Christendom College’s ever-popular “Experience Christendom” Summer Program was held in four different one-week sessions this year, drawing 160 participants from all over the U.S.
“I wasn’t sure that we would be able to fill four sessions this year, in light of the fact that the economy is still in pretty bad shape, but, thankfully, we did,” says Admissions Director Tom McFadden. “We added a fourth session this year, and thanks in a large part to the generosity of some of our loyal donors, we were able to offer financial assistance to many of the participants, and ensure that all the session were full.”
Last year, the college held three sessions of the “Experience Christendom” Summer Program which seeks to introduce prospective students to the college’s unique academic, social, and religious offerings. Approximately 45-50% of the participants ultimately choose Christendom for their undergraduate education.
“It was an amazing experience for all who participated. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced and I didn’t want to leave,” remarks high school junior Flannery McGale, of Virginia Beach, Va., who took part in the second session. “Everything was unsurpassable in quality – from the intellectually challenging courses to the enthusiastic counselors, the never-ending fun-filled adventure and bountiful feasts! I enjoyed the counselor’s captivating tales of scholastic conquest in the academic world as well as the spiritual gains of the ‘Breathe Catholic’ atmosphere of the Christendom College campus.”
Each summer, Christendom welcomes many students to campus who, at first, are a little unsure of what to expect from a summer program that is advertised as a type of “Catholic immersion program.” Some students are afraid that there will be a bunch of “religious fanatics” on campus and others think that the place will be full of nerds. Some think that it will be just like going to school in the summer while others believe that it will be “mind crushingly boring.”
“At the end of each session, I ask the students to fill in a survey, and about 90% of the participants gave the program a 5 out of 5, while the other 10% gave it a 4 out of 5 grade,” says McFadden. “All of the participants agree that the program was better than they expected it to be, and quite a few say it was one of the best weeks of their lives.”
According to rising high school senior John Robert Griswold of Hilton Head Island, SC., Christendom was the last place he wanted to go to college, let alone a summer program. But his parents thought that a week at the “Experience Christendom” Summer Program would be beneficial. He had made many assumptions about what the college was like and what type of people attended. But his impression soon changed.
“Perhaps the only assumption that was proven correct by that memorable week,” says Griswold, “is that the lifestyle at Christendom is the antithesis of that experienced in the campers’ hometowns. Yet, unexpectedly, that lifestyle is superior in virtually every conceivable way…Yet there are other, unexpected facets of the Christendom diamond which I discovered during my Summer Program experience.
“One of the main parameters of the Christendom experience is the quality of the professors. No camper will ever forget the agonizing conversations regarding the possibility of canine happiness facilitated by Dr. Cuddeback’s thought-provoking questions, or the palpable illustration of Holy Matrimony created by Fr. Gee. Indeed, all the professors presided over their classes in such a way that the lectures not only educated us and—usually—kept us awake, but even made made the subjects—dare I say it—fun.
“No testimony of the Christendom Summer Program would be complete without a mention of the counselors. These students altruistically chose to spend their summers at the college they attend nine months of the year, and even volunteered to live under the same roof as highschoolers. The students carried out this onerous task with admirable fortitude and charity, showing no aversion to answering essential questions about different aspects the college: academics, athletics, spirituality, dating prospects, etc.
“Finally, I think it is important to mention one of the most controversial elements of Christendom policy: the “D” word, dress-code. Before I visited the college, I considered the dress-code a major detriment of Christendom. Undeniably, paeans devoted to this rule did not always flow from my lips as I strangled myself attempting to make my tie look presentable in the morning. Yet, in retrospect, I think that the dress-code is an indispensable part of Christendom’s atmosphere. Without it, the positive familial aspect of the Christendom student body would devolve into pernicious informality. Additionally, I think that the classes were considerably more professional because of the attire of the students.
“Thus, the Experience Christendom Summer Program launched Christendom back into the competition in my choice of colleges. Without this week-long introduction into the Christendom lifestyle, I would not have made an educated judgment regarding the college. This, along with the faith, friends, and fond memories gained over the week, motivates me to express my sincere gratitude to all the the producers, professors, counselors, and donors of this event.”
To view pictures or videos from the various “Experience Christendom” Summer Programs, please go here.