First of all, I think this may be a very common “objection” given by high school students to their parents, and sometimes, unfortunately, even given by parents to their high school aged students. I guess the theory is that if you go to a big name university, then people will think that you are smart, employable, affluent, and all that, and upon graduation, because they can put down Princeton, Yale, Brown, Amherst, Dartmouth, etc., then it will further their careers and their chances of financial success.
I am not going to say that this is not true. In fact, I am sure that it is true that if a person attends a well-known, big-name, highly-ranked college or university, it will benefit them after graduation in helping them land jobs, network amongst alumni, and become financially secure.
I cannot, though, say that it will necessarily do anything to aid them in their pursuit of wisdom, truth, beauty, holiness, virtue, character, integrity, good friends, or attaining eternal life. Of course, these things are all possible to achieve while attending a big-name school, but these benefits are not the ones that are normally associated with going to big-name colleges, or given as reasons to attend such a prestigious institution. Normally, as I stated above, it is all about getting ahead in this world.
Although some may refer to Christendom as a no-name small college, I would disagree. I guess it all depends on who you ask, right? I mean, is it more important to have the backing and endorsement of US News, Princeton Review, Forbes, Peterson’s, Barron’s, etc., over people such as Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Groeschel, Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Pell, George Weigel, and Bishop Bruskewitz? I would say not, unless your goal is simply to attain an academic education and learn how to win friends and influence people. But if you are hoping to grow in virtue, knowledge, and holiness, then it seems that Christendom may actually be one of the biggest-named, most-prestigious, and highly-ranked colleges in the world.
It all depends how you look at it. Although we have been ranked by US News, Peterson’s Barron’s, ISI, Newsmax, Young America’s Foundation, Free Congress Foundation, Kiplinger’s and other secular organizations, we are much more proud of the endorsements from the many Catholic luminaries who have visited our campus or expressed great admiration for our unique mission in the world of Catholic higher education.
And, to top it all off, we are able to see the results of our educational experience in our alumni in, not only in what they do, but, how they live. Our alumni are represented in just about every profession. We have alumni who are doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, accountants, managers, nurses, educators, salesmen, graphic artists, editors, entrepreneurs, project managers, tradesmen, builders, carpenters, priests, religious, music teachers, art directors, drama teachers, missionaries, real estate agents, insurance salesmen, architects, dentists, college professors, Montessori teachers, computer scientists, and everything in between.
But more important than simply having a good job and career, the alumni are living their Catholic faith on a daily basis and affecting the culture and working to restore all things in Christ. They are bringing the “Catholic air” which they breathed for four years on our campus, out to today’s culture which is, unfortunately, inhaling “toxic fumes.” Our alumni are making a difference in today’s culture and, as time goes by, Christendom’s name will be one with which to be associated.
I want to end with a quote from former US President Ronald Reagan, from his book, An American Life.
“In later life, I visited some of the most famous universities in the world. As governor of California, I presided over a university system regarded as one of the best. But if I had to do it over again, I’d go back to Eureka or another small college like it in a second.
At big universities, relatively few students get involved in extra-curricular activities: They go to class, go to their living quarters, go to the library, then go back to their classes. There may be a lot to be said for those large universities, but I think too many young people overlook the value of a small college and the tremendous influence that participation in student activities can have during the years from adolescence to adulthood.
If I had gone to one of those larger schools, I think I would have fallen back in the crowd and never discovered things about myself that I did at Eureka. My life would have been different.
There were fewer than 250 students when I was at Eureka, roughly divided between men and women, and everyone knew one another by their first name.
As in a small town, you couldn’t remain anonymous at a small college. Everybody was needed. Whether it’s the glee club or helping to edit the school yearbook, there’s a job for everyone, and everybody gets a chance to shine at something and build their sense of self-confidence. You get to discover things about yourself that you might never learn if you were lost in the crowd of a larger school.”