I loved college. I loved learning. I loved campus activities. I loved sorority life and debutante parties. I loved dating. I chose to go to the University of Texas because Texas was number one in the nation in football. I loved standing in the stadium thrusting my "hook 'em horns" hand-sign in the air and chanting, "We're number one! We're number one."
Although not a believer during my college years, I do not question the Lord's timing in calling me to Him in my adult life. During my college years, He prepared me for much of what I do today, even homeschooling. Plus, looking back, I see His mercy and grace protecting me on every front during those years.
I share my background so you might understand that my college experience, like my public school experience and my family experience, were perfect for me at that time. I have no regrets or scars from those years. Yet, today I ask myself, what should be my counsel to my children concerning college? This is a different age. On one hand, the college scene seems to attack Christian values more today than it did in my generation. On the other hand, our children must learn to stand for their faith and operate in the real world. My children are believers; I was not. Hopefully, my children are making lifetime decisions based on the will of the Lord for their lives and not just how it feels to be standing in the football stadium chanting, "We're number one!"
"To college or not to college, that is the question." There is no pat answer. Each child is different and there is no formula for life apart from seeking God's will for your life. Hence, the college decision boils down to two words... motive and results.
College used to be a sure ticket to job security and high paying jobs. Large corporations offered college graduates high salaries and extensive pension plans. With more government intrusion and inflation, the pension plans are less attractive and many college graduates who started working for a large firm yesterday, today find themselves laid off with a family of four to feed.
I recently heard Josh Harris speak about the advice his friend Doug Phillips has given him concerning whether to attend college or not. Doug works with the National Center for Home Education and has young children. Doug told Josh, "If you think college will guarantee security, know that only the Lord can guarantee security." How true. Yes, college can equip and train, but guarantee security, no. If college affords you skills to do God's will for your life, then go. If you think it will guarantee security, then stop and reconsider.
The result of college should be an educated, mature, responsible adult able to engage in productive, lucrative life work. If all of the above can be achieved without college, why not skip it? Our oldest, Jason, has spent one year at college. He would be the first to concur with Inge Cannon who says, "College is the worst place to find yourself." Homeschooled kids are starting to ask the question, "Do these four years bring me closer or pull me farther away from the Lord and His purpose for my life?"
Homeschooled youth would be wise to weigh other options to college, such as apprenticeships. When Jason was seven, I had to apologize to him for an offense I had committed. During the apology, I said that all people sin, even moms and dads, at which point he interrupted me and said, "No, they don't." For a moment, I thought he was going to absolve me of all sin. However, he quickly enumerated a whole host of sins and then matter-of-factly stated, "But Daddy doesn't sin." I calmly stated that all sin, even his daddy. Jason vehemently denied that his father sinned. I was torn between listing his father's sins in alphabetical or chronological order.
Today, Jason is working in our business, under the guiding hand of his near-perfect dad. His comment a few days ago was, "I love working for Dad. It is so good for me to work under him." It is as much a blessing for Jason to recognize at nineteen the important influence his dad has as a positive role model in his life as it was for Jason to recognize the quality of man his father was at age seven. Perhaps there is more college in this young man's future. Perhaps he will start a tree farm with his dad on the 128 acres where we have moved. His thoughts, however, are beginning to be serious thoughts such as, "How does God want to use me? How do I want to spend my life?" He is considering the net result of how he spends these "college" years.
I must confess the battle to college or not to college rages in me more than in my children. I am the one with hang-ups. All my friends went to college. "Can you actually function without a college degree?" I ask. I must stay focused on the results God wants in my children and be open to all the options the Lord can provide to achieve those results. As Wade and I counsel each child, we must be mindful of each individual child, his motives behind his choices, and the results the college experience will have on his life all weighted against God's will. I also recognize my homeschooled children are not as impressed by degrees as I am. They are not as easily influenced by what the rest of the world is doing or what the rest of the world values. It is frightening to have raised such creatures. However, from the one who chose her college to be able to chant, "We're number one," I view their process of consideration with great admiration and joy.