Sunday, March 20, 2011

Going to College?

If so, I want to recommend a tremendous resource. Now, when I envision my readership, high-schoolers or parents of high-schoolers don't really come to mind. Nonetheless, our kids (or your grandkids) will go to college one day so maybe you can utilize it the future.

First Things dedicated their entire November 2010 issue to a survey of American colleges and universities and to the state of American higher education generally. Unlike some issues, as far as I can tell, every article is available for online viewing. Here are the links to the best articles and why I like them in case you don't want to look through it all for yourself. But I recommend the whole thing, minus the poetry, if you have the time.

College Descriptions and Various Rankings, FT editors

This is a fairly broad survey of most of the major schools in America and includes a discussion of each institution's academics, social habits and religious context. Since the editors and the journal as a whole lean Catholic, they didn't think too highly of Biola, unfortunately. But they did rank Wheaton as the best religious school in America so we know they aren't completely closed to Protestant efforts in academia.

Go With God, Stanely Hauerwas

If you are a Christian and think that college is just 4 years of goofing around until you have to get a real job, or a time when you get to step outside the bounds of your faith and do a little experimenting, or simply an excuse for not giving your whole self in service to the Church, think again. Hauerwas powerfully communicates the fact that college is a special call from God, a unique time to either be influenced (if attending a Christian school) or influence (if attending a secular school) for the good of the Kingdom of God. Hauerwas often gets labeled a postmodernist—a claim about which I am not prepared to offer an opinion—but, in this article, he speaks as clearly as any early-20th-century fundamentalist preacher ever did. I wish I would have been able to read this before I started college; it took me years to learn some of the basic stuff he lays out in this article. If you're just staring college, read and obey.

Bacchanalia Unbound, Mary Eberstadt

If Hauerwas' article stimulates you, Eberstadt's article will scare you to death. The amount of drugs and alcohol abused and sex had in most of America's colleges and universities makes one wonder if the Amish approach to cultural engagement isn't the right one. No one, student or parent, should even think about college without intentionally working out a spiritual, moral, social, behavioral plan of attack against that rampant evil that is college "recreation." Thank you, Mary, for bringing these horrible realities to light.

Again, the whole issue is worth reading but, if you've no time for that, check out the above and be as prepared as possible for the college years.