In an educational career spanning 38 years (and I have no intention of retiring), I have seen every conceivable type of school and college in Europe and North America. Today, Christian parents whose children will be entering college in 1997 must carefully determine where they wish to send their child.
As one who earned his MA and Ph.D. at an Ivy League research-oriented university, I would warn Christians to beware of the allure of sending their child to a great university simply because it has a high rating in the secular guidebooks. Certainly, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Yale are world-famous. So are Chicago, Wisconsin, Cornell, Berkeley, Stanford and Tufts.
Many prestigious colleges and universities seem to be the pathway to success, but what about the teachers in the social sciences, history, and humanities in these colleges? These are the value-oriented subjects. In philosophy, comparative religion, literature, history, and sociology, the student receives the ideological opinions of his professors. To an 18-year-old freshman these opinions become overwhelming.
At 18 years of age, I attended an extremely conservative Roman Catholic university, St. John’s, then located in Brooklyn. Previous generations in my family had gone there. St. John’s is now located in the Jamaica Estates area of Long Island. At that time, the St. John’s College of the university was operated by the very conservative Congregation of the Mission, the order founded by the French priest, Vincent de Paul, in the 17th century. I became very conservative politically and philosophically, even more than I had been in my secular high school.
When I went to the liberal Ivy League, I did not change at all but became totally convinced that conservatism was to be my ruling political allegiance. Indeed, my dedication to orthodoxy in Christian thought became stronger.
However, I observed what happened to 18 year olds, who entered the Ivy League. Many came from conservative Christian families. Within one year they were transformed into bearded hippie-like rebels.
The college you as a parent choose will make or break your child. Does every Christian parent have to send his child to a Christian college? Not necessarily. A parent should go to a college several times in person and scout around. Many secular and other private colleges have an open and friendly attitude toward Christianity. Not every non-Christian college is averse to our beliefs. But it takes homework by parents. Some Christian colleges are very poor academically and even spiritually. Merely having the label “Christian” does not necessarily mean that the college is the best place for your child. A sound secular college whose faculty is open toward Christians can be a good place for your freshman in September 1997.
It also depends on what major your child has decided upon. Engineering, math, and other technical majors can profitably attend some of our great polytechnic universities where Christian students are numerous. Although secularized, they allow a full Christian life on campus.
It is especially important to be very selective if your child is majoring in social sciences, history, and the humanities to choose an institution where militant atheists and secularists do not control these areas. This is increasingly difficult to do, because college guides do not help at all here. Only by contacting Christian graduates of various colleges can you find out about the particular department where your child will major.
Christian parents train up their child in God’s laws until the age of 18. But the parents must be vigilant at that point. Before sending your child to a particular college, find out everything about it. This may take as long as two years of careful investigation. No one can do this for you. It is your responsibility alone. Consultants can help but you must do the legwork.
If your child will be entering college in Sept. 1997, hurry up and begin now. By January 1997, it will be too late. For those entering the freshman year in September 1998, now is the time to begin a careful, voluminous investigation of at least six colleges you may want to send your child to.
Michael Suozzi, Ph.D., lives in La Mesa.