Anchored by the Classic Learning Test

Erika J. Ahern on The Need for Truth in Media and Journalism

August 10, 2023 Classic Learning Test
Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
Erika J. Ahern on The Need for Truth in Media and Journalism
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Anchored, Jeremy is joined by Erika J. Ahern, associate editor for CatholicVote’s The LOOP. The two discuss Ahern’s switch from years pursuing higher education in philosophy to a career in media and journalism. They discuss the trajectory of journalism toward big politics and what really lies behind this seemingly recent trend. Ahern also advocates for the importance of smaller, independent news outlets and predicts the future of legacy media. They conclude the episode with tips on how to approach the college admissions process.

Today’s episode of Anchored is brought to you with support from America’s Christian Credit Union. Find out how ACCU can be the banking partner to your school or family by visiting americaschristiancu.com/CLT

Jeremy:

Welcome back to the Anchored Podcast. Folks, we've got a very exciting guest today. EriKa J. Ahern is the Associate Editor of Catholic Votes, The Loop, and writes frequently on education, culture, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Plough Quarterly, National Catholic Register, Catholic Exchange, Connection Examiner, Crisis Magazine, The Loop, and Regina Magazine. EriKa lives in Connecticut with her husband and their six children, ages 4 to 18. EriKa Ahern, welcome to the Anchor Podcast.


Erika:

Thanks so much for having me, Jeremy.


Jeremy:

Yeah, and congrats. I know your oldest is going to be your first is going to be leaving the nest and going to Hillsdale College. We are big fans here at CLT.


Erika:

That's right. My husband and I are really thrilled for her to go to Hillsdale. It was definitely top on her choice. And yeah, we're just really, really grateful, but a little nervous about this new phase of parenting, to be sure.


Jeremy:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We'll have to dig in and talk Hillsdale in just a bit because we've got about a fourth of our staff at CLT Hillsdale graduates. So some dear friends. But Eric, I loved it to start


Erika:

Awesome.


Jeremy:

off. And by the way, I'm increasingly a fan of the loop. Everybody is familiar with it, you know, and so I love it. If you haven't already subscribed, do subscribe. But let's start off where we often begin on the Anchor podcast, uh, in terms of your academic spiritual formation. You go to Catholic schools growing up, homeschool, public school, what was school like for you as a young girl?


Erika:

So I like to say that I tried it all because I did go to public school at the beginning of the 1980s and my mother, at the time, we lived in rural New Hampshire, so this is just what you did. You just send your kids to the local public school. And I went there till second grade. In second grade, the teacher informed my mother that I would never be a writer because I was resistant to sitting still at a desk and copying words and lists of words. So she told my mother I would never be a writer. And my mother's response was, well, I'm gonna teach her myself then. So my parents sort of bucking the trend of the time, they were really on that cusp of the homeschool revolution and pulled me and my brothers


Jeremy:

No kidding, 1980s


Erika:

out. And so I


Jeremy:

in


Erika:

was


Jeremy:

New


Erika:

homeschooled,


Jeremy:

England.


Erika:

yeah, 1980, New England, rural New England, and she would get the paper catalogs from, we were Protestant at the time, and we would get Calvert School, and we'd get these printed catalogs, and she would order. curriculum. And so it was definitely a brave step on my parents' part. And it lasted until I finished seventh grade, and then we converted to the Catholic faith as a family my seventh grade year. And my parents sent me to a Catholic school for eighth grade. It was horrible. It was not classical. It was a mess in terms of discipline. And so I then spent high school in the public school system in New Hampshire. So I have toeed. dipped my toes into all waters of education,


Jeremy:

You're in


Erika:

Jeremy.


Jeremy:

like, Manchester or way up north?


Erika:

And then from. So we're way up north, we're in a little town called Plymouth, which is just above the center of the state. So it's in the northern half and our home backed up to the national forests. So it's a very rural area, a regional high school that pulled from many, many towns, 25


Jeremy:

That's


Erika:

towns


Jeremy:

a beautiful


Erika:

or something


Jeremy:

area. Would you


Erika:

at the


Jeremy:

climb


Erika:

time.


Jeremy:

out Washington growing up?


Erika:

Oh yeah, well I actually got to drive up Mount Washington. My dad was a runner and he would do the Mount Washington Road Race and once I could drive, I would drive up the mountain and meet him at the top after he ran it. But I never actually ran it myself.


Jeremy:

Yeah, yeah. And then what about undergrad and did you end up


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

majoring in journalism?


Erika:

No, actually I ended up majoring in philosophy. I went to the Catholic University of America for my undergrad. And it was a wonderful, wonderful experience in the School of Philosophy and their honors program, which was even at the time, so this was the late 90s, early 2000s, very classically oriented. History


Jeremy:

Mm.


Erika:

of philosophy was very strong. So while we learned some analytic philosophers toward the very end of our formation, The grounding was in Aristotle, Plato, the Greeks. The wonderful thing about the Catholic University School of Philosophy, and this is still true today, is that they actually think there was history between the fall of Rome and Descartes. So they had us reading Avicenna and Thomas Aquinas and all these amazing medieval thinkers that really helped the entire history of Christianity, of Catholicism come alive in terms of an intellectual rigor You know, a lot of kids, when I went to graduate school for philosophy, coming from other philosophy programs, just had no idea there even were thinkers, you know, other than maybe Thomas Aquinas or Anselm, they'd heard of. So


Jeremy:

Yeah,


Erika:

it was


Jeremy:

okay.


Erika:

a great


Jeremy:

And


Erika:

gift,


Jeremy:

why did


Erika:

my undergraduate.


Jeremy:

you pick Catholic U? As you put yourself back in the mind of 18 year old high school senior? Yeah.


Erika:

Yeah, high school senior Erica, I always have had a love of the life of the mind and I've been kind of a nerd and I was well liked in high school. I like to think, I mean, I don't wanna brag about it, but like I got along with kids, but I didn't really have close friends. There was no one, you know, CS Lewis says, I think one of his maybe abolition of man, a friend is someone who you look at and you say, oh, you too, I thought it was the only one. And I just never found that person in high school. Until years later, I actually married a guy I knew in high school, so my husband is from high school, but we weren't friends at the time. And at Catholic U when I visited, I thought, oh, you know, I'd love to go to a Catholic school and find people who also love the life of the mind. And the way the honors program was pitched was that it was sort of a school within a school, and it was smaller classes, and you were with the same cohort. for at least a couple of core classes every year all the way through. And that turned out to be true for me, that I did find very deep friendships there. And I think that hope is what attracted me. There was a very generous scholarship offer too that sweetened the deal, so that helped tremendously


Jeremy:

 Sounds like great years. And this time, were you already getting interested in media journalism as well? And...


Erika:

No, at this time I imagined myself becoming the next Edith Stein, actually. I kind of thought, for many years I thought I was going to be a nun, and of course a nun who wrote deep philosophy works and furthered the work of John Paul II and Edith Stein and the personalists. So I did not see myself in journalism, and I was one of those ivory tower intellectuals who really looked down on kids going into politics and kids going into media and journalism. you know, that's just sort of for the not as smart people. I was pretty arrogant. And so after college, Todd and I married right after graduation. So we got married that summer. I graduated in 03 and I was applying to graduate programs in philosophy and ended up going to Emory University. They also at the time


Jeremy:

Interesting.


Erika:

were known


Jeremy:

Was Mark


Erika:

for


Jeremy:

Barrow


Erika:

preserving


Jeremy:

in there at


Erika:

the


Jeremy:

the


Erika:

sort


Jeremy:

time


Erika:

of


Jeremy:

I wonder?


Erika:

history of philosophy approach, which has changed drastically.


Jeremy:

Yeah. OK, I wonder if Mark Bauerlein was there at the time. Did y'all connect?


Erika:

No, he and I did not connect actually. We passed like ships in the night. It was a couple of years before I ended up being down there. Yeah, but yeah, there's a wonderful sort of, I was there at the very end of what they were calling at the time in the department, the Ancien Regime, of this sort of vanguard of older thinkers, philosophers who had retained a great respect for the tradition. And so I was blessed to receive great formation at Emory at the Department of Philosophy in thinking through the enlightenment really. I turned to modern political philosophy. I read Hobbes' Leviathan five times in two years because of the classes I was taking. It was a dark moment, but


Jeremy:

Wow.


Erika:

I got


Jeremy:

That


Erika:

through


Jeremy:

is a dark


Erika:

it.


Jeremy:

moment. That's a very dark moment. Well, Erica, let's shift and talk a little bit


Erika:

Yeah.


Jeremy:

about media and your, especially this move,


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

how did you get into this world, especially thinking about philosophy, thinking about maybe a life in academia, and then now in working for the loop, writing,


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

how this transition happened?


Erika:

Yeah, so it's really interesting. Toward the end of my study, I was having children in graduate school. And so it was about halfway through my second pregnancy. And I was having to make a decision. Am I going to finish the PhD? Or am I going to just take the master's and be done with the program? And at the time, I was getting so frustrated with my peers in philosophy who were going into this as a career. And I really came to see through the seminars and the conversations that. They weren't actually interested in allowing what they were reading and thinking to change their lives and their actions. For so many of my peers in academia, it was an intellectual exercise. But as a believing Christian, as someone who sees the intellectual life as a means to further our relationship with God, to come to understand the truth, to act on the good, and to pursue and be moved by beauty. I wasn't seeing that at all as a path for most people studying philosophy at the PhD level. And so I began to look for ways, you know, how do philosophers and thinkers actually change the world and actually draw souls and be good mothers and fathers or good priests and religious, you know, for those of us who are Catholic. And I was seeking a way to change the world. So, you know, C.S. Lewis has always been one of my heroes because I think he really did that, right? He was a deep thinker. Some of his work is very hard to read, like some of his work on the Rose and this medieval literature and languages. He's a brilliant academic, but he gave himself over to drawing other people into this joy that he had discovered in Jesus Christ. in a way that was accessible to the modern mind. And I was like, that's what I want to do. And it's not that I think I can somehow be C.S. Lewis. I obviously aspire very high. I'm like, I'm going to be the next Edith Stein. I'm going to be the next C.S. Lewis. But I think it was just allowing myself to come to the realization that you don't have to write a big fat dissertation, and you don't have to get all these credentials in order to follow the truth and the good and the beautiful. So as my children were very young, we were homeschooling them. I was very involved in the classical education movement. For 12 years, I was in administration at a hybrid classical school called Regina Chaley Academy. And they are wonderful. They used the Mother of Divine Grace curriculum for many years while I was there. Now they have their own. But I was raising my children in classical education, I think gave me that deep desire to help. families and just people who are trying to raise their kids in a very secular, anti-truth society. And the opportunity to write obviously fit in with my vocation to motherhood and homeschooling. And so I really took it. And a couple of people really believed in my journalistic abilities. And so over the past three or four years, that's the direction that my life's taken. And I love it. I'm very grateful for having been given the opportunities to make that transition. and to use my love of truth, which is what drove me into philosophy, and the gifts and talents I've developed as a writer to hopefully be able to inspire more people to live differently than the way the culture tells us we have to live and we have to raise our kids and we have to think and what's important in life. If journalism and media... You know, philosophy, a PhD in philosophy is for like 0.01% of the population, not terribly helpful in people's lives. But the amount of media that Americans consume, the amount of Instagrams that are scrolled through, you know, I'm like, get off social media, get off this. But that's where the people are. And that's where I go to do my work. So that I try and convince as many people as possible to get off social media by being on social media saying, this isn't helping


Jeremy:

Totally.


Erika:

you.


Jeremy:

That's when we know


Erika:

Think


Jeremy:

it's


Erika:

deeper


Jeremy:

a lost


Erika:

thoughts,


Jeremy:

cause when


Erika:

read


Jeremy:

like


Erika:

whole books.


Jeremy:

every campaign to like get people off social is carried out on social and it's like this is not a winning battle at all. There's


Erika:

I


Jeremy:

no


Erika:

know.


Jeremy:

way. Um, so let's talk about the media. I mean, I feel like we're in this weird moment. I remember being in maybe middle school or high school and talking to my parents and it was like, maybe CNN's a little bit like leaning towards the Democrats or a little bit. At that time you couldn't, um, it was,


Erika:

Hmph.


Jeremy:

it was hard to even perceive, you know? And then, and then it became more obvious of like Fox is clearly to the right and MSNBC is clearly to the left. And now they don't even try. Like Sorin Schwab, who hosts the Anchored Podcast, most of our episodes, it says in Germany, it's really still that way. You really would never know the


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

political leanings of the station or the particular journalist. And everybody knows now. It's not, which is, and it's really hard to find anything that doesn't feel like a PR firm for one big party or another. Maybe this is why people


Erika:

Right.


Jeremy:

love the loop. And people are looking to that as a source increasingly. But I mean, is this kind of unparalleled? Like just that we have all the media are such a big percentage of it. It seems like it's just totally been captured by big politics.


Erika:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, it's an interesting question. And we talk about this a lot on the editorial team about, you know, what is the role of media? And I do think that in America, you know, starting with probably Walter Cronkite, really, back in the 60s and 70s especially, there is sort of this veneer of objectivity on the American media establishment, the nightly news, that this is where you go for unbiased reporting, and you're just going to get the facts, ma'am. And then to a certain extent, I think it was truer then. It was truthy back then that, oh, there's no, this is somehow we're keeping tabs on the government. We're holding politicians accountable. But as the years go by, more and more is uncovered that even back then there were certain influences on the media. And what we talk about a lot at Catholic Vote is it's not so much, you wanna try and be objective as objective as possible in. in terms of get the facts straight, you want to be truthful. And there is a definite need for just straight news reporting and lead stories and the who, what, when, where, and just get the facts out to people so they can decide for themselves. But at the same time, it's also important for media outlets and journalists to be upfront about where they're coming from because it's almost impossible. You know, just that we try and pick the most trustworthy reporting, but even on the loop, so it's a daily news email that people can get in their inbox, we select what we think are the top 10 stories of the morning and we blurb them. And then you can click through if you're interested in any story to the original story. A lot of them are done by our team. We also have some third parties that we link to like Daily Signal at Heritage Foundation. But it's important to understand even what you get in the loop, trying to be as objective as possible and giving many different sides. the selection itself is biased. And we like to think that it's


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

biased towards the truth and what truly matters and what is truly driving societal change in America right now to make people aware of what is most important. But it's always got


Jeremy:

Thank


Erika:

a


Jeremy:

you.


Erika:

little bit of us in it, or a lot of us in it. And we're very upfront about that. And I think that's more important is that


Jeremy:

Thank you.


Erika:

these media organizations like the big names, CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, that they continue to pretend that they have this veneer of objectivity, that's the insidious part of it. And as more and more Americans wake up to more Western, I would say all of Western society wakes up to that fact, you start to see the success of these smaller independent media organizations. I think of Barry Weiss, who was basically outed from, booted from the New York Times over some of her reporting. She started an organization called the Free Press. That's a very interesting arm. They're doing a lot of long-form journalism. Or you think of, even in the Catholic world, we've got EWTN, which was starting its own thing with Mother Angelica. We've got Catholic News Agency. We've got The Pillar, which does more church news. But I think the rise of these independent media organizations outside the purview of CNN, NBC, what I like to call the legacy media,


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

is really important. for the free flow of information. And it's really refreshing and wonderful to see it happening.


Jeremy:

I mean, do you see a, and it's incredible how quickly this has happened, the fact that the legacy media


Erika:

Hmm.


Jeremy:

is, I mean, people consume Joe Rogan, people consume. podcast and


Erika:

Yeah, Matt


Jeremy:

you know,


Erika:

Walsh,


Jeremy:

the


Erika:

yeah,


Jeremy:

Daily


Erika:

Daily


Jeremy:

Wire


Erika:

Wire.


Jeremy:

is more popular than Fox News. What do you see as the future? Is it going to be just a long, slow kind of death of legacy media? Do you see a full death coming or do you see that they're going to find a way to kind of rebound and to keep some kind of a market share?


Erika:

Yeah, that's the money question, right? And here's where I'm going to do the pitch for politics as well. Elections have consequences. And I do think that the upcoming federal-level elections, as we saw and as we're seeing it being covered, like with the Twitter files and everything, that the collusion of big government with big media, with big corporations to censor and silence certain news items, certain points of view, I think that effort is what has kept legacy media afloat. And while we see that, I think Elon Musk getting Twitter was a huge sort of blow to the legacy media because all of a sudden these stories are starting to circulate again among journalists. I mean, Twitter is basically like a journalist. It's mostly just journalists and writers and,


Jeremy:

No.


Erika:

you know, influencers on Twitter. The ordinary American is like, I don't need Twitter. But a lot of ideas are exchanged there that go on to influence stories and reporting and writers and thinkers and policymakers. And to go back to the elections have consequences. I do think that if we continue toward the big government, big tech, big media collusion in our choices for who runs our country, unfortunately, we're just going to see the legacy media hanging


Jeremy:

I'm


Erika:

on.


Jeremy:

sorry, I'm not sure if I can get you to come


Erika:

kind of


Jeremy:

with


Erika:

like


Jeremy:

me.


Erika:

the old uncle who won't go away. She won't die and leave us her inheritance, that kind of thing, but they're just gonna be kept alive. Kind of like the disembodied head in that hideous strength is sort of


Jeremy:

Ah,


Erika:

how I see


Jeremy:

yes,


Erika:

CNN. It's


Jeremy:

I


Erika:

like,


Jeremy:

just finished that. I just finished that. Yeah,


Erika:

oh, I


Jeremy:

I gotta


Erika:

love that


Jeremy:

ask you


Erika:

so


Jeremy:

now


Erika:

much.


Jeremy:

that you mentioned


Erika:

Oh,


Jeremy:

it,


Erika:

but I won't


Jeremy:

it came


Erika:

spoil


Jeremy:

up... Yeah.


Erika:

it, because that's...


Jeremy:

No, I just finished it and I gotta ask you now that you mentioned that Hideous Strength because I... Everybody said it's the very best in the space trilogy and so I built it up in my head.


Erika:

Mmm.


Jeremy:

I actually like Paralendra better. I think Paralendra is better. Do


Erika:

Yeah.


Jeremy:

you... What is your take?


Erika:

Okay. I like this. This is a great debate. And actually, I know that you tend to ask your guests at the end, like, what are the books that have been most influential to you?


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

And well, I think that Hedius Strength is the best beach read for me of the three. I think Paralandra was, as a teenager when I read it, definitely the most influential in like thinking about and what is original sin and all that. So I agree, Jeremy, I'm with you on philosophically and life-changing Pyrrolandria.


Jeremy:

Okay. Love it. Awesome. And then we'll talk about kind of motherhood and especially with, you know, you've got a unique, your unique position is like super dialed into the new cycle and what's happening in the world and especially in education. Um, had you kind of already made the decision you had made, you know, before that in terms of, I believe you homeschooled the six kiddos. Is that right?


Erika:

Yeah, we homeschool all of them.


Jeremy:

Okay,


Erika:

And


Jeremy:

and


Erika:

we've


Jeremy:

are you doing


Erika:

used


Jeremy:

that with an umbrella


Erika:

mostly


Jeremy:

group like


Erika:

classical.


Jeremy:

Mother Divine Grace or is that an independent model?


Erika:

Yeah, so because I was involved in, I was the director of education for this hybrid academy which is around the nation. And so my early years of homeschooling, I was pretty much dialed into Mother of Divine Grace and it was very straight. And I'd say the second half of homeschooling, once my oldest hit ninth grade, I felt like I had the confidence in the training myself to kind of break out of that. So at this point, I'm probably 30% Mother of Divine Grace. 10% classical academic press. I really love what Dr. Christopher Perrin has done


Jeremy:

Yeah,


Erika:

with that.


Jeremy:

we love Dr.


Erika:

Their


Jeremy:

Parent.


Erika:

writing and rhetoric man is amazing. So


Jeremy:

Okay, okay,


Erika:

huge


Jeremy:

yeah,


Erika:

fan, huge


Jeremy:

nice,


Erika:

fan of writing and


Jeremy:

yeah.


Erika:

rhetoric. Yeah. And yeah, so we're definitely more eclectic now. And my husband and I, he's a neuroscientist by training. He has his PhD in the brain. And so he does the math and science and I take the other subjects and we kind of hodgepodge it together. But yeah, we knew going into marriage that we'd probably end up homeschooling. We just, we have a knack for it and we really love


Jeremy:

Yeah,


Erika:

teaching.


Jeremy:

do you, I mean, when you, when you think about your, your reporting and just your experience as a, as a homeschooling mom.


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

Are we living through right now, when you think about the 230, 40 year history of America, something pretty seismic in terms of an exodus or a waking up in terms of what's going on in mainstream education?


Erika:

Yeah, I mean, I think the numbers speak for themselves. And of course, the huge catalyst, this is not original to me, but the huge catalyst being the COVID lockdowns and parents really starting to see behind the curtain, right, what's going on, the man behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz there. And, you know, we've seen the Catholic schools fared very well, especially classical schools coming out of the pandemic. I think their rates, Catholic schools increased 3.5%. of their enrollment between 2019 and 2022. I was just looking at these stats for a story we're doing. And homeschooling rates skyrocketed 30% increase in parents just pulling out completely. And of course we have the success of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education and what they've been doing to help Catholic schools transform into classical. So I think the numbers speak for themselves. This is seismic, maybe not in terms of absolute numbers when you think of the millions of American children that there are still in the public system, a public education system. But in terms of rapidity of growth, quality of outcome, that's where we're seeing the seismic shift. And I think politically in the political sphere, seeing someone like Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida welcoming in your own CLT, putting Chris Ruffo on his advising, getting Hillsdale revamping Florida education. That's amazing and it's very hopeful. But I don't think we should rest on the coattails yet. There's still


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

many forces arrayed against a renaissance in education and we need parents who are willing to just get out there, forge new institutions, come hell or high water for their kids.


Jeremy:

Yeah, yeah, Erica, let's talk all things college search process


Erika:

Hehehe


Jeremy:

and


Erika:

Woo!


Jeremy:

congrats again on your daughter starting in Hillsdale in August. Very exciting. And tell her we all said congrats from CLT


Erika:

I


Jeremy:

as


Erika:

will.


Jeremy:

well.


Erika:

Oh, she'll be thrilled. Yeah.


Jeremy:

Yeah, great. Incredible college. It has a punches way above its weight in terms of impact, especially


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

now, you know, even when I I was actually a college counselor for, I was in my second year as a college counselor and had taught AVID for three years before I'd even heard of Hillsdale. This was 2015.


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

And, um, and now it's like, everybody knows Hillsdale. Like, you don't,


Erika:

Yeah.


Jeremy:

everybody knows the name. It's kind of become a bit of this firebrand as well, but really you get there and you're just like, ah, like this is what colleges should be like. This is what colleges ought to


Erika:

Yeah.


Jeremy:

be doing. It's, it's really, um, it's just so refreshing. It's so refreshing.


Erika:

It is. It is. I told my daughter, so we live in Connecticut and Hillsdale's obviously quite a trek over to Michigan. And I remember flying with her to go for her first visit her junior year. And I sat with her on the plane. I was like, this has to blow me away to send you this far, especially when we have options like Thomas Aquinas College here now in New England. We've got Thomas Moore,


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

even, even Catholic University is only a five hour drive for us. So I'm like, okay, this has to blow me away.


Jeremy:

Yeah,


Erika:

And


Jeremy:

yeah.


Erika:

it sure did. I mean, the first presentation, they just had a student panel, and then the director of admissions got up and talked about Hillsdale. And just, my husband's a professor at a university here, and it's a liberal arts well-reputed school in Connecticut, big school. And the way that this guy in admissions got up and just spoke about the admissions process, the mission of Hillsdale. I'm like, these guys know what they're about. And comparing that with my husband's university, they just don't know what they're doing. There's no cohesive vision. It's just get more students, get them a credential and get them out, you know, and get the next guy in and how do we make more money? And listening to the high ideals of Hillsdale and then seeing the rubber hit the road with, and here's how we've raised the money and here's what we've added and here's how hard it is to get in. And it was so refreshing to be there. And I have to say too, you know how college tour guides, I don't know if you've gone through this process yet Jeremy, but a lot of college student tour guides, they're not like the heavy hitters or the heavy weights intellectually or like really into classes. And they wanna talk to you about like the parties and the frats and all that. Well, our tour guides, we had two over the course of this three day experience that Hillsdale put together for us. And they're talking about like the book that changed my life freshman year, or this professor who had 20 of us at his house and his wife fed us their homegrown, you know, vegetables while he propounded on Aristotle's ethics


Jeremy:

Love


Erika:

around


Jeremy:

it.


Erika:

the campfire.


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

I was like, Oh, this is what it should be. This is what college should be as a formation


Jeremy:

What advice would you


Erika:

and


Jeremy:

have


Erika:

an


Jeremy:

for


Erika:

education.


Jeremy:

parents wanting to go through the process well? You know,


Erika:

Hmm.


Jeremy:

I've told my daughter, my goal here is she's a rising senior. I'm like, my goal


Erika:

Yeah.


Jeremy:

is to just protect our relationship and not, because I can be a bit of a no at all. I kind of live in the college world and whatnot. I just, I don't


Erika:

Me


Jeremy:

want to


Erika:

too.


Jeremy:

just be a jerk, you know. But what would you recommend in terms of how to go about the process?


Erika:

Yeah, well, I mean, I would say take the CLT, right? No, just kidding. That's what he paid me to say that.


Jeremy:

Love it,


Erika:

No,


Jeremy:

that's right.


Erika:

I would say, so first of all, if you homeschool, you're considering homeschooling, don't be afraid. So we ended up not having an official transcript because of Connecticut. We have very loose laws here. Don't be afraid if you're a homeschooler or considering homeschooling in high school. The schools that people listening to this podcast are probably willing to pay for their kid to go to. They're very familiar with it and they have a deep respect. And for a list of those schools, go to the Newman Guide. So they have a deep respect for the homeschool approach, also for classical schools. So don't be afraid of that. I would say really important to go and visit the schools in person as much as your budget allows and start early. I think summer before senior year and then spring of junior year isn't too early. With my daughter, it was really important, just given her temperament and her sort of the level of independence we'd given her in her last few years of high school, to let her be the driving force in deciding where to apply within some guidelines. So my husband and I basically said, you know, here's a list of schools that we would help you pay for, that we think would be good for you. And so pick what you want to visit and we'll help you get there. Um, overnights were helpful for her, not for every child and not for every school. Like I wouldn't send your child on an overnight to like Colgate where they're just going to go to a party all night, but an


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

overnight at Thomas Aquinas college. I mean,


Jeremy:

Okay.


Erika:

she, I thought she'd go for it. She had a great time, but it was really helpful for her to say, you know, that size school just isn't for me. It's a great school. I loved it. I respect the people there, but I need something larger, similar with Catholic University didn't do an overnight, but. visiting, she was like, I feel like I'd be swimming around in a really huge pond. But Hillsdale was like, just right, you know, and we wouldn't have known that just on paper, I think, being there. Then in terms, I would talk to admissions counselors, ask for an interview proactively. So Hillsdale, you have to interview as part of the process. And really with their acceptance rate, you have to interview in person on the campus to like show you can do it like


Jeremy:

Yeah.


Erika:

off campus, but so to get. in like get a boost on your application, you really need to visit campus. But ask for an interview and have good questions for


Jeremy:

Yeah,


Erika:

the counselor.


Jeremy:

that's great advice. Eric, I want, I love for you to tell our audience a little bit more about The Loop. And I've got to tell


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

you, dishonest feedback. I'm shocked, like with the Florida legislation that we had for CLT, we had some incredible opportunities with the New York Times, with the Washington


Erika:

Mm-hmm.


Jeremy:

Post, the Wall Street Journal. I got more feedback, I'm not kidding, from people about being featured on The Loop than any of them. I'm not


Erika:

That is


Jeremy:

kidding.


Erika:

so good to hear.


Jeremy:

Yeah,


Erika:

Oh


Jeremy:

yeah.


Erika:

my gosh, I'm going to tell the team. That's great. Yeah, so The Loop, I love working for The Loop. It is like dream job for homeschooling mom. And we basically, we come together every day and we are, we're reading the news so you don't have to. That's one of our taglines. So we scroll Twitter, we scroll the New York Times, the Washington Post. We've got, we are also on. our friendly outlets, we like to call them Daily Wire, Daily Signal. And we go through these as a team and we sort of select what we think a Christian and Christian allies would be. It's not just Catholics. We happen to be Catholic. It's not just for Catholics. But what we think are the important stories that you need to know. And we try and do a good balance of politics, culture, lifestyle. There's so much good content out there on the internet. but it's so much to wade through. And so we just try and pick the pieces that will speak to people who love America, who love our country, who love their faith, and who love their families. And doing the work of weeding it out so that you can stay informed. And it is so important for Christians not to completely withdraw from the world, but adult Christians, I would say. Children need to have their little greenhouse time in a way, but that's a longer conversation, right? But it's so important for adults to stay informed, especially we still are a republic. We still are a, you know, some people say a democracy. That's another longer conversation for us. But as citizens of this nation, we need to know what's happening. And the loop, we hope, is a way that people can do that just after their morning prayers with their cup of coffee, go through the headlines. They can do a deep dive if they want, click through on stories, or just get the blurb.


Jeremy:

Awesome. Erica, final question for you. We always conclude the Anchor Podcast talking about books. So we would love to know what that is for you, the book that has been most formative.


Erika:

So that's a difficult one. We touched on Space Trilogy. That was huge for me as a high school student. I'm always tempted to say just personally and spiritually, Story of a Soul, St. Therese. The first time I read it, I hated it passionately. I called her the little weed instead of the little flower. Second time I read it, I was like, oh, ah, I need to change my life. So that was huge. But I think, you know, in the end, I would say... Throughout my life, the Psalms of David in the Holy Scriptures, they've got everything


Jeremy:

Beautiful.


Erika:

in them.


Jeremy:

Love that. Yeah.


Erika:

So just from the time when I was young and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior as a young Protestant child, all the way through my conversion to the faith and sort of my adult owning of that conversion, the Psalms and the daily office, the office of the Liturgy of the Hours for the Church have been my daily life. always been there for me.


Jeremy:

Yeah, we're here with Erica Ahern from the Catholic Loop. Erica, thanks for the work you're doing. A big congrats from CLT to your daughter going to Hillsdale College. I'd love to have you back on in the future.


Erika:

I'd love to join you again. This has been fun. Thank you.