Should Children Be Encouraged to Attend College?

A response to “6 Reasons (+2) to NOT Send Your Daughter to College”

A couple of days ago I read a recent article posted on Fix the Family, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages and families through a conservative Catholic lifestyle. While I don’t personally subscribe to Catholic religious views, I am a Christian and I applaud Fix the Family‘s efforts to strengthen marriages and families.

That said, I strongly disagree with the contents of the above mentioned article, “6 Reasons (+2) to NOT Send Your Daughter to College” by Raylan Alleman. I found many of his reasons uninformed, while some could even be considered offensive. Mr. Alleman’s 8 reasons to NOT send your daughter to college are as follows:

  1. She will attract the wrong types of men.” While not outright stated, Mr. Alleman appears to suggest that a woman with a college education will ONLY attract the wrong types of men. As a member of a long list of men in my family who married college-educated women, I find this more than a little insulting. Mr. Alleman suggests that men who are attracted to college-educated women are lazy, only looking for a companion whose income he can supplement while he fails at multiple business endeavors. I would also like to point out that there are many other “wrong types of men” besides the type listed by Mr. Alleman. Many of these types of men are threatened by highly-educated women and instead prey on women without any formal education whom they feel they can control more easily.

    While I know and respect many men who have not attended college, I want my daughter to marry a man who either has a formal education or is in pursuit of a formal education. I want her to marry a man who respects a woman’s right to pursue knowledge, both formally and informally, even if that knowledge is never used outside the home. I want her to marry a man who understands that the pursuit of knowledge is often its own reward. I want her to marry a man who is willing to struggle with her to raise a family, while either or both of them are attending school if necessary. I want her to marry a man like her father, uncles, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. I believe that by attending college, my daughter will attract the RIGHT types of men.

  2. She will be in a near occasion of sin.” Mr. Alleman seems to present the idea that, placed in a situation without “adult” supervision, all college-age persons are unable to control themselves, regressing to hedonistic, sex-crazed drunkards. He states, “How can one expect that anyone would be able to avoid these temptations, even on a Catholic college campus much less a secular one?” To this I can only respond: Give your daughters some credit. Trust them to live the values you have taught them. Yes, many college students live lifestyles out of harmony with conservative Christian values, but many other college students strictly adhere to the values they were taught in their homes. The majority of students I associated with while attending college did NOT have sex before marriage and did NOT need to attend drunken parties to feel part of the college experience. The types of people your sons and daughters enjoy being around while they are teenagers are the same types of people they will likely feel comfortable around in college. Teach them to choose friends who share their values and you won’t need to worry about your children when they no longer live in your house.

    Whether or not children live at home until they get married, some of them will take drugs and have sex before marriage. Even children raised by the most perfect parents can and will make mistakes. Christianity teaches that Christ was the only perfect person to walk this earth. Christianity also teaches repentance and forgiveness when mistakes are made.

  3. She will not learn to be a wife and mother.” Mr. Alleman states, “Nothing that is taught in a college curriculum is geared toward domestic homemaking.” This statement is outright incorrect. While it is true that you cannot get a B.S. or Ph.D. in “Wifedom” or “Motherhood” (to my knowledge), there are many college courses which can prepare a person for the household duties traditionally associated with a homemaker. Many women (and men) learn these skills as children in their homes, but many are not so fortunate. Luckily, many colleges offer courses on sewing, cooking, nutrition, family and personal finance, and family relations, as well as courses on early childhood development and education. Many college students also have access to religion-based programs and classes which teach Christian family values.
  4. The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.” I have to agree with Mr. Alleman on this point, although he overlooks two important facts:
    • High education costs affect men as well as women
    • There are many, many sources of financial aid to help with the cost of education

    To make this a valid point, Mr. Alleman should have titled his article “6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Children to College.” While I did take out a small amount in student loans during my time in college, I also applied for every scholarship and grant possible. As a result, I graduated with a much smaller amount of debt than most.

    Mr. Alleman points out that not being able to find a job after college graduation can spell financial disaster for a young family. Again, this applies whether the graduate is male or female. Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, it could be difficult to find a job upon graduation from college. Mr. Alleman conveniently ignores the reality that the possibility of finding a job decreases significantly for those job seekers possessing only a high school diploma. He also suggests that a family will be financially successful if the husband possesses a skill that has “reasonable compensation” to go along with it. I was taught many valuable skills in my youth, but even with a college degree I struggled for several years to find a job offering “reasonable compensation.” Finding a good-paying job is never a guarantee regardless of your skills or education, but most worthwhile jobs will not even consider a candidate who has not completed some sort of post-secondary education.

  5. You don’t have to prove anything to the world.” Again, Mr. Alleman is correct that women (and men) should not attend college to “prove something” to the world. But, He also makes a mistaken assumption: Women attend college because they or their parents have something to prove. While some women may attend college for this reason, there are a myriad of other reasons why women go to college. Some women attend college because they have a love of learning, some because they are hoping to meet someone to marry, and some because they have an interest they would like help to develop, to name only a few. I have an unmarried sister who went back to college in her thirties because she wanted more from her life than she was getting. She wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone; she just found herself unhappy with the job prospects her skills offered.
  6. It will be a near occasion of sin for the parents.” Mr. Alleman suggests that many parents feel obligated to help their children pay for college, so they may prevent themselves from having more children. While many parents do feel obligated to help their children, there are many who feel the exact opposite. My own parents were somewhere in between. They didn’t just throw me out into the world on my own, but they helped me explore other financial opportunities. They encouraged me to get good grades, apply for scholarships and grants, and find a part-time job.

    To assume that parents will use contraception to avoid paying for their children’s college tuition seems like quite a leap to me. There are a host of other reasons why people choose birth control methods, most of them having nothing to do with their potential children’s educational costs. Most reasons for the use of birth control methods are more immediate than a possible financial burden eighteen years down the road.

  7. She will regret it.” I just find this reason ludicrous. Mr. Alleman says that many women he has met regret creating dual-income families, but dual-income families is NOT the subject of his article. The subject is reasons to not send your daughter to college. Mr. Alleman makes the invalid assumption that every woman who attends college will sacrifice her family for her career. Attending college does not automatically translate to a neglect of children and family.

    Most of the women in my life are college-educated and I have yet to hear a single one express regret for getting a college education. Nearly all of them have been homemakers for the majority of their married lives, and every single one of them values education and has encouraged ALL of their children to attend college. They speak fondly of their time in college and many continue to maintain friendships with their college roommates.

  8. It could interfere with a religious vocation.” This is a weak reason in my eyes since one of the inferred points of the article is that women should not have a vocation outside of the home. Also, there are many more non-religious vocations in the world than there are religious vocations. I would venture to suggest that those seeking a religious vocation would likely not be attending a regular college anyway, so I would argue that this reason is unapplicable to the subject of the article.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I applaud Fix the Family‘s efforts to strengthen marriage and family values, but I believe Mr. Alleman’s article does none of that. While I consider the article to be mostly useless drivel, the readers’ comments alone are worth taking the time to visit the article.

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