Wanted: A Real Higher Education

by Tere Johnson, MA PS, CMF (Submitted to CNW by Tere)

Stella Maris Center


       I don't want to presume to speak for all Catholics on the parenting journey who have or will soon face the challenges of sending their children to college (the Johnson household has gone through it 3 times so far), but I don't think I would be far off the mark saying that as parents, we desire two simple things when it comes to this. We want GOOD higher education, and we want our older children's faith and love of Jesus to grow as their knowledge base and intellects do. 

In other words, we want REAL higher education, an education that challenges and sharpens their minds, encourages critical thinking, prepares them for the future and respects their immortal souls.

    When approaching this topic it's essential to first enter into a real and honest process of prayer, discernment, and dialogue with our older children to discover if college is the right path for them in the first place. While a college or university education has value all its own,  the costs have become so astronomical that parents together with their students should decide if college is the way to go.  Contrary to popular opinion, attending college does not guarantee happiness, success, or even a job! Certain occupational vocations certainly do require a higher education, but others don’t.  Trade schools are also an option. They offer knowledge, skills, and apprenticeships in a wide range of fields, at a fraction of the cost.

If prayer leads a student with their family to discern God’s calling to an occupation or profession that requires a college education, then the work must begin to identify those colleges and universities that will prepare them to serve God and others through the field they have discerned.

One thing to look at is the overall culture of a university. While the college experience is supposed to give our young adult children the opportunity to spread their wings, it doesn’t make it okay to engage in licentiousness. Does the college or university have an overall “spirit” or “air” of virtues and values, or is there an “anything goes” kind of vibe to it? Does campus life promotes service, faith, and care for others? Are there churches and church groups on campus? Is there a Catholic Newman center?  

Going beyond the culture to the nitty gritty, parents truly need to take a look at the academics. According to an article on the Cardinal Newman Society website, Navigating the College Search, “today, most colleges hold biases in nearly every subject area. They’ve abandoned a traditional core curriculum in the liberal arts. They push ideologies that are often anti-Christian.” Both the Catholic League, and The Center for Law and Justice, two legal organizations based in New York and Washington D.C. often represent college and university students in religious discrimination lawsuits against their schools based on anti-Christian bias. It has become a real problem.

     Clearly, the culture war rages on at secular public colleges and universities.  With a hefty price tag of $500+ per credit hour, plus room & board, and fees (University of Texas- Austin), the decision is a tough one. If a family and their student choose a public university, they have to be willing to stand up and fight for their beliefs, hide their Christian identities for 4 years (become a closet Catholic/Christian), or succumb to anti-religious bigotry and lose their faith.  

Stella Maris Center is hosting The Cardinal Newman Society President and Founder Patrick Reilly for a presentation and dialogue about the state of public universities and what to look for in faithful Catholic colleges or universities. Some Catholic colleges have managed to keep the culture war at bay, while others are also struggling with it.  

Join us for The College Bound Webinar on Wednesday, May 19 at 7:30 pm (Central). If you have a high school student who is college bound or even a younger student and you are interested in this topic, don’t miss it!  The registration fee is only $25 per family.

To register go to https://ilovestellamaris.org/parenting-collegebound

(This article is copyrighted © Stella Maris Center 2021. Reprinted with permission.)