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Catholic College Search Just Got Easier With “Recruit Me” Program



Marge Fenelon - published on 11/04/14

Cardinal Newman Society comes up with novel turnaround in the dreaded college search process
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Catholic high school students are enjoying a whole new college search process with “Recruit Me,” a program from The Cardinal Newman Society that has Catholic colleges competing with each other to recruit good students.

The innovative program allows high school students to register online to get recruited by up to 27 colleges, universities and higher education programs recommended in the 2015 edition of "The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College" for their strong Catholic identity.

The program is the answer to an often-heard request, according to Patrick J. Reilly, president and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society:

We hear often from families who yearn for faithful Catholic colleges but aren’t aware of the wide variety of options, prior to reading our Newman Guide. Tom Mead, our executive vice president, noted that the Newman Guide colleges are equally excited about recruiting good Catholic students. So why not help Catholic families and colleges find each other? 

The mechanics of Recruit Me are rather simple, and the colleges were eager to participate. It was just a matter of connecting The Cardinal Newman Society’s large network of families with the colleges, and now we’re reaching out further, Reilly explained.

According to the Newman Society, parents and students who have enrolled in the program are thrilled with the response they are receiving.

“Brilliant idea! Son number 2 … signed up and received four contacts the next day,” emailed one Catholic father from Pennsylvania.

A mom whose daughter attends a Catholic high school in Virginia said she “has heard from many Catholic colleges already. A wonderful resource! She is now considering engineering as a major, so we will see how God’s plans for her unfold.”

While the society doesn’t yet have concrete numbers of Recruit Me participants, they’re already considering it a successful endeavor based on feedback from colleges. Reilly explained, "I don’t have precise numbers, but some of the colleges tell us that they have had to work overtime to respond to the large numbers of students who have enrolled in Recruit Me, so I’d call that a success!"

Typically, a college-bound student relies on parents, teachers and advisors, as well as standard guides and rankings to identify colleges that appear to be a good fit. The student then requests information from those colleges. If the student makes a bad or uninformed choice, often the mistake is not discovered until well into the freshman year of studies.

Recruit Me flips around the typical college search process, with faithful Catholic institutions sending materials to prospective students, offering to answer questions and competing for their interest. For the student, the process is simple: just complete a short form at, and colleges quickly go to work to convince the student why their program is the best fit for the student’s goals and abilities. Many offer merit scholarships and financial aid packages to students in need.

“Recruit Me is just another way that The Newman Guide makes it easy for Catholic parents and students to explore a wide variety of options for faithful Catholic education, finding the institution that best suits their needs,” said managing editor Adam Wilson. The guide provides in-depth profiles of the recommended institutions, and its companion full-color magazine, "My Future, My Faith," helps students navigate the transition from high school to college with advice on important topics such as how to know which college is right for you, tips for getting accepted, writing the best application essay, keeping your faith in college and even rules for campus dating.

This innovative way of matching students and colleges is already a benefit in the Catholic arena, but it’s possible that it will change the landscape of college recruiting in the secular arena as well. According to Reilly, the closest comparison is the way prestigious colleges try to attract students who score well on the PSAT, SAT or ACT. However, that recruiting doesn’t consider the student’s needs or interests
– it only reflects the college’s desire to have good candidates for merit scholarships. Recruit Me connects students and colleges that share the deepest convictions and an awareness of truth, vocation and life itself. Reilly expanded on this point:

At a faithfully Catholic college, recruiting students who want to be “star Catholics”
– men and women of deep faith who evangelize the workplace and the culture – is even more valuable than recruiting star athletes and brilliant over-achievers. The reason Recuit Me works so well is that these colleges have such a well-defined mission and market. I’m not sure that the standard "McUniversity" isn’t going to prefer a broad marketing campaign to bring in thousands of paying bodies, but even so, I could see more institutions competing to recruit students who represent their values.

Both the guide and magazine are available at at no cost, as a service to Catholic families. Print copies can also be purchased.

Although The Cardinal Newman Society has published "The Newman Guide" since 2007, Recruit Me is new this year. Not only is it helpful to Catholic families, but faithful Catholic colleges are thrilled with the opportunity to introduce their programs to many more prospective students.

The program “has put Franciscan University in touch with hundreds of students who know what faithful Catholic education is all about,” said Margaret Weber, admissions director at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

And Owen Sweeney, admissions director at Wyoming Catholic College, also said that the College has received “hundreds of messages from students who want a faithful Catholic college experience,” thanks to the Recruit Me program.

The program is especially valuable to a college like Wyoming Catholic, the nation’s newest Catholic college founded in 2005, or Nashville’s Aquinas College, which is expanding its on-campus housing options to welcome more students from around the country.

“Recruit Me has demonstrated that there are many students out there interested in the kind of faithful, top-notch education that Aquinas College has to offer,” said admissions director Connie Hansom. “We look forward to getting in touch with even more students in the weeks ahead.”

Currently, Recruit Me is funded by Cardinal Newman Society members, who see it as their mission to promote and defend Catholic education at all levels, beginning in kindergarten and through higher education. With Recruit Me’s initial success, it’s hoped that a sponsor will be found in order to meet the increasing interest in the program.

Marge Fenelon 
is a Catholic author, columnist, and speaker and a regular guest on Catholic radio. She’s written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life, including Strengthening Your Family: a Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home
(Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) and Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom
(Ave Maria Press, 2013). Find out more about Marge at

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