As families and students gear up for another school year, analysts are calling attention to an “alarming” drop in college attendance. Compared to ten years ago, four million fewer students will be stepping onto campuses this fall – fueled partly by ongoing fallout from Covid-19, as well as an unusually lucrative job market.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 63% of high school graduates were enrolled in college in 2020 – down from 70% in 2016.
But common sense suggests the shift is also driven by frustration over woke universities dedicated to pummeling students with offensive and nonsensical propaganda.
After all, why should parents and students pay to be lectured by a bunch of radical, dangerous and depraved professors and administrators? Why should Christians supplement secular schools that are downright hostile to the faith?
Whether it’s navigating classes on gender or race politics, dodging free condom distribution during so-called “Sex Week,” or shutting down any free speech that doesn’t conform or comport with liberal narratives, far too many college campuses have been weaponized by woke-ism.
Christians have long enjoyed a wide array of faith-based schools that stand in stark contrast to those secular institutions serving as a hotbed for misguided policies and programs. Yet, even once-solid programs rooted in the Christian tradition have been compromised – and some spectacularly so. Parents and students must carefully and diligently discern from hundreds of options. Just because “Christian” is in the name or mission statement doesn’t mean they’re holding to and heralding biblical truth.
The value of a college degree is also something that’s being hotly debated. With the average cost of yearly tuition at a private college closing in on $40,000 a year, it’s a fair question. State colleges and community colleges cost much less, of course. And make no mistake about it – many colleges have raised tuition in order to then lower it by offering attractive scholarships.
A Focus on the Family colleague, who once worked in college admissions, tells me the tuition issue is a marketing game. “We found that students are more likely to want to attend a school that costs $50,000 a year if they received a $25,000 scholarship than to attend a school that costs $25,000 a year but didn’t offer them any scholarship at all. It’s all about perceived value.”
In all the discussions about community and four-year colleges, trade schools don’t get enough attention. It’s unfortunate.
“We’ve heard the best path for most people is a four-year degree,” says Mike Rowe, the popular podcaster and former host of the television program, Dirty Jobs. “These things become platitudes and before long it’s inculcated in our minds that there is a path to success and this is what it looks like. We have to be mindful that these stereotypes and stigmas actually exist, and rather than pretend they don’t, it’s useful to talk about them head-on.”
God has uniquely gifted each and every person. He’s called some to write or practice medicine – and others He’s called to build skyscrapers or repair automobiles.
“There’s this constant balance that goes on between the definition of a good job and our understanding of a truly valuable education,” says Rowe. “Not all knowledge comes from college, and not all skills come from degrees.”
In the end, we need to remember that God has given us specific talents and gifts to accomplish His purposes – not ours. So, when it comes to whether we’re called to go to college, trade school or go exclusively to work, it’s the wise Christian who prays and asks the Lord for guidance and wisdom. One size doesn’t fit all.