Thinking Out Loud

November 30, 2017

Short Takes (4): Alumni Association Appeals

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:20 am

You chose your college…
You selected a residence…
You paid your tuition…
You bought your textbooks…
You took the classes…
You wrote the exams…
You repeated the cycle for several more years…

And now they want money.

Even if you completed a one-year certificate course from a trade school, it’s possible that you’ve received a letter in the mail asking if you’d like to contribute financially to your alma mater.

But included in this mailing list there are people who attended that university or college for the express purpose of earning a sufficient income that would allow them to support very specific charities of their choice. In other words, people who do have a philanthropic bent; who do see themselves as among the givers; but who have other passions and world concerns that they would like to make the object of the charitable giving. Some people would simply rather build fresh water wells in Africa than have a first-world educational institution put a new wings on the library.

Chances are, the alumni appeals are among the few donation solicitation lists you can get on without having made an initial contribution. Furthermore, if my experience is any indication, while other organizations will drop you from the mailing list if you don’t give, alumni appeals will probably persist over the course of your lifetime.

If find the whole thing rather guilt-inducing. Furthermore, my life has taken me down a different path and having surplus income has not been part of that equation. When we are able to give, we give to Christian causes that, if Christians don’t support them, no one else will. Even so, any level of success or achievement I’ve felt in my chose career of being in parachurch vocational ministry has been due to other influences and wasn’t dependent on the courses taken toward my undergraduate degree.

If I had completed that MTh I always wanted, maybe I would feel differently about a Christian college asking for money. But — and I’m not saying this to be provocative — with the higher tuition that Christian universities and seminaries charge, it’s hard for some people to believe they need anything.

So what about you? Are you, as the Beach Boys would say, “true to your school?” Or do the appeals from your college end up unread in recycling?

 

 

May 29, 2016

Yesterday We Graduated from University

Filed under: Christianity, family, parenting — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:26 am

He graduated in terms of actually taking the courses and getting the diploma. We graduated in terms of parenting him through the process. His undergraduate years as a student are now behind him, as are our parent-of-an-undergraduate years.

James Dobson frequently talked about the role of parents to “just get them through it.” I have mixed feelings about that phrase. I like the idea of parents seeing their offspring through the different stages of life, and going from A to B to C to D. But I think there’s more a parent can do. We can encourage them to completion of A and B and C, but we can also enrich the process so it isn’t reduced to a fatalistic ‘let’s get this over with and then we can relax.’ Women reading this are free to comment something like, ‘Only a male would say that parenting is just getting through it,’ because according to the stereotype, men are more goal oriented, and women are more process oriented. I would agree, there has to be more than just reaching graduation day, in the four or five years which lead up to it.

So yes, we worked to get him through it, but hopefully we also contributed to making it a life-changing experience regardless of the outcome; though, for the record, he did pass every course.

Congratulations, Aaron.


This also seemed like a good place to reiterate some text which has appeared, I believe, three times here now.

no vacancyOur kids hated road trips. We would get to a city, walk into a motel, pull out our coupon book, and then be told that due to a soccer tournament, there were no motels with openings anywhere within an hour radius. Back to the car, hungry, hot, tired, and another hour’s drive.

Later on, we discovered the joy of planning destinations ahead, and making reservations, though by that point, the kids were older and opting out of our excursions.

Their road trip phobia later turned into an interesting object lesson.  I told them that somewhere in the future, they will find themselves in situations that will tempt them to compromise their principles, or do something foolish and unsafe. We said that like our motel example, they need to pre-book their choices. That way they won’t regret something done in the heat of the moment. Decide now what they will and won’t do.

June 26, 2010

Education: An Often Forgotten Social Justice Mandate

Shane Claiborne guested yesterday at the CNN Religion blog.  It was a great article and well-written.    I’m torn between just linking it (knowing many of you won’t click) and reprinting the whole thing (knowing it’s quite long.)    I guess I’ll have to do my best with the following excerpt.

Historically, churches founded colleges and universities and made it possible for kids to attend.   Recently Evangelicals have rediscovered social justice and we’re working on the poverty problem on several fronts, but education isn’t currently at the forefront.   I’ll let Shane tell it, but please consider reading the whole piece.  His story takes place at Edison High School in the poorest part of Philadelphia…

Out of about 500 kids graduating in that class at Edison, around 40 will go to a four-year college and about 50 will join the military. That struck me. More kids in the graduating class will go into the military than will go to college.

I also learned that Edison High School holds another tragic record – the most graduates to be killed in the Vietnam War of any high school in America (54 kids), no coincidence that it is located in North Philly rather than the suburbs. Heaven forbid Edison end up holding the record for Iraq casualties as well.

It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said,

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

And as we see a bankrupt school system we can truly feel the blowback of the bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is that bumper sticker hope that a day will come when the schools will have all the money they need and the military have to hold a bake sale. It’s time for our kids to dream of another future than wars and rumors of wars.

I am reminded of a returning veteran from the Iraq War who told me of how financial difficulties compelled him to join the army. And then my young vet friend said, “We may not have a draft in America, but we have an economic draft… kids like me are joining the military because they see no other future.” And they are dying as they try to build that future. He ended up becoming a conscientious objector and being discharged.

In my neighborhood, military recruitment is very clever and selective – recruiters go door to door with military brochures that say: “They told you to go to college, they just didn’t tell you how… Join the Army.”

It occurs to me that those of us who are Christians and other people of conscience working to end war and violence (and build an “Army of None” as we like to say) have a tremendous burden of responsibility on our shoulders. We must create other ways for kids to go to college than military and ROTC scholarships.

continue reading…

November 13, 2009

College Roommate Advice Wanted

Okay, truth time.   I grew up in a major city and was a commuter student during all four years of university.   Only towards the end of my senior year did I realize what I was missing.   Too little, too late.

So I wanted my son to have the complete experience and a late aunt was kind enough to remember Kid One in her will, paving the way for at least a year of residence.

A pre-admittance survey asked for personality preferences, and Kid One mentioned that he is fairly quiet and likes to retire for bed somewhat early, especially by college standards.   The idea was he would be given a roommate with similar likes and dislikes.

He was.

Words like reticent and taciturn don’t begin to describe the situation.  But then, Kid One noticed the guy was making connections with other people, but only engaging in the most essential communication when in the dorm room with my son.    Like maybe less than 200 words so far this semester.

What’s with that?

REJECTIONWhat started out as a personality trait is now emerging as rejection.   And that’s not a nice thing to do to anybody.

So to those of you who have been in the situation:  How do you get a very withdrawn and possibly hostile roommate to open up?   How do you break the ice?   Is mid-November past the point of trying?

And of course the related question:  As parents, how do you go from being ‘copied in’ on everything at the elementary and high school level to being on the sidelines once your kid enters university or college?    My son’s a nice guy.   I just want to call up his roommate and tell him that.

September 5, 2009

Moving on to the Next Chapter in Life

Filed under: family, parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:01 am

Yesterday we drove our firstborn to his university to pick up his student card.   Tomorrow we’ll officially move him there.   It’s only about 40 minutes from our home; there will be daily e-mails, I’m sure; and he’ll be coming home most weekends.   Heck, if he had his full license he could commute daily, but the residence experience will be good for him, even if we can only afford it in first year.

It’s an experience I regret not having.  Growing up in Toronto and attending the University of Toronto may have seemed like a good and economical decision at the time, but I think much of  college and university learning takes place outside the classroom.    Besides, he’s been away for ten weeks this summer, so it’s not like it will be as big a deal to him as it will be to me.

There.  I said it.   I’m having a hard time adjusting to the fact we’re moving on to another chapter in life.   He leaves with our hopes and dreams fully invested in who he is and who he is becoming.    But also my fears and concerns as to where the next few months will take him.

Mixing with people of different faiths and holding to different philosophies.   Dealing with the temptations that always accompany college dorm life.   Having to handle a myriad of things on his own that we’ve always handled for him.   The whole spectre of the H1N1 virus and its impact on students in dormitories.   The security of his personal possessions, food, textbooks.   Having to drive 40 minutes there and 40 minutes back each Friday to pick him up, and then the same on Sunday to return him to the campus.    (If you’ve done this before, here’s where you jump in with your comments…)

University LibraryBut it’s also exciting for him to be going to the next level.   As he waited nearly an hour for his student card to be processed, I wandered the campus going from building to building, just as I did a lifetime ago in each of the 100-plus buildings that make up the University of Toronto campus.   Each floor, each stairwell yielding classrooms, offices and common rooms built mainly for  expanding the horizons of the next generation.

His campus is much smaller, about a dozen-plus buildings that he should be able to master in the first week.    It’s on the northern border of a medium sized city in a rather remote section that should be free of the distractions I encountered on a campus situated squarely in the heart of downtown Toronto.    It will also be easier to get to know both faculty and students in that setting.    It’s also a state-of-the-art high-tech facility, or at least, so we’ve been led to believe.

Where will all this lead?   We don’t know.   He’s not even sure which particular branch of engineering he wants to major in.    (For those of you who know me personally, think about it…my offspring in an engineering program!)   But standing still isn’t a healthy option, so onward we go.

I miss him already.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.