Thinking Out Loud

January 3, 2013

Helping Youth Attain College Education

University LibraryThis fall our youngest son began attending a Christian university. In the process, we are quickly learning that higher education really means higher priced education. Dang, this is costly.

When were helping him transfer some funds in September, I really though he was paying for a full year, only to realize later that we had only covered the first semester.  Double dang.

But as hard as this probably was for some of our local acquaintances to believe, I didn’t have Kid Two in mind when I drafted a letter to some of our local clergy suggesting that university and college education is priced out of reach of many kids leaving high school, and where these students are a part of our local churches, if we are really family, we should rally together and offer to help.

By rally together, I’m forming a mental image of some ethnic groups where, when one family wants to buy a house, everybody contributes to help maximize the down payment. That sort of thing.

The actual students I had in mind are difficult to pin down here, since I have a handful of local readers  at a blog that is written with a worldwide audience in mind. So I’ll use initials:

  • R. wanted to attend an out-of-town two-year business program this fall. But in the process of getting housing he was, for lack of a better word, swindled out of much of the money he had set aside and is now working a lackluster job to try to gain enough from scratch to revisit the process next fall. R. has so much potential; I feel like he was simply born into the wrong family, and wish I could just hand him the life he wants.
  • N. has actually completed almost half of a four-year degree program at a Christian college. Her major is her passion and her giftedness in this area is renown among students her age. She would love to go back to this Christian college, but as the days tick by, it seems less and less likely.
  • T.’s story is the one I am least familiar with. Essentially, he was among the brightest and the best in his high school, but university remains just a dream, though I keep thinking that whatever he winds up doing, he’s going to excel; but right now probably feels a little lost with most of his cohort off to school while he works a low-paying job.

So on September 5th, I asked our local clergy if we couldn’t borrow a page from the ethnic house-buyers and have money pooled together to kick-start education (or return to school) for at least one student per year.

…This is a community that stands behind people in crisis.  Is there something we can do for kids in our local churches who need a ‘leg-up’ in the area of higher education?

Currently, a couple of churches offer a small scholarship for kids pursuing Christian education, but this is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed in the three stories I described above.

I now know this first-hand. [However,] the program that I am envisioning would not be something [our two kids] would subscribe to; rather, I’ve tried to approach this with some objectivity and with a vision for students like the ones I described, two of which find it impossible to get started

Furthermore, I want to recognize that there are young men and women out there who desire to serve God with all their hearts, but have an education vision that does not necessarily involve [various Christian universities].  I also believe that if something were established long-term, there are recipients of this type of help who would be willing to give something back after they graduate.

Is there something more we can do as the body of Christ … to come together to support students in a significant way?

I hope you’ll pray about this; and I would hope that pastors receiving this would be willing to discuss this at the next … ministerial meeting.  While we are often ‘tapped out’ in our giving, and while it would be easy to say we don’t need one more ’cause,’ I believe that this is the kind of project that is worthy of our consideration and viable, but only if we work together.

So that’s what I wrote. And that’s what I believe. And I would love to be able to report that our community established a scholarship fund and this fall one or two students will be able to create a proposal and receive some significant help. And that we now have a structure in place that is going to be of benefit to students for the next decade and beyond.

But it never happened. The response was under-whelming. As in nil. Another email from Paul that got quickly deleted.

There is a saying that “if a man thinks he is casting a vision that nobody is actually catching, he is merely throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall.” 

Well, it should be a saying.

I’ve been tossing visions in our little corner of the world for years, but few have been caught. But maybe, just maybe, someone in some other part of the world is reading this and will adopt something similar that will brighten the corner where you are.

It may not help R. or N. or T., but it may change a student’s life, and that student may change the world.

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6 Comments »

  1. Sometimes your posts cause an ache inside me. This one did. I am sorry that the beautiful spirit of your letter was dismissed without so much as a reply when its root is so obviously found within the first chapters of Acts.

    But I also am sorry that North America, in general, demands university degrees for everything, but especially concerned about this demand in the area of Christian service. My father was called by God as a pastor/evangelist soon after getting saved. His “higher education ” was getting on his knees in his bedroom every day for every moment that he could, frequent fasting, and ravenous consumption and study of the Word. When God said it was time to go out and pastor he was ready. Not a dime in college fees but rich in wisdom and knowledge. I was blessed to be his daighter and sit under his teaching in our churches.

    Thank you for postng this. It has given me lots to think about today.

    .

    Comment by Cynthia Clarke — January 3, 2013 @ 9:26 am

    • I focused mostly on the idea of churches coming together; but there are two related issues. One is the increasing necessity of higher Christian education for Christian service, which you raise. The other is, why must the costs be so high to begin with?

      I’d like to see these colleges and universities do a fundraising project across their entire donor spectrum that would allow them to, at the very very least, freeze tuition for about six years. Sadly though, the big donors tend to give only to capital projects: Land and buildings.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 3, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  2. Do you think it is greed and selfishness that keep people from pursuing this, contributing to somebody elses education? I know we are grateful for the financial support we get from the school that offers funding (need based) . It is incredibly aweing to have “somebody” say, through dollars, that “you/your kids are worth this investment” Even giving every last dollar back someday will never repay the spiritual, psychological, academic gift that their generosity has meant to us. I think that churches and families are really missing the boat on this, it is about so much more than just the dollars, it is a statement of human value. Hopefully someday this will be a priority here in North America, I join you in your belief that this is not just a good thing, it is a necessary thing.

    Comment by gift-ed — January 3, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

  3. No doubt the Christian Universities and Bible Colleges employ a large number of staff. Would it be possible for them to supply part-time employment to the students with the wages used towards payment of fees?
    A local Christian primary school here in my town offers reduced fees to parents who undertake cleaning, gardening or office duties in the school.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — January 4, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

    • This is done here as well, but the nature of the jobs varies from school to school. At the Christian university my son attends, part-time jobs are handed out only to students who are on a government assistance program (OSAP), so because he had raised enough money to do his first year loan-free, he wasn’t eligible for a job on campus.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 4, 2013 @ 4:14 pm


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