I always am amused at that “universal” comments about Catholic colleges and universities.
Several years ago, CARA did a study of Catholics attending Mass and broke it down by age groups. The lowest attendance rate (weekly Mass) was among the 18 to 29 age group.
And I am aware of what has gone on at some Catholic colleges and universities over the last 40 or so years, including named universities and some of what has happened at them (e.g. Notre Dame) and agree that what has happened in those instances reflect not well on Catholicism, not to mention common sense.
However, there is far more Catholicism going on in those Catholic colleges and universities that never is heard about, mostly because it would be “ho-hum” news - in other words, expected, under the purview of Catholicism - in other words, not news worthy.
And so we find segments of Catholics getting on their high horse and condemning not just the incident, but the whole of the institution as if it is entirely corrupt; they ignore the fact that Catholicism is alive and well at many Catholic colleges and universities.
So I am not particularly inclined to blame the universities and colleges for why graduates leave the Church; blaming that on the institutions ignores one major fact: almost all of those who leave the faith ;had at least one parent, possibly 2, who were Catholic. By the time an individual reaches college age, they have achieved a significant development in what it means to be a Catholic - and the primary and most significant factor in their Catholic identity comes from their home environment.
Given that their parents are in the age group above them, and less than half of that age group attends Mass weekly, it should be no surprise to anyone that the children have modeled their parents - not to mention that the kids were/are raised in a time of even more secular and immoral forces are widespread throughout society. To mention only one thing - the immediate availability of pornography on the internet - there are a multitude of studies on teenage access to and use of it.
My parish has both a Catholic grade school and religious instruction for the children not going to Catholic school, and both groups of children have parents who do not attend Mass on Sunday with any regularity. “Do as I say, not as I do” never has been an effective method of teaching much of anything, let alone the faith. And then we wonder why kids leave the Church/
It is simplistic at the extreme to blame the colleges.