Every year about October I start getting this question: “Dave (or here in the south – Mr. David) would you mind filling out this recommendation for college?” Most of the time I do so without comment. Because of my close association with so many who are soon to be college bound I have formed some opinions about college in general. I actually have some very strong opinions about so-called “Christian” colleges which I won’t go into around here except to say that I think there are very, very few actual Christian colleges and I’m not sure I’ve filled out a recommendation to one of those in the last 6 years.
This post about “The Coming Meltdown in Higher Education” was linked to by Challies sometime this week and I thought it was interesting. From what I can tell this guy blogs about marketing so a lot of what he says comes from that perspective. But there are a couple of points that concur with some things I’ve observed as I’ve watched young men and women get put through the college machine through the years.
In his fifth point he says that the correlation between a typical college degree and success is suspect. Here’s the pertinent information: The data I’m seeing shows that a degree (from one of those famous schools, with or without a football team) doesn’t translate into significantly better career opportunities, a better job or more happiness than a degree from a cheaper institution.
First of all I’ve thought for a while that many teenagers are being pushed toward college who have no business continuing to sit in a classroom. Just prior to the quote I copied above the author says, “College wasn’t supposed to be a continuation of high school.” And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with learning a skill and working hard. There are many examples of men just in our church who never went to college but have been hard-working and successful.
Second, I agree with his point about the perceived correlation between success and attending a well known school. Having a Division I football team or being established before the tree that became the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was cut down doesn’t guarantee much except that you’ll probably be leaving school with a lot of debt. I’ve had students graduate from distinguished private schools and from community colleges and as of yet their success after college correlates more with what how disciplined they were in high school than it does with the name on the degree.
Third, it seems like many Christian parents these days throw discernment out the door when it comes to college. Important biblical issues like debt are ignored because the end of graduating from a prestigious institution justifies the means. And then there’s the issue of influence. Too many teenagers are having their faith undermined by professors with cool glasses and fancy hair product whose goal it is to challenge the biblical convictions (or sadly the lack thereof) of first year freshmen. Who wants to stand up and challenge the guy with the Ph.D. in the middle of a really cool and smart sounding lecture? Mom? Dad? Then why in the world would you expect your 18 year old to do so?
I could say more but I have to go back to obsessing about long blog posts. If you thought this one was too long go read a shorter one at the better blog.