Aquinas College, an inclusive and small college, rooted in the Catholic faith, is committed to educating and preparing each student for a successful future.
Aquinas College has created an engaging community with its 1,200 undergraduate students. Overall, seventy-three percent of classes have fewer than twenty students. An advantage of a smaller school is the staff-student relationship, with Aquinas’ 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, this bond is easy to achieve.
Many students study business, management, marketing, education, and psychology. However, with over a hundred majors and minors, Aquinas helps students find a field they’ll thrive in.
Aquinas’ Campus Ministry collaborates with the institution to strengthen engagement in classes, student programs, and other religious opportunities. Through prayer, study, and community service, the school’s Catholic faith is grounded and strengthened in campus life.
Living on campus is convenient for being close to classes and building deep meaningful relationships within the community. Over fifty percent of students actually live on campus. Aquinas College’s campus hosts public events for theater, music, and visual arts showings.
Besides the college’s strong art programs, Aquinas has over sixty sports teams and is part of the NAIA association.
High School students can not only receive athletic scholarships, but based on their cumulative GPA they might have a chance at achieving a merit scholarship. Aquinas offers further, “stackable scholarships on top of the merit scholarship,” says Mrs. Ulbrich. In 2022, twenty-two million dollars were awarded to students through financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
All students receive financial aid for tuition costs each year. Aquinas’ mission is to work with their students so they take on less debt in their four years at the college.
The 2023-2024 school year tuition cost was $37,720, but the average annual cost after aid was $18,000. The average tuition at Aquinas College is about $5,000 below the national average cost of another school, making the price cheaper and more affordable.
Aquinas College is located within a comfortable suburban community in east Grand Rapids, only two miles from downtown. The area features lakeside views, world-class attractions, and an energetic culture. Remarkable museums, parks, sporting events, and concert venues complement the beautiful city and school.
Mrs. Stone, one of Hackett’s science teachers, studied at Aquinas College for 4 years and earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biology. Students who want to read further about Aquinas can refer to an interview with Mrs. Stone.
For having a smaller student-to-faculty ratio, were there any benefits compared to being at bigger schools with 500 student lectures?
"Yes! I loved the atmosphere of a small school. Most of the students knew each other. The coolest thing I noticed at first was that everyone said HI to each other as we would pass on the sidewalks, even if it was someone you didn't know. You won't find that at a big school. There was one big lecture hall that I had a couple of classes in, which gave me a brief idea of what a bigger school would be like, but most of my classes were about the same size as what we have here at Hackett. One of my Biology professors came to our dorm one night, when we were studying for finals, to answer our questions. This same professor had us present our senior capstones informally in his living room rather than on a stage. He was really cool. A lot of the professors were great.”
What was Aquinas' student life like?
“We had a lot of fun! After being there for only a few days, our dorm Resident Advisors took a couple of the school vans and we went out to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset. We used to have the Aquinas Bowl Parties, one in the fall and one in the spring. There is a bowl-shaped area behind Regina Hall. They would have local bands play at the bottom of the hill and we would sit on the hill (kind of like sitting on the lawn at Pine Knob). We would have movie nights, either outside behind Wege Hall, if the weather was nice, or in one of the dorm lounges. We were like one big family.”
What clubs, groups, or programs were you a part of?
“I played some intramural sports...flag football and volleyball. A group of us were part of a little bowling league for a while. Mostly, my friends and I liked to take long walks and go for bike rides over the Reeds Lake and Gaslight Village. I remember going to see a lot of movies at nearby theaters. I think there are a lot more things to get involved in at Aquinas now than when I was there.”
Were you involved in any religious activities? How did you focus on strengthening your faith in college?
“I wasn't a part of any religious activities besides weekly Mass. Most of my roommates were Catholic and we were pretty good about going to Mass together. If we didn't make it to Mass on campus, there was St. Thomas the Apostle Church right next to the campus that we went to regularly. By the time I was a senior, my housemates and I found the latest Mass possible on Sunday night and became regulars at that...9:00 pm Mass at St. Peter and Paul. There is a beautiful chapel on campus now. We also had a wonderful group of priests and nuns who hung out with us and helped us live and enjoy our faith. A lot of the friends I had were Catholic but many were not. One of my first suite mates was not Catholic, but ended up getting confirmed our senior year. It was special to take that journey with her.”
Did you live on campus?
“I lived on campus for 2 years. I was in St. Joe's dorm freshman year, and Regina Hall sophomore year. Those were the only 2 dorms back then. Now, there are many more options to live on campus. I and 3 friends lived in a house on Milton St. my junior year and we picked up a 5th person and lived in a bigger house on Benjamin St. my senior year. Back then, most freshmen and sophomores lived on campus, and most juniors and seniors lived off campus.”
Did you participate in any sports or go to any games? If so, what was the community like?
“I was not in any sports but I had many friends on teams. One of my first suite mates was on the volleyball team so we went to a lot of matches to support her. I had friends on both the men's and women's basketball teams. I went to A LOT of basketball games. They were my favorite. Our big rivals were Hope and Calvin. We didn't have a football team. I wished we had.”
Is there anything you miss about the school or the area?
“It's a beautiful campus. I have been back a few times for events and it's fun to walk around. There is a lot to do in Grand Rapids, but it's gotten a little too big for me. It's nice to go to visit but I have no desire to live there. I miss the cheddar dogs from Yesterdog in Eastown.”
Looking back, what was the transition from high school to college like? Was it challenging?
“I remember being a little nervous on the first day. Luckily, I had a wonderful roommate. We became great friends, were in each other's weddings, and I am Godmother to one of her kids. As we were moving in, a bunch of sophomore boys from the other dorm helped and invited us over to their dorm for a little "meet and greet" that night, so I met a lot of people the first day. It was nice that I had already met a group of people at orientation earlier that summer and was able to reconnect with them. Both my roommate and I were a little homesick the first semester, but after that, we hardly went home. It was funny that I found joy in the small things like...not having to wear a uniform anymore...not having to go to every class every day...having time during the day to do homework...more choices in the cafeteria! You have a lot more homework to do, but you also have more time for it. It really teaches you how to manage your time.”
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to inform students who are interested in Aquinas about?
“If you want a small college, but in a city that's big enough with plenty to do, consider Aquinas. The campus is beautiful, and hopefully it still has that family atmosphere. It is nice to be around others who share your faith.”