August 16, 2011

An Insider's View: The Truth about College

Since I recently addressed The Truth About Preschool, the truth about the other end of the educational spectrum seemed like fair game, too!

Actually, my impetus for posting this comes from a recent article - This Year Keep Your Kids Home from College - by Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. You read that right: a college professor is counseling parents against sending their children to college - his or anyone else's - because, as he asserts, "while I once considered college to be a good investment for most high school graduates, I have come to believe that it is a bad idea for most of them. Note that I am not saying that college simply doesn’t deliver the good things it once did. I am saying much more than that; namely that it often hurts young at least four distinct ways."

He then goes on to detail the ways in which college hurts our kids, spiritually, morally, intellectually, and financially. And I came away from his well-reasoned piece shouting, "Amen!"

Dr. Adams acknowledges that some careers do require a college degree - though I believe he'd also advocate for alternatives to traditional residential brick-and-mortar university whenever possible. His thesis in saying "this year keep your kids home" is that it's better for young people to wait a few years - to not enroll right after high school - so they might mature a bit (gaining important spiritual grounding in the process), be more certain about their desired career paths, and work to save money (to avoid college debt and to also learn to appreciate the value of hard work - which will make college studies all that much more meaningful in the end).

My girls are not even teenagers yet, so we've got some time to consider all the options - including (most importantly of all) seeking God's clear guidance about what He wants with them after they complete their high school studies. And by His grace, we'll all readily accept His plans.

Of course, our most hoped-for outcome has nothing to do with career paths. Instead, it is that both our daughters will love and serve the Lord with their whole hearts for their whole lives. And, given that, everything else will fall into place as He intends.

A secondary goal - which I actually see as a corollary to the first - is for them to love learning and continue to seek knowledge and wisdom for their whole lives. And I understand that, depending on God's call on each of their lives, post-secondary studies may be part of that process. However, I don't want them to believe that attending a traditional residential brick-and-mortar college (i.e., the type that destroys so many young people, spiritually, morally, intellectually, and financially) is the only path to a meaningful life, because that is, quite simply, an outright lie. There are many alternatives for gaining knowledge and competence, and the possibilities will surely only multiply over the next 10 years.

Sadly, just as so many parents mistakenly see the public/government school system as the default answer to K-12 education and fail to even investigate the feasibility of other options, so, too, many have come to presume that traditional college is the default for post-secondary learning. But that needn't be the case in either situation - as parents, we really only do our kids a service by helping them to see all the options and then choosing wisely - and I'm very glad that Dr. Adams was courageous and honest enough to acknowledge that truth.

Photo Credit: UW-Green Bay


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