got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

men are smarter than women??? (Karen)

Well, maybe this article explains something.

"Academics in the UK claim their research shows that men are more intelligent than women. A study to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology says that men are on average five points ahead on IQ tests.

Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn claim the difference grows when the highest IQ levels are considered. Their research was based on IQ tests given to 80,000 people and a further study of 20,000 students....At scores of 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman."

Actually, this might be a good reason for sending women to college, since men know so much already it might help to level the playing field. Now if they could just explain why men never stop for directions, we could solve all the problems of the universe!

helicopter parents or independent students? (Karen)

So, I read an interesting article in our local newspaper yesterday. It seems that there is a new phenomenon that is being labeled as “helicopter parents” and it is starting to be a major problem in college campuses all across the country. Named such for the “hovering” that they do, these parents cannot allow their children to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.

The main problems, as I understand them, are that these parents are stepping in and interfacing with college advisors and professors on behalf of their children. They also use cell phones to frequently call their children during the day and the students check in with their parents after every exam to let mom and dad know how they did. They micromanage relationships with roommates, etc.

The universities are taking action by offering seminars for parents of freshman, instructing them on the proper amount of contact they ought to have with their children and letting them know that the school will be establishing guidelines for limiting a parent’s access to teachers, etc.

The reason this is such a problem? This behavior handicaps the students in areas of problem-solving, decision-making, and an overall sense of independence. Administrators acknowledge that a large part of the college experience is learning to develop these skills as one leaves home for the first time and prepares to have employment and establish families of their own.

Of course, as I read this article, I was thinking of this blog and its goal of encouraging young Christian women to consider going to college. The article also confirmed to me, in more clear terms, why there are those who would not want a girl to go to college.

Those who are part of a hyper-patriarchal belief system, those who believe women should not make decisions on their own, but rather, have decisions made for them by their fathers and husbands, and those who believe problem-solving ought to be left up to the menfolk are the ones who, for the most part, are pleading for daughters to stay away from college. Of course, these ideals are couched in terms such as “protection of daughters” and “keeping a girl under her father’s authority” etc.

But I believe in reality these anti-college views are really another way of keeping a woman from becoming her own person. You can use all the fancy terminology you want, but this is really what you get when you boil it all down. Who would have thought that independence is a four letter word?

Monday, August 29, 2005

"The art of cleaning the cat box in a pencil skirt and stockings." (Mollie)

I laughed out loud. And then I thought of you all.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Challenging the Roles We Were Born to Fill? (Liz)

Admittedly, I have been watching Mona Lisa Smile.

There is a scene in which Julia Roberts's character is lecturing her class, challenging them to see that women in the fifties could have more options than being a wife and mother. She closes by saying, "I didn't realize that by demanding excellence I was 'challenging the roles you were born to fill.'"

I must start by saying that I honestly believe that mothering and domesticity are very noble, honorable, and difficult careers. Does college challenge that? Does domesticity somehow feel intimidated by college? Will the choice to attend college somehow make one a less apt mother or homemaker? It seems that some believe that if my mind is well-educated, I will not focus on mothering as my primary ministry. If I have devoted part of my life to study and academia, somehow I cannot devote myself fully to being a wife and mother later.

What is it that is intimidating about the demand for excellence? I do not believe that my continued attempt to seek education has harmed my primary focus. I do not believe that by stretching my mind and learning to think in new ways I have somehow deviated from the path that God designed for me. In fact, I believe that by stretching, learning, and educating I am bettering myself for service in His Kingdom. And while I certainly don't believe that a college degree is what makes a good mother, wife, or woman, I do believe that it can be a VERY significant contribution.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

College as a Non-Traditional Student: When Mom Goes to College (Liz)

How can a twenty-two year old feel like a Non-Traditional College student? Honestly, I'm barely older than most of the seniors on campus (the freshmen it just me, or do they keep getting younger?). Unlike most students on campus, though, I am married and have a child who is pushing two years old.

I had my first class of the semester this morning. Literary Criticism is a class in which one would expect to find great diversity among the students, and the one who expected such would be right. I am (thankfully) not the oldest and frumpiest in the class. One of the teachers in the English department is taking the course for graduate credit, so she beats me in age (though I think I've got the trump in frump).

Being on campus as a Non-Traditional student is a fascinating experience. There are definitely things that make me feel OLD. I no longer think it's funny when someone has put laundry detergent in the lily pool to create piles of bubbles for the hundredth time this semester. I find most of the ways that 19-year-old boys entertain themselves extremely annoying. I'm not trying to find loopholes in the dress code (except for flip-flops.....I can't let them make me change my sandals) nor coming up with creative ways to try to fill my chapel seat so I'm not marked absent (though that could be because I'm no longer required to go to chapel). I'm no longer trying to carve out who I am through self-expression, so I avoid a lot of heartache over deciding which expression would be most "unique".

The flip side to being old, though, is that a lot of things make me feel wise, mature, and experienced. I don't worry about how I'm dressed - I've grown past that. I'm not driving a brand new Mercedes, and I don't care. There are more important things in life, and when we get right down to it the grudge work to pay off our old car built a lot of maturity and character. I find more satisfaction and self-worth in knowing that I can do this on my own. There are plenty of students in my classes that would rather take anything else, but are there because it's a requirement for the major. I have the ability to take the classes I want to take and not grumble about the horrible teacher or boring coursework.

Overall, being a Non-Traditional student is a positive experience. Yes, I'm old. But strangely, these 19 and 20-year-olds respect that. And though I didn't see it coming, so do I.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Even Plato

It's no secret that I'm far from a fan of Plato. He's egoentric, angry, and elitist. He's anti-rhetorical and anti-Christian. No student leaves my class without knowing that despite those who have wed Chrisianity to this pagan for millenia (thanks, Augustine!), he is not our ally.

But even Plato foregrounds an education for women, and that was a radical idea in ancient Greece. Plato agreed with common Greek thought at the time that women were mere breeders (they bore children but did not beget them) and were really no better than other children or slaves. They are a necessary evil, to be specific, to further the human race and have a nice meal in the meantime. Friendships with men were superior to relationships with women because women were of such a lower caliber. That "platonic love" we've heard so much about was Plato's description of male fellowship or eros.

But even still -- Plato commands via Socrates in his Republic that women be educated similarly to men:

"But if it appears that they differ only in just this respect that the female bears and the male begets, we shall say that no proof has yet been produced that the woman differs from the man for our purposes, but we shall continue to think that our guardians and their wives ought to follow the same pursuits."
His point is that when it comes to the good of the Republic, the essential differences between men and women are irrelevant and both should be thoroughly educated.
We're not so persuaded to further the good of the "state" as an Ancient Greek. But the Church is more our focus. Can we pirate Plato's argument for our own Christian pursuits and say that any difference between a man and a woman is irrelevant when it comes to the larger good that can come from an educated Christian (male or female)?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

striving for excellence (Karen)

My son, Ben, has been working on a research paper for college credit for the Summit Worldview Conference he attended last month. His topic is the Christian and the Arts and he and I have had some great discussions on the role that the arts has in the life of the Christian as well as the responsibilities that the Christian artist has within our culture. He has been reading Francis Schaeffer, of course, as well as some others who have expressed, quite well, the various aspects of this topic.

In the midst of this I heard of a church that is starting a fine arts guild for children and another church that plans to begin a school of music. One thing that has always distressed me, probably as far back as the very off-key choir in my church where I grew up, is the idea that “singing a joyful noise unto the Lord” somehow negates any striving for excellence. Christians of all people ought to seek to do things well, to minister “as unto the Lord” in whatever calling they find themselves.

It is my contention that churches would do well to recognize the value of college training for those who are involved in ministry, perhaps even showing their commitment to excellence by contributing to the educations of those who would serve their congregations after graduation. Perhaps there are churches where this is being done. I would like to see the local church show their support for excellence by investing part of their money in the training of young men and women for ministry. I could see a scholarship of, say, $5,000.00 per year being allotted in the form of a grant that would not need to be paid back unless the recipient didn’t come back to serve the local church. For each year they stayed, a portion of the money would be “forgiven.” This could work in the areas of music, counseling, education, or church administration.

I would like to see churches who do not hold to women as ordained elders or pastors, show their commitment to using the spiritual gifts that women have been given by encouraging their young women through these sorts of scholarships. In the end, everyone benefits, everyone can say “I’ve got me a college girl.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

what about college debt? (Karen)

I thought it would be a great idea to jump right in and discuss one of the points that was suggested in the previous entry's comment debt.

When I graduated from college, a private Christian school, I had several thousand dollars of debt. My husband had no debt but joined the military which, as a side benefit considering the poor military pay, also allowed us to have a waiver so that I wouldn't need to start paying my debt back until his term of enlistment was completed. That is exactly what we did though it was nearly 10 years after my graduation before the loans were paid off.

Thankfully and through God's gracious providence, my oldest three children were able to go through college with no debt at all. Now we are looking at the 4th child to enter college and since he wants to attend a private Christian school where the costs are nearly $20,000.00 per year, we are trying to find the best way to get the most for our money. The plan so far is to have him take his gen eds via distance learning and save about $14,000.00. We are also looking into the scholarship/grant options.

So I have been thinking alot about the costs of a college degree and have bounced around these ideas with others. It seems that the cost of getting an education plays a major role in whether or not people thing girls ought to attend college. I have talked with several people who think that it is not a wise investment to put a daughter through college. I have heard others say that because men are to be the breadwinners, we should spend our college money on the boys first and then the girls if there is anything left over. I have read articles that support this view and hear these ideas being taught at homeschooling conferences. Here is an example of this line of reasoning:

Finally, some criticize the “patriarchs” for not wanting to invest in an expensive college education for their daughters because we “we need more young ladies in law, school, medicine, the arts and so on.” Again, this criticism assumes a modern cultural value and established it as the norm despite the fact that it has no biblical warrant and constitutes social suicide. Even the radical feminists today admit that women cannot adequately function as both a “career” woman and mother. A simple examination of the birth rates for professional women shows that the more highly educated a women becomes, the LESS likely she is to get married and the LESS likely to have children. Thus, this writer is actually encouraging brilliant Christian women to take a course of action that will mean cutting off their genetic inheritance for future generations! We do not need MORE female Christian lawyers, doctors or artists, but MORE godly women raising MORE godly children who will fill the earth and subdue it to the glory of God. And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother? Thus, this “reformer” is actually encouraging a sociological system that impoverishes the family and reduces its ability to exercise godly dominion.

Of course, I disagree that educating a young woman is not good use of financial resources. But I have thought about those years when I had all the college debt and it took a bite out of the family budget to pay it off. I believe it was worth it for me to go to college but I wish my parents and I had had a better plan for paying for it. Any thoughts....

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Cudgel thy brains no more about it." (Mollie)

In response to a previous blog entry College Girl was posed the following question:

I still "wish that I could understand why you think it is so important to emphasize college education as vital to a Christian woman's life." If anyone wants to comment on that, I would appreciate it, as I don't see views on college as being an important debate in the church right now. (Which is why I haven't commented before and probably won't again). But I am trying to understand why y'all find it so important and have chosen to address it in this way, since it IS important to you and you take an oppositional position to mine.

We are a bit confused as to why some still do not understand the purpose of this blog. We believe we have mentioned and explained the purpose in several previous posts and the ensuing comments. However, as there is still some misunderstanding, we'll take another stab at an explanation of purpose.

The purpose is to celebrate education in a Christian woman's life.

The purpose is not to combat or "go to war with" any of the anti-college camps.

The purpose is not to say that college education is *vital.* The purpose is to say that we believe that everyone can benefit from formal education. To choose something otherwise should not be done lightly, and that, to quote the commentor, it is "vital" to make informed decisions about the path you will take after high-school graduation, and that all women should be given that choice, patriarchal upbringings notwithstanding.

The purpose is to provide a pro-college voice in conservative Christian circles where there is a fast-growing trend to view college as either *wrong* for all people or *wrong* for women. These beliefs vary in roots. Some, not all, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, believe that women should not be educated because they will be tempted to disdain their role as homemakers and want "bigger or better" things. Others believe that fathers will lose their authority or ability to control their daughters if they are away at school under other authority systems. There are those who are afraid of the outside influences culturally that could negatively effect their daughters' belief systems. Many abhor college due to the high costs of formal education. Still others believe that a *trade* education is better than a liberal arts education. We believe that some of these are valid complaints, that others are not, but that, overall, the formal education of women can be attained and still be true to the integrity of the initial anti-college concern.

The purpose is to provide support for women who feel pressured from church members, parents, siblings, children, etc., to shun college, for whatever reasons, be they moral, financial or cultural.

The purpose is to create a place for blurbs about how a college education benefits not only the educated, but those in contact with the educated.

Articles and links on this blog will be geared toward supporting women who have made or would like to make the choice to attend college. Nothing on this blog should be of much interest to those who are anti-college unless they are looking for fuel for their own anti-college arguments. We do not promote bashing those who have made the choice to not attend college. We do not promote harassing people to make choices in order to make them compatible to ours.

We *do* promote formal education. We believe that it should be a rare occasion that a woman *not* earn a college education. We do not address the subject as being an issue within the church, but we do acknowledge that there is a growing trend within conservative Christianity that says, "College is not worthwhile. Additionally, those who pursue higher education are fools." We disagree strongly and wish to provide a voice that celebrates Christian women and the education of them.

We cannot control how anyone who has chosen *not* to attend college feels when they read the contents of this blog. We are positive as we promote college education and seek to focus on the benefits of formal education rather than what we believe to be negative about *not* attending college.

I'm not sure how much clearer we can be. ::shrugging::

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Just who are these women? (Karen)

The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity with family in and out and a major deck building project in our backyard so I am slow at sharing my bio with you. And I didn’t want to enter this blog posting without this great picture that I finally found yesterday afternoon!

This is me with my mom and dad in June of 1974 at my graduation from Judson College. I just realized that I am the same age right now that my parents were in this photo!

So, here is a little about me….

I graduated from Judson College in Elgin, Illinois in 1974 with a Bachelors in Human Relations and a minor in Communications. When I went to Judson, we were on the trimester system so I graduated in 2 2/3 years and then returned the fall after graduation to complete my student teaching requirement, teaching 8th grade Language Arts and High School Child Development and (don’t laugh) Bachelor Living to a couple dozen boys who were barely 2 years younger than I was. If I only knew then what I know now….

I got married the next year and went with my husband to live in Germany for over 3 years where he jumped out of airplanes and I had babies! I look back on that time as earning my second degree while studying abroad!

We now have 6 children and soon-to-be 6 grandbabies and I continue to homeschool my youngest three sons. Besides reveling in the delights of homemaking (well, maybe not laundry), I also love to read, research, and write and have written a post-abortion Bible study that I hope to publish one day. I edited a pregnancy center newsletter for 8 years and spent 5 years doing online crisis pregnancy center counseling and out of that experience I am writing a novel/screenplay that will address the issue of abortion and men. I have been actively involved in my local Toastmaster’s club, taking a humorous speech all the way to win first place in district competition last fall.

Here is the whole family during our recent reunion. This is one of our favorite pizza spots!

My all-time favorite books are Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Main Street. I collect Grant Wood and Marvin Cone prints, their regional subjects reminding me of my grandmother and visits to her home in the country and stories of her youth. I also love to read essays and poetry by unknown, regional writers.

Before I die I have several objectives I hope to accomplish which include earning a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling or Women’s Ministries, completing my N.A.N.C. certification, publishing my novel and Bible study, winning first place in the Toastmaster’s International Speech Contest, and inventing the perfect meatloaf recipe!

I first bounced around the idea of beginning this college girl blog with my daughter, Mollie, because I have become increasingly concerned about the many voices among conservative Christian homeschool leaders that are declaring college a poor choice, indeed in some places, not even an option, for Christian young ladies. Their message has spilled over into the evangelical community at large and, for a variety of reasons, including views of women in general and the high cost of education, is gaining a hearing.

This is my sweet granddaughter Penelope. I hope that one day she will be a college girl, too!

It is my hope that through this blog we can present a valid case for educational choice for young Christian women, can plant some seeds for reasonable thought for those who have been listening to only opposing voices, and can be an encouragement for those who find themselves swimming in the sea of men-only-to-college waters.

Monday, August 08, 2005

College Made Me a Better Wife (Kristen)

My husband loves to talk to me about a wide variety of things. He expects me to articulate my point of view well, and also be able to articulate any other point of view as well, to play the devil's advocate comfortably. I would not have had those skills or the broad knowledge I draw from if I hadn't gone to college. I'm not saying it's impossible to learn those things without college. It's difficult though, outside of an intellectual community like a university. I'm glad that my husband recognizes how helpful my education was in making me the wife he needs me to be.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Emerging Scholars Network (Allison)

As an undergraduate, I was greatly encouraged by my college's InterVarsity chapter and the godly men and women I encountered through the organization. When I was a sophomore, our local adult leader introduced me to a Christian couple who were both IV alums. The wife became a mentor of sorts-- it was the first time I had an ongoing, discipling relationship with a Christian family with young children where I wasn't just "the babysitter." Through IV, I also helped lead a women's Bible study group, served in diverse urban neighborhoods, and was introduced to several excellent Christian thinkers.

Today I ran across a link to IV's Emerging Scholars Network and thought the readers of this blog might appreciate the resource. I find their mission statement highly encouraging to maintaining a Christian presence in the academy:

The Emerging Scholars Network is called to identify, encourage, and support the next generation of Christian scholars, at all stages of their academic careers, who will be a redeeming influence within higher education as they:

Love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength as they follow God's call in discipleship and spiritual formation

Exhibit excellence in research, teaching, and service

Influence the university, the church, and the world by practicing their disciplines from a profoundly Christian viewpoint

Embody the gender, ethnic, and social diversity of the church within the academy