High school, college initiatives help students further their Catholic education
By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Pursuing a Catholic education can present its share of challenges and sacrifices for students and their families.
As a way to help grammar and high school students in the Diocese of Trenton continue their next level of education in a Catholic institution, some unique and attractive incentives have been put into place in Holy Cross Academy, Delran, and Georgian Court University, Lakewood.
Catholic high school incentive
The goal of a new initiative in Burlington County’s only Catholic high school, Holy Cross Academy, Delran, is to make “Catholic education an affordable option for our elementary school families,” said Kathleen Jillions, HCA’s director of admissions and marketing.
Specifically, a new Partners in Faith Grant is being made available to all eighth-graders who are graduating from one of Holy Cross’ seven “Catholic primary partner schools” and intend to enter the school as a ninth-grader for the 2017-2018 school year. Eighth graders, who will who will graduate from St. Paul, Burlington; Pope John Paul II Regional, Willingboro; St. Charles Borromeo, Cinnaminson; St. Joan of Arc, Marlton; St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade, and Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown, will be considered for the grant valued at $2,000 per academic year, Jillions said. Each applicant has the potential to save a total of $8,000 during his/her four-year high school career.
Emphasizing the grant’s benefits, Jillions said that “going from a partner school to Holy Cross Academy is a natural progression,” acknowledging that it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to afford a Catholic education.
“It is obvious by the parents’ sacrifice that academics in a Catholic atmosphere is very important, so we needed to make sure the opportunity could be a reality at the high school level,” Jillions said. “We recognize our partner schools share this same foundation of education, so it is fitting that we have established an agreement offering all graduates of our Catholic partner schools an opportunity to receive a significant grant.”
Along with graduating from one of the partner schools and entering Holy Cross as a freshman, Jillions said applicants must submit an essay and meet admission standards. Grant recipients will be selected based on the subjective review of the criteria and their involvement within their Catholic communities.
Jillions said Partners in Faith Grant funding includes school officials working closely with the board of trustees and the alumni association. In addition, specific appeals to support the grant will also be made during the annual fund and the Principal Appeal.
While the grant is available to sending school eighth-grade graduates only, those students applying to Holy Cross who are not currently enrolled in one of the sending schools also have opportunities for other tuition assistance including the availability of numerous merit-based and named scholarships.
“Our elementary schools set the foundation for students, and here at Holy Cross Academy, it is our responsibility to continue to develop these young men and women for a successful future,” Jillions said.
From Catholic high school to Catholic college
As the only Catholic institution for higher education serving South and Central New Jersey and located within the four-county Diocese of Trenton, Georgian Court University, Lakewood, has a Catholic School Initiative Program in place for area Catholic high schools, one of which is the Partner for Guaranteed Admissions.
Under the agreement, the students will be guaranteed admission to GCU as full-time and matriculated on the conditions they graduate from high school with an earned diploma, meet Grade Point Average and Scholastic Aptitude/American College Testing requirements and satisfy all other admissions application requirements. Students will: have their undergraduate admission application fee waived; be eligible for academic and partnership scholarships worth up to at least $10,000 annually; be eligible for guaranteed admissions to Course Ahead, the GCU five-course college credit program offered to high school students; get personalized admissions advising from GCU and attend GCU college search and financial aid workshops to be held onsite on the respective high school campuses.
To date, two schools in the Diocese have entered the agreement with GCU – Holy Cross Academy, Delran, which signed on in June, and Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, which penned its agreement Oct. 5.
“We are college prep, and we’re looking at this as validation of the academics we offer here,” Dennis Guida, principal of Holy Cross Academy, said of the agreement.
“This partnership represents a way to say what we do here is automatically accepted at the college level, and that’s something that can be hard for high schools to say.”
At the TCA signing, Sister of St. Joseph Dorothy Payne, president, said, “Trenton Catholic Academy is thrilled to partner with Georgian Court University in the Diocese of Trenton. We are looking forward to offering these educational opportunities to show to our students as we enter into this agreement with GCU.
“We share a similar mission with GCU, which includes providing an education that will promote systemic change in our world,” said Sister Dorothy. “This agreement allows for a natural progression for many of our students, and we are proud to offer them this wonderful opportunity through Georgian Court University.”
The new partnership between Georgian Court University with high schools reflect the growing number of collaborations between colleges and other organizations. The agreements are an extension of GCU’s Catholic Schools Initiative, which launched in late 2015. Dr. Joseph R. Marbach was inaugurated as president of GCU in 2015.
“Catholic higher education delivers value to students and families in so many ways,” said Dr. Marbach. “From our commitment to Catholic intellectual tradition to our emphasis on academic quality, social justice and service, Catholic higher education – and specifically Georgian Court – is dedicated to helping students achieve in the classroom and later in their communities and their careers.
“Ensuring that our young people have the experiences and resources to succeed is critical,” he said.