Ah, Christendom, what can I say? In a sentence: Christendom is small, remote, friendly, attractive, quiet, challenging, dull, and, oh let's not forget draconian.
Christendom is a small liberal arts Catholic college that prides itself on its conservatism and orthodoxy. It is lay administered, but is well known by the upper echelons of the Church and has many connections by way of the ecclesiastical ladder. It was founded in the late 70's as a counter to the increased liberalism in the university system, and is characterized by it's reactionary tendencies, not just politically, socially and religiously, but also academically. This is important to realize if you ever consider going there.
The first thing that you'll notice when you arrive, aside from the very attractive, rural, campus, is the fact that the Christendom management sees it as a family. The College is extensively communitarian and 'community' is cited as the justification for nearly every rule change or arbitration. A couple of interesting rules that were established for community's sake:
1. No 'public displays of affection' ie., no hand-holding. (it's divisive)
2. No video games in dormitories. (Student's are expected to socialize)
3. Explicit permission is needed to see films. (See above)
4. Room inspections. ('Community' has something to do with it.)
I could go on. The point is that the college is very controlling. The ironic thing about is that, even though it's supposed to make you into good conservative Catholics, its the more conservative students that fight the system the hardest. This is probably due to Christendom's rather unique demographic.
The students themselves can be divided into several groups:
1. The Drinkers. - Disaffected members of the student body. Are probably only there because their parent's gave them no choice.
2. The Holy-Rollers. - Absolutely love Christendom, the faculty, the Community, etc.
3. The Tradies. - 'More Catholic than the Pope.' Angry at the faculty for not promoting Tridentine Mass.
4. Nerds. - Actually thought Christendom was a 'school.'
5. Freaks who didn't fit in anywhere else. - Medievalists, Fascists, Geocentrists...
Needless to say, the groups overlap quite a bit.
As actual, academics, the school claims to be liberal arts, but it's really humanities with a special focus on philosophy (mostly scholastic) and theology (It is 'Christendom' after all). The subjects on which Christendom actually focuses:
1. Thomistic Philosophy
2. Greek Philosophy
3. Catholic Theology
5. Western History
6. Western Literature
7. Constitutionalist Political Theory (Both Libertarians and Conservatives)
8. Austrian Economics.
These are the subjects at which Christendom excels. You have small classes, and helpful, friendly (mostly) teachers who are rarely out of reach. Some of them don't brook disagreement in the classroom, but most don't have a problem with it. This biggest nuisance comes from the core curriculum, which consumes two and a half of the three years available.
Also, take note, if you want to study Math, Science, Modern Philosophy, Non-Western History or Literature, your looking at the wrong school. It's not these classes aren't provided, but that they are definitely not the focus of the school and you will feel shortchanged. Our math and science program is one professor who buys the equipment he needs with his own salary because the budget is two small for him to buy a prism.
On the plus side, classes are very small and there is ample opportunity for questions and even discussion with teachers. Many of the teachers are more than willing to go out of there way to help students. The school is teaching oriented rather than research oriented and it improves the quality of academics immensely.
With regard to social/party life, there is quite a bit, depending on what you consider to be a party. The school itself organizes many events with the help of a student activities committee (the closest thing that there is to a student government.) They're fun, the first few times through, but they get boring pretty quickly. Students put on their own events from time to time, and these are sometimes fun. Eventually, it will come down to finding some friends and thinking up your own things to do (which can be a challenge.)
There is not town to speak of. Front Royal is a little ho dunk place without much in it. There is a k-mart, and a McDonalds, and a grocery, but not much else. The movie theater is pretty sad. There is more to do in the next town over (Winchester) but it is drive. The thing is, Christendom was deliberately meant to be a rural campus, and if you like hiking, boating, spelunking etc., your in a very good spot. If your looking for anything with a night life, you should just keep looking.
The campus itself is gorgeous, especially the surrounding countryside, and we are on the shore of the Shenandoah, which is very nice at sunset. The buildings are undergoing a process of modernization. The central office building, Regina Caeli hall, is literally an old barn. The new student center and library in contrast, are very nice and cost millions in donor funds.
The food is awful.
There are some unique advantages to Christendom that shouldn't go unmentioned (Especially if you are a conservative Catholic):
1. It affords the opportunity to speak with and fraternize with big and powerful Churchmen. (Tennis with Cardinal Arrinze anyone?)
2. Home to one of the more dedicated pro-life cells in the country.
3. Within walking distance of Seton Home schooling and PRI if you want to work with either of them.
4. There is no place that I know of with better access to sacraments.5. The Rome program is good.