Monday, June 16, 2008

An Answer for Bonnie

Blog Reader Bonnie writes:

Mrs. Jo I was wondering if you might post about what your view is about Christian young people who go to secular colleges, whether away or at home. Like what would you advise your children to do. Would you restrict them to Christian only and how would you go about helping them find a "good" secular college. Mainly what are your thoughts on it?? I am 15 and will hopefully graduate a year early and this has really been weighing on my mind and your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!


Dear Bonnie,

I can't say for sure how I would counsel each of my individual children in this area because a lot of it will depend on their spiritual maturity and the degree or training they want to obtain. While I've said in previous posts that I'd like them to be homeschooled or Christian schooled to get their foundation, I think that the choice of college is up to them, and I will not be a parent that orders them to go to Bible college. It is nice to go to a college where your faith is upheld and strengthened and where you can participate in a lot of great fellowship with other young people (that's how I met King Jo, after all =) Of course I will fully support their decision to go to a Christian college if that's what they want. My cousin who recently graduated took a lot of college courses from the local state college in her town as a homeschooled high schooler. While she was able to get a bunch of credits out of the way cheaply, she really felt the classes were dry and meaningless and she is excited to go away to a Christian school this fall where she can study the Bible and be in a better environment. I've known lots of homeschoolers who have taken classes at a community college and have benefitted from being able to live at home and go to college for free, or nearly free. After they got their generals out of the way, they were able to go on to a Christian college to finish up and get in their share of Bible/Theology/Christian perspectives courses too. This is a smart option for financial reasons! If you are looking for a secular college, I would advise you to find a community college close to home since these are usually the cheapest for locals.

If my child was pursing a non-ministry related career, like mechanics, nursing, business, law enforcement, etc. I would advise them that it's fine to go to a secular college if they could obtain the degree they need for that career field. I would definitely warn them about the temptations of living on a secular campus, and would prefer that they live at home or in an off-campus apartment with Christian roommates. You can still be a bright light for the Lord without living in co-ed dorms and going to wild parties. I have had lots of friends who have been bright lights in their secular colleges, bringing the Gospel to their classmates though they lived off-campus.

One thing I will tell my children is that college is not necessary. I was raised with the idea that all young people go to college so it wasn't IF I'd go, but rather, WHERE I'd go. Recently I've come across more and more Christians who are encouraging their kids to avoid college and rather be apprentices to learn a skill or start their own businesses or for daughters especially to live at home until marriage. I think more young people today need to hear this message. College doesn't make you an adult. College doesn't necessarily mature you. I don't believe every single person is cut out for it. You CAN be successful without it. Though many vocations do require a college degree, some don't. A good work ethic is every bit as important as degree. My grandpa never went to college but became quite wealthy due to his strong work ethic and personal motivation. My youngest brother has never been academic or college-bound, but he's an amazingly gifted mechanic and recently purchased his own bike shop at age 19, after apprenticing there for 5 years.

So many young people today feel the pressure to know what they want to do and are pushed into college before they are even ready for college. Sometimes the most dedicated students are the older ones who have experienced life a bit and then finally decide what field they want to study for sure. My mom is an example of this as she went back to school a few years ago and got her teaching degree. After 20+ years of teaching her kids as a stay-at-home mom and teaching Sunday School, Children's Church, and AWANAS she realized teaching is a passion of hers and she wanted to be able to work as a teacher now that her kids are grown.

I plan to give my kids the option to choose college or to not choose college. I would love for my daughter(s) to stay home until they marry and help the family, perhaps branching out with home business ideas, learning how to run a home efficiently and helping with various ministries in the church according to their gifts. My sons will grow up knowing they will need to choose a vocation to support themselves and their families someday, but whether or not they train at college or through another method is up to them. We don't plan to let our kids be idle or overly dependant, but neither will we boot them out the door at 18 as most parents in the West do (including mine).

If you are really torn when it comes to college choices, I would encourage you to:

1. Keep praying about it. Ask for the Lord's direction for this area of your life. He will lead you and open and close the doors.
2. Seek the counsel of your parents. What do they see as your strengths, passions, and gifts?
3. Think about what you would like to do after high school. Does the thing you want to do require a degree? If you aren't sure what you would like to do, but are interested in studying the Word more, consider doing a one-year Bible college program where you can grow and study the Bible while you take more time to figure out what's next.
4. If you do want to get a degree or apprenticeship training, figure out if there is a way to start working at it while you live at home so you can get through school as debt-free as possible.
5. Relax! There is soooo much pressure for high schoolers today that I feel the need to continually remind my high school senior friends that they do NOT have to decide their entire future by the time they graduate. It's good to have some ideas of what you want to do or might do well, but life is constantly changing. They say the average person switches careers/jobs 11 times! A lot of people have changed jobs even more frequently than that in a lifetime! As you grow and develop more and more you may change your mind about various colleges or majors and that's okay! Meeting a spouse or feeling God's call to a particular vocation or ministry may come within the next ten years and life will change drastically. Almost everyone I know is now working a job they never expected they would be working when they were 18 or younger. So, don't feel like your whole life is riding on this one decision!

Hope this helps Bonnie!

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Thank you SO much!!! Your advice has really helped! I've always loved nursing and am looking at going to our community college, while staying at home, but my real passion is to be a mom, wife, homaker, homeschool my children, helper to my husband etc.,. But I do believe that nursing will also benefit me as a mom definately.And on the side, I really would love to take a reformed theology class. Thank you So much for your thoughts, advice and the time that you took to write this post!!

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