Speaking of College: Part II - Is it a Waste?

My oldest daughter, Kara, at times enjoys shocking people. One of the ways she does this is by telling them what she hopes to do with her life. A typical conversation might go something like this:

Person: So, what are you studying at Purdue?
Kara: Classics, with minors in art and history.
Person: (Not necessarily even sure what that means) Oh, that’s interesting. But, um, what do you plan to do after you graduate?
Kara: (Assuming her “wicked grin”) I’d really like to be a mom and homeschool my children.
Person: Oh. Really. That’s nice. (Changes subject.)

Actually, the responses Kara gets to her answer vary depending on who she is talking to. Sometimes she is surprised by those who actually view her answer with respect, because it is not always those you might expect. (I am wondering what the person thought who read her recent scholarship application, one in which she had to write a press release she’d like to read about herself in 25 years. Kara could not write something purely designed to make the dean happy, but what she came up with was quite entertaining, while still scrupulously honest, and to my heart, moving.)

One Sunday evening this spring I was able to attend church with Kara and Andrew in Lafayette. I spent a fair amount of time in the nursery with Benjamin, who didn’t appreciate sitting after riding in the car for several hours. What an unexpected blessing from the Lord this was! While there I was able to talk with a lovely older woman, also a mother of many children, who has been homeschooling for 25 years, nearly a decade longer than I have! As we discussed various homeschool issues, the topic of girls and college came up. Her daughters all desire to become wives and mothers (and the oldest ones are now) and follow their mother’s example, but until that time, they need something else useful to do. This wise mom told me that she tells her daughters to study whatever is interesting to them.

When we decided to encourage Kara to attend university, Tim and I had several goals in mind for her. We see this as a time for her to further train her mind, learning how to think objectively, to argue and reason, and to further hone her writing skills. Of course this will not always be done by agreeing with what is being taught! But by age 18 we desire that all of our children will have a solid grounding in the Word of God and be ready to stand firm against the culture, explain their faith, and clearly differentiate truth from the lies of man. College also provides further practice in learning how to learn, helps refine study skills, and pushes students to a higher level of work. For Kara, as she has taken classes in American literature and Greek art, her faith has been strengthened as she has more clearly seen the darkness and emptiness of people living without God, and the fullness and completion of those who are filled with the hope of eternal life in Christ.

It is our hope that Kara, and our other children, will one day be blessed with a godly spouse. But because the steps of man are ordained by the Lord, and not by us, only He knows the plan for each one. And if our daughters do not marry, or until they do, they need productive work to do. For some this will mean training that can only be gained at a university. Kristen wants to be a nurse, while Kara might teach.

Of course, if/when they have children, it is our hope that our daughters will want to homeschool them. While it is not necessary to have a degree to do this (study after study shows that to be true), a carefully planned course of study can be a great aid in preparation for homeschooling. If I were to do it over again, I am not at all sure I would study chemistry, or at the least I would incorporate a broader range of electives, such as more history and literature. Kara’s classes so far, and the ones planned, are laying a terrific grounding for teaching children one day.

Expanding her world is still another of our goals in sending Kara two and one-half hours north. This has definitely proven true. It has been a joy to watch Kara’s compassion for hurting people, both fellow believers and non-Christians, grow tremendously this year, though this is also not without difficulties. In addition, the life experiences she is going through are helping her grow and mature in the Lord, as she learns to trust Him in ways she might not have if she had remained at home.

When considering if college is a waste of time and/or money, you need to think about how the time and money would be spent otherwise. As to the time, parents and their daughters should consider if there are better things you would like for her to do in this point of her life. This young, single time period can be a good time for doing things that would be difficult later such as working overseas in an orphanage or helping teach a missionary family’s children. What are your and her goals for this time in life? Money is a very serious issue too. Debt can be even more of a millstone for young women than for men. Tim and I have seen too many sad situations where the wife in a young marriage feels forced to work and long postpone having children because she is saddled with enormous college debt. We hope for all of our children to go through any post-high school education with a minimum of debt, preferably none, but for our daughters we feel even more strongly about this.

There is no one-sized solution for all young ladies. For some daughters college will be a good step after high school, and one that can aid in preparing them for a future role of being a godly wife and mother. For others, the Lord will lead differently. Perhaps post-high school years will include a time of missions work or some other type of service. Regardless of the path a girl and her parents choose, post-high school years are not simply a holding pattern while she waits for marriage when her adult life will begin.

I Cor. 7: 32-34 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord--how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world--how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world--how she may please her husband.

In the next (and final!) post on this issue I will return to my missionary friend’s question: Does college make women career-minded and not content to be wives and mothers?


Rebecca Nugent said…
Thanks, Anne:)

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