A New Season: Thoughts on Impending Graduation
- Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I am in a season of deep thinking about the future of my two youngest sons. My husband and I have a different plan for our two youngest sons than we had for our older sons. When our oldest two children graduated high school, we had been part of the generation of homeschool pioneers. We had tried something radically new, and we were so excited that it had worked! As we sent them off to state institutions of higher education, we did it with great confidence that we had prepared them well for the logical next step in a young person’s life.
Over a decade later, as our two younger sons approach graduation, we have different thoughts. Rob and I are wondering why we would work so hard to give them a solidly Christian education for so many years and then turn them over to secular institutions. Can’t we find an option that serves our mission and vision? In my book Echo in Celebration, I wrote that the final end of a classical, Christian education is doxology. Echoing in celebration is the obvious response to learning more about our Lord through His creation. Shouldn’t our higher education plans serve this mission?
As Christians, we live in constant tension. The Lord commands us to be in the world, but not of the world. One of the ways people have responded to this tension has been to homeschool their children. Christian homeschoolers have rejected the thought that our children can be vivisected into parts—the soul for the church, the mind for the state school, and the body for juvenile pleasures. Instead, we have claimed each child wholly for Christ. Nonetheless, each beloved child inevitably approaches adulthood, and then the question of what to do after homeschooling looms large.
People constantly ask my son what college he is going to go to or what he will study in college, as though the tension is gone. I have realized that my husband and I succumbed to pride as we marched our eldest two into the university system. We had proven that homeschooling worked, because our boys got into selective state universities with honors and scholarships. I pray your children have done as well and can receive the same accolades; yet, ten years later, we will not make the same decision for our youngest two sons.
Do not mistake my comments as an assault on higher education or the academy. We financially support good Christian colleges and universities that are trying to escape the secular mold of education. I am not saying that no one in our family will ever go to college. I am saying we will not go for the wrong reasons: because of pride or to jump through hoops or because it is the “expected” thing to do or because we just have to do “something” after high school. We should do all things in order to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems that people rarely send their children to college to further the cause of Christ, especially those students who are expected to enter a profession. When my sons can comfortably say, “I’m going to college to sit at the feet of a Godly man who loves the same things I love,” we may then be on our way to a Christian paradigm for higher learning.
For now, most of us send our children to college to acquire job skills. They have to eat, after all. But how is that going? Have you paid any attention to the news? College graduates are angry over the lack of jobs and underemployment. Leaders in economics are warning parents not to send their children to college. Forbes, USA Today, and other periodicals have discussed the poor ROI (return on investment) for a college education today. Peter Thiel, a hedge fund manager, started a program that pays students to go straight to work instead of going to college. Timothy Ferris’s bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, is full of alternative education and career ideas. Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford research professor and Google guru, co-founded an online private educational organization, Udacity, which offers free classes to students around the globe. We all know the stories of Silicon Valley leaders who left college in order to work. For a while, college will still provide opportunities to earn more income for average graduates. But I believe my children aren’t average. They are heirs of Christ and are expected to pursue him. The income will follow.
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