College of the Holy Cross attempts to reinvent freshman year

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The College of the Holy Cross, a small Jesuit college in Worcester, Mass., has reworked its program for freshmen in the hopes the students not only will adjust more quickly to college life but also will get a jump-start on what school administrators like to call “lifelong learning.” Everything about the program — from its name to where students live and how they might spend some after-school hours — is deliberate. Students take seminar courses, live in dorms with those taking similar classes and are encouraged to attend gatherings after hours with their classmates and professors. The program’s name alone, Montserrat, indicates a new path. It is named for the Spanish mountain where St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, put down his soldier’s sword and helmet and took up the pilgrim’s staff to start his spiritual journey. The Montserrat program isn’t entirely a new idea for the school; it models, and significantly expands, an optional freshman program the college sponsored for the past 16 years.

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