Friday, October 19, 2012

A Day in the Life of a College Student

The View from my Desk

As it happens to be on my mind, I have noticed that those in the patriarchy movement have a tendency to misunderstand or devalue college and the academic experience. According to Jennie Chancey, Doug Phillips, Voddie Bauchum, and other leaders in the movement, college is a terrible experience that will strip one (or one’s child) of all values, morals, and intelligence. In their minds, if you go to college, you will lose your soul. (Even though all of those named attended college.) Many Stay at Home Daughters fervently believe this rhetoric and some even write fervently about the evils of college without even setting foot inside of one. When I was influenced by the patriarchy movement and still in Jr. High, I didn’t understand college either. I thought it was this vague place that your parents make you attend and you have to travel long distances to get there so that you can study some kind of very difficult subject. This is a pretty fragmented and immature view of the college experience; it sounds bleak and it doesn’t reflect reality. In all honesty, I think Stay at Home Daughters probably have the same vague ideas about college that I did when I was younger and, they have been kept in the dark about college into their adult years. They don’t understand it and thus, think of it as a dark, scary place. Well, I am going to dismiss these ideas by presenting a picture of my life as a Senior in college. While I don’t think everyone needs to go to college or to spend a lot of money doing so, I chose to attend college to gain expertise in my field, prepare for graduate school, and to learn about life and other people. Plus, if I want to homeschool my own children someday, I think it’s a good idea to have a degree. (Disclaimer: I do go to a small, affordable, more conservative school—they do exist! I’m also careful about which professors I take classes from and try to know what I’m getting into—even if they are more left leaning or difficult, it’s not that bad if you know ahead of time.)

Early Morning: I get up, get ready, stop to talk to my younger brother (who is still lying in bed at 8:30 in the morning), glance at the headlines in the newspaper, and hug my mom. I am out the door before 9am and commute to my school. It’s a historic school full of tradition and the liberal arts. If you don’t understand liberal arts, think of it as a solid core of subjects that every student should know: art, literature, science, history, mathematics, philosophy, and language. There is a strong focus on reading, understanding, and interpretation; in other words, critical thinking (not endless memorization) is the most important thing.

Mid-Morning: I arrive at school and hike upstairs to my office on the top floor of an 1800’s building. Depending on the day of the week and differing Mon/Weds/Fri and Tues/Thurs schedules, I will either work for several hours or I will stick my lunch in the fridge and go to my first class. If it is a morning classes day, I walk to my classroom and chat lightly with my classmates about events on campus, current events, and homework until the professor arrives. Almost all of the professors at my school have Ph. D’s (meaning they spent 8+ years learning about their chosen field) and they know their information and love their jobs. On this sort of day, a rousing lecture in U.S. History is the first order of business. Though I have already taken enough History classes to meet requirements, I still take at least one class per semester with this professor because he’s so much fun and his lectures are so interesting. After this, I head to a literature class where I study anything from British poets to Native American literature. My professor for this class is a woman and she loves her work and her students. Though we look at very different ideological viewpoints, she is very good at helping us to understand them without losing our own. After morning classes, I go back to my office and start working. Unlike the dire situation of a woman working under a man presented by those in the patriarchy movement, my boss is one of the female professors and she is so easy to work under. My job consists of answering the phone, taking care of the 10 professors in my department, working on secretarial projects, taking care of mailings, and doing homework in the absence of other work. The professors are so nice and the atmosphere is very professional and lively—I absolutely love my job.

Afternoon: On alternate days, I either go to a History class with my favorite professor or to a Political Science class with another professor. If I go to the former, I get to listen to a young, dynamic, female professor who has shaped my writing immensely and is somewhat of a role model for me. We may not see eye to eye on everything but she has had an immense impact on my academic career. If the latter, I get to go to class and hear about the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and how my professor read all of them over the weekend or we talk about how to fix the federal debt problem. It’s pretty fun actually, especially since my professor is politically conservative and I agree with him most of the time. :-) After this, I will work for an hour or so and am usually the last person in the office. My last school experience of the day is watching one of the Philosophy professors and one of the English professors walk out of the building hand in hand. They’ve been married for 30+ years and have offices down the hall from one another.

Late Afternoon: I’m done with classes and work and I head home. When I arrive, my mom and I have tea and watch something BBC/Jane Austen/Art Film/Costume Drama related and then I do homework. Some nights, I go hang out with my friends, work on service projects, or to see my grandparents or cousins.

So that’s what my life and the college experience is like—my parents didn’t force me to go, I’m not far from home, and I love gaining knowledge from experts. While I loved being homeschooled in high school, I don’t think college at home can replicate this experience. At some point in life, you have to put yourself in social situations with people of different views. Even though my school is conservative, I do have liberal professors with viewpoints that differ greatly from mine. However, they are very secure people that do not feel the need to impose their beliefs on others and are willing to entertain lively discussions. I have chosen to live at home and I am happy with this choice because I get the best of both worlds. And I still love Jesus. Oddly enough, the different pressures I have encountered in the world have only strengthened my faith. If only Patriarchy followers and Stay at Home Daughters realized that the stories they have heard about college are dramatized and almost completely untrue. They have absolutely no idea what they’re missing.