The Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts announced a new initiative to aid students hailing from New Hampshire and Massachusetts—nearly a quarter million in scholarship funds for incoming commuter students who wish to attend the College while residing with their families.
“We have students from all across the country,” said Thomas More College Director of Admissions Mark Schwerdt, “and nearly everyone lives in the dormitories. But we are also committed to our region, and want to strengthen our link with the local community. Aiding local students who wish to attend is a great way to do that.”
Commuter students who wish to attend Thomas More College will be eligible for a $20,000 scholarship, or $5,000 per year. Thomas More College is located in Southern New Hampshire, within a 45 minute drive of Boston, 15 minutes of Manchester, and 60 minutes of Maine.
“Commuter students will find Thomas More College to be the cheapest private liberal arts college in all of New England, according to a study by The Chronicle of Higher Education,” said Schwerdt. “The debt load among our graduates is already the lowest in New England. With this scholarship, commuter students will keep any debt they do incur exceptionally low.”
“Our tuition for commuter students is less than most students would pay even at state universities,” Schwerdt points out. “And for that price, they get the close attention, small classes, and the world-class core curriculum you would expect of an elite private college. They also receive three meals a day, even if they live at home.”
Thomas More College students complete, over the course of four years, a comprehensive Great Books curriculum that begins with the ancient world, moves through the central works of Greek and Roman culture, through the Medieval, Renaissance, modern and contemporary periods.
“This is the kind of core curriculum you find at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, and that used to prevail at all the Ivy League colleges,” said Thomas More College literature professor Dr. John Zmirak, editor of Choosing the Right College—a nationally renowned guide to undergraduate education.
”Sadly, this kind of educational experience is hard to find today, and usually very expensive,” said Zmirak. “I am proud that the college where I teach offers a much more solid curriculum than the college I attended (Yale)—and at less than half the price.”
Zmirak leads the school’s Writing Workshops, through which students learn to write essays, arguments, and formal poems by imitating great writers of the ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and modern periods—and meeting with him for a one-on-one conference on every assignment. “I’ve modeled our writing program on the elite, senior writing courses offered in the Ivy League,” Zmirak said. “But at those schools only a select set of students can take such courses. At Thomas More College, every student has regular, individual writing conferences, which continue for three semesters.”
Commuter students will also take part in the College’s required semester in Rome, living in a Roman villa operated by a community of monks while learning art, history, and theology through daily tours of ancient temples, Renaissance galleries, and Baroque churches. The College partly underwrites this program, so it costs students no more than an ordinary semester spent on campus. “The only extra cost is a round-trip ticket from home to Rome,” said Schwerdt.
Another distinctive initiative at Thomas More is the Way of Beauty Program, which explores the cultural roots of Western art, and includes free classes in figurative and icon painting offered by Oxford graduate David Clayton, the College’s Artist-in-Residence, who trained in select art studios in Florence. A newly completed Gothic crucifix painted by Clayton now hangs in the college’s chapel, where students sing the Divine Office and take part in the traditional chant at Sunday Masses.
Students at Thomas More College are also being trained in the craft of traditional wood-working by master carver Frank Jenkins, who this semester is teaching a group of interested students how to build furniture. It is projected that they will also observe and take part in his completion of an elaborate Gothic wooden altar for the chapel.
“Thomas More College has students from 31 states, as well as Canada, but the College has an abiding commitment to the region,” said Thomas More College President Dr. William Fahey. “New England authors such as Robert Frost and Nathaniel Hawthorne hold a central place in the curriculum. Our natural history courses and weekend excursions into the White Mountains encourage an in-depth encounter with sites of natural and historic importance. I hope our new commuter scholarships will express the depth of this commitment.”