Achieving the dream of a college education is not easy. Parents of high schoolers contemplating a college or university education can testify to the myriad tasks and details that must be attended to along the way, from helping their teen consider types of colleges (Christian or secular, for example), major fields of study, college visits, addressing financial aid applications, housing, meals, book purchases, and the list goes on. Fortunately, Focus on the Family® has provided thoughtful help for parents and their teens as they address many of those issues.
Most parents assume, however, if they can successfully conquer those basic steps of getting their teens ready for college, there is nothing further to do but shop for dorm room furniture and wait for move-in day. But there are some crucial questions Christian parents need to add to the list during the investigative phase of the college search. For example:
- “Will my son or daughter be able to fully live out their Christian faith on campus?”
- “What is the state of religious freedom on the campus he or she will attend?”
- “Are there government restrictions or school policies that impair religious freedom on campus?”
- “Is this campus a place where the Gospel message and Christian perspectives are welcome in classroom discussions or assignments, or are they silenced or even punished?” and
- “Is free speech (including religious speech) restricted on campus in any manner?”
In short, is your college-bound son or daughter headed for a Christ-centered (or at least Christ-friendly) educational, cultural and social experience that fulfills their hopes and dreams ― or are they headed for a rude awakening?
If your child is already attending college, what rights protect his or her religious expression? On too many college campuses, the quaint “political correctness” of the 1970s and 1980s that parents perhaps remember from their college days has evolved into a decidedly anti-Christian ideology that either coerces Christian students into compromise or silence, or if that fails, punishes them for speaking up or taking a stand. Today, even admitting that you are a Christian on your college application can be used against you! And, it’s not safe to make assumptions about “Christian” colleges. Even some private colleges with a Christian origin or loose ties to a denomination have been guilty of quenching the Christian witness on campus. College is a major life decision and commitment for a student, and his or her family. For Christians, the simple warning with regard to religious freedom when choosing a college is: caveat emptor ― buyers beware!
This series of articles will alert you to many of the challenges Christian students face on both public and private college campuses, how these challenges may impact your son or daughter, and, finally, point to resources and organizations available to help when religious freedom is challenged.
In choosing a college and dealing with all of the questions and considerations that go into that equation, parents and their college-bound teens need to pay attention to issues of free speech and religious freedom on campus, as well. Likewise, students who are currently attending college benefit from knowing their religious and free-speech rights.