Parents know that a college education on the post-secondary level is now absolutely necessary for almost everyone who aspires to a professional or a technical career. But the tragedy is that a very large percentage of college students use up the four years in taking a potpourri of subjects and then are not prepared to work at anything. This is more common than we think.
It is assumed that the college guidance counselors and the professors will help the child to select the correct major. This is not what happens. Many professors care little for your child and many guidance counselors will only do the bare minimum. It is that way even in the most prestigious and expensive colleges.
Nowadays, the modern college is merely a big supermarket where the students are let loose to fend for themselves. We see the results in students who spend four years in college and are unable to find or keep a job.
Before your child reaches the age of 17, you need to step in and take matters into your own hands. The child needs tests that will reveal where his true abilities are and exactly what kind of career he should prepare for before he enters college. If you must pay out of your own pocket to some reputable testing service to give these tests, then you ought to do it because it will save many years of pain and many thousands of dollars later.
When a child enters college and has a good grasp of what career he wants, and is aimed in the right direction, he will not waste his time pursuing illusory goals that can not be attained. All through high school, the Christian parent should be helping his child find his true career goal. After that, the child will decide on a major in college and stick to it. The career goal will naturally unfold and reveal itself to the child after the parents have done all things possible to clarify the child’s strongest talents, and to give him a clear idea of what careers he will be able to train for.
Turning a child loose in college and expecting the college professors to help him is foolish. They will not expend the time. All the expensive guidebooks in the world are useless unless you as the parent step in and help your child make a choice. I once tutored a student and he attained an appointment to one of the great service academies. But his friends wanted him to go with them to a unit of the California state university system. At the right moment his parents stepped in and laid down the law. He is now a brilliant officer in the armed services of the United States.
There are several fundamental steps parents must take.
- Find out the college’s accrediting agency. In California, it is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in Oakland. Write to the agency and ask if the college has ever been in trouble as far as its academic quality is concerned. If it has, do not send your child to that college. This is a move that is absolutely necessary because no college will ever reveal its record to anyone. Colleges often are in danger of losing their accreditation because they are academically unsound, but they cover this up. Find out.
- How old is the college and does it have a large endowment? If it is a relatively new college and has little in the way of endowment, it can not hire the best teachers because it is already in danger of closing its doors. You have wasted thousands of dollars on a worthless degree from a college that no longer exists. Fly-by-night colleges are a dime a dozen in California and I have asked the State Education Department over the years if something can be done to close many of them. It is impossible for California to police all of its so-called “colleges.”
- Does the faculty have sound academic standing? Have they ever published articles and/or scholarly books? If not, why send your child to a faculty that is inferior in its fields and incapable of teaching your child anything besides what he can read in any textbook? A sound faculty is far ahead in research in its various fields. This is why the great universities, despite their many moral and spiritual failings, are attracting so many students. Their teachers are all published scholars. Lesser schools and colleges also have published scholars on their faculties. You must find out.
- Who runs the college? Is it one man or a small clique? Does the college believe in the “Collegium”? This means the aspect of collegiality where the faculty shares in governing the school, where the faculty has tenure, where the faculty can organize and has negotiating authority, where the faculty is given proper respect.
These are some beginning pointers that are crucial to the Christian parent, and his child. Christian parents, your responsibility is complex, challenging and difficult, but it is worth every bit of time you put into it. The choice of the right college is all-important. You must not fail and you will not fail if you follow these guidelines. Be tough on yourself and work hard at this task. You will see excellent results, and your Christian walk will be a happy one.