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Undergrad Profile

Experience the Dominican Difference and Say “I Can.
It will change the way you see the world. We guarantee it.

Here at what has been called Michigan’s “most beautiful small college,” students from across the United States and around the world are searching for truth—in and out of the classroom.  

You see, Aquinas is a Catholic college in the Dominican tradition, and “finding truth” is central to our mission. Like our namesake, Thomas Aquinas, we combine reason, faith, and experience to find answers to life’s questions. Today our community of 2,100 is known as a “college with a conscience.” We seek justice, live with passion, and act with the courage of our convictions.

No wonder Aquinas is one of the best colleges in the Midwest, according to U.S.News & World Report. We’re also one of the best at asking questions. During freshman year, all Aquinas students take a course called Inquiry and Expression. On this 16-week journey, they confront the great—and most difficult—questions of our times. “We want them to think for themselves and realize that not all answers are found on the surface,” explains Aquinas Vice President Paula Meehan.]

This degree of intellectual rigor—truth seeking, by another name—crosses all academic disciplines at Aquinas, whether you’re looking for certification in education or a degree in sustinainable business. With over 60 majors, students learn to think across disciplines, across boundaries, and even across continents.

A college with a conscience
At Aquinas you won’t spend all of your time in class or the library. We want you to venture out, beyond campus and even abroad, to pursue truth and make all the difference in the world to countless lives. 

You can. And chances are, you will, whether you’re Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, or any other faith. (Over 40% of our student body come from religious traditions other than Catholicism and represent all races, backgrounds, and religions.) Our commitment to diversity is evident throughout our curriculum, cocurricular programming, and myriad multicultural events.

Campus-wide we continue a century-old tradition of service. Hundreds participate in our annual service day in Grand Rapids. Other students volunteer in low-income health clinics, work with homeless youth in New York City, and repair homes for the needy in Kentucky. In recent years students have served the poor in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, where they volunteer at an orphanage. “One reason students are drawn to Aquinas is because here they can use their God-given talents to make a real difference in the world,” says Eric Bridge, Coordinator of Service Learning.

They can also make a real difference in their own futures. Innovative academic programs put Aquinas and its graduates on the map. Our community leadership program, a unique interdisciplinary major, puts students in boardrooms, on planning commissions, and in political campaigns. We were the first college in the nation to develop an undergraduate degree in sustainable business, where students learn to balance economic growth and environmental responsibility. Our sport management program provides internships with such pro athletic teams as the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Detroit Red Wings.

In their studies, students are led by the talented Aquinas faculty. This group of dedicated teachers brings a wealth of experience to the classroom—and Ph.D.s from places like Emory, Syracuse, Georgetown, and Duke. A low student-faculty ratio of 13:1 means our students are accustomed to an active learning environment.

Beyond the life of the mind
Thomas Aquinas’s theological writings emphasized intellectual rigor and balance. Our students certainly need balance to juggle life around here. Trust us: at Aquinas, life of the mind is only the beginning. After class students savor good music and espresso in the Moose Café, our campus coffeehouse. Late at night they write editorials for The Saint. On weekends they congregate in cafés and bookstores in Eastown, a thriving neighborhood village just a few blocks from campus. They act in theater productions for the AQ Players (performing in our $7 million Performing Arts Center) and broadcast their own talk shows on AQ Sound, our student-run webcasting service. The really brave ones take the stage for the annual AQ Idol talent show. In all there are more than 60 student-led groups on campus (and more are organizing all the time).

When they’re not playing intramurals, Aquinas students support our men’s and women’s sports teams, the Aquinas Saints. With 23 intercollegiate sports teams, from basketball and golf to soccer and track, our fields are active every season of the year. We’ve earned countless NAIA Region VIII titles and have cheered on over 300 Academic All-Americans. The Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center and the Alksnis Athletics and Recreation Building provide state-of-the-art venues for working out either individually or in group classes like Zumba and Pilates, and are home to the Aquinas Saints athletic teams.

Whether in the classroom or on the athletic fields, our Catholic and Dominican tradition inspires. It also allows for options. Through the Dominican College Interchange program, students opt for a change of scenery—and a semester or year at Dominican colleges in California, New York, or Florida. Through a study abroad program, our students travel to Costa Rica, France, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.

Locally (and around the country), students enjoy hundreds of internship opportunities in Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city and home to ArtPrize, Laughfest, and the Medical Mile. Seven out of 10 Aquinas applicants recommended by our Pre-med Advisory Committee are admitted to medical school. Over 95% of our graduates report finding jobs or entering grad school within six months of graduation. Plus, among Michigan colleges, our education program is among the top five. No wonder Aquinas is a Top 50 Catholic College in the 2015 College Choice Rankings of Best Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Let the spirit move you
If you’ve read this far, you already know that Aquinas students aren’t passive bystanders. They don’t wait for opportunity to knock but seize the opportunity to change lives, including their own (#icanAQ).

They are proof, of course, that for people with passion, no dreams are impossible. Just open your mind—and say “I Can.”