Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Friday, August 19, 2005

College for None, Some or All?

I enjoy reading Crystal's Blog. Lately she has been facilitating quite a discussion about the benefits (or lack thereof) of a college education for young women. The topic of education piques my interest exceedingly, so I can't really stop myself from commenting on this debate:o)

I think there is no way that we can claim that college is either good or bad for everybody. I felt called to go to college. I don't think everybody is; nor should everyone feel compelled to go.

I know some women feel very strongly that they shouldn't go to college. Well, then they probably shouldn't. Some went to college and hated it or had terrible experiences. They may regret that they went. But that doesn't mean that every girl will.

I am definitely not of a relativistic mindset when it comes to issues of right and wrong. But right and wrong within the context of education have more to do with content and God's will for a particular individual's life than the method itself. Different womens' personalities, aspirations, interests, strength of character, needs, etc should help to determine their course. There is no one-size fits all.

I loved college almost thoroughly. Not everything about my college career was perfect or easy. But looking back, I see that my experiences during my college years were beneficial for me.

In college, I learned so much, and felt intellectually challenged. I made wonderful friends. I traveled and saw new pieces of the world. I lived in England and studied at Oxford University, and it was one of the best experiences of my life because it broadened my mind and experience and allowed me to get to know people with completely different backgrounds and beliefs than I. I worked in a low-income health clinic, and learned about a completely different segment of the population than I was used to being around. I taught children's sunday school and helped plant a church. I became completely burnt out on church, because my first school required me to go to eight services a week. Yes...I think this was actually beneficial in the long run! It helped me to separate my faith in Christ from church attendance and "Christian culture" if you will. I stopped going to church for a while when I transferred to another school. I gave it a rest and thought a lot about what I truly believe. I focused on God Himself and have since been finding His presence reaffirmed apart from the trappings of "churchiness". He has slowly been refreshing my heart to the place where I am now able to go to a good church and appreciate His presence there, as well. Last but not least, at college I met and married my college sweetheart:o)

Here's the caveat: I knew I had to go. I believed that it was within God's will for me to go. He is Lord of my life. Other women, seeking God's will for their own lives will come to different conclusions. May they be blessed in their own decisions.

P.S. The one thing I regret about college is that I took out a bunch of debt to finance it. This is a whole other topic! I now know better, and wish that my parents and I had worked out a better way. I will never allow my own children to use debt to finance anything. But even in this, I see God's hand in our lives. The debt that my husband and I have is a huge trial to us, but it is also a refining fire. As we live frugally and work hard to become completely debt free, we are learning things we may not have learned otherwise.


Blogger Carrie said...

Erin, thanks for your thoughtful post on this topic! I definitely agree with you. I have been somewhat surprised by the viewpoints I've been reading lately about women not going to college, as this was not something I'd ever heard of as a controversy until the past few months. I think there are some valid concerns about a girl being away from home, etc., but I personally don't feel it is wrong for girls to go to college if they feel led of God to do so (and of course, with their parents approval and encouragement). I graduated from a small Bible college and I had 4 wonderful years there. I know God used it in my life to help me grow a lot stronger and closer to Him. I developed friendships that will (Lord willing) last a lifetime. I didn't meet my sweet hubby at college (our "love story" is really awesome; I won't go into it here, but the short version is that I met him when he came on a mission team to my home church), but the fact that we were both at different colleges, many states apart, caused us to grow very close and get to know each other in a very unique way through letters and phone calls!

Anyway, I guess I got long-winded with this comment, but I just wanted to say that I am thankful for my college experience and I know for sure that that was where God wanted me for those 4 years of my life.

Also I just have to say that I'm very envious of your time spent studying in England!! :) How cool! I have never traveled to Europe and it's one of my dreams to do so someday . . . maybe for our 25th anniversary or something. :) I would love to hear more about your experiences there if you ever feel like writing a blog post about it. :)

8:47 PM, August 20, 2005  
Anonymous MrsCatherine said...

Beautifully written!

Love and God's Blessings,

11:00 AM, August 21, 2005  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks, both of you, for your kind thoughts:o)

Carrie, I hope you post more of your stories on your blog someday! (Like the story of how you met your hubby) And I will eventually post more of mine, too, I'm sure.

My husband and I had a period of about 7 months when our relationship was mostly letters and phone calls too...during my time in England and the summer right before. I agree...that definately added a different and good dimension to getting to know each other! (Not to say it was always easy though!)

8:26 PM, August 22, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

It worries me the thoughts that are emerging for some on women being educated. I worry that it will get out of control and become more and more constriced. What next? Women only allowed to be educated in the domestic domain?

10:58 AM, August 23, 2005  
Blogger Erin said...


In the general culture, I believe there are a lot more women in college than men! But you must be meaning that you are worried about some of the more conservative groups?

I see where you're coming from with that. I used to feel very sorry for some girls I knew that weren't allowed to go to college (though the truth is, I never knew if they even wanted to!)

I don't think people should decide to go to college on default. But I think there is a problem when leaders of a certain community decide that they know what is best for EVERYONE within that group (church, etc). College is a personal and family decision.

I sure hope there aren't any groups out there who forbid their daughters from being academically educated in any way! I've never met anyone who proposes that extreme view...have you?

9:58 PM, August 23, 2005  

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