Thomas Aquinas College – Student Interview with Andrew Roy

When you began your college search, was TAC high on your list of schools? What made you choose TAC?

When I started searching for colleges, TAC was at the top of my list of schools. I first heard about it from several friends who were attending, and it was highly recommended to me by them. Later on, I heard about it again through MODG when I was taking several online classes (it’s hard not to hear about TAC if you’re taking MODG). After investigating, I found that it was an education applicable to everyone, and one that I myself wanted. A liberal education, as opposed to one that deals with a specialized trade of one sort or another, was attractive to me because I wanted to pursue the intellectual life to better know and understand God and the world he created.

(If you were able to visit TAC before attending) What aspects of campus did you find the most appealing?

I wasn’t able to visit before attending, but when I arrived, I was amazed by the beauty of the campus, which I had only seen before in pictures. The campus proper is made up of classrooms, dorms, and a chapel, all of which were built with wonderful architecture, together with well-kept lawns and gardens. The beauty of the campus is fitting with the nature of the education, which is itself beautiful. The property surrounding the campus is a ranch that is free for the use of the students, as well as access to several hiking trails.

TAC stands out from other colleges by how they conduct their academics by only using the socratic method. How was adjusting to this when you came on campus? Did you feel like you were in your element right away or did it take time to adjust to this method?

I took several online LS classes in my last three years of high school, and I believe that they prepared me greatly for the socratic method. Of course, I had never been in a real classroom with other human beings before, but I quickly got used to this aspect. In fact, I find the discussion method here at TAC to be much more fun than the standard lecture method, and it helps me to understand the material being discussed far better.

What was your academic background prior to going to TAC? In what ways were you prepared for college? Were there any life or academic skills that you were not prepared for?

I was homeschooled all the way from kindergarten through high school. My mom began my education using Laura Berquist’s book, “Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education”. She then used the MODG curriculum all the way through high school, where I was officially enrolled with MODG. Thanks to the classical nature of the education I received from MODG, I was (mostly) prepared for my current education at TAC.

How does TAC incorporate the Faith into the academics?

The most obvious way that faith is incorporated into the academics at TAC is the Theology class, which begins by going through the entire Bible and then goes on to discuss other theological works such as the “Summa Theologiae”. Every branch of the liberal education is ordered towards coming to know things for their own sake and for the sake of their Creator. Every day, each class is opened with the “Veni, Sancte Spiritus”, a prayer to the Holy Spirit to enlighten the intellect and enkindle His Love in the heart. Students also have the opportunity to attend daily Mass and frequent confession (both of which are invaluable allies in the pursuit of the intellectual life). In brief, the Faith can be found in every aspect and every inch of the academic life at TAC.

In what ways does Thomas Aquinas College stand out from other Catholic universities or colleges?

Many Catholic institutions offer a larger range of courses than TAC, but without the tie that binds them all together. Some may offer a theology course, a language course, and a science course, but the liberal arts course shows how those are all related. One aspect of TAC that stands out from other Catholic liberal arts colleges is the emphasis it places on mathematics and natural science in the order of creation. The fact that such amazing and powerful truths can be found in areas such as geometry is often overlooked by Catholic colleges. At TAC, they are treated with the consideration they deserve.

How is the faith life at TAC? Are there are Catholic activities, groups, or missions you take part in on campus?

There are many opportunities, both on and off campus, to participate in activities and missions. For example, TAC takes part in the annual walk for life in San Fransisco and offers opportunities to go to pro-life protests and outreaches. There are many extra-curricular talks and lectures on how to better live out a life of faith. There are also several choirs that sing at different Masses, for the more musically inclined.

How is the social community at TAC; how easy was it to get involved in campus life?

One of the Women’s Dorms at TAC (Kaity Gallagher)

The social community is amazing here. I have never had such an opportunity to meet so many people that share the same ideas and hold the same truths that I do. It is important to remember that there is temptation and danger everywhere in social communities, and even at such a great place like TAC there is such a thing as peer pressure. I was warned of this, and I think it only fair that everyone get the same warning. This is, however, unavoidable if you’re going to college, and, if you are dedicated to living a virtuous life, this, combined with the strength of the faith in the community here at TAC, serves as the best armor you can find at any college. Besides, if you make good friendships (which you undoubtedly will) it will help you avoid bad friendships.

TAC is smaller than many colleges high schoolers are looking at. What have been the benefits and negatives of this?

With such a small campus as TAC, it is much easier to make friends and get to know people. Additionally, it is large enough that, if you want to be alone, you can find quiet places to think, read or study. Of course, it is small enough that one might tend to feel cramped, and isolated enough that there are no places to go to within walking distance. However, there are many trails on the ranch property which surrounds the school, if you enjoy hiking.

At TAC, sports and activities do not participate in leagues and are considered “recreational.” How has this view on sports and activities allowed you to connect to the community? Has it sparked any new interests that you did not have before attending TAC?

The recreational status of the sports and activities here make it so that the emphasis is placed on having fun without taking away from any of the competitiveness. Despite not participating in leagues, many of the sports are organized, giving students an opportunity for some regular exercise and fun. I personally played very few sports before college, being more into hiking. But having easy and convenient access to those sports has sparked several interests for me, such as football and volleyball.

What are the dorms and food like at TAC?

The dorms are relatively small, but comfortable, giving students a chance to form strong friendships with the other students in their dorm. There’s a lot of friendly competition between the different dorms (mostly comprised of name-calling), and a spirit of dorm “patriotism”. The food, while it doesn’t beat your mom’s home-cooking (because let’s be honest, nothing does), is much better than anything you would find in a normal school cafeteria. The kitchen serves food three times a day and students have access to other food (e.g. bread, condiments, fruit, cereal, and the like) for most of the day.

What are some of your favorite aspects about Thomas Aquinas College?

Some of my favorite aspects about TAC are the curriculum (my favorite class is seminar, where we read and discuss amazing literature), the architecture, and the sense of being in a small community separated from the rest of the world. TAC really is like a small bubble, where young people are formed and trained how to properly think, to prepare them for the world. I also enjoy the landscape around the college, a mix of desert and forest, which gives me an opportunity to go on hikes and explore. There is a library where, if you find you have the time amidst the normal chaos of study, you can find some of the best literature to read. I also was able to meet other former MODG students, some of whom were in the same online classes I was, which formed a basis for some amazing friendships.

If students are interested in TAC, what would you encourage them to do?

I would encourage students to apply early, near the beginning of senior year of high school. This is what I did and I was accepted right away. The college is always looking for MODG students, and I believe my background with MODG helped me to get in. Plus, it gave me a chance to get the immense amount of paperwork that is inevitable in a college-applicant’s life over and done with sooner. Definitely spend time in prayer and consideration; not every college is for every student, so it’s important to find the right one.