Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts On Higher Education – Part 2

…continued from Part 1 – The Old Model – Why We Used To Get a College Degree


Recapping Part 1 - The value of working for a big company used to be substantially different – the employment was stable, companies helped fund employee health plans, and pension plans were offered to aid in retirement. Today all three of these benefits are being stripped away by the big companies – they no longer want the added expense. Thus, in a fairly short amount of time, the idea of owning one’s own business has grown extremely attractive. And here is a key point - you don’t need an expensive college degree to hire yourself as the owner of your own business.

To be sure, some professions still require a college degree in order to participate – such as the medical or teaching fields. My oldest child is considering the medical profession, so I’m not off the college hook by any means. But if these fields are not your goal, you may want to reconsider the idea of paying tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a degree from a university. I believe that the day is fast approaching when that little piece of paper called a diploma will mean a lot less than it has in the past.

The second reason that I hesitate to send my kids to a school of higher learning – especially a state school or Ivy League institution – is due to the culture that pervades these places. I went to a state school - so did my wife. I saw the drunkenness, partying, disregard for authority, and even the Marxist thought that pervades many of our universities. I attended a Psychology class where part of the standard curriculum was to show pornography to the class during one entire class lecture, in an effort to expose students to "another viewpoint" (by the way, that was one of the few days in my four year college career that I skipped class). I saw boys and girls openly groping each other in their dorm rooms, with the door open, in an effort to impress others with their exploits.

All of this had an effect on me - most notably, to strengthen my faith and cause me to step out and be "set apart". Sending my kids into such an environment scares me – it should scare any Christian parent. I have little doubt that my children will be able to handle that cultural pressure after they leave our nest - much like I was forced to adapt. But is it absolutely necessary for their development? Must I pay tens of thousands of dollars to an institution trying to undo the very moral character that my wife and I spent eighteen years nurturing in each of our children? Is there a chance that one of them might stumble, and be forever lost and separated from God's kingdom? There is that chance - and that makes the choice about higher education a very important decision.

One more thought strikes me - and it is bound to be unpopular with many. My own vision for my two girls is first and foremost that they grow up to be stay-at-home mothers, raising and homeschooling their own children in an effort to perpetuate a multi-generational vision of God-serving families. "Stay-at-home mom" was the vision that my wife and I had for our own family when we first were married (homeschooling came a little later). We vowed not to let a desire for money overtake that vision. And so, even though she was very close to overtaking me as the biggest moneymaker in the house, my wife quit her job just before our first child was born. We have never regretted that decision, and I am firmly convinced that God has blessed my career and our earnings because of it. Am I saying that women should never have careers or earn money, even after they have children? No, I am not - that is not a Biblical tenet. I'm simply saying it is the vision that I have for my own family. God tells us, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). So I’ve chosen a vision. It may not come to pass, and I will be fine if God wills another direction for my girls.

Want another practical viewpoint – from a real, live, potential college student who has decided to pursue a bold path? Check out Miranda Trujillo’s excellent blog post here. When dealing with the idea of higher education, she writes:

College. It prepares you for a career. As I have said before, I want to be a Godly wife and mother someday. My first priority is making sure that I can someday put my kids first - raising, training and educating them with the bulk of my time. So college, first of all, would train me for an occupation that I would neglect once children came into the picture - maybe even before children if the occupation kept me from focusing on my home.

College also takes lots of money. Money that I don't have. So not only would it train me for a career that I wouldn't use for long - it would put me into debt for this training. Debt that might cause me to continue working at the career I don't want in order to pay off the training I needed for the career I don't want... [italics mine]

That last part is brilliant. I pray that my own kids maintain such a perspective, and that they marry others who are this wise.

Finally, what can we do to prepare our children to earn a living – without the necessity of transferring thousands of dollars to a university? The Christian Home Educators of Colorado have devised a solution – it’s called the AME program. AME stands for “Apprenticeship, Mentorship, Entrepreneurship”. This program pairs willing mentors with interested students to explore, learn about, and work in various professions – without the expense of “checking it out” for years in college (where it is still rare to gain exposure to practical, hands-on experience). Moreover, a student can decide to change their profession after some work experience without the expense of tacking on an additional year or two of college. Finally, the program is designed to bring students under the Christian mentorship of professionals – with an eye toward developing them to work for God’s service (something you don’t get in most colleges). Check out their link at AME.

To Part 3 – Ultimately, what is it all really about?

1 comment:

beeman said...

Awesome article Alan! I attended a "Christian University" and it had a better environment but not by much! It is sad to see what happens on a college campus with many young people who do not have enough older folks to help guide them through those very formative years. I am mindful of this verse from proverbs, Prov 13:20 "He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm." Our society believes that children properly socialize children but he Bible states otherwise. Let us give our children the proper socialization of all ages of people and not confine them to their age group. Excellent article again Alan! So good to read a faith affirming article!

Because of Christ,

Marty Trujillo

Phil. 4:4;13!