The two campuses of Thomas Aquinas College give form to the notion of being “in the world, but not of it.” Close enough that students can avail themselves of the attractions of Los Angeles and Boston, but far enough removed that they will not become distracted by them, these are places of respite, not isolation.
In both California and New England, the campuses are in keeping with the mission of the College’s academic program, which aims not to shield students from the world, but to prepare them for it. Students learn to partake of its goodness more fully, to appreciate its beauty more deeply, and to defend more effectively the truth that sustains it.
Situated in a verdant meadow in the foothills of the Topatopa Mountains, the College’s California campus is designed with beauty and serenity in mind. Among centuries-old oak trees and Mission-style buildings, there are quiet alcoves, breezy arcades, prayer gardens, and fountains. It is an ideal place for study, prayer, reading, and contemplation.
And just beyond the campus’ boundaries are myriad opportunities for excursions, both natural and cultural.
Bordering the campus is the Los Padres National Forest, with its hiking trails, natural swimming ponds, and glorious views that extend out to the Pacific Ocean. Here students come on afternoons and weekends for backpacking, bushwhacking, camping, and rock-climbing. A short, 25 minutes’ drive away are the beaches of Ventura County with their tidal pools, volleyball courts, and paths for running and bicycling. There are spots for fishing, parks for relaxing, waves for surfing, and long stretches of sand where students visit to picnic, socialize, or study.
Thanks to the blessings of the Southern California climate, one can enjoy these marvels of God’s creation all year long, with little more than a sweater for protection.
The California campus is located roughly halfway between the cities of Ojai and Santa Paula, which offer numerous cafes, shops, and bistros. Even more such venues are available in Ventura, just 15 miles away. Within about an hour’s drive are the larger cities of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, with a full array of cultural attractions such as museums, operas, concerts, and theaters.
Nestled in the Connecticut River Valley just 90 miles west of Boston, the New England campus offers students a classic collegiate setting. The expansive campus, first established as a seminary for young women in 1879, boasts four magnificent seasons, red-brick colonial buildings, and a location rich in American history.
In the fall and in the spring, one can hike in the nearby woods, kayak and canoe on the Connecticut River, or swim either of the campus ponds. In the winter, these ponds make excellent rinks for hockey and ice-skating, just as the athletic field becomes an ideal spot for cross-country skiing, and any number of hillsides can instantly be transformed into sledding or toboggan runs. Those who prefer to keep their exercise indoors during the colder months — or any other time — can find their way to Meany Gymnasium, with its basketball courts, weight and exercise rooms, heated swimming pool, and dance studio.
Students at the New England campus enjoy close proximity to Mt. Monadnock, a beautiful hiking area famously featured in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. They are also about a 90 minutes’ drive from various ski resorts, such as Butternut Mountain, Nashoba Valley, and Jiminy Peak.
Coffee, pizza, and ice cream can all be found in the charming town of Northfield, and more extensive shopping and dining options are available in neighboring cities. For outings, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center is within driving distance, as is the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge. Then there is historic Boston, with its Freedom Trail, museums, theaters, and musical halls — all less than two hours away.