Asian female in Catholic school uniform holding hands in prayer, looking at sky

5 Questions to Ask During Your Catholic College Search

As a Catholic student, you're likely figuring out how much you want your faith to factor into your college search. Here are five questions to guide you!

The college search is an enlightening experience because it requires students to ask themselves tough questions about their goals for the future and what they truly want out of a college—which means knowing themselves enough to know what they need. As a Catholic student (or student of any religion), you must take into account the bigger factor of your faith and how it will play into your college search. To help you as you search for your best-fit Catholic college, here are five questions to ask your prospective schools so you can have the best college experience while continuing to grow in your faith over those four formative years.

1. How prominent is faith on campus?

Catholic colleges typically have a larger focus on faith than non-religious institutions, but the interaction with religion and the commitment to it still varies from school to school. Many students choose Catholic colleges to live their faith and be ingrained in it every day on campus, while others want to be connected, just not every hour of every day. Being able to set your own boundaries by choosing how and when to practice your faith could be important to your emotional and academic balance—or maybe you want a school where Mass and chapel attendance is mandatory because it shows the school’s commitment to faith and holds you accountable to yours. In addition to asking how prominent faith is on campus, ask yourself: “Am I able to choose my level of involvement in my faith on campus, and how important is it to me that I am able to do this?”

Related: How to Live and Grow in Your Faith on a College Campus

2. Is it possible to participate in service and other ways to nurture your faith?

Most colleges and universities offer study abroad, but many Catholic schools offer the added benefit of spreading the Word of God while you study. If you’re interested in going on mission trips in college, ask what options exist through the school. Also ask about local service opportunities: How is the college helping the local community? Education experts often express how important hands-on learning is to your educational journey—and hands-on service learning is especially crucial when your faith is entwined with that journey. So in addition to asking if these opportunities are available, ask yourself: “What am I looking to gain from service learning experiences, and if what I need isn’t readily available, are there avenues for me to make these opportunities for myself with the school’s support?”

3. What’s the campus community like?

Many students at Catholic colleges say a big reason why they love their school is the tight bond they feel in the campus community. Some schools may have students who still participate, talk about, and act on your shared faith in their social groups, and that may be the comprehensive faith-based living you need. Other schools may have students whose social circles are removed enough to offer a healthy balance to the faith in your life. Your faith can be as all-encompassing, balanced, or reserved for your personal practice as you would like it to be as long as you’re attending a school that provides you the space to be who you want to be. In addition to asking what the community is like, ask yourself: “How did I feel when I visited campus? Will I feel like I’m really a part of the college’s family if I attend?”

Related: 5 Common Myths About Catholic College Life, Busted!

4. How large is the student body?

Because so many people at Catholic schools talk about that familial feel, many students think those campuses are small—but what’s great about Catholic colleges and universities is that they come in all shapes and sizes. You can find that tight-knit community on a campus of 2,500 students or 15,000, and you’ll find Catholic colleges of those sizes and everything in between. College is about broadening your mind, and that can be through opportunities to interact with many different types of students or through deeper, long-lasting connections within a smaller community.  In addition to asking how large the student body is, ask yourself: “Do I want a large campus with a lot of sub-communities or a campus small enough where I could have the opportunity to really get to know everyone?”

5. What other religions are represented in the student body?

Having people who share your faith is helpful to making connections and lasting relationships with like-minded people at college—but don’t let that be the only student statistic you look into. As previously mentioned, college is a place to broaden your mind and perspectives, so be sure to inquire about the other faiths that are represented on campus at your colleges of interest as well. Learning from other cultures and religions can help you form a deeper connection to your own through cultural understanding and acceptance. While it’s important to have other Catholic students to share your faith with, also ask yourself: “What can I learn from other faiths while in college, and does this school offer opportunities for me to do so?”

Related: How College Changed My Outlook on Religion

Your faith means a lot to you, and it should also mean a lot in your college search if you want it to. Use these five questions—and the additional questions to ask yourself—to guide your search process, and you’ll be sure to find the best-fit Catholic or non-denominational school that allows you to practice your faith your way and get a great education.

For more advice on nurturing your faith on a college campus, check out our Catholic Colleges and Universities section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About CollegeXpress


Welcome to CollegeXpress, your one-stop college shop! We’re a free college planning website used by millions of college-bound students, parents, and counselors—anyone who needs help navigating the college search and application process, financial aid opportunities, and more. You’ll find comprehensive College Search and Scholarship Search tools, tons of articles and expert advice, unique college Lists & Rankings, and lots of other resources to help make your life easier. Teen Vogue even named us one of the 7 Best College Search Websites! But current college students and recent grads also love CollegeXpress for our Graduate Program Search and endless information on student life, internships, and beyond. We really have something for everyone, no matter where you are in your college journey. Create a free account to start connecting with colleges, winning scholarships, and more!


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress is a multi-maneuver platform that has been helping students in their college applications and scholarship hunt process. For me, CollegeXpress has been a boon. I've been able to find my dream university via CX, and I've also been able to apply to thousands of scholarships through it. All the thanks to CollegeXpress for doing such a great job for free. I express my sincere gratitude to you for doing such a wonderful job. I recommend CollegeXpress without any reservations.

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris

College Student

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services. I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!



High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Victoria Fuss

Victoria Fuss

March Madness Scholarship Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me dramatically. Moving on to the next level has been a dream of my mine since I was just a young kid, and the support and help CollegeXpress has given me will help me further my education. I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone at CollegeXpress!

Maurice Whan

Maurice Whan

$2,000 Spring Scholarship Contest Winner, 2021

This year has been tough for my family and myself, so receiving this scholarship has been a blessing in disguise! CollegeXpress has been an excellent resource in helping me prepare financially for college. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Villanova University

Villanova, PA

Carlow University

Pittsburgh, PA

University of Portland

Portland, OR

College of Saint Benedict

Collegeville, MN