College does NOT undermine faith

Glenn T. Stanton, in a useful feature at Gospel Coalition called “FactChecker,” cites research overturning the conventional wisdom that going to college undermines a young person’s faith.  Actually, NOT going to college is much more strongly associated with losing faith.  And 2.7 times more graduates say that college strengthened their faith, as opposed to weakening it. [Read more...]

Finding Your Vocation in College

Anthony Sacramone asked me to write something on “How to Find Your Vocation in College” for the I.S.I. website he edits, so I did.  I also took the opportunity to answer the conservative pundits who are saying that college students should all go into technology so they can pay off their student loans and forget about the liberal arts.  Also, Mathew Block at First Thoughts linked to the post and added some perceptive comments of his own. [Read more...]

Progressivism and college football

George Will reviews The Rise of Gridiron University: Higher Education’s Uneasy Alliance with Big-Time Football by Brian M. Ingrassia, in which we learn that big-time intercollegiate football grew out of progressivism and its vision for higher education:

Higher education embraced athletics in the first half of the 19th century, when most colleges were denominational and most instruction was considered mental and moral preparation for a small minority — clergy and other professionals. Physical education had nothing to do with spectator sports entertaining people from outside the campus community. Rather, it was individual fitness — especially gymnastics — for the moral and pedagogic purposes of muscular Christianity — mens sana in corpore sano, a sound mind in a sound body.

The collective activity of team sports came after a great collective exertion, the Civil War, and two great social changes, urbanization and industrialization. . . . .

Intercollegiate football began when Rutgers played Princeton in 1869, four years after Appomattox. In 1878, one of Princeton’s two undergraduate student managers was Thomas — he was called Tommy — Woodrow Wilson. For the rest of the 19th century, football appealed as a venue for valor for collegians whose fathers’ venues had been battlefields. Stephen Crane, author of the Civil War novel “The Red Badge of Courage” (1895) — the badge was a wound — said: “Of course, I have never been in a battle, but I believe that I got my sense of the rage of conflict on the football field.”

Harvard philosopher William James then spoke of society finding new sources of discipline and inspiration in “the moral equivalent of war.” Society found football, which like war required the subordination of the individual, and which would relieve the supposed monotony of workers enmeshed in mass production.

College football became a national phenomenon because it supposedly served the values of progressivism, in two ways. It exemplified specialization, expertise and scientific management. And it would reconcile the public to the transformation of universities, especially public universities, into something progressivism desired but the public found alien. Replicating industrialism’s division of labor, universities introduced the fragmentation of the old curriculum of moral instruction into increasingly specialized and arcane disciplines. These included the recently founded social sciences — economics, sociology, political science — that were supposed to supply progressive governments with the expertise to manage the complexities of the modern economy and the simplicities of the uninstructed masses. [Read more...]

College does not cause students to lose their faith

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has been saying that 62% of college students lose their faith by the time they graduate.  Calvin College sociologist Jonathan P. Hill takes a look at the dubious source of that statistic and cites better studies that point to a different conclusion:

We know that some measures of religious belief, and quite a few measures of religious practice, decline as young people move from adolescence to emerging adulthood. In order to decide if blame should be laid at the feet of higher education, we need representative data that follow the religious trajectories of young people as some head off to college and others do not.

And this is precisely what we have. Studies using comparable data from recent cohorts of young people (for example, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and the National Study of Youth and Religion) have found virtually no overall differences on most measures of identity, practice, and belief between those who head off to college and those who do not. The one exception to this is the consistent finding that college graduates attend religious services more frequently than those who do not graduate from college.

This doesn’t settle the matter, though. As is often the case with social-science findings, there are many exceptions and caveats. And there are some differences in student religious trajectories that appear to depend on the religious affiliation of colleges attended. For example, both evangelical colleges and public institutions tend to curb the decline in church attendance while Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant institutions are more likely to exacerbate it.

Over all, though, this is good news for the faithful. College is clearly not the enemy of religion. Students are not abandoning their faith commitments because of their godless college professors.

via Parsing Santorum’s Statistic on God and College: Looks as if It’s Wrong – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In fact, there is evidence that college graduates actually go to church at a higher rate than those who did not go to college.

HT:  Jackie

No adult supervision

Alexandra Petri usually writes humorous punditry, but not when she considers the case of George Huguely V who got drunk at the University of Virginia and killed his girlfriend.  Her descriptions of the moral climate at most of our colleges and universities and the complete lack of adult supervision are quite accurate:

The setting is a character on its own: the college campus, where hook-up culture runs rampant and you are expected to drink four times a week, where you can sleep with someone and he can come to the stand and say that you were just friends, and it can be true. It’s a no-man’s land in which everyone wants to have fun without consequence. Where people are just mature enough to act immaturely. . . .

Under the best of circumstances, drugs, alcohol, sex, sports and a lack of supervision can be a potent and bewildering combination. This is hard enough when it’s going well, when calling yourself an “alcoholic” is a joke among friends. When it’s going badly, it’s impossible.

Where were the adults?

Time and again, reading through the coverage of the trial, I am struck by the — adriftness, for want of a better word — of everyone involved in this. There’s the discipline of sports but then, off the field, there’s the strange mess of college life. Sunday Funday. Hookups. Parties. College is a place you arrive after working awfully hard in high school — or at least writing one or two really compelling personal essays — and you are entitled to your share of fun. Afterwards, you might not find a job. So enjoy those four years. Colleges act in loco parentis only in the sense that some parents are very hands-off, have lots of money and only show up to prevent the police from getting involved.

This is the worst kind of protection. The point of college is to admit high school kids and graduate adults. But it is impossible to grow up in a world where no one is watching.

And this is how things go wrong in a world where nothing is supposed to go wrong.

The only thing that happens in moderation on college campuses? Studying. Eat and drink and love and lie, for tomorrow we may graduate. Institutions of higher learning? As the study “Academically Adrift” found, the average college student spends just 12 hours a week, well, studying, avoiding courses with more than 40 pages of reading a week. This is college. They have better things to do. For some, it works out fine. But for others, the lack of supervision comes at a heavy cost.

Where were the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law on that dreadful Monday night when Huguely stormed to [Yeardley] Love’s apartment and bashed in her door?

In life, these awful tragedies happen, and there is little you can do to stop them. The net of family and friends and well-intentioned neighbors is not always woven tightly enough.

But this should not happen at college.

It’s an adult tragedy with adult consequences. Where were the adults?

via The tragedy of George Huguely – ComPost – The Washington Post.

I suspect most parents of university students and most taxpayers who support state institutions have no idea the level of debauchery that has become typical on college campuses today.  The authors of the book referred to above, Academically Adrift, care little about moral issues as such, but they blame the nonstop sex-and-intoxication culture and the hands-off attitude of college administrators as one reason for the collapse of academics that is happening even in big-name institutions.  (Things are different at my institution, Patrick Henry College, both in our moral ethos and in our academic achievements.)

I also suspect that the lack, for all practical purpose, of an adult presence in the world of teenagers also played a role in yesterday’s shootings in that Ohio high school.

Your religion mustn’t affect your life!

Vanderbilt is doubling down on its insistence that Christian groups on campus must admit non-Christians.  What’s interesting is hearing the university try to justify that.  Robert Shibley of the civil liberty group FIRE quotes Vanderbilt’s provost explaining the policy to a gathering of students, answering a question from someone in the Christian Legal Society:

VANDERBILT LAW STUDENT AND CLS MEMBER PALMER WILLIAMS: I am a little confused by the fact that under your policy, I can gather with a group of my friends, or a group of like-minded people, I can state my beliefs, but as soon as I go as far as writing down what we believe in, and then try to live by those beliefs as a community on campus, then I’m not allowed to do that.

VICE CHANCELLOR [RICHARD] MCCARTY: What I’m going to challenge you to do, [is] to be open to a member that doesn’t share your faith beliefs who could be a wonderful member of CLS, maybe even a leader. But we’re not saying you have to vote for that person. We’re simply saying that person, who maybe does not profess allegiance to Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, should be allowed to run for office in CLS. Maybe it’s not chair or president, maybe it’s a person who is amazing at social outreach. It would still be consistent with your goals of serving the underserved with legal advice and legal services, but maybe isn’t Christian but they endorse what you’re trying to do. Give that person a chance. . . . Now let me give you another example, and this would affect all of you. I’m Catholic. What if my faith beliefs guided all of the decisions I make from day to day?

[At this point, the crowd applauds the idea that people should live according to their faith.]

No they shouldn’t! No they shouldn’t! No they shouldn’t! No they shouldn’t! [Disagreement from crowd.] Well, I know you do, but I’m telling you that as a Catholic I am very comfortable using my best judgment as a person to make decisions. As a Catholic, if I held that life begins at conception, I’d have a very big problem with our hospital. Right? Would I not? . . . I would, but I don’t. . . . We don’t want to have personal religious views intrude on good decisionmaking on this campus. They can guide your personal conduct, but I’m not going to let my faith life intrude. I’ll do the best I can at making good decisions, but I’m not going to impose my beliefs on others, not going to do it.

Comments Mr. Shibley:  “Yes, you just heard the vice chancellor of Vanderbilt University tell students that they shouldn’t let their religious views intrude on their decisionmaking. That their religious beliefs should not guide their day-to-day actions. That people who reject faith in Jesus Christ should be given a chance as leaders of a Christian group (he later adds that Muslim groups must retain leaders who have lost faith in Allah). And to top it off, he uses the fact that as a Catholic, he has no problem with the abortions performed in Vanderbilt’s hospital as an example of what is expected.”

via The Fallout from Christian Legal Society – Robert Shibley – National Review Online.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X