New England

Effective in fall 2024, Thomas Aquinas College will enlarge the size of the freshman class on its New England campus by one-third — the first step in an expansion plan that will boost overall enrollment by more than 60 percent over the next four years.

“Ever since adding the New England campus five years ago, we have seen the number of applications continue to rise,” says President Paul J. O’Reilly. “The College has, therefore, decided to meet the increasing demand — to the extent prudently possible — by adding a fourth section to next year’s freshman class as well as to the classes that will follow.”

Every class of students at Thomas Aquinas College is divided into “sections,” groups of 16 to 19 students who take their weekday classes together. The first freshman class on the New England campus, which enrolled in 2019, included just two sections; in 2021, the number of freshman sections rose to three. In light of the College’s decision to expand next year’s freshman class, that number will now rise again, with four sections entering in 2024.

“When you consider that each of the next four, enlarged freshman classes will replace smaller classes that graduate the year before, the expansion is quite dramatic,” adds Dr. O’Reilly. “We expect a net gain of around 100 students by the time next year’s freshmen become seniors, bringing us up to about 280 students in New England — more than five times as many as we began with when we launched the campus in 2019 — with the ultimate goal of educating 800 students per year, coast to coast.”

Driving the growth in enrollment is a steady increase in the number of applications. Since 2019, TAC-New England has seen its applications more than double, with a 21 percent jump in the last year alone. 

“Even though we had long since reached maximum capacity in California, opening a second campus on the other side of the country required a leap of faith,” says Director of Admissions Jon Daly. “But we were hopeful that the Northeast would be ripe for our program of Catholic liberal education, and we have been thrilled by the results so far.”

In 2017, the College took ownership of the historic campus in Northfield, Massachusetts, which formerly belonged to a local preparatory school. Two years later, TAC-New England began its first academic year with a new freshman class and a group of sophomores transplanted from California. The student body has grown steadily ever since, and the campus held its first annual Commencement in 2021.

“To ensure that we hire only the best faculty, and that new members show a real understanding of our academic program, we have taken a deliberately slow approach to growth,” says Dr. O’Reilly. “But that hasn’t curbed applications.” 

Meanwhile, the California campus has benefitted from the additional exposure and reach provided by an East Coast counterpart. “At the same time that we have seen the number of applications double in New England, they have grown by a healthy 25 percent in California,” says Mr. Daly.

Contrary to what one might expect, students at Thomas Aquinas College, New England, do not hail exclusively, or even predominantly, from the Northeast. “Just as in California, we draw students from all over the U.S., as well as from abroad,” says Dr. O’Reilly. “There is a deep yearning, among both students and their families, for a rigorous, excellent, and faithfully Catholic education. We are grateful to God to play our part in answering that yearning.”