An Idyll at Wyoming Catholic College
By Jeremy Tate
I spent last week around students who hadn't touched a cell phone in months. To call it "refreshing" would be an understatement.
Vast libraries like the Bodleian in Oxford or Widener at Harvard long conferred value and prestige upon their universities. But the digital world has changed this dynamic: the smartphone that you’re probably reading this on has access to more information than the Library of Congress. If the purpose of a college education is simply the acquisition of information, then brick and mortar colleges don’t stand a chance against online options. But what if the purpose of education is, at its root, about the growth of the human person? What if college is meant to be more about formation than information?
These questions have occupied my mind as I return home from a wonderful visit to Wyoming Catholic College. During my time there, I met with more than a dozen students and asked them about their experience. I’ve met a lot of young people throughout my years in education, but these students were different. They seemed exceptionally grounded, joyful, and focused. I was twenty minutes into observing an Art History class (taught by the amazing Dr. Jason Baxter) when it dawned on me why these students were so exceptionally clear-headed. They were unplugged.
Students who come to Wyoming Catholic College agree to give up their cell phone. Not just during class, but all the time. The contrast between a typical 21-year-old and one who hasn’t touched a cell phone in months could not be more striking. Young people fidgeting with their devices has become the norm in schools and colleges; even if a student isn’t actively scrolling their newsfeed, their headspace is the virtual world of Instagram and TikTok. And so are ours—you don’t really notice, until you reconnect with young people who are truly unplugged. They just seem healthier and happier.
Giving up cell phones is a radical move, so I had to ask some students about it. Every single one used the word “freedom” in describing their experience at WCC. If the basic purpose of education is to create truly free people, then this was a beautiful gift this little college is providing.
From the break it offers from ceaseless technological agitation, to the liberal and Catholic education it provides, to the majesty of the Teton Mountains that surround it, I can’t recommend Wyoming Catholic College highly enough. For students interested in the great books, authentic faith, and reconnecting with reality, WCC is the place to be.