A Catholic school is a school that is operated by the Catholic church and aims to provide, in addition to a conventional education, a thorough education in religion and theology. Catholic schools also strongly encourage, if not enforce, participation in the sacramental aspects of the church. These schools are quite common and can be found all across the world. There are Catholic schools for all levels of education, from preschool through college. In general, Catholic schools tend to be quite expensive as they are not funded by the government.
While a Catholic school will tend to have a strong religious focus, this focus usually does not come at the expense of other aspects of schooling. Most Catholic schools are highly selective of their teaching staff and enforce a rigorous curriculum. Athletics and other extracurricular activities are also integral parts of almost any Catholic school, just as in secular schools. Many Catholic schools place an added emphasis on discipline with the aim of improving the character of their students. Often, students are required to wear uniforms or, at the very least, to conform to a strict dress code.
The treatment of non-Catholics can be a point of contention at a Catholic school. There are very few Catholic schools that do not allow non-Catholics to attend, as most Catholic administrators are eager to spread the faith. Generally speaking, though, the rules of the Catholic school will specify that all students, non-Catholics included, must attend religion classes and must participate in the other religious exercises practiced at the school. Usually, this involves attending mass and some other religious ceremonies.
Mandatory religion classes usually make up the bulk of the religious education of a Catholic school. Such classes cover topics such as Christian morality, Bible studies, and ethics. Sometimes, the curriculum is decided by the diocese, or administrative area, that the school belongs to. Other times, the school or the specific religion teachers decide what to teach. The classes aim not only to educate students in the doctrine of the church, but also to guide them in living the lives of good Catholics.
The main complaint that most people have about Catholic schools is the price. The high cost of attendance bars many potential students from attending. Sometimes, the school will be able to offer a considerable amount of financial aid, but this is not always the case. When such aid is not available, Catholic schools can become somewhat exclusive, catering only to those with a certain degree of socioeconomic prosperity. This can lead to a lack of diversity, which many believe defeats the message of acceptance preached by the church.