The type of young guy I'm thinking of probably is unusual nowadays but not unique. I'd bet there are one or two like him in many high school graduating classes.
Perhaps he's applied to several colleges and been accepted but can't quite make up his mind which college to attend. Or perhaps he hasn't yet applied to college because he's not sure he wants to go.
He's happy at home. He loves his family and feels no urge to break away. But he also knows he's on the verge of adulthood, becoming his own man, and maturity calls him to some sort of moving up to the next step in life.
He realizes he needs a good education, but uncertainty holds him back from making a commitment.
Several fine local colleges, both Catholic and public, appeal to him, and he could continue to live at home and commute to one of them. But he senses that commuting to college might be too much like an extension of high school. He wants something new and different, but isn't sure what.
He's uncomfortable with reports he's heard and read about life on the typical college campus. College life, he gathers, is a supercharged social experiment or maybe a supercharged antisocial experiment.
He's not a big beer drinker or party guy. He likes sports but he's not a sports nut. He likes girls but he's not obsessed with them. Would he fit in on most campuses? He kind of doubts it.
He's a low-key guy, reserved, respectful of authority, friendly but not an extrovert. He thinks maybe college life might be too wild and crazy for him.
He's not self-righteous or holier-than-thou. But he knows he's not the typical 18-year-old. He thinks a lot like his father and his grandfather. They must have learned something from living so many years, he figures. He tends to agree with them most of the time.
He's comfortable going to Mass on Sundays. He's always thought of himself as a faithful Catholic even though most of the kids he grew up with quit going to Mass years ago. He has questions about the Church. Not everything makes perfect sense to him. He has some doubts, or at least some difficulties.
But the Church is not an obstacle to him. He's inclined to think well of its people priests, religious, laity. He respects the Church.
What about this young guy I'm imagining here? What's my point?
I'd like to suggest a college that could be just right for him Magdalen College in rustic Warner, New Hampshire. This lovely liberal arts college, founded and administered by Catholic laity deeply loyal to the Catholic Church, is 30 years old and enrolls, by design, only about 100 students.
My wife and I discovered Magdalen during a visit to New Hampshire a couple of years ago. Since then we've attended many Masses in its beautiful chapel and been guests at several gatherings at the college.
We're always impressed with how cheerful and gracious the students, faculty and administrators are like a big, happy family. Standing in line with a group of male students for a buffet dinner in the college dining room one evening, I piped up, “Are you guys as happy as you look, or is everybody pretending?”
A junior from, as I recall, Illinois, replied with a smile: yes, he said, he thought Magdalen students were happy people. His friends smiled and nodded.
Classes at Magdalen, called tutorials, are discussions, not lectures.
Mornings at Magdalen begin with Mass and are devoted to tutorials, and afternoons to intramural sports, recreation and campus chores. The cost of room, board and tuition is well below most private colleges because the students do much of the custodial work and even the cooking. After big winter snowfalls they're out shoveling the walkways and looking like they love the great New Hampshire outdoors.
And they all sing in the Magdalen student choir. The choir makes Sunday Mass sublime.
For the right young guy as I imagine him, a better college than Magdalen is hard to imagine.
(This article is a paid product of Magdalen College and is reprinted with permission of The Tablet.)
For more information about Magdalen College please contact Mr. Dan Regan in the Admissions Office at the College at 603-456-2656, or visit the College’s website.