Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let's talk college!

I am LOVING the college discussion; I had no idea that the opinions on if/when/where/why to pursue higher learning were so passionate! Unfortunately, the bulk of the drama is taking place in my inbox. And, guys, that's just no fun. Can we take the discussion public? If you've written me an email on the topic, expect a request for full disclosure in your inbox today. And if you've refrained from airing your views, do you mind taking the time to post them? I think we might all have something we can learn from this.

Some of the things I'm hearing, just to get you thinking:

1. College isn't something Christians should encourage their children to look into; faith is often damaged or snuffed out entirely there.

2. Homeschooling a child and then putting them in a classroom environment is counterproductive.

3. Not sending your child to college is akin to shackling his potential for a lifetime.

4. College isn't the best thing in the world, but it's the way it is, so ... pick the best one you can and guide your kids through it.


Mrs. C said...

It depends so much on the young adult and what the career goals may be. Should be an interesting discussion, though...

Mandi said...

Wow, those are some pretty black-and-white opinions. It seems to me that – like most parenting decisions – it's simply not that black-and-white.

Let's see. I went to college, and graduated summa cum laude, and managed to hold on to my faith through the experience. My husband did not go to college and now owns his own business and supports his family. I actually don't think that going to "the best" college matters unless you're looking to enter a prestigious field. There are plenty of successful people who attended state schools.

And #2 I can't really even address since I don't think my reasons for homeschooling are anywhere close to theirs.

That said, we don't plan to force our children to go to college. If they want to go and have a plan, sure, I think it'd be great, and I'm all about education – even "just" for the sake of education. If they don't want to go and have a plan, then great there too.

We don't feel like we need to be stressing about saving up enough money to send them to college. I worked full-time while I went to college, and if going is important to them, then I don't think paying for it yourself is a bad thing. Which is not to say we won't help if we're able, but it's not something we're stressing about being able to provide.

Interested to hear more about the the opinions above!

Tree Climbing Mom said...

I think it all boils down to the individual and God's plan for them. My husband and I were talking about this the other day as we bemoaned what's happening in the university classrooms these days. I wouldn't want to send my kids to college "just 'cuz", but I do want them fully equipped for the call God's placed on their life - whatever that may be. At the very least I'd love to see my kids have a gap year where they serve or work somewhere before starting college. I think it would give them an extra opportunity to further mature and refine their focus before heading into the college environment.

Of course, my oldest is 6 so we've got a while:)

Big Red Driver said...

I am so often alarmed when homeschooling parents not only send their kids to a secular college, but send them when they're 16 & 17. Do they not understand the influence there? It's a tough place for young adults let alone kids. There are so many great Christian colleges where their beliefs won't be slaughtered.

Luke said...

Okay, I'll jump in (just for fun [smile]):

1. College isn't something Christians should encourage their children to look into; faith is often damaged or snuffed out entirely there.

My faith was pretty damaged by failed ministry prior to college. Spending time at my Christian university with good people and professors helped.

2. Homeschooling a child and then putting them in a classroom environment is counterproductive.

It wasn't that way for me. I rocked in the "classroom environment" [smile]. In fact, in many ways, homeschooling can be a great preparation for the classroom environment...

3. Not sending your child to college is akin to shackling his potential for a lifetime.

Eh... don't think that's true. My best friend dropped out of college (it wasn't for him), and I think he's doing fine [smile]. And if you find yourself shackled later on in life, just go then [smile].

4. College isn't the best thing in the world, but it's the way it is, so ... pick the best one you can and guide your kids through it.

Eh... college isn't the "best thing in the world"--but I liked it. I think the reality is that college isn't what people tend to try to "sell" it as: A way to ensure a better business future. College is a time when you can begin to stretch your wings, connect with a bunch of people, and start togrow into who you are and, perhaps even, what you are supposed to become. It is not a way to ensure you have business success.

I'll start my thoughts off with those [smile].


Anonymous said...

1. College isn't something Christians should encourage their children to look into; faith is often damaged or snuffed out entirely there.

I agree all the way. Faith is a delicate thing and you really have to nurture it to keep it growing. Colleges are so secular that this can't happen.

2. Homeschooling a child and then putting them in a classroom environment is counterproductive.

I know that I homeschool my kids mostly to keep them out of situations that would damage their faith or their minds. Others disagree. I think that college age is when the wheat family's rise above the chaff family's.

3. Not sending your child to college is akin to shackling his potential for a lifetime.

That's just wrong. My husband didn't go to college, and I didn't either. We have four children and a great church community. That's what I want for my children in adulthood. College isn't the way for that to happen.

4. College isn't the best thing in the world, but it's the way it is, so ... pick the best one you can and guide your kids through it.

If you really thought that college was that important you shouldn't send your kids at all. Quit compromising and live IN THE WORD.

Kristin said...

I'm with Mrs. C. If I have a child that desires to go to college and learn something specific, that's fine. We're not paying for it.

My husband and I both went to college. Like Luke said, my faith (if I had any at the time) was destroyed long before I went to college. And there were other bad influences there. Then again, I wasn't prepared for those influences. I would hope I'm doing a better job with my children.

Hubby and I are both engineers. I find the majority of engineering grads these days don't really learn "hard core" engineering. And much of college is what was once covered in high school. Why pay for that?

We also don't want to encourage our children to be employees. That seems to be what most colleges are geared for.

Overwhelmed! said...

College was one of the best things that ever happened to me!

I was raised in a very small town...very small. My relationship with my parents was strained and I was very much ready to move out when I graduated from high school. I decided that college was important to me, so I got started in applying my Junior year.

I had no scholarships, no money was being given to me by my parents (I knew that if I asked for help, there'd be strings attached so I refused).

I moved to the city where I was going to college a few months before I was to start and got a job in the student union and began saving money to supplement the student loan I had gotten to get started.

I worked FT all the way through college and had an additional PT jobs in the summer. I somehow managed to balance work with school and was determined to attend every class since I was the one paying for it all!

My world opened up for me at college! I loved my classes (even the non-core ones) and I loved the variety of subjects I had to choose from. I fell in love with learning! My grades were higher in college than they had been in high school.

I made new friends, I surprised myself by thriving in a large environment (my first English class was twice the size of my home town). I learned how to manage my own finances without help from my parents.

I even grew stronger in my faith. My family is Catholic but my parents were very sporadic in their church attendance for us. They made sure we had the sacraments done (First Communion, Confirmation) but beyond that church was hit or miss. In college I got connected with the church youth group at the Newman Center and started attending mass without fail weekly, participating in bible studies, and other activities. My faith grew.

College was a very good experience for me. I "found" myself there and gained the confidence necessary to help me succeed in the "real" world.

It's interesting though, I'm not in a job that uses the degree I went to college for. I learned that many employers don't care WHAT your degree is in (unless you're trying to be a doctor, lawyer, or something specialized like that). They just want you to have A degree because it proves to them that you have tenacity and well-roundedness. At least that's been my experience out in the job market.

Anyway, I will be encouraging my children to go to school, to live in the dorms at least the first year to help feel immersed in college, and to work at least PT during college. I want to help them so that they don't have to struggle quite as much as I did to make ends meet. But I'm not going to hand it all to them. I saw too many of my college friends piss away their time there and do poorly because they really didn't have a vested interest. They weren't footing the bill, their parents were. So college didn't necessarily have a lot of meaning for many of them.

So, that's my take on college. I think it can be a very good thing.

Mandi said...

Reading through the responses, I've very surprised at the number of people who view college as a faith-destroying place that should be avoided at all costs.

It seems to me that we should be "raising adults", as MG says, and that by the time we have kids who are college age, they should be ready to face the hard questions of faith. I hope my kids DO question their faith. I hope they wrestle with it and listen to what unbelievers say. And I think it's my job to prepare them to face the hard issues that they'll face in a college setting – or face every day in life if they don't attend college.

For those who think college is bad because it can squelch faith, is your intention that your children will only work and interact with Christians as adults? I'm asking sincerely, because I just don't understand how "protecting" them from college rather than preparing them for it is possible if they're still going to encounter unbelievers in their everyday lives.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer that my children remain equally yoked. Unbelievers in the world are tolerated but not friends or coworkers. I think the BIBLE is pretty clear on that.

mary grace said...

I am curious as to how your children might be able to be set apart through adulthood? Not marrying unbelievers I understand. But not being co-workers with them? Being entrepreneurs who refuse to sell to/ provide service to nonbelievers?

Raising adults is what it's all about in my book. If I have not helped the Holy Spirit to shape a person who can handle the tough questions of faith by the time they reach adulthood, then I have failed. That has nothing to do with college. Nothing at all.

Sounds like we are coming from the same place. Interesting that for both of us, our faith actually *grew* during a time when many people expect it to be smothered.

There's so much to be said for paying your own way. Personally, it kept me from making a lot of stupid choices. While many of my friends skipped classes, meandered from one major to another, etc., I *had* to be focused. Time was money. *My money.* I knew how many hours I had logged at a cruddy features mag to pay for that class ... and I wasn't going to waste it!

mary grace said...

I'm curious as to why being an employee is undesirable in your mind?

AY said...

I will support my children if they want to attend a 4 year college (preferably Christian) or a trade school. I also see a lot of value in a 17 or 18 year old taking off one year to apprentice or something other than formal schooling. My hope is that our children will have made their decisions and know where they're going when they're that age...unlike their Dad and I!

I do not feel a burden to pay their way through college. I would like to help them in some way - but the most effective "help" might not be financial.

One thing I feel strongly about is helping them gain skills right now that they can use to obtain a higher-paying job to pay their way through college.

Thanks for another interesting discusison!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are both College educated. We enjoyed it and got alot out of it, academically, spiritually (it was a Christian College, after all), but also in terms of broader horizons. I learned so much from living on a hall with 70 girls from all over the world, talking with them, praying for them, being in a leadership position.
My husband and I talk about encouraging our children into higher education, but would be happy with a technical or trade school or college. There are so many options. The decision really depends on the person, their gifts and abilities and what they want to do.


Beth said...

My dad spent around 90K to send me to the Savannah College of Art and Design. I graduated with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design. I have never used this expensive degree... but I did meet my husband there, and that was worth every penny of the 90K. I also left school yearning to be back in church (I rebelled for 6 years). This college experience may not have been what my mom desired for me, but it was all a part of God's greater plan for my life.

For our children, we simply want to equip them to live the life God has planned for them. I hope that they will be light in the darkness should they go to a secular university. If God is planning for one of my kids to be a doctor, there is no way around the higher education. University and Med School will be a must. Or what about politics or the judicial system... WE NEED righteous leaders and judges! However, we certainly are okay with our local community college if that seems to be the wisest option.

One of the reasons I am homeschooling is to prepare my children to be able to make wise and godly choices as they reach adulthood. That includes being honest about my past mistakes, so that they may learn through my poor choices.

Anonymous who referred to not associating with unbelievers-
If Christ were here today, would he be only dealing with believers? Christ was always around "sinners" who were unclean. He did not "tolerate" them, He LOVED them. We can't hideout and wait for heaven... we are called to "make disciples of all nations" and that includes co-workers, neighbors, and friends. I agree that when one is unequally yoked it will lead to problems (marriage, business partners). I have plenty of friends who aren't believers, but I love them and pray that God would open their eyes to the truth.