Once students graduate from the Catholic College of St. Joseph the Worker, they will have earned a bachelor's degree in Catholic studies while becoming carpenters, electricians, masons, or heating, ventilating, and air conditioning technicians.
"We're forming these students so that the head, the heart, and the hands are all combined and working together," said Mike Sullivan, the college's first president.
In an effort to unburden students from debt, the cost of tuition for the three-year, in-person program in Steubenville is $15,000 a year, including housing. Students are paid a salary when they train, so they can graduate with the financial freedom to start their families and be productive members of their faith communities.
"A fundamental aspect of our mission is to empower students to grow up quickly and not perpetuate adolescence throughout college," Sullivan added. "We want them to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and for their lives so that when they're finished with their degree, they can get married and get started with a family and be productive members of society."
Keeping tuition low and affordable was a key part of the vision of the college in an era in which the average student loan borrower holds over $32,000 in student loan debt and U.S. borrowers hold a collective $1.7 trillion in student loans.
"It is profoundly hypocritical for a college Catholic college to promote family life and tell students the family is the basis of culture, that it is the path to restoration, and then set them on a financial path that tends them away from that beautiful truth that they teach," Jacob Fareed Imam, the college's vice president of finance, told the Washington Examiner.
The college was founded by a group of Catholic men led by Imam, an Oxford University doctoral candidate; Sullivan, a local entrepreneur and contractor; and Alex Renn, the college's vice president of operations. They say their goal is to "produce faithful Christians who are virtuous citizens, intellectually formed, and capable of building up the church in their communities."