About College (re-post)

by lora on July 6, 2010

This is the third article in my series “How We Raise Our Daughters.” I would encourage you to visit the original post to view the comments. Some great questions were asked which prompted a good discussion. Please leave a comment on this post and let me know your thoughts on daughters attending college.

In my first article in this series, I very briefly mentioned our plans to not send our daughters to college, saying I would address it in the future. I have been writing this in my head for days (that is how I always begin the writing process) and have had some difficulty. I have come to see that many of our convictions, this one especially, are based not only in our view of how to raise children, or school them, but they are tied into our whole view of our Christian walk. Because of that, I can’t write this in four bullet points; it will have to be more comprehensive.

I recognize that what Gene and I do with our family is very counter-culture, but it is not counter-culture for the sake of being so. We have chosen the path we have after much thought, and it has come about over a period of time. It may seem to some that we have not carefully thought out our decisions taking everything into account. I can assure you that we have, and we still came to the same conclusions.

Careers for our Daughters

Many believe that a woman should go to college even if she doesn’t plan on entering the workforce… just in case.
Just in case she never marries, just in case her husband dies, just in case she divorces. These may seem like valid reasons to some, and maybe they are, but we don’t base our decisions on the possible outcome; we base our decisions on the principles we learn from scripture. If she never marries, she can have a home business. Many people every day chuck their college degrees to start home businesses. For that matter, many people change careers never using that degree again. Just because someone doesn’t have a college degree doesn’t mean they can’t earn a living. The question then becomes, how much money do you truly need. As Christians, this is something we should truly examine for ourselves. Are we to be filling our storehouses and living large? What are we truly called to do? If you read the book of Acts, I don’t think you will find that the first century Christians were living for themselves, seeing how much wealth they could acquire. So, if we aren’t required to earn the biggest salary possible, what are we to do? Make enough to meet our needs. Many millions of people are able to do so without having a college degree. Though, there are many who do quite well for themselves without a degree. Bill Gates didn’t have a degree until this year, and even that was just an honorary degree. Earning a living is as much about drive as it is education.

If our daughter’s husband were to die, she would need to be able to support herself and her children. This is where our convictions come heavily into play. We believe in a strong family and are teaching our children to be unified. I truly don’t believe that if one of our daughters was widowed that Gene, I or my other daughters would allow her family to suffer. That is how it should be, not just as family members but as Christians. This idea is something that many Christians today have put aside. They are content with the government taking over the job the church should be doing in this and other areas. As Christians we are required to help our brother in need. Too often, we are resentful, not wanting to share our “hard earned money” with others. The root of this thought process is greed and selfishness. Nothing we have is ours, it all belongs to God.

We don’t teach our daughters to have the mindset that they may divorce. If you go into marriage with the mindset that you may one day divorce… you probably will. While we are aware that we can’t control the actions of our daughters’ husbands, we can teach our children that marriage is forever. You would be naive to think that there couldn’t have been times in my own marriage (or any for that matter) where things were not extremely tough. If divorce isn’t an option, then you have to work through the hard times, and you come out stronger on the other side.

Along this line is the Western thought of providing security for ourselves. I am sure that our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia, The Sudan, and other persecuted countries would laugh our “Christianity.” We as a culture are obsessed with security, be it our health, our finances or our borders. We proudly proclaim how we can “take care of ourselves.” We try to prepare for every eventuality, thinking we can control the outcome, when we can’t. I’m not saying that we throw all our planning out the window and do nothing. I am saying we need to recognize who the author and finisher of our faith is, and in whose hands we are residing. We are resting in a false sense of security when we depend upon ourselves. The only security we have is in Christ. We cannot prepare for every eventuality, but we do the best we can, teaching our daughters to rely upon the Lord.

Thoughts on College
It has been proposed that our daughter may need that college degree somewhere down the road. While this may seem well thought out on the surface, there are some other things that need to be considered. One thing that is not being taken into consideration in this line of thinking is the change in the marketplace. For instance, if my daughter received her degree in 2007, but never used it (remember, it’s an insurance policy) and was widowed in 2027, the marketplace changes would be drastic. Unless she is involved in continuing education, there is no way she would be able to compete for a job with those who are fresh out of college.

Another concern we have about college is the huge financial debt from student loans that many have upon entering marriage. The debt is huge for one person, but for both, it’s astronomical. The stress and burden this places on a new marriage is very detrimental. There is also the feeling that after spending all of that money on college, they are just throwing the money away if they don’t use it. Which in turn puts pressure on the wife to work, to justify the expenditure.

I know I don’t have sons, but if I did, what would I do differently? Would I allow them to attend college? If for instance they wanted to be engineers, how would we work that out? After giving it a great deal of thought, here are some of the options we have. First, is distance learning. This is huge now, and I would venture a guess that they could do most if not all to earn a degree this way. If not, we would look at them commuting to a local college while living at home. There are ways to do this without immersing yourself into the university system.

Should a young man’s options be so limited to cause him to think that he can only provide for his family if he has a degree? My husband never attended college, yet he has always provided for our family, often making as much or more than many with degrees. Should a man be looked down on for enjoying working with his hands as opposed to being a “professional”? We need firemen, policemen, plumbers, carpenters, and mechanics. It is an elitist society that looks down their noses at those who don’t have degrees. Because someone doesn’t have a degree doesn’t mean they don’t have the intelligence for it. It may mean that they have a different direction for their life, much like George Washington and Harry Truman did.

College and a Love of Learning

Many people equate going to college with continuing their love of learning. When I went to college, such was not the case. For most college students, their degree is seen as a means to an end. Few people are there because they love to learn. They are there because they have a career in mind, and this is what they have to do to get it.

I have tried to instill a love of learning in my children from early childhood. If you have a true love of learning, you will always be seeking knowledge and truth. My girls love learning new things, and are almost always seeking out information on something. Just yesterday, Rachel decided to learn the recorder. She couldn’t find her book, so she went online and found tutorials and music. She’s been playing for hours and is getting better with each passing moment. When I first began homeschooling, I saw the importance of teaching my children to love learning, and how to teach themselves whatever they needed to know. Then came along the internet, and it made it even easier. If my girls came across something they didn’t know about, we would all stop what we were doing and search it out together, online. I remember years ago finding a puff-ball mushroom in the yard. The girls and I found a video online that showed how it would explode and send it’s spores into the air. That was about 8 years ago, and they all still remember it. If you can teach a child how to learn, they can learn anything. That’s why I’ve never been a big fan of the traditional or classical models. I want to instill curiosity in my children, not studying to pass a test. In all honesty, I don’t give tests; haven’t in years, and don’t plan on starting. I don’t have to give them a spelling test to see if they know how to spell a word, it will come up in their writing if they don’t, and we will correct it then.

The love of learning is something that is cultivated over time, like a garden. There are many weeds that come along and can choke out that love as well. Most of those weeds are found within the institutional learning systems. Think back to your school days, if you can remember much of them. You spent a week or so studying a subject, then you crammed for a test and moved on. At the end of the semester, you crammed for the semester test, trying to remember all that you had forgotten from earlier in the semester. Does this pattern establish a love of learning? I believe it destroys it. I actually didn’t develop my love of learning until I was out of school and married. It began because of spiritual questions I had in my life. I would do research and study so that I could understand things better. That began to bleed over into other areas of my life, and my desire for knowledge hasn’t stopped.

Not attending college doesn’t restrict your ability to pursue knowledge, but it does give you the freedom to learn more liberally.

God’s Plan for our Daughters

I know that many of you will strongly disagree with the following, and I’m o.k. with that. I do think this is something that needs to be addressed though, so I hope you will bear with me. If we base our daughters going to college on what they feel God has told them, we need to look at that closely for several reasons. First, our flesh (and our children’s) is wicked and desirous of being fed. Usually when I want something, I question it. If I want it, there’s a good chance that God doesn’t. Not because I’m so out of tune with God, but because I’m a sinner. Second, does their going to college line up with scripture? The scriptures don’t address this topic specifically, so to call it sin would be wrong, but there are some Biblical principles to look at. We are told not to sit in the counsel of the ungodly, and humanistic professors would fall into that category (Ps 1:1). We are told that wives are to be keepers at home (Titus 2:5). We are told to be in the world not of it (John 17:14). It is very hard to not be of it, in the university setting. We are also told that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33). We are not to be seeking worldly wisdom, but the wisdom of God (1 Cor 3:19). Our unmarried daughters are to be concerned with the things of God (1 Cor 7:34). The last part of James 1:27 is very important (as is the first, it just doesn’t apply to this part of the article… but it does apply to the first part on families), it states that we are to be unstained by the world. How can we do that if we are abiding in a place that is on the whole so ungodly.

We have made women going to college the “norm”, and it isn’t even questioned, but rather expected. It’s odd that a young woman deciding on devoting her single years to serving God in many capacities is scorned, but a young woman going off to college to gain the wisdom of the world is lauded. Does that seem in balance to you? My mindset is to be different than that of “the world” and if it isn’t, I need to do some self-examination. A few years ago I noticed a trend, which greatly disturbed me. It seems that most of the professing Christians I knew were trying to live as much like the world as possible and still call themselves Christians. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we be trying to be as much like Christ as possible while living within the world?

This is written not to condemn anyone who has chosen to send their daughters off to college, or chosen a path that is different from ours. It is merely expressing how Gene and I arrived at the decisions we have. My hope is that you will examine the validity of our reasons, and not just assume that we are uninformed, or naive. We love our children and have no desire to restrict or repress them; in fact, we actively seek to encourage deep thought. Teaching them to question the veracity of what they are told. They are allowed and encouraged to question our reasonings and thoughts behind our decisions, as long as they are respectful. We also teach them to reason out a problem, based on scriptural truths.

Other Articles in this Series:

How We Raise Our Daughters

The Perfect Family

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