Student Life at St. Thomas
Students at St. Thomas enjoy a vibrant co-curricular experience. Opportunities abound for student involvement and engagement in state-of-the-art facilities. Through interaction at programs and events and in participation in clubs and teams, students form meaningful relationships that help create a deep sense of community.
During the summer months prior to fall enrollment, the first-year class and transfer students participate in a one-day student orientation and registration program. Through this program, which is a collaborative effort between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, students and their families become familiar with the campus and are introduced to life at St. Thomas. Ninety-seven percent of the first-year class and 90 percent of transfer students participate.
Fall semester begins over the Labor Day weekend when the residence halls open for student housing, with 92 percent of the first-year class choosing to live on campus in one of seven residence halls. More than 2,500 students live on campus in both residence halls and apartment complexes that typically house upper-class students. Student Affairs offers special interest housing that groups students with similar interests, including Catholic men’s, Catholic women’s, weekend programming, first-year experience and wellness floors. Student leaders in each hall plan a variety of programs and activities throughout the academic year.
Students participate in many clubs and activities. Their choices include 140 student clubs and organizations, eight club sports, and dozens of movies, dances, concerts and lectures sponsored by the campus programming board (STAR). Students also can join student media groups such as tommiemedia.com or the Aquinas digital yearbook. Last year, 2,818 students reported membership in a club or organization.
Students also enhance their St. Thomas pride through spirit initiatives such as being a Tommie Fanamaniac or a member of the dance or cheer team or the pep band. Student Affairs offers workshops and retreats for students to develop their leadership skills. The Fall Leadership Institute, Talking Circles retreat for first- and second-year students and Spring Leadership night collectively draw 500 students to learn more about morally responsible leadership.
Volunteer programs offer students the opportunity to truly live the mission by advancing the common good. Campus Ministry sponsors VISION (Volunteers In Service Internationally Or Nationally), and last year 200 students participated in the VISION service opportunities over January Term and spring break. Campus Ministry also sponsors Volunteers in Action, a student-led organization that coordinates volunteer experiences for students at organizations in the metro area.
The St. Thomas Department of Music offers many instrumental and choral ensembles. It is proud of its award-winning groups, many of which have appeared at state, regional, national and international music conferences. St. Thomas ensembles perform in a variety of venues and have commissioned more than 75 works by nationally recognized composers. Instrumental and choral ensembles perform with guest artists from around the country and abroad and regularly appear on commercial recording labels. In recent years the choral program’s Christmas concerts have been broadcast nationwide on public television.
St. Thomas fosters a balance between academics and athletics. More than one-third of undergraduate students participate in intercollegiate varsity, club or intramural sports. Students compete in 22 varsity sports through the university’s membership in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III. Varsity sports for men and women at St. Thomas offer a winning combination: conference, regional and national excellence on the playing field and outstanding academic achievement on campus. Every student has the opportunity to actively participate in sports through intramural experiences, including touch football, tennis, wiffleball, racquetball, basketball and many more.
While a large percentage of graduate students at St. Thomas are enrolled part-time while balancing work and family life outside the classroom, some choose to participate in extracurricular activities.
Activities that frequently attract graduate students include visiting guest speaker programs and professional development workshops. Additionally, with emphasis placed on “who you know,” St. Thomas has seen an increase in interest and attendance at networking events. Graduate students also have found opportunities to engage in activities relating to leadership, service, athletics and social justice fields.
Students engaging in activities outside the classroom are frequently full-time MBA students in the Opus College of Business or students in the School of Law. Their participation assists in the creation of a network that will extend beyond the classroom walls as they move into their professional careers. Among these are the Great Books Seminar elective, modeled on the Aspen Institute Executive Seminar, that has been offered to more than 60 students per year for the past 20 years at the university’s Gainey Conference Center. Another Opus College of Business elective, The Reflective Manager, explores the spiritual dimensions of management decisionmaking.
Students receive the resources and support they need while on campus. Counseling and Psychological Services and Student Health Services are available on the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses for graduate and undergraduate students. Student Diversity and Inclusion Services provides a comprehensive system of advocacy and support for students with a focus on students of color and immigrants. International Student Services works with international students and scholars representing 62 countries.
Campus Ministry supports students in their spiritual journeys, offering faith-sharing groups, faith formation, prayer and worship opportunities, peer ministry, service and social justice opportunities.
Employment opportunities help students to gain valuable skills, network with faculty and staff and, of course, earn money; last year, 2,200 graduate and undergraduate students held on-campus jobs. All students (and alumni) who are pursuing career and vocation goals are encouraged to use the Career Development Center, which offers expertise in individual sessions, classes and workshops to help in the search for jobs or internships or for career coaching.