catholic schools believe that a great benefit of these schools is the friends their children make during their time as students. This includes peers from a variety of socio-economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds—sometimes, but not always, exceeding the mix of students at the local school a child would otherwise attend. It is, though, the commitment to similar values on the part of the families that helps parents to maintain common behavioral expectations across a group of children’s friends and acquaintances.
The level and quality of daily work in Catholic schools also undergirds an experience that promotes responsibility and self-confidence. Students will say that they are perhaps asked to do more than when they were not in a Catholic school, but parents can see the difference in both academic attainment and satisfaction in the overall purpose that the school exhibits.
The best evidence of the effects of a Catholic school education are seen in the graduates themselves, in the decisions they make, in the faith they practice, in the way they respond to challenges and demonstrate concern for others. Is it a one-stroke guarantee of universal success? No. It is families motivated by a desire to pass on the faith to their children and to have that occur in a school environment that works hard at living the precepts of the Gospel.
If you have the chance to look into a Catholic school education for your child, don’t delay. In any case, praying that you can place your child in the most appropriate learning environment will always be the most valuable investment.