Sunday, April 1, 2007

My Experience of College Education

I'm about to graduate from college; a few years ago, when I applied, it seemed like I have no other option - everybody in my family went to college, and the same was expected from me. My college is close to home (I made sure I could continue living at home when I made the choice!).

I certainly can't say I learned nothing. I chose a degree in Nutrition and Home Economics, and I acquired lots of valuable knowledge, which will be very useful while running a home. I was exposed to a variety of cooking, baking and canning techniques, learned about planning a menu and food safety, about how to make better food choices and how to be a wiser consumer. I also learned A LOT about medicine, which I already apply to contribute to my family's health and well-being. In addition, I took courses in psychology and sociology, which broadened my general level of education.

But let me tell you this one thing. Everything I mentioned above is only useful to my family because I made CONSTANT EFFORT to see it through the prism of a devoted daughter, of (God willing) future mother and homemaker. Our teachers certainly didn't intend it to be interpreted that way. We were oriented towards career, not family. The knowledge and skills we gained was to be given to anyone but people we care about the most - our family.

Let me tell you something else. Practically everything I learned during my 3 years of college - and certainly the more practical things - could be learned at home, in a cheaper, safer, and more extensive manner. It might have taken longer time, but I would have been so much better off at home. The entire spirit was so ambitious, competitive and self-absorbed. What about modesty? I studied in an almost girls-only class, and I still had to struggle against negative influence almost every day. At times, I felt like shutting my ears so I don't have to listen to stories about immoral behavior; I won't even mention the abysmal "dress code"! And THAT, remember, is what I have been exposed to while living at home. Imagine what must have been going on in the dorms, after classes ended!

Have I been able to grow towards serving my family and towards God's calling? Have I gained important skills during the past 3 years? Yes, but I can truly and wholeheartedly say it happened more despite than thanks to my college education. I didn't have time to really refine my homemaking skills. Only during the past year, I'm learning how to clean satisfactorily and shop frugally, how to do laundry effectively, I'm learning to garden, sew, knit and crochet. Ironically, my mother is very good at all those things, but she has never been married and doesn't believe in feminine calling. So I am being pushed into the workforce, and I'm afraid this is where I'm going to end if I'm not blessed with a godly husband who isn't intimidated by the role of leader and provider in his own family. I pray with all my heart for meeting and marrying such a man.

I would like to encourage all the wonderful families who decide to give their daughters broad, high-quality education while keeping them at home, under the safe, loving protection of their family. Don't believe anyone who says home education cannot produce an intelligent, creative human being. Home is certainly the best possible place to gain the skills necessary for a future keeper at home, a godly wife and mother. An endless variety of interests, hobbies, activities and business options can also be successfully pursued from home. If we have a vision of being home centered, let's live it, and let's show the world what a powerful and glorious vision it is!!

Anna

13 comments:

Tracy said...

Wow! As the mother of two daughters, I very much appreciate your honesty about your college education. We homeschool, and I often wonder what we will do if our girls want to go to college. My husband and I have already said that there is no way that they would live away from home. I will be sharing this post with him.

I'm thankful that you have a desire to be home, rather than in the workforce. The Lord knows the desires of your heart. I pray that he will provide a way for you to glorify him, no matter what. I will keep you in my prayers.

I desired solely to be a wife and a mother. I have never taken even one college class, but I was married at eighteen. Most people think that I have a degree, and are shocked when I tell them otherwise. You are right; so much can be learned at home.

Thanks for this post. Have a blessed Sunday!

Anna S said...

Dear Tracy,
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement!

I don't know how old your daughters are, but if they are in their late teens and already thinking about their possible future options, you could tell them about a girl who has been there and "lived to tell the tale". And a sad tale it is indeed.

I must say I had a better deal than most college girls. I was able to live at home; I didn't study things that polluted my heart and mind. Now, imagine a young girl, hundreds of miles away from her home, unprotected, thrown into what is supposed to be "the real world", and which is, in fact, a place that encourages irresponsibility, being self-centered and promiscuity.

Mrs. Jennie Chancey (LAF editor) has written a wonderful article about it; I don't think I could do it better than her. But I felt my experience, as a fresh college (almost) graduate, can be useful for young girls and families who are considering sending their daughters off to college.

Becky said...

Well, Anna, it is lovely to meet you. You are rare in this world that is for sure. Our culture certainly tells young women today that there is "more" to life than what you are seeking. Do not believe it! Enjoy!

Anna S said...

Dear Becky,
Thank you for your kind words!

Sheri said...

Hi Anna,
I'm so thrilled that I met you on my blog! Your post regarding modesty was challenging and very encouraging to me. Thank you. Your love for Jesus and your desire to be a godly woman shines through brilliantly! I'm praying for you my dear sister in the Lord and excited to see where our Heavenly Father takes you. May He give you the desires of your heart as you seek Him more with every breath!

Anna S said...

Hi Sheri,
I'm glad you found my humble words helpful. Of course, it's not like I switched from dressing like Britney Spears to the way I dress now. It was a transition of many steps! I think I will write about it one of these days.

Jordin said...

Anna,

When I saw your comment on my blog, I thought I'd come visit yours! I'm so glad I did!

What a great post. We are in the same boat, it seems! I'm also 21 and in my Junior year in college. I have the same views as you have regarding college. It's so nice to find a kindred spirit! :)

I look forward to reading more!

Anna S said...

Jordin,

I could go on and on about college. Somehow, it is taken as a fact that having a college degree means you are 'educated' and 'liberated', while not having a degree means you are 'brainless' and 'oppressed'.
Well, I think it's time to fight the 'college = the only path to education' myth! As for 'liberation', we have to ask ourselves - liberation from what? From being under one's parents guidance? From one's responsibility and duty to care for one's parents?

I'm glad you dropped by :) Looking forward to reading your blog again!

Emily said...

Hi again Anna!

I am also graduating very soon, and very much share your opinion of university. Your degree does sound very interesting - I hope to learn much more about nutrition and food - but I agree, we can learn these things in a less expensive way.

I am studying French & Linguistics, and although I have learnt some very interesting things - not much of it is really helpful for what I really want to do, which is be a wife and mother like yourself. And I am so like you in wanting a husband fast so that I don't get pushed into the career world! Luckily for me, my family can't really push me into it because I no longer live at home (I moved when I came to university). As long as I am able to pay my rent and bills, that's fine really - and I am able to do that with my own online business I have been running, as well as hopefully French & English tutoring.

But I can tell my parents are keen for my to make the most of my degree.... Goodness knows what they would think if I told them that what I want to do for the rest of my life is to be a wife, mother, homemaker, and homeschooler!

I'm so glad I have found someone in the blogosphere who is so like me! Blessings to you.

In His care,

Emily

Anonymous said...

OK, this comment is very "Janny-come-lately," but I clicked to it after reading a post linked to on LAF.

I just want to offer another perspective to keep in mind.

Not every girl is so blessed to live in a home conducive to learning anything of being a homemaker. (Most my mom ever taught me of cooking was how to use the microwave.)

For me specifically, living on campus, out of state and away from home, has been a great blessing. Why? My home life is quite spiritually and emotionally toxic. I don't think I would have even realized it was so if I didn't have the chance of getting AWAY from it. Because my family isn't Dr. Phil-level dysfunctional, I never realized how dysfunctional it IS until I was gone and realized how other families work and function. I've also found my college friends more supportive of my faith than my parents ever have been. At school, I can go to Sunday Mass without harassment, indeed, even attending with friends. At home, doing so on any day besides Christmas, Easter, weddings, funerals, and such makes me "holier than thou" and a subject of revilement and derision.

I'm not trying to say it's for everyone, but it was assuredly God's Will in my being there. Likewise, regardless of how college went for you, God permitted you to be there for some reason. I thank him that he did for me.

Overall, though, I do enjoy your blog. It's encouraging to read about other girls, especially young adults, who want to focus entirely on family and the home.

I apologize if this comment at all came off as rude. At 2AM sometimes my brain-to-mouth/fingers filter seems to break down...

God bless! ^_^

Anna S said...

Anonymous,

Guess I should clarify this: I didn't know ANYTHING about cooking before we had cooking classes in college! I think that unless I went to study nutrition&home ec, I still wouldn't be able to boil an egg. :)

I also understand you about the spiritual life issue. My mother isn't religious and isn't supportive at all about me being religious.

But the influence I had on campus was bad. Not all of it - but most of it. I agree that situations can be different, but I think that if a girl has a supportive family, a protective father and an opportunity to get good home education, it might be a wiser choice.

Anonymous said...

I came across a link to this site while reading an appalling attack on women's athletics. While I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, I am finding it difficult to wrap my mind around the message that you are sending. I consider myself a bright, intelligent, modern young woman who enjoys to challenge her beliefs with new ideas. I attend a large university in an urban setting, and I live on-campus. Living in such a diverse environment has allowed me the opportunity nearly everyday to re-examine my own beliefs. You and your readers ideas regarding the college experience today comes off to me as a lack of faith in one's own convictions? How can you truly understand the depth of your faith until it has been challenged, leaving you to decide for yourself after much deliberation what it is that is the right path for you?
I do want to be a wife and a mother someday, but I don't want that to define me. Why should it be wrong for me to want to become a physician as well, to possibly aid women in childbirth, or to save lives in an emergency room? Or to teach in a school, so that children whose parents might not have the time to devote to homeschooling or additional instruction to complement their child's education will be able to enjoy the love of learning that I experienced as a child? Many people in my life, men included, have urged me to pursue intellectual endeavors, to study science, literature, and math to fullest extent possible. Some of my favorite mentors have been men, none of them have ever suggested in the slightest that they would prefer a woman to resign herself to the sole task of being a housewife. All of them have pushed me to pursue a career in politics, medicine, law, and education, among other things. Their wives are all career women; architects, scientists, and teachers. The majority of men that I have spoken with throughout my studies have stated that they preferred women who were their intellectual equals. It is women's capability to be both a mother, a partner, and a career woman that makes her a powerful force to be reckoned with in today's society. I want to be able to support my family should tragedy strike. My having a job could also enrich my family's life; instead of simply reading about the world, my financial resources will help my family experience life outside of their culture, to help them see how the rest of the world lives.
You may have noticed that I have avoided the topic of religion altogether. I believe that it is a separate issue, and the topics I bring up are able to be applied to women universally, no matter what race, religion, or economic status.
Another idea of yours I question is your idea of modesty. I believe that the human body is a thing of great beauty, and while it should be respected, it should not be hidden away in shame or embarrassment. While I do not dress provocatively, I do like to display my feminine shape, not hide it behind shapeless garments. Women should not be ashamed of their bodies. I am not suggesting that women put themselves on display for men, rather they should find a man who respects them for their mind as well as their body. The human body is not a thing of lust and sin. Who could look at Michaelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, full of humans in the nude, and have lustful thoughts? Whenever I see paintings or sculptures of the human body from that era, all I feel is wonder and amazement at the astonishing beauty the human body truly is.
I was also wondering what your thoughts were on women who have changed the face of the world, such as Mother Theresa (who never married or had children, and had doubts of the existence of God for most of her life) Indira Gandhi, or Margaret Thatcher? Would you support a female president, or would you think that she was overstepping her bounds?
I hope that one day in the future I will have a husband who respects me as an equal in all that we do, a career devoted to enriching the lives of others, and children who have been raised to respect others beliefs, to question their own, and to experience life to the fullest extent possible.
~ A Young Woman

Anna S said...

Dear anonymous, thank you for taking the time to reply. I always love getting response such as yours, which helps me clarify my position. By the way, the same goes for my faith, which is the first part of your inquiry: I feel challenged and inspired when my faith is questioned and I am then motivated to learn even more. BUT, I don't like it when my beliefs are actually *attacked* by everyone in my surroundings - which is what happened on my (particular) campus.

I think that, from reading a bit on my blog, it's clear to you that I have no doubt whatsoever about the women's intelligence, talent, and capability which can enable her to pursue a variety of occupations. So, the discussion here is not about 'what a woman can do' but rather, 'what's the right thing to do'. And also, not 'should a woman pursue her talents', but rather, 'HOW should a woman pursue her talents?'

I think that we - and I include myself in this, as well - have been conditioned to think that only office and paycheck mean we're doing something important. Only college means we get good education. Only... well, you see my point? But if we think outside the box, there are countless ways a woman can express her talents at home. Teaching her own children is the most obvious one I guess!

I choose to be a homemaker and focus on my family - God willing, I will have a family - and I feel that my knowledge in medicine, nutrition, psychology and everything else I studied in college will be put to good use - well actually, it is already put to good use - right here at home! I think that even if a woman is childless, she can have a beautiful and productive life as a keeper-at-home. Her talents are applicable in countless aspects of being a helpmeet to her husband and a good homemaker.

The concept of a woman being a wife and helpmeet is NOT some sort of oppressive tyranny meant to tie women down and limit them. And it is NOT something meant for the inferior and less intelligent women! Through blogging, I was blessed to 'know' many former professors, engineers and simply very talented women who made the choice to come home and are happy about it. An ex-colleague of my fiance, a woman who recently got her PhD in biochemistry, chose to opt out of workforce and stay home for her husband and children. Because she was somehow less capable? No. She just felt she can't give enough to her family while in the workforce.

If a woman feels she wants to get married and have children, she takes responsibility for this, and must take care of her family. She is a wife and mother, and being many hours outside the home steals her away from her family. There's basically no way going around it. Yes, I am of the opinion that no pursuit - no matter how good, or right, or noble *in itself* - cannot be right if it interferes with us caring for our most precious ones.

I will share with you one quote a reader sent me today: "To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."--G. K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World

You mention mother Theresa; yet just like you said, she was unmarried, and thus didn't have this conflict of her duties to husband and children clashing with her desire to give to the rest of the world. However we look at it, the majority of women will become wives, and as such, they are taking on duties which will demand MUCH of their time, skills and ability. Will they have time to spare for other activities? Maybe. And each woman should see how much she can give to other pursuits (in which I include work, volunteering, different personal projects) without stealing away from her family. And she should be honest with herself. If she spends many, many hours away from home and sees that she cannot take proper care of her husband's needs and her household, she shouldn't brush it off as unimportant, but should consider it very carefully.

As for modesty, I don't think we actually even disagree here. I don't think anyone should be ashamed of their body! I'm certainly not ashamed of mine. I like what I see in the mirror. But - and this isn't bragging - so do men. In the most negative and lustful way. Like you said, I'm not hiding my body in embarrassment; I'm simply not putting myself on display for men. I guess the only thing we *do* disagree about is nudity in art. I'm sorry, but these paintings make me blush. You may call me a freak ;) - but this is what I think.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and raise your questions in such a respectful way.