Academic Coaching and Assessment (ACA) is an in-depth academic advising program designed to help students understand and achieve their academic and personal goals while at CUA.
The ACA program fosters a personal relationship between students and our staff, so that we can provide support and assistance tailored for each individual student. In particular, we help students diagnose what might be impairing their success and set in place mechanisms to correct these issues. We also serve as an accountability partner to ensure students continue to make progress towards their goals over the long haul.
Why Go To College?
"Everyone's doing it" or "just because" are rarely good reasons to do something Indeed, there are many wrong reasons to go to college. Here are a few good reasons:
- to figure out who you are and what your place in the world is
- to become who you are in the process of looking to grow in your faith
- to become less parochial in your thinking
- to free yourself from the tyranny of unexamined opinions
- to become a more thoughtful, serious person. These are some of the goals of a liberal arts education.
What's a Liberal Arts Education?
A vocational education trains you to do a specialized job; a liberal arts education teaches you how to live well.
Everyone wants to be happy; the problem is, we’re not really sure what happiness is or where we should go looking for it. We can't possibly know what happiness is until we start asking about ourselves and our place in the world. At bottom, a liberal arts education opens us up to fundamental questions and demands that we explore possible answers. Of course the questioning doesn’t stop when you graduate from college, but what you discover here about God, the world, and yourself will guide you as you make the decisions that will shape the course of the rest of your life.
A liberal arts education, then, is much more than “book learning.” Sure, you’ll read many wise books. You’ll also puzzle out with your classmates answers to the most important questions, learning together to see the world as it truly is. But every exam you take, essay you write, and book you read is really aimed at living an examined and upright—ultimately a happy—life.
Along the way, you’ll experience—first hand and through conversation and reading—things truly worth thinking about, things in the world and in yourself that you didn’t even know existed. You’ll develop rigor in your thinking and learn how to learn. You’ll be able to judge the world and yourself more truly and more justly. And a liberal education frees you. Because you'll be able to think for yourself, you will not be a slave to the opinions of others or limited to the current fashions in thought.
Sounds pretty good, right?
The Catholic Intellectual Tradition
We're all inheritors of a rich intellectual tradition shaped in fateful ways by the wisdom of the ancients and deepened in the most wonderful ways by the Catholic Church. Since its founding, The Catholic University of America has played an important role in preserving and advancing our common intellectual heritage.
The Catholic University of America is rare in its commitment to continuing the dialogue between faith and reason. Since we know the world and God through both faith and reason, we would miss--and misunderstand--many things if we relied on reason alone. Faith gives to reason a measure and a meaning it otherwise lacks and lifts man above himself, bringing him closer to seeing the world--and the world of human knowledge--as God Himself sees it. In turn, faith is supported and strengthened by reason. Together we're engaged in furthering the Church's crucial work, helping faith seek understanding.
It is fitting, then, that your education be grounded by multiple courses in both philosophy and theology. The perspective you develop in these courses will prepare you to continue the rest of your studies at CUA in the light of both faith and reason.
More on the place of reason and faith in a university education:
Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II on Catholic universities.
Sapientia Christiana, Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II on ecclesiastical universities and faculties.
Address of Pope Benedict XVI to U.S. Catholic educators, a speech delivered by at the Catholic University of America during the his visit.
First Year Courses & Learning Communities
All first-year students take core classes as a member of a learning community. In these small, supportive communities, you will search out the truth and learn about yourself.
The first-year curriculum is built around foundational courses in philosophy, theology, and writing. These courses have a double focus. You'll learn to read carefully, to write persuasively, and to think rigorously. You'll also ask and begin answering the big questions about God, the world, and yourself.
"And the treasures of the wise men of old which they left behind by writing them in books, I unfold and go through them together with my friends, and if we see something good, we pick it out and regard it as a great gain if we thus become useful to one another." Socrates, in Xenophon's Recollections
These general studies will provide the proper perspective and orientation for study within your major and the habits of mind you'll need to succeed in anything you choose to do.
Beyond the Classroom
Learning doesn't stop the minute you walk out of the classroom.
CUA students live their education. They go abroad to learn languages and experience other cultures. They take up jobs and internships to get practical experience applying what they know. They take part in the many opportunities to grow in their faith and learn through serving others organized by Campus Ministry. They soak in the rich cultural offerings on-campus-- theatre, concerts, exhibits, lectures--and participate in many student organizations and leadership programs. And they take advantage of all that an intellectually vibrant capital city offers.
Learning communities naturally extend beyond the classroom. Each semester, philosophy, theology, and English instructors take students into DC. They also arrange learning community dinners to bring everyone together outside of the classroom to converse and enjoy one another's company in an informal setting.
Conversations that start in the classroom inevitably spill over. Imagine passionately debating the nature of God all night with your roommate, discussing the questions of justice over dinner, or writing witty sketches with your closest friends. Indeed, some of the most important learning happens in talking, studying and living with each other.
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