After I graduated high school in 2007, I was faced countless times with a very common question: “Where are you going to school?” College is such a cultural “coming of age” and a “rite of passage” that few ever considered the possibility that I would not be stepping onto a college campus sometime soon. They did not ask, “Are you going to school?” or “What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?” No, assumptions made, the question was “where.” It was to the disgust and confounding of many that I answered “nowhere.”
Why Aren’t You in School, Young Lady?
Many things came into play with my decision not to take the traditional route to post-secondary education; the question above was one I pondered for quite some time: 1) what did I think about college, and, as a young woman, with my aspirations, 2) would I be attending. It was an ongoing discussion between my parents and I, and I had a massive paradigm shift from, as a little girl, yearning to be an Ivy League graduate, starry-eyed over a certificate I got from Duke University after my standardized test scores, to, as a sophomore in high school, daydreaming about becoming a UCLA or NYU graduate who made Shyamalan-esque films, to, as a junior, researching schools with a much more Christ-exalting curricula, to as a senior, deciding to do away with the typical college experience altogether.
First off, since college is a form of furthering one’s education, I had to consider what the purpose of my education was: as a Christian, I believe that purpose falls in line with my ultimate purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I wanted all levels of my education to be effective in equipping me for that calling. There were several things that made me shy away my my UCLA and NYU ideals; one was a five point sermon my dad’s been preaching to Trey and me since we entered high school:
- Most BA degrees aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
- Four years is too much time to waste.
- $80,000 (room&board/state school) to $250,000 (room&board/Ivy League) is too much money to spend.
- College is not for everyone.
- Most universities are philosophically antagonistic to Christianity.
Click here to read that entire article.
American colleges today aren’t what they once were, and with the amount of time and money poured into young peoples’ education today, I think the results being offered are, most often, subpar. Young men and young women would benefit from taking a long, hard look at the way post-high-school education is conducted in America, making decisions, not based on the status quo, but on how to be a good steward with the time and the gifts that the Lord has given them.
But Don’t You Need a College Education, Just in Case?
Just in case I don’t get married -just in case a parent dies -just in case my husband dies -just in case he becomes disabled -just in case I have to work…
Just in case scenarios have their validity -if they did not, I would not be a firm believer in life insurance, car insurance, and home insurance -however, we must be careful never to base our decisions on fear, but on the precepts of the Word of God, and the leading of our consciences in accordance with His Word.
If it is your desire to flourish in the home environment, I want to encourage you: it is not impossible to make “just in case” plans that don’t include a college degree… it just takes a little creativity, a lot of foresight, and much prayer.
So What Would you Do Instead?
The first two years after I graduated were spent under the tutelage of my parents, helping my mother with the household duties while working full-time for my father as his research assistant. If people asked me what I did for a living, I’d probably quip that I was the all-purpose household and office assistant/brother-wrangler/sous-chef. I was still learning (at that time, I was researching for my dad’s latest book, which gave me an opportunity to read a variety of resources from a host of different perspectives regarding biblical manhood and womanhood) from both of my parents, particularly from Mama, because I had ample time to tag along and take notes.
Towards the end of that two-year period, we found an alternative to the traditional college route that allows me to still be just as involved with my family life, and I am now enrolled in an online degree program called CollegePlus! I’m an English major, and am able to pursue my passion for literature and writing at home while shaping and pursuing the other passions in my life. As Daddy pointed out in his article, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to education (which, as homeschoolers, is something that we definitely know). Doing college this away affords me the opportunity to continue to live at home under the protection and discipleship of both of my parents, as well as to be involved in my family life in a unique way that I believe many college-age gals are missing out on.
I think a lot of times, though, women who make decisions like I have get painted into a corner. I know many people have assumed that my daddy won’t “allow” me to go to college, when the fact of the matter is that my educational path was a decision that my parents and I made together. I’m a sophomore in college now, credits-wise, and my parents and I have talked about the possibility of me getting a nouthetic counseling license once I graduate, or taking advantage of a fully-accredited online doctorate program from a Reformed college. I am working on writing my first book, based on my blog, and will have to complete the manuscript a bit before the deadline, as I’ll be traveling for a month with my family in Africa this August while my dad ministers there.
Not every daughter who chooses to live at home is going to have a life that looks just like mine, but what I’m trying to demonstrate is that when I talk about “stay-at-home daughterhood,” I’m not talking about sitting at home and watching the paint dry until Prince Charming comes along. There are limitless opportunities for ministry and productivity at home, if we will only take advantage of them or make them for ourselves.
So Do You Think Young Women Should be Educated?
I must say that I do not equate the question of whether or not a young person decides to go to college with whether or not young people should be educated; when asked the second question, my answer is an emphatic yes; I simply don’t believe the only or the best way for a young person to be educated is on a college campus. Depending on their chosen career paths, young men as well as young women would often do well to cut out the time-consuming, money-guzzling venture that the traditional college education is.
As to the specific question of whether or not I believe young women should be educated -and, further to the point, as well-educated as their male counterparts -yes, I do believe they should. We are in the midst of a culture war -as Christians, it is our duty to be good stewards of our minds, applying them to learning the truths that can advance the Kingdom of Christ. This can be done in a structured school setting, but it is not at all limited to that sphere -in this day and age, the only limitations to your education are your imagination and your drive to learn.
Do You Think Everyone Should Live at Home Like You?
All I want to do is to encourage young ladies to rethink their presuppositions not only regarding education, but in regards to the aspirations that your education leads you to.
However, I can share with you, as a young woman, some of the reasons I decided against going off to school. It was more important for me to remain under the protection of my father and the discipleship of my mother than it was for me to travel cross-country to sit under the discipleship of others. I believe my primary calling is towards my home, and there is no other place I’d rather be, here in my family’s home for now, and, Lord bless, someday running a home of my own and educating my own children. I had no desire for a career that would take me away from that sphere. I believe that a Christian home is the best training ground that young women can be afforded, and that the safest place a young woman can be is under her parents’ authority.
For too long in our culture, parents have been training their daughters in the exact same way that they train their sons, launching their female arrows to go through life the same way their male arrows do. Fathers have been abdicating their duty to protect their daughters, mothers their duty towards discipleship and guidance. Young women have not only lost their femininity, but they’ve lost their desire for the biblical role that the Lord has called them to. We no longer want to be wives and mothers, and we no longer realize the power of that calling. As a result, many of us no longer realize what a unique time in our lives this can be, not only to take advantage of our ministry to our home and families, but the minister to others through that sphere.
There are so many other questions that come up in the college discussion, but, lest I write my book in the course of this post, I’ll close with this: there’s honestly nothing I can say that I’d rather be doing than living the life I’m leading; I am always free at any time to discuss alternatives with my parents, because their goal is the same as mine: to be a good steward of the gifts, passions, and callings that the Lord has placed on my life, and to become a true woman of God. My home -my family -was custom-made by the King of Kings for me; I’m blessed to have this unique opportunity to learn from them and bless them and to be blessed by them.