Should Young Women Go to College?

Posted By on May 17, 2010

"Back to School" Giclee PrintAfter I graduated high school in 2007, I was faced countless times with a very common question: “Where are you going to school?” College is such a cultural “coming of age” and a “rite of passage” that few ever considered the possibility that I would not be stepping onto a college campus sometime soon. They did not ask, “Are you going to school?” or “What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?” No, assumptions made, the question was “where.” It was to the disgust and confounding of many that I answered “nowhere.”

Why Aren’t You in School, Young Lady?

Many things came into play with my decision not to take the traditional route to post-secondary education; the question above was one I pondered for quite some time: 1) what did I think about college, and, as a young woman, with my aspirations, 2) would I be attending. It was an ongoing discussion between my parents and I, and I had a massive paradigm shift from, as a little girl, yearning to be an Ivy League graduate, starry-eyed over a certificate I got from Duke University after my standardized test scores, to, as a sophomore in high school, daydreaming about becoming a UCLA or NYU graduate who made Shyamalan-esque films, to, as a junior, researching schools with a much more Christ-exalting curricula, to as a senior, deciding to do away with the typical college experience altogether.

First off, since college is a form of furthering one’s education, I had to consider what the purpose of my education was: as a Christian, I believe that purpose falls in line with my ultimate purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I wanted all levels of my education to be effective in equipping me for that calling. There were several things that made me shy away my my UCLA and NYU ideals; one was a five point sermon my dad’s been preaching to Trey and me since we entered high school:

  1. Most BA degrees aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
  2. Four years is too much time to waste.
  3. $80,000 (room&board/state school) to $250,000 (room&board/Ivy League) is too much money to spend.
  4. College is not for everyone.
  5. Most universities are philosophically antagonistic to Christianity.

Click here to read that entire article.

American colleges today aren’t what they once were, and with the amount of time and money poured into young peoples’ education today, I think the results being offered are, most often, subpar. Young men and young women would benefit from taking a long, hard look at the way post-high-school education is conducted in America, making decisions, not based on the status quo, but on how to be a good steward with the time and the gifts that the Lord has given them.

But Don’t You Need a College Education, Just in Case?

Just in case I don’t get married -just in case a parent dies -just in case my husband dies -just in case he becomes disabled -just in case I have to work…

Just in case scenarios have their validity -if they did not, I would not be a firm believer in life insurance, car insurance, and home insurance -however, we must be careful never to base our decisions on fear, but on the precepts of the Word of God, and the leading of our consciences in accordance with His Word.

If it is your desire to flourish in the home environment, I want to encourage you: it is not impossible to make “just in case” plans that don’t include a college degree… it just takes a little creativity, a lot of foresight, and much prayer.

So What Would you Do Instead?

The first two years after I graduated were spent under the tutelage of my parents, helping my mother with the household duties while working full-time for my father as his research assistant. If people asked me what I did for a living, I’d probably quip that I was the all-purpose household and office assistant/brother-wrangler/sous-chef. I was still learning (at that time, I was researching for my dad’s latest book, which gave me an opportunity to read a variety of resources from a host of different perspectives regarding biblical manhood and womanhood) from both of my parents, particularly from Mama, because I had ample time to tag along and take notes.

Towards the end of that two-year period, we found an alternative to the traditional college route that allows me to still be just as involved with my family life, and I am now enrolled in an online degree program called CollegePlus! I’m an English major, and am able to pursue my passion for literature and writing at home while shaping and pursuing the other passions in my life. As Daddy pointed out in his article, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to education (which, as homeschoolers, is something that we definitely know). Doing college this away affords me the opportunity to continue to live at home under the protection and discipleship of both of my parents, as well as to be involved in my family life in a unique way that I believe many college-age gals are missing out on.

I think a lot of times, though, women who make decisions like I have get painted into a corner. I know many people have assumed that my daddy won’t “allow” me to go to college, when the fact of the matter is that my educational path was a decision that my parents and I made together. I’m a sophomore in college now, credits-wise, and my parents and I have talked about the possibility of me getting a nouthetic counseling license once I graduate, or taking advantage of a fully-accredited online doctorate program from a Reformed college. I am working on writing my first book, based on my blog, and will have to complete the manuscript a bit before the deadline, as I’ll be traveling for a month with my family in Africa this August while my dad ministers there.

Not every daughter who chooses to live at home is going to have a life that looks just like mine, but what I’m trying to demonstrate is that when I talk about “stay-at-home daughterhood,” I’m not talking about sitting at home and watching the paint dry until Prince Charming comes along. There are limitless opportunities for ministry and productivity at home, if we will only take advantage of them or make them for ourselves.

So Do You Think Young Women Should be Educated?

I must say that I do not equate the question of whether or not a young person decides to go to college with whether or not young people should be educated; when asked the second question, my answer is an emphatic yes; I simply don’t believe the only or the best way for a young person to be educated is on a college campus. Depending on their chosen career paths, young men as well as young women would often do well to cut out the time-consuming, money-guzzling venture that the traditional college education is.

As to the specific question of whether or not I believe young women should be educated -and, further to the point, as well-educated as their male counterparts -yes, I do believe they should. We are in the midst of a culture war -as Christians, it is our duty to be good stewards of our minds, applying them to learning the truths that can advance the Kingdom of Christ. This can be done in a structured school setting, but it is not at all limited to that sphere -in this day and age, the only limitations to your education are your imagination and your drive to learn.

Do You Think Everyone Should Live at Home Like You?

All I want to do is to encourage young ladies to rethink their presuppositions not only regarding education, but in regards to the aspirations that your education leads you to.

However, I can share with you, as a young woman, some of the reasons I decided against going off to school. It was more important for me to remain under the protection of my father and the discipleship of my mother than it was for me to travel cross-country to sit under the discipleship of others. I believe my primary calling is towards my home, and there is no other place I’d rather be, here in my family’s home for now, and, Lord bless, someday running a home of my own and educating my own children. I had no desire for a career that would take me away from that sphere. I believe that a Christian home is the best training ground that young women can be afforded, and that the safest place a young woman can be is under her parents’ authority.

For too long in our culture, parents have been training their daughters in the exact same way that they train their sons, launching their female arrows to go through life the same way their male arrows do. Fathers have been abdicating their duty to protect their daughters, mothers their duty towards discipleship and guidance. Young women have not only lost their femininity, but they’ve lost their desire for the biblical role that the Lord has called them to. We no longer want to be wives and mothers, and we no longer realize the power of that calling. As a result, many of us no longer realize what a unique time in our lives this can be, not only to take advantage of our ministry to our home and families, but the minister to others through that sphere.

There are so many other questions that come up in the college discussion, but, lest I write my book in the course of this post, I’ll close with this: there’s honestly nothing I can say that I’d rather be doing than living the life I’m leading; I am always free at any time to discuss alternatives with my parents, because their goal is the same as mine: to be a good steward of the gifts, passions, and callings that the Lord has placed on my life, and to become a true woman of God. My home -my family -was custom-made by the King of Kings for me; I’m blessed to have this unique opportunity to learn from them and bless them and to be blessed by them.

I’m a stay-at-home daughter because I believe this is the best place for me to be, and because I enjoy learning and thriving in a real-world environment that affords me opportunities to minister and to be ministered to in ways that I never could be living out on my own. That’s a decision that I’ve made with the full blessing of both of my parents, and it’s a decision that has blessed the rest of us in turn. I do pray that other young women are able to have these fruitful conversations with their parents as well, and to make wise, Christ-exalting plan for their futures!

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About The Author

Jasmine is the oldest of Voddie and Bridget Baucham's seven children. She is a homeschool graduate who enjoys studying and writing about areas as varied as theology, philosophy, political science, art, film and culture. She is also an aspiring author who currently lives at home where she continues to assist her father in his research, is completing a degree in English literature, has written a book called, Joyfully at Home based on her old blog by the same title and is blessed to assist her mother with the care of her younger siblings. You can now find her rambling occasionally at All She Has to Say

Comments

18 Responses to “Should Young Women Go to College?”

  1. Deanna Rabe says:

    Really good post, Jasmine!

    We have extended family members, who still cannot accept the fact that we are not somehow depriving our daughters of a chance to “live THEIR lives” or “to do things THEY want to do.” Notice the emphasis – they assume that we are forcing them to live the life WE want them to!

    My girls are well educated – if they were interested in college we would likely go the CollegePlus route. But THEY have other interests and learning those things from our home as a base.

    Thanks again for speaking up about this important topic!

  2. Tayler M. says:

    Thank you, Jasmine!

    My family and I went to a graduation party last night for one of my college-bound friends. Nearly everyone who attended was a mutual friend, and since I am graduating this year as well, I got the ‘ol college question a lot. :-)

    In their minds, the idea of not going the traditional college route was completely ridiculous (even though they had previously thought that 12 full years of home-education was as bad as it could get). :-) I spent the evening trying to explain my reasons, and came home slightly discouraged. It’s difficult to explain a concept that is so foreign to our culture.

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the encouragement you gave me this morning. It’s just what I needed!

  3. Eloquent, well-thought out, and so very wise. As a college-educated stay-at-home wife and mother, I can applaud you, Jasmine. I could not be more in favor of all people–regardless of age–questioning the status quo of our society and following God’s lead instead.

    One thing to consider, too, which I don’t believe you mentioned is that many young women fear they will not meet a good husband if they do not go to college. I confess I met my husband at school and highly doubt we would EVER have crossed paths otherwise, since he was a Microsoft-bound engineer from Idaho and I was an aspiring artist from New York. We met in LA at our freshman orientation.

    Still, was that a reason to go to college? No. I’m certain God used our choices to attend the same school to achieve His purposes, but most of our friends did NOT find their spouse among their college peers. I don’t believe fear of not finding a husband is any reason to go to college, but it is a prevalent concern I often hear from high school-aged young women.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there. But, well done, Jasmine! I always enjoy your writing. And, as one writer to another, I look forward to reading your book.

    Blessings,
    Mrs. Bethany Hudson

    http://applecidermama.blogspot.com

  4. gingerly says:

    I feel the same way about college for my girls although college was the most fun time of my life. More often than not, I dream about my college years. It’s the only time you’re with your friends 24/7. Go to class with them, eat every meal with them, live within a few paces from them.
    But educationally-speaking, my girls can do much better. I shudder to think what I paid in time and money in pursuit of my master’s degree. Ugh. I could have learned the same material with a library card!

  5. Jenn84 says:

    Gingerly, it sounds like God blessed you. He blessed me in my college years too, which were lived at home. Thank you for more fully explaining your thoughts, Jasmine :)

  6. Sherrin Drew says:

    It is great to explain carefully your reasons for choosing to continue your education at home. Others can benefit from rethinking the automatic course they may be expected to take.

    However, I would appreciate it if the answer to “Do you think everyone should live at home like you” was more clearly “no”! I think it is fairly obvious that some people live in abusive family situations, or have parents who want them to go away to college (despite anything a daughter may want). Many others have opportunities like I did to attend a university close to home and continue to live with their parents.

    The fact that there are rare situations where women cannot live at home (due either to parental wishes or to traumatic/dangerous home circumstances) is not an argument against the general principles you present. The exceptions shoudn’t define the norm. However, it is worth clearly acknowledging the fact for some women the best course is to live with other godly people apart from biological family. In a few articles I’ve read on this topic writers have been asked this question directly and have still avoided giving such an answer.

  7. BrandCritter says:

    Thank you so much for this Miss Baucham! I wish it were as simple as saying that college was not for me. Even now, with two little ones under 4 I get asked the question, “So when will you continue your education?” It’s a question usually paired with, “Where are you working these days?”

    We’re working against an anti-tradition culture that has infiltrated our churches. It’s tough to justify how it is that I am at home all day with my children and plan to continue doing so as they get closer to “school age”. My number one goal is to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” I can confidently say that doing so will not involve furthering my education through any college system or taking a job outside of the home. It’s not that I haven’t been afforded these opportunities, it’s that I know where I’m supposed to be, much like yourself.

    You are a fine example of a Christ-honoring, confident, educated young woman who’s priorities are in order. Once your book is out, I’m buying several copies and saving them for my daughter and my friends’ daughters. Blessings!

  8. Sherrin,

    Thank you for your kind words -I understand your caveat completely, and will try to be clearer in the future. That was definitely one of the issues that fit into the “there are so many other questions that come up in the college discussion that I could write a book about it… oh, wait… I am!” category. ;-) Thank you so much for bringing it up, and, also, for your wise admonition that, while the exceptions should not define the norm, there are situations where these principles will have to be applied a bit differently than they have been in my own life.

  9. katecarroll says:

    Thank you very much for your post Jasmine! I have also come to the decision that college is not the right route for me. Unfortunately, it came after a couple years of college. However, I know that God used that time for good and I am now walking in obedience to Him. I face a lot of skepticism from friends and family, particularly my own father. This post was very encouraging and very well thought out. Thank you for the way you are ministering to others!

  10. ladyscott says:

    Whenever this topic arises, I often see battle lines being drawn. There’s the “daughters must stay home” on one side and “college must be an option” on the other. What I never seem to see is the point that we as parents, and adult children must go where the Lord leads us. If the Lord truly leads a young woman to pursue an education away from home, then so be it. I know a young lady who left home for a Christian Bible College and I wondered at the wisdom of sending her away, especially when she never really was ever away from home. Well, the blessings and the fruit speak for themselves. This is where God wants her. This is where God is growing her. I cannot argue with that.

  11. Jenn84 says:

    Perfect, Ladyscott!

  12. pedsrn22 says:

    There are certain professions that require a college degree such as the one that I obtained in nursing. I felt lead in that direction from the time I was a child. I was able to practice full-time as an RN for 9.5 yrs- from the time I graduated from college, through a couple of yrs as a single gal, through the first nearly seven yrs of our marriage while we struggled with infertility. Now I’m pretty much a stay at home mama, working just one day a week while daddy hangs out with the boys. In this particular profession, and this would not be the case with all, but the financial investment has been worth it for us. Also, the knowledge and experience gained has been a valuable tool in being able to care for my family.
    That being said, I am completely against people going to college just for the sake of going or getting a piece of paper.

  13. Lauren says:

    I was home schooled K-12 and now attend a community college to study music. I am finishing up my third year and plan to continue until I earn my Bachelor’s degree in Piano, as my parents and I have decided that it is the best option for me. Attending school locally has allowed me to live at home and save a LOT of money in the process!

    Recently God has been speaking to my heart about the importance of being at home and serving my family. My father is currently suffering from memory loss and related issues (possible Alzheimer’s), and my mother has needed to take over a lot of responsibilities from him. This has served as a wake-up call to me, and has also prompted a nagging question in my mind.

    I had planned to hold off on finishing my degree so I could be at home more to help my family, but my parents would like me to continue without taking a break. The plan now is for me to finish my degree in music, and this will take up a considerable amount of time for the next few years. On the other hand, I have an increasing desire to be at home as much as possible to spend time with my family and help my parents, especially because of my father’s illness.

    Do you (or any other readers) have suggestions for ways that I can reconcile these two things–the desire and necessity of finishing my degree, and the commitment I have to my family? I feel torn and somewhat at a loss, and would welcome ideas or encouragement.

    Thank you and God bless.

  14. Emily says:

    Dear Jasmine (or anyone else who feels that they can help),

    I recently responded to a post very similar to this one written by Anna, but I feel that it is best to get more than one opinion on things, especially since you are young like me. I just finished my first year as an engineering student.

    I wish that I could have had your option to stay at home, but as Sherrin said, some of us have extenuating circumstances. I was not blessed with a good family life – I spent 5 years in a foster home after my birth mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Those 5 years were also spent being sexually abused by my foster father, who professed to be a good Christian man. I had to leave – there wasn’t a choice – and I was never happier than the moment I first walked into my new apartment.

    This has made it into quite a struggle for me. Since I’ve never had an example of what a godly woman or godly marriage is supposed to look like, I’ve never really understood the idea of preparing all of my life for something that has, in my experience, been nothing but pain, abuse and deceit.

    What do you (or anyone else who feels that they can help) think about a situation such as mine? How can I be a Godly woman and still support myself?

    Thanks!

  15. Dear Emily,

    First off, I praise God for removing you from harmful situations, and turning your heart towards him despite the bad examples set for you early on in your life.

    As to yours question: What do you think about a situation such as mine? How can I be a godly woman and still support myself?

    I go to a tight-knit family integrated church. We have daughters like me there, who stay at home -young men who live at home with their families until marriage as well (marrying when they are capable of providing for their wives, of course) -single women without stable family environments who work outside of the home -and single men who also operate outside of the family unit. The church is their family. We invite them over for meals, make sure they aren’t alone during holidays or special occasions, and, in the spirit of Titus 2, the older men and older women advise them and walk alongside them in place of their parents.

    My biggest advice to you would be to find a strong church body Find a woman who you can trust and emulate her; find a pastor whose counsel you can seek on certain issues. Find sisters in Christ (I’ll gladly volunteer -live anywhere near Houston, Texas? ;) ) who can encourage you in your quest to become a godly woman -someone who loves her home and cherishes the family… but who also, because of extenuating circumstances, needs to provide for herself during this season.

    And, in those days where it might be easy to look at those in other situations and think that the Lord has forsaken you… know that his will is perfect. My mother had an abusive childhood as well… and after twenty-one years of marriage to a godly man (this Wednesday!), she can see how the Lord turned her trials into a testimony for his glory. I pray that the same can be said of you someday as well -I know that in so many ways, it can already being said now!

  16. lillicooper4 says:

    Dear Ladies,
    I am a student at a public high school currently researching the topic of feminism. I came across this website and was intrigued: I have very rarely experienced such a passion for motherhood and love. I too am a Christian, and I very deeply love my Lord, and my own mother whose calling has been to serve in our home with my siblings and I. And yet, I feel as though, for me, the aspect of stay-at-home motherhood does not seem to fill the passions that He has bestowed upon me, nor does it seem to be my calling. I still have time yet, but I would love some words of advice from women such as yourselves.
    I hope that you will not take me as rude, but I have some few questions that I hope will aid me in finding what the Lord has planned. I would like to follow a path to higher education in order to become a doctor. Should I be deterred from this dream in order to maintain the God given gifts of womanhood? He has also blessed me with a sharp mind, which loves to wander through debates of religion, ethics, and politics. Is it unladylike to use these talents to the best of my ability? I also enjoy running (long distances) because it helps me meditate. Would such an activity be unwomanly? I find it hard to believe that these gifts I have been given were meant to be idle, but I am rather young and would appreciate the wisdom you have gained.

    Thank you for your inspiration and responses,
    Yours most sincerely,
    Lilli Cooper

  17. Thanks for the comment, Lilli! One problem with websites like this is that they are so very limited when it comes to discussion. This is illustrated over and over again when it comes to our position on education. We don’t make any beef about the fact that we do not hold the brick-and-mortar model of higher education in high esteem. It is bloated, too expensive, and narrowing, as it tends to perpetuate the peer-segregated cycle of primary and secondary education. But that does not mean we are against higher education–far from it! God means for us to love Him with our minds as well as our hearts and souls. We need to develop the gifts He has given us to the best of our ability. If you do not feel called to marriage and childbearing, then the Lord can definitely use you as a doctor–particularly as a doctor to other women. I have used highly skilled midwives almost exclusively from the time I was married. In the Old Testament, God praised the Hebrew midwives for their bravery in defying Pharaoh’s order to slaughter newborn Israelite sons. Serving as a midwife, OB, or general practitioner for women is sorely needed. I do not believe such a profession is compatible with being a wife and mother, as you’d have to sacrifice one to pursue the other. But I’ve known young women who served in the medical field until they were married and older women who took it up after their children were grown. One practiced out of her home in Georgia for over 70 years, meeting the needs of the women and children in her community without having to leave her home! Women have provided medical care for other women for millennia, and that is a noble and worthy goal as long as it isn’t put above one’s own husband or children. But if you aren’t called to marriage, that’s a moot point.

    As for how to obtain the education needed to pursue medical work, that requires some careful thinking, planning, and creativity. So much of our modern medical colleges are built upon unbiblical views of mankind and end up perpetuating some of the very ills they were designed to combat! I’ve been stunned at the lack of basic knowledge about diet and exercise demonstrated by contemporary OBs I’ve visited when compared to the incredible depth and richness of knowledge offered by my midwives–particularly those who have been trained with an eye toward welcoming birth and supporting a woman from puberty through menopause to pursue healthy choices. When I was a teenager, I considered studying midwifery and began apprenticing under a local CNM. That study was providentially interrupted by family travels and other pursuits, but I never lost my love for women’s health or my desire to continue to study it on my own. I believe that has helped me immensely in preparing for the birth of my own children. There are excellent Christian pre-med programs out there that still teach doctors to view people as created in God’s image and worthy of care and respect as human beings. That’s where I’d recommend you focus your search. The last thing this world needs is another doctor with a low view of human life and scant desire to serve others.

    I see nothing out of bounds about running, either, though I’d certainly pursue it in modest attire. Being considerate of our brothers doesn’t just extend to church and other public settings but also how we dress ourselves when we exercise.

    Hope this helps! I am sure others will chime in here as well. :)

    Blessings,
    Mrs. Chancey

  18. GrowingGirl says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I am 16, and my entire life I have been planning to go to college. My dad’s mother had insisted that he go, and so he saw fit to enforce the same sense of responsibiity upon me. Then . . . I fell in love:) And I was saved! Suddenly, I found myself telling my father that I did not wish to go to college, but instead felt that I was being called to be a wife and mother. He literally considered disowning me. Luckily we worked things out, but I appreciate your article! College should be optional. Thank you so much:)

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