Where can we go to find out if a college is truly Catholic?
I recommend consulting the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). However, I don’t recommend limiting your college search to only those Catholic colleges who are explicitly orthodox in their teaching.
My main reason is that there is only a handful in the United States, and that handful consists primarily of liberal arts colleges. Unless your child is interested in a liberal arts degree, or is planning to go to graduate school for further training, he might not find the programs he needs for a four-year degree he can use at a liberal arts college. That isn’t to say that this is true across the board at liberal arts colleges, or to say that a liberal arts degree is a bad thing (in a more culturally-intuitive society it would be considered a great asset); it is only to say that you have to help your child to find the training that best suits his interests and career aspirations, regardless of whether the institution that trains him is a bastion of Catholic orthodoxy.
So, here are some suggestions for you if you find that the orthodox Catholic colleges do not suit your child’s needs:
[list]FOCUS, an orthodox Catholic campus ministry, has chapters at secular universities around the country. You might ask them for a list of the colleges and universities that have local chapters.
[list]If your child is interested in a liberal Catholic or secular university, check to see if there are sources of Catholic orthodoxy that will support him in his faith. Some Newman Center programs are highly orthodox, depending on the orthodoxy of the staff. (One University of California institution and one California State institution have both become havens for orthodox Catholic students because of the soundness of the campus ministries.) Indeed, some Catholic universities, such as Notre Dame and Georgetown, have been seeing the beginnings of an orthodox Catholic renaissance.
[list]I also recommend checking the orthodoxy of the diocese in which the university is located. A university within commuting distance of a great Catholic parish might be a means for your child to keep grounded in his Catholic faith.
[list]Finally, you might take a look around at your local colleges and universities. An otherwise problematic situation might be compensated by the child’s proximity to home and to the local resources that have always sustained him in the faith.
While Catholic orthodoxy is always a plus for a college or university, it should not be considered the sole determining factor unless the child is pursuing a career that will entail him teaching the Catholic faith to others (e.g., teacher, professor, nun, priest). If he is instead looking for a career in a secular field, he should look for an institution that will train him in that field and you should see to it that he will have access to the sacraments and to Catholic orthodoxy either on campus or within the chosen university’s city.