(Another in our series by CCU students on big lessons of college) We learn more by seeking the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from finding the answer itself. There are many people in our society, young adults especially, that are seeking their true purpose; living off the energy of grand ambitions and the thirsty desire to succeed. I know I am one of many individuals traveling somewhat blindly through life, wondering where my destination lies. It was not until inspired by this blog topic, ‘what are the most important things I have learned in college’, did I put the brakes on life and stop to think, what have I learned from my experiences as a college student? I have always been traveling on a rocky road at full speed ahead, but through this short journey through college, I have found the rearview mirror to be an indispensable means to feel both progress from the miles passed, and enthusiasm for the mileage still ahead.
(1) The first thing I have learned from my experience(s) from college life is the irrefutable value of a well-rounded education. Though tuition for the university system is at an all-time high, no such value could ever be placed on how important it is for me personally to receive not only a quality education, but one that is also furnished with the teachings and challenges that affect my everyday life. College (CCU) has provided me with so much more than facts, theories, and strategies; and those teachings that I have obtained range from and beyond the realms of my spirituality, my day-to-day attitude and behavior, and my unwavering commitment to follow the will of God and my biggest dreams.
(2) In addition to the value of education, I have also learned the true value and necessity for quality relationships. In life there is hardly anything as difficult as going it alone; having someone to lean on can make even the bitterest of life’s blows tolerable. Positive and uplifting relationships have inspired my growth both as a student and Christian during my undergraduate studies and will continue to do so as I weave and wander through life.
(3) Thirdly, I have realized the advantages of being more open-minded and open-hearted toward different opinions, ideas, and people. The vast arenas of learning and various relationships are immeasurable and should never be hindered by differences or judgment. I think being open-minded has often been viewed as being indecisive. But even the appearance of being relatively close-minded shuts down discussion, limits the number of concepts that are generated and considered and almost always results in a less than optimal decisions or results. As counter-cultural as being more open-minded may be perceived, this is one area where I will choose to swim against the current every time.
(4) And last but not least of my biggest college revelations, I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! The sovereign God that has blessed me with the gift of life has also endowed me with the gift of love; a passionate love of learning and unconditional love for Him who so created us to view our world with wonder. May all the praise and glory be to Him!
('76 Contributor) According to a Denver Post story on Nov. 22, “The reduced stimulus money means that the general fund appropriation for higher education will have to increase to $555 million, the same amount the state provided in 2005-06 and the point below which the state can’t cut funding and still receive stimulus funds.” Which should remind us of some pithy phrases reflecting the common sense that the American people have learned from experience—not books in gilded classrooms at expensive public colleges and universities.
“It’s time to face the music,” is one of those phrases as is “Fish or cut bait” meaning “are you going just to sit there or are you going to start fishing?” Another favorite is “A stitch in time saves nine,” which I attribute to Ben Franklin’s Almanac. A Google search reveals that the originator of that phrase was first recorded in Thomas Fuller’s Gnomologia, Adagies and Proverbs, Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British, 1732. Another favorite of mine is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I could come up with more of these phrases, but it IS time to face the music. Colorado higher education is poorly organized, too expensive for its own good, outfitted with accouterments we can’t afford and costing more—not less—every year. Raising donations for a state-run institution goes only so far to close the budget gap. And raising tuition—even if only for wealthy out of state students—defeats the purpose of a “public” education. A “public” education should provide an education at costs the general public—meaning the lower middle class and the poorest—can afford. So something has to be done to reduce operating costs.
What can be done? In essays published at the Yorktown Patriot and in private communication with at least two presidents of state universities in Colorado and numerous members of the Colorado state legislature, I have argued that Colorado higher education needs a workout and radical reforms, as follows:
1. Start by commissioning a Core Curriculum of general education for credit college level courses delivered via the Internet at cost to Junior and Senior high school students. Enable them to earn up to two years of college credits while in high school and give them preferred admission to any four year public college or university in Colorado.
2. Four years in to this effort when the first high school students who earn college credits online begin to arrive as full Sophomores, close admissions at four year colleges to new Freshmen and begin to grow our four year colleges into Senior colleges. In fifteen years, every four year college will only offer Junior and Senior level courses.
3. Place all Faculty on a two tier compensation program. Lower compensation for those with tenure and lesser compensation for the non-tenured. Grant no more tenure.
4. Place all Faculty on term contracts with Bench Marks at 3, 5, 10 and 15 years that must be met if their contracts are renewed.
5. Commence annual outcome based audits that evaluate which programs are self-supporting and which programs exist at the sufferance of taxpayers or are supported by other programs or research grants rather than tuition. Shut down those programs not deemed absolutely necessary for a college education.
6. Apply the principle “every boat on its own bottom” to the graduate divisions of all postgraduate institutions. If a program cannot manage and support itself, shut it down. Those that can support themselves should be free to manage their own programs without central administration interference, but each will contribute 60% of its income to the general fund.
7. Make a public commitment, call it the “Education Contract for Colorado,” to lower tuition costs at public institutions by 5% annually for the next fifteen years.
These steps will enable Colorado to provide a college education for every citizen qualified for college level work. Though these steps will radically change the face of Colorado higher education, remember that there are an equal number of non-public institutions licensed to operate in Colorado. They will be challenged to meet market demand for football, cheerleading squads, basketball teams, climbing walls, gourmet food courts and provide those niceties to those willing to pay for them. All the others will hunker down and start lowering their tuition costs in order to compete with the state university system. Many more Internet programs will become available and Colorado’s very good Liberal Arts colleges will continue to offer a superb classical education to those who want an education as opposed to a degree.
Here’s the bottom line: Colorado’s public education costs are out of control, the leadership of state colleges and universities and their Faculty are living in the past, and Coloradans have no more money to support the costly and unnecessary ways that Colorado state colleges and universities do business. It’s time to face the music.
Richard J. Bishirjian, Ph.D. is President of Yorktown University, an online, for-profit institution of higher education, on whose Yorktown Patriot blog this article first appeared.
(CCU Student) When asked to write on big things that college has taught me, I contemplated what I was going to write on. I thought about everything that has happened to me in the past three months, which entails many successes and heartbreaks simultaneously. In the end, I was reverted to the three themes from our University’s symposium: Family, Faith, and Freedom. I concluded that those three elements are vital to my everyday life and have taught me more than any textbook ever can.
Family. For a college freshman like myself, many students choose their college to either get away from or stay close to their family. It is often times a very impacting factor in the college decision process, as it was for me. Personally, I flew 2,000 miles to come here for college to attain self-reliance and independence. I have been reminded numerous times that this is indeed a mixed blessing; and while I have flourished in my new environment and taken advantage of my new freedoms, at the end of the day, I find myself phoning home to keep in touch with my parents. I’ve been taught that family is something that is irreplaceable and unique, something that through the thick and thin lasts for a lifetime.
Faith. This is a concept that I have grappled with for the past three months, but always found myself at rest when placing my life in Jesus Christ. Coming to Christian college, you expect to reach your fullest potential spiritually, as you are provided two chapels a week, Bible class, and Sunday morning church. But in my case, I became so involved and overwhelmed that I became numb to God for a period of time. I woke up one day and realized that I had forgotten which order my priorities truly belonged in. From there, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I have realized that placing my complete life in God’s hands is the best way to live an effective life on earth.
Freedom. For eighteen years, I have never valued my freedom as extensively as I do now days. Never in my life did I imagine the government taking control of the banking, automobile, and healthcare industries. Who is to say within the next year that they won’t be telling me which football team I can cheer for? I am beginning to realize that I need to stop taking even the simplest of civil liberties for granted; and to trust that God has a plan through all of this.
College is nothing like I had ever imagined; is both good and bad ways concurrently. I have been blessed with people placed in my life who have guided me for these past three months and mentored me into a Godly young adult. I have also learned the hardships of self-management, which prove to seldom provide time to sit in silence and listen to what God has in store for me. When these times become tough, and things appear to be crumbling, I always look to Isaiah 43:19, which states: See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Drew Goorabian is a CCU freshman from Clovis, California, and a member of the Centennial Institute Program Board.
(CCU Student) The general concept of attending college originally was presented to me in high school as a way to spend an exuberant amount of money in order to obtain a degree and practical life skills, all of this in order to potentially obtain a job sometime in the future. When it came down to choosing what college to attend after high school, I had good enough grades to where I could reasonably get into just about any college short of an Ivy League school. While I am not trying to downplay the importance of a good education, I wanted a college that was going to teach me more than just how to make money or be successful in an office setting. I wanted to nurture my faith and become a better man of God. Because I made the choice to go to CCU, I learned three important lessons that I learned not necessarily in the classroom, but through the people and social environment God has placed around me The first of these is that my education at CCU (or anywhere for that matter) is going to be what I make it out to be. I feel like anytime I talk to a graduating senior, their advice to me is that even though I can go to class just to get a good grade, the more I put into my education the more I will get out of it. I see this idea as a parallel of my spiritual life. God can provide me with the best church, friends, and environment, but when it comes down to it, I will get a lot more out of my relationship with Christ if I am willing to make it a priority and put more into it. Likewise, I can be getting the best education in the world but if I am not learning and growing as a man in Christ or if I am just attending class to make a good grade, it is going to be harder for me when I get out of school. However, if I am involved in a good church and am actively participating in a good Christian environment, then it will likely be easier for me to maintain my faith. While at the same time if I am presented with the best education and good job opportunities it will be easier for me to be successful. The second lesson I already knew to an extent, but grew to solidify and establish within my own life. I learned that I want to live life with God as my here and now reality, and not as some distant inference or philosophical ideal. While I believe I maintained a healthy relationship with Christ prior coming to college, I, like many Christians today, lived more through Biblical legalism then through a relationship with Christ. While I still have no overcome this completely I have come to realize that God’s word is not just a handbook of laws sent by some distant omnipotent being, but a guidebook sent by a loving Father who sincerely wants to see His children live up to the potential He created them to be. Like my father on earth, God wants the best for me and is there every day when I need Him. I know this may sound somewhat cliché at first, but recognizing that God and His word is not just some distant philosophy but the here and now reality was a huge step for me in my walk with Christ. The most important lesson I have taken from college so far is that the most significant way I can invest my time is in people. I see this as a very counter-cultural idea especially for anyone high school-college age group. Our entire lives up to this point have for the most part revolved around us. We need to get our grades up so we can get a good job or get into a good school, and we need to pad up our resume with our accomplishments in order to impress somebody in power. It is not difficult to see why living this way it can be easy to focus solely on yourself. I learned however that even if I do work hard to get the best internships and great grades, I simply will not be as fulfilled if I do not invest my energy in other people. Like most other parents in America, my parents would always have me finish my homework before hanging out with my friends. Now that I am in college, I realize that I need to set aside time and make it a priority just to see how life is going for somebody else. In no way am I advocating failing classes and skipping out on your extra-circulars just to see people. I am simply stating that when you are always on the go, it can be hard to make time for what is truly important at any stage in your life, and that is the people God has placed near you. Do not read this and think to yourself that a formal education is pointless and that you need to quit your job in order to hang out with your friends. I just have learned personally in my life I cannot live life solely trying to obtain my next goal such as an internship or good grades. When I look back at my college experience, I do not want to see someone who lived legalistically and whose main focus was to be as productive as possible, but someone who was able to affect and possibly completely change the lives of others.
JT Weinroth is a CCU sophomore from Sedalia, Colorado, and a member of the Centennial Institute Program Board.
Editor's Note: Today was the last day of classes at Colorado Christian University, prior to a ten-day Thanksgiving break. As students headed home, Prof. Greg Schaller compiled the quotations below to remind them of our country's cherished tradition of an official day of gratitude to the Almighty, in times of prosperity and adversity alike. Of all the campuses across the land, think how few were those where any such academic reminder took place. -- John Andrews
Continental Congress November 1, 1777... National Thanksgiving Day Proclamation: Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success
Samuel Adams, Governor of Massachusetts, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1795: And I do recommend that together with our Thanksgiving, humble Prayer may be offered to God, that we may be enabled, by the subsequent obedience of our Hearts and Manners, to testify the sincerity of our professions of Gratitude, in the sight of God and Man; and thus be prepared for the Reception of future Divine Blessings.
George Washington's October 3, 1789 national Thanksgiving Proclamation: WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." President John Adams' March 23, 1798 national Fasting and Prayer proclamation: AS the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety, without which social happiness cannot exist, nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed…
October 3, 1863 Abraham Lincoln national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation: It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people; I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him that, for such singular deliverances and blessings; they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
Our favorite time of year: the smell of fresh pencil shavings and shiny new plastic binders brings to mind the commencement of a new academic year. Usually religion is not included in the new and chaotic excitement that accompanies orientation week. However, while the classes and activities provide a hefty load for a student, religion can be an outlet for stress and anxiety. For a student who is already involved in a campus group or church program, it is easy to pick up and continue their religious tradition. For all of the new freshman and newcomers to Christ, however, it can prove a challenge.
RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) is a small fellowship group for all Washington & Lee students on campus. It meets twice a week, once in a large setting and once again in smaller groups. There is usually one message per night and students are encouraged to relate this message to their own lives and use it to improve their relationship with God. Recently, we had a cookie bake for all of the sophomore women to provide some fellowship and relaxation before the school year starts. When we asked a friend to come and join, she was reluctant. “I grew up Presbyterian, but I don’t really go to church anymore. I feel like my morals are strong and can uphold themselves without religion,” she said. While we wanted to stress to her that it would be a fun, welcoming and delicious activity, she was still wary. Where do we draw the line between pushing too hard and not pushing at all? Where is the happy medium of keeping the door open? There are an infinite number of reasons that people might hesitate to join a group such as ours. Some of the most common that we have witnessed at college have been the belief that the group is exclusive, their history with religion and the fear that their social life will be judged. We are here to debunk all of those myths.
Being a follower of Christ in college probably isn’t the most popular or trendy choice. But any group that makes an effort to follow the ways of Christ should be filled with some of the most accepting and hospitable people on campus. While there are always exceptions to the rule, we have found many people through these networks who fill the role of the unbiased believer. This group of genuine people can not only serve as an example on campus for new and younger students who are easily impressionable, but also as a possible pathway to Christ. Regardless of where a person is on their walk with God, these groups provide support and encouragement to take the next step. The social agenda that students make can play a large role in their selection of friends. When coming into a group like this, a student may be introduced to a new group of people who do not share in the same social tendencies. While concern and possible confrontation may erupt from these differences, it is only a product of the desire to help and shed light on the ways of Christ.
In groups like RUF, the door is always open. Students have the choice to attend meetings and smaller fellowship discussions, but should never be forced; if this happens, the point only becomes null.
Roommates Rally is the pen name of Kari Ann Pfannenstein and Corinne Smith, sophomores at Washington and Lee
Editor: Fire up a group blog and you never know who may want in. A Denver businessman asked me if his daughter and her college pal could try out as contributors for us. Three minutes into the first meeting, after getting past the unnerving impression they were twins, I knew the conversation here would improve with Kari Ann and Corinne taking part. But what was to be the byline for this sister act? They've dubbed themselves "Roommates Rally," and here is their debut contribution:
Everyone has heard...
...their fair share of college roommate horror stories. Thankfully, ours is not one of them. We are two conservative Christian college roommates that met at a small, private, liberal arts school in the small but quaint town of Lexington, Virginia. Our little slice of paradise is Washington and Lee University. During our first, very awkward, phone call, Kari Ann learned Corinne’s name isn’t pronounced “cream,” and Corinne began to stress about possibly having a Midwestern hippy for a roommate. However, now we both believe that it was God that brought us together. We feel so blessed not only to attend a great university, but also to have made such a strong, life-long friendship with each other. Since this will be our first blog entry here, we thought that we would introduce ourselves.
My name is Kari Ann Pfannenstein.
I am a Colorado native, and have lived in Littleton all my life. I am one of two daughters of John and Rama; my older sister is Amy. I am so grateful for my parents; they not only planted and nurtured my relationship with God, but also continue to provide me with the best advice and support. I attended Cherry Hills Christian School k-8 and transitioned to Heritage for my high school career. I was the drummer for an all-girls Christian rock band called “Forever’s Beginning,” but unfortunately my music career ended when all the older girls went off to college. I played four years of varsity basketball for Heritage, summers for the Colorado Hoopsters, and continue to play for W&L. Though I haven’t declared a major yet, I plan to be a Journalism and Mass Communications and English double major. Almost nightly dinner discussions and my daddy’s humorous, politically-charged e-mails first sparked my interest in politics. I am not a Midwestern hippy as my roommate once thought.
My name is Corinne Smith...
...and I am the Southern counterpart of the Roommates’ Rally. I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC and attended a catholic elementary and middle school. I then transitioned to a large, public high school where I played soccer throughout my four years there. Once I got to college, I continued to play soccer, but I also broadened my horizons and got involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry as their service chair. I also serve on the Executive Committee at W&L as the student representative to the faculty. Right now, I plan to be a Politics and Business Administration major. I first became interested in politics after taking an inspiring AP Government class taught by a teacher whom I would consider one of my most influential. I hope to some day work with a political interest group in Washington, D.C. that caters to my conservative Christian background and beliefs.
Now that you know...
...a little more about us, we hope that you will continue to read as we tackle some of the current, debate-inducing topics.
'76 Blog is an experiment in civic discussion, a new venture still finding its direction. Contributors from inside and outside the CCU community have come forward in the early weeks. Glad to have all of them.
But one thing we're missing is vigorous differences of opinion. The blog would be better with more of that. The differences could be about politics, education, cultural trends, ice cream flavors, or anything else on your mind. Have at it!
The blogging ethos may not be familiar to all our readers. It is, by definition, opinionated, argumentative, often edgy, and necessarily thick-skinned. The analogy is to pamphleteering in 1776 times. The Tom Paines of today are finding their voice again, much to the benefit of the Republic.
Hence the murmured concerns from some folks about "transparency" and "academic freedom" seem rather off-target. I've championed transparency in government, with liberals slowly coming on board, but what it might mean in connection with a policy institute or political chatroom, I'm not quite sure. Likewise, I led the nation in bringing academic freedom issues before state legislatures back in 2003. The principle is dear to me. If someone feels we're violating it, let's discuss that.
The benefit of the Republic, to which I just alluded, is Centennial Institute's objective -- under God, of course -- which goes without saying, but now it's said. The honest conviction of most of us involved here is that faith, family, and freedom aren't very well served by the liberal ideas and individuals currently dominant in America. Your honest conviction may be just the opposite, however.
So, to repeat -- let's discuss that. Articles or comments of any length in any style on any topic from anyone (almost) are welcome. Direct them to John Andrews, Editor, email@example.com. Thanks for your interest.
Liberty University recently decertified the College Democrat club on their campus. Mark Hine, Vice President for Student Affairs, explained the reasoning behind this decision:
The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of LU and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the 'LGBT' agenda, Hate Crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc).
The College Democrats of America Alumni Association criticized the decision arguing that it amounts to an attack on “our freedom of expression."
This critique poses an interesting question: has the right of freedom of expression really been denied and has Liberty improperly censored their students, thus violating the 1st Amendment to the Constitution?
Two important distinctions need to be made clear:
1. Liberty University is a private institution and not a government entity, so claims of censorship and a first amendment violation do not apply. The first amendment of the Constitution is designed to protect against government-imposed censorship of free expression. A private institution is, of course, allowed to control the content of any message that emanates from it.
2. Liberty University is a Christian entity with its own protections under the First Amendment, which establishes the free exercise protection. The intent of the free exercise clause was to ensure that religious groups would be free from state interference in how they practice their religious faith. This has historically included the guarantee that expression, behavior or ideas that were contrary to the religious faith of a religious institution, would not be protected. Examples of how this has historically been interpreted include protecting religious hospitals that oppose abortion because of their religious beliefs from being forced to perform abortions. Additionally, the free exercise clause has protected religious intuitions that refuse to employ or admit homosexuals, because of the Biblical prohibition of homosexual conduct.
So the decision by Liberty University to decline its recognition of the College Democrats is based on solid Constitutional protections.
Obviously there are significant implications for other Christian institutions, including Colorado Christian University. Circumstances might arise where CCU would have to consider whether it wanted its name (and implied official approval) associated with organizations, ideas, or beliefs that its leaders considered contrary to Christian doctrine and the Strategic Objectives established by the Board of Trustees, which stem from the tenets of the faith.
For any private Christian institution to deny certification of such groups would in no way be a denial of free speech. It would merely reflect that institution’s serious, consistent, principled application of its core tenets and worldview.
So in the present case, Liberty’s action is neither government censorship nor school censorship. Students are still able to meet, debate, and hold their personal beliefs. Voicing those beliefs in appropriate forums is not being denied. It is simply a Christian institution holding true to its beliefs and what it wants to put its name to.