Thanks for taking the time to answer. I am intriqued by Ave Maria. However, I worry about the lack of a huge alumni network etc. Still the faculty is impressive. I actually would enjoy the catholic component I think. I would love to go to a school where it wouldnt be absolutely taboo to discuss morality issues. Where do most students live? What was orientation like? Decent social environment? Any idea how genorous Ave Maria is in terms of financial aid?
I'm throwing my $0.02 in, since I'm starting here with LaneSwerver. First of all, I agree with everything he said.
To answer your points/questions, I was actually surprised by the amount of discussion that goes out about various political/moral issues. It is not one-sided, but everyone seems very respectful and considerate. Most of the students live in any of several apartment complexes within a mile or two of the school. There are lots, as this is a college town (U of M). Orientation, in my opinion, was great. Everyone had a week to get to know each other and to know the school. By the weekend, we were already studying in the library and I, personally, felt very at home. There is a lot of interaction between the new 1Ls and the 2 and 3Ls. There was even a barbeque at a 3L's house that every 1L was invited to. Very cool social environment.
From talking to other students, I would say they are great with financial aid, particularly scholarship money. Most of the people I've met are receiving some form of assistance.
It also seems like the school is very well organized. In addition, the spiritual core of the school is very central and it does pervade the environment in an incredibly positive way. I do not believe that the school meets the stereotype of being "ultra-right-wing" or "super-conservative" at all. At least, that is my impression thus far.