As modern philosophers go, Dr. Seuss isn’t bad. A popular high school graduation gift these days is a book written by the master of rhyme titled, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! The book, a graduation speech Dr. Seuss once delivered, begins like this,

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

Dr. Seuss is right. College is just the beginning of the many places you’ll go, the beginning of many firsts. College is the first time you’re free from the regimented schedule of high school. You begin making more and more decisions for yourself—whether to go to class, or roll over and stay in bed. Whether to wear those jeans for the third day in a row, or do laundry. College is an exciting time, one more open door beckoning you further down the pathway of life. It’s a time when decision-making and responsibilities truly become your own.

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

I was so excited about going to college that I jumped in with both feet. Like Alice in Wonderland, I found myself in a strange and unfamiliar place, but this one was called Welcome Week. I understand that some years ago, Welcome Week used to be when you went to campus to walk your class schedule, buy books at the bookstore, find the good places to study among the library stacks, and meet other students in your dorm. You know the commercial that says, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile”? Well, likewise for Welcome Week. This is not your father’s Welcome Week.

These days, on most college campuses, Welcome Week is a not-so-subtle indoctrination into moral relativism. Moral relativism is the belief system that says there is no right or wrong. Right is what’s right for you. When followed to it’s logical end, moral relativism leads to anarchy, but when it’s cloaked in skits, games, group activities, mandatory lectures, and free pizza, it passes for freshman fun. Welcome Week is also an initiation into the drinking and partying scene, with ample opportunities for hooking up, which for you moms and dads is slang for a one-night stand. So much for finding out the library hours.

J. Budziszewski, author of How to Stay Christian in College and a faculty member in the Government and Philosophy departments at the University of Texas, Austin, wrote that his first two years at college were among the most stressful in his life. Years? For me, the first week of college was the most stressful in my life. While some regard college as an intellectual adventure, preparation for a career, or a four-year party, Budziszewski said he regarded it as a trial.

“The trial most parents and incoming students don’t expect is indoctrination,” Budziszewski wrote in a magazine article that I’d read my senior year in high school.1 After going through Welcome Week, I believe that Budziszewski had put it mildly.

Welcome Week was billed as four days of festivities where students make new friends, build meaningful relationships, and grow oriented to college life. A little fun here, a little fun there, a little fun everywhere.

Events kicked off with all the freshmen milling about on the grassy quad. We swatted away the mosquitoes as the sun cranked up the heat. An upperclassman began yelling instructions into a megaphone. It was an ice breaker, a way to meet new people. Our directions were to spread out and break into groups of three. Each group of three would then interact with other groups of three spread across the quad. Each group was to choose a leader. Our leader was a buff fellow with a generous crop of dark hair. So far, so good.

As our designated leader, his job was to assign a task to each person in the group. For example, he would say, “Go shake the hand of the guy wearing the Abercrombie and Fitch shirt and sunglasses standing by the bench.” Once the task was completed, as fast as possible, you were given another silly assignment. We had three minutes to complete a round and then we traded off for position of the leader. The game grew increasingly hectic as we rushed to follow the commands while other people were running across the quad trying to follow their commands.

Fortunately, I ended up in a pretty tame group. We stuck to directives like running up to people and asking for their birth dates, intended major, and what their favorite color was. The game was pretty fun, but as I looked around, I was shocked at what some of the students in the other groups were doing. In the group next to ours, girls were running up to kiss boys they’d never met, guys were doing a vulgar pelvic thrust, and girls stood three inches from the guys, gyrating like Britney Spears.

From there, we moved on to additional icebreakers. We assembled on the grassy quad once again, this time realizing that it would be a good idea to use that SPF30 suntan lotion buried back in the dorm somewhere.

In this new, getting-to-know-you round, the orientation leader gripped a megaphone and shouted a question that everybody answered simultaneously.

“What state are you from?”

“What’s your favorite TV show?”

“What’s the name of your pet?”

I suppose, theoretically, when you shout that you’re from Illinois, your favorite television show is Friends, and your dog’s name is Spot, you will hear someone 200 people away shout the same thing, seek them out, and build a lasting friendship. Or not. Perhaps it was not intended as a way to meet other people, but to become more self-aware of who we were and where we came from, as our answers echoed in our ears. I guess it was something along the lines of writing your name in your shorts when you go to camp. It seemed more like something middle school students would do at track and field day, but it was too early to write the whole thing off. After all, it was only day one of Welcome Week.

Later that afternoon, as everyone’s energy was draining, we broke into assigned orientation groups of about twenty students. The Welcome Week schedule said attendance at these meetings was mandatory. Here’s something I didn’t think to question until Welcome Week was over. If Welcome Week is voluntary, how can a meeting be mandatory? A voluntary mandatory meeting? It’s a classic oxymoron. Tip No. 1 for Freshman Orientation: If there’s not a grade involved, it’s probably not mandatory. Being new to the college scene and being one who was taught to play by the rules, I dutifully attended the “mandatory” meeting.

In the first group I attended, we introduced ourselves, one at a time, and began getting to know each other. These groups have their downfalls, which I’ll get to in a minute, but you should also know that these groups are the prime spots where you actually have enough time to connect with other students and form some friendships that will last throughout the year.

Over the next couple of days, we spent a lot of time together in these orientation groups. One of our first group activities was to fill out a little two-page survey.

This orientation leader, another friendly upperclassman, was asked what the survey would be used for. She smiled and said she didn’t know. She did know that we didn’t have to answer any question that made us uncomfortable. More smiling. We didn’t have to put our names on it either.

Oh, but would we please fill in our Social Security numbers? This on a campus that prides itself on rigorous admission requirements. No names, but give us your Social Security number. Hmmmmm. Would you like a VISA card number, too? Being that I felt a touch uncomfortable giving my Social Security number to . . . wait, that’s right, I had no clue to whom I was giving my Social Security number! I left it blank.

I moved on to the questions, which I assumed would be the usual fluff about your intended major, whether you plan to one day attend graduate school, how many hours you plan to study, and the number of beers you plan on drinking on an hourly basis. I poised my pencil, ready to fill in the little bubbles, then did a double take. The first several questions asked for my parents’ occupations, level of education, and income. I immediately looked for the bubble that said nobody’s business. Not there. I marked the answer furthest from the truth. I read on. Additional questions asked my religion, my family’s religion, whether or not I believed men and women are equal, if my religion believes men and women are equal, if I go to church, how often I go to church, and if abortion should be allowed under any circumstances.

The questionnaire went on to ask if I thought homosexuals should be able to adopt, if homosexuals should have marriage rights, and if I am friends with a person of a different race. It then asked political questions: How do you define yourself? Far right, Republican, neutral, Democrat, or far left? I wondered what my political leanings, and how often I attended church, had to do with chemistry or physics.

To this day, I have no idea what that survey was for or to whom it went. Maybe they will give it to us again in four years to see if our views have shifted right, left, or stayed the same.

I was willing to put these experiences behind me, as I was looking forward to one of the highlights of Welcome Week, a lecture by well-known author, James McBride. At the Spring Orientation session, all of the freshmen and faculty were given a free paperback copy of his New York Times Bestseller book, The Color of Water. We were told to read it by the start of school. Another mandatory exercise. I was looking forward to this event. I looked forward to an interesting discussion, but of the twenty students in my group, I was the only one who had read the entire book. Perhaps I was more naïve than others in understanding the nature of “mandatory.” Needless to say, we skipped having a small-group book discussion. We proceeded to the lecture where McBride would be the featured speaker.

The Color of Water is a novel about McBride’s mother. She was raised as an Orthodox Jew in the South, abandoned her heritage, moved to Harlem, married a black man and raised twelve children—all of whom completed college. The Color of Water is a loving tribute to a remarkable woman.

Students streamed into the large auditorium in the performing arts center. McBride strode to the podium and began speaking. He seemed an engaging and laid back fellow who paced the stage and nonchalantly unpacked an interesting discourse. He was talking about the faith of his mother when he casually, yet authoritatively, pronounced all religions the same. At first I wasn’t sure I heard him right, but I did. That’s right, every religion is the same. I was a little taken back to hear that. As a matter of fact, at the moment McBride made the statement, I thought I felt a slight tremble ripple through the floor of the auditorium. I think it was Martin Luther, John Calvin, Methodists, Muslims, and Jews, all spinning in their graves. McBride is a fine author and the book was a good read, but McBride is to theology what Barbara Streisand is to international politics. With no argument to back it up, McBride equated Allah of Islam with the deity of the Hindus and the God of Judaism and Christianity. There is no difference among the gods. Absolutely none. Everybody’s god is good. And God loves everyone.

No sooner had McBride pronounced all of the world’s great religions to be one-size-fits-all, than a noise slowly began building in the auditorium. I thought the low rumble was people about to boo the author off the stage for such unorthodoxy. Then I realized the growing noise was applause, coming from the back, slowly rolling forward, filling the auditorium. Heads were nodding in agreement with McBride. Yes, all gods are the same, all religions are the same. By my calculations, we were only three seconds from our first freshman class group hug.

I was beginning to think that perhaps these getting-to-know-you exercises with a leftward slant weren’t isolated. Maybe they were even intended. Could it really be a coincidence that every Welcome Week activity had a strong politically correct undertow?

Putting the activities in the back of my mind, I gathered up some new friends and attempted a real challenge: making slice-and-bake cookies in the dorm’s kitchenette. We used that time to relax, laugh, have fun, and get to know each other. We also went door to door with the cookies in the dorm introducing ourselves to a few others. (Never underestimate the power of cookies when it comes to networking.)

The next morning we resumed Freshman Orientation. I met up with my orientation group outside the campus Starbucks to go watch some “interactive” skits on college life. I was hoping this would be an entertaining time to relax and laugh with jokes on dorm life, cafeteria food, and wacky professors. Perhaps the audience would even get pulled into funny stunts as they do on Whose Line Is It Anyway? I was wrong.

The first skit portrayed a girl, “Kim,” asking a boy, “Mike,” what she did at the party last night. Apparently Kim had too much to drink, got drunk, and consented to have sex with Mike. Kim then got mad because this meant Mike raped her. The interactive part came into play when the actors and the skit’s narrator invited the audience to ask questions of the characters or to give advice.

Inquiring minds wanted to know: Had Mike slipped a drug into Kim’s drink? Did Mike have any STD’s? Did Mike use a condom?

Mike revealed that he didn’t use any drugs. Kim was the one who wanted to have sex, and it slipped his mind to use a condom. For a minute I thought I was watching an episode of some no-brain teen movie, but I checked the wall and the university seal was still there.

No one questioned the blatant issue of Mike and Kim’s underage drinking. None of the questions dealt with the immorality or the emotional and spiritual ramifications of premarital sex. None of the questions dealt with the fallout and consequences of reckless behavior. Nor did anyone ask Kim or Mike if they considered a lifestyle of casual sex to be rewarding and fulfilling. The questions assumed this was normal activity and that everyone in the room condoned it. At this moment, it didn’t appear that college was an environment that encouraged freedom of thought as much as it encouraged freedom from thought.

The next skit dealt with two lesbian lovers who had received an anonymous threatening note. When students asked questions, they asked whether the lesbians had come out of the closet. Would they take the note to the police? When it was revealed that one lesbian was still in the closet, the audience enthusiastically encouraged her to come out of the closet and talk with her family about her sexuality. Again, no one asked whether they thought homosexuality is moral or immoral or a healthy or unhealthy choice. The lifestyle was accepted without question or reservation, and it was clear that anyone who didn’t accept it was a homophobe.

In the final skit, a girl found drugs in her roommate’s book bag. The problem with drugs in the backpack was that the roommates had an agreement not to have drugs in the room. While the girl would prefer her roommate not do drugs at all, she can’t impose her morality on her roommate, so she just insists she keep the drugs out of the dorm room. The point of the skit was that it is worse to snoop in someone’s bag, than to use illegal drugs. Snooping is bad, but illegal drugs are OK as long as you keep them out of the room.

Welcome Week wasn’t anything like Spring Orientation. Spring Orientation was a luncheon for parents and students in a large stately hall with huge windows that framed enormous shade trees. It was very upscale, very classy. Even the school mascot, a bulldog, was there in his little blue sweater barking on cue. The luncheon was preceded with a series of speakers from various campus departments. Each speaker was poised, polished, and highly professional. The college president gave a short inspiring address. Representatives from different departments gave brief presentations, and by the end of Spring Orientation, parents and students alike were thinking this was an intellectual oasis founded on the academic pillars of honesty, integrity, and wisdom.

If Ward and June Cleaver had scripted the lines for Spring Orientation, surely Beavis and Butthead had written the lines for Welcome Week.

A number of the elements of Welcome Week were crazy fun and provided the opportunity to build new friendships. Don’t get me wrong, there are some merits to Freshman Orientation; it does help you get your feet on the ground. But—and this is a big but—the indoctrination into moral relativism during Welcome Week was powerful. The message of Welcome Week was unmistakably simple and straightforward:

  • You will be part of the group. You will think like the group, act like the group, approve of the group, and agree with the group. No discussion. No disagreement.
  • Check your provincial, outdated religious beliefs at the door. We’re the ones writing doctrine here.
  • Homosexuality is normal, and if you think it isn’t, you must be really, really sick.
  • Everyone drinks until they puke and has premarital sex at college, so puhhleese use a condom!

I had enough of Welcome Week. In a small surge of rebellion, or civil disobedience, I decided to skip out of the last few activities, including an interactive rape seminar. Interactive rape? I decided to pass. As I walked back to my room, exhausted from the indoctrination, the normalization of immorality and, leery of the battle looming ahead, I passed a marker board in the dorm with a message that read: “Thanks for having sex with me, even though you didn’t come to Welcome Week.”

I crashed on my bed in my dorm room. I stared up at the underside of my roommate’s bunk bed above me. I recalled the fun we had had shopping together, picking out our matching comforters, and hanging the goofy yellow and blue star-shaped lights that we’d draped over our closet doors. I remembered the buzz I had the first time I entered the college bookstore, the sight of all those brand new books just waiting for yellow highlighters and notes in the margin. Those feelings of excitement and energy had waned. They were almost gone completely. What I felt now was melancholy and gloom. I studied the pictures of my friends from high school tacked to the bulletin board by my computer and wondered what they were experiencing at the various colleges they had chosen to attend. As a Christian, I had expected in-depth discussions, the free exchange of ideas, lively debate on issues. I had expected to swim against the stream at a secular college, I just didn’t know the current would be so strong.

Was it like this everywhere? I wondered if I was the only one kicking and screaming on the inside at Welcome Week, or if most students swallowed this garbage whole without a second thought. From what I saw, it appeared to be one massive exercise in group think, and the group seemed to be going along quite willingly, if not cheerfully. Frankly, it was depressing. Surely it wasn’t like this on every campus. Maybe I’d just picked one of the quirkier colleges in the country.

Several days later I picked up a copy of World magazine, the Christian conservative counterpart to Time and Newsweek. The cover story was BMOC: Big mandate on campus. The story documented how campus after campus grabs hold of freshmen at orientation and won’t let go until everyone embraces the same view. The article was reassuring and comforting in a sick sort of way. So I wasn’t alone, and it wasn’t just this campus. I wasn’t the only freshman feeling like a fish out of water. It was refreshing to know that someone recognized what was happening, as many of my peers and classmates still seemed completely oblivious.

I bumped into a guy I’d known for a number of years and asked him what he thought of orientation. “How did you like all that PC programming?” I asked. He gave me a funny look and said, “Yeah, Welcome Week was cool. I got like 600 new e-mail addresses.” Maybe that was it. Maybe it would help to not absorb what was happening around me. Maybe the key was to be semi-conscious. Wouldn’t that be something if the secret to surviving at college was to blunt the thought process?

I sat through a painful number of the Welcome Week activities, noting the lack of critical thought and eager acceptance of everything that was being spoon-fed to the masses. I kept thinking, “You know, this would be a great place to come if you wanted to start a cult.”

WORLD magazine completely agreed. Reporter Lynn Vincent wrote, “Freshman orientation used to be about teaching new students how to find their classes, the cafeteria, and the campus bookstore. But today, left-liberal diversity trainers have found in orientation programs a ready-made crop of captive and impressionable audiences ripe for reeducation on issues of sex, race and gender. The basic messages: People of color are victims; whites are their tormentors. Homosexuality is normal; abhorring the behavior is bigotry.” 2

As I read on, I realized it could have been worse. I could have been at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where gay and ethnic clubs screened the film Blue Eyed for freshmen students. The film was a taped anti-racism workshop conducted by Jane Elliot. Elliott is a $6,000-a-day racial awareness trainer whose shrill, militant, in-your-face style is often compared to Anne Robinson, host of the Weakest Link.

Alan Charles Kors, history professor at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of The Shadow University, calls freshman orientation programs “Thought Reform 101.” In the introduction to their book, Kors and attorney Harvey Silvergate deliver a few blistering lines that succinctly summarize the indoctrination process at work on campuses today.

“It is vital that citizens understand the deeper crisis of our colleges and universities. Contrary to the expectations of most applicants, colleges and universities are not freer than the society at large. Indeed, they are less free, and that diminution is continuing apace. In a nation whose future depends upon an education in freedom, college and universities are teaching the values of censorship, self-censorship, and self-righteous abuse of power. Our institutions of higher education greet freshmen not as individuals on the threshold of adulthood, but as embodiments of group identity, largely defined in terms of blood and history, who are to be infantilized at every turn. In a nation whose soul depends upon the values of individual rights and responsibilities, and upon equal justice under law, our students are being educated in so-called group rights and responsibilities, and in double standards to redress partisan definitions of historical wrongs. Universities have become the enemy of a free society, and it is time for the citizens of that society to recognize this scandal of enormous proportions and to hold these institutions to account.” 3

My Welcome Week experience had not been unique. Indoctrination and reeducation films abound throughout the country, as do diversity trainers and racial awareness coaches, most of whom charge several thousand dollars a day for their services.

World also reported that The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) engages freshmen in a game called “Across the Line.” This is a diversity-awareness exercise that made the corporate rounds several years ago, hence proving bad ideas never die—they just find new venues on college campuses. In this game, a facilitator reads a series of statements. When a statement is true about you (you are from a large city, you are white, you come from a two-parent family, your home has electricity and running water) you step forward and leave others behind, proving for all to see how empowered and spoiled rotten you are. “Across the Line” also asks politically sensitive questions on matters of abortion and homosexuality.

WORLD magazine pointed out that not every school includes a heavy-handed diversity segment in freshman orientation. Virginia Tech covers diversity with freshmen using “VT Video,” a low-key video with pop-up style captions. The film covers racism and touches on religious stereotypes. One segment even includes a nice-looking, young man saying, “People say Christians don’t have any fun.” He shrugs and laughs, “I have fun every day.”4 Sadly, it would seem from other reports, however, that Virginia Tech, is the exception, not the rule.

At the University of Maryland, students take University 101 classes, where freshmen are formally “oriented.” Among other activities, they take a “privilege walk” much like the “Across the Line” game. They are also told to write their “deepest, darkest secret” on a scrap of paper.

When I was in public school, my parents taught me to never write private personal things in a journal the teacher claims nobody would ever read. If matters are secret and private, why write them down? The essence of private means this is something you do not share, but keep to yourself. Doesn’t secret imply not telling?

The point of the college exercise to write your deepest, darkest secret on paper was to sympathize with, and consider how, homosexuals feel in deciding whether to tell someone that they’re gay.

That shallow exercise didn’t even begin to grasp the complexities of a homosexual lifestyle. As a Christian, I am convicted that homosexuality is a sin. But I also recognize the pain, the hurt, and the isolation faced by homosexuals. As Christians, we are called to be compassionate toward all people, homosexuals included.

Part of the key to being “in the world, not of it” is loving your neighbor as yourself. That’s basic for a lot of people, Christian or not. It would seem that most colleges think that simply telling students to be civil and respect one another is too challenging. Telling students to respect one another would include everybody, even respecting those who believe the Bible to be a relevant book, not a dusty book of myths. It would also include those with conservative views and traditional Christian beliefs that question things like homosexuality and abortion. Simply telling students to respect one another also runs the risk of falling too close to the Golden Rule, which is uncomfortably close to moral absolutism. So, instead, schools offer Crossing the Line and writing deep, dark secrets on scraps of paper.

Looking back, I realize I was not at all prepared for Welcome Week. I had my prerequisites completed for admission to the college of pharmacy and health sciences, but I had never taken time to do the homework on Welcome Week and learn what it is really about. Under the mask of fun and games, it is really indoctrination to tolerance and diversity. The message to students is to appreciate all people, but it doesn’t take long to see that there is an important clause attached to that phrase: Appreciate all people as long as they agree with us. Dissenters will not be tolerated.

Having a baptism by fire into Welcome Week, I would approach things differently if I had to do them over again. First of all, I would be much more selective as to which activities I would attend. By no means am I suggesting holing up in your room and locking the door. It may be your instinct to withdraw and hole up in your room, but as a Christian you are called to engage. This may mean you need to stop thinking about yourself and your feelings in order to be able to get out and socialize. You may not be in the mood to mix it up and meet new people, but once you get out there, you’ll be glad you did. Whether you are in this environment for a semester, a year, two years or four years, you might as well make the best of it while you are there. Don’t attempt to merely survive, take it further and seek to thrive.

James 1:2–4 says,

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Learning how to survive and thrive on a secular campus may not be an easy time in your life, but when you become engaged you will grow, mature, and thrive.

Certain aspects of Welcome Week provide an opportunity to get out and make new friends, connect with people and have fun. Even so, it is not necessary to go to every “mandatory meeting.” Go to the group socials, the hall parties/meetings, and the organized games. Steer clear from activities touting “introduction to” or “a glimpse into” tolerance, diversity, or the like because chances are that it will not be a fair representation. Even activities that are labeled “interactive” can be misleading. You may be able to ask questions, but no matter how hard you try to get them off track, they will steer away from your comments in an attempt to fulfill their agenda of making all behaviors and all lifestyle choices seem equal.

I would also discourage attending activities about “college life” because more than likely they are a guise for indoctrination on moral relativism, the normalization of homosexuality, or yet another talk on safe sex, which is old hat to most college students.

It is truly difficult to describe the intensity of the indoctrination that accompanies Welcome Week. Several times during my own Welcome Week, I thought of Elian Gonzalez. Elian was the little six-year-old boy who had fled Cuba with his mother and twelve other people. When they encountered rough seas, his mother placed him on an inner tube and told him to stay put and that he would be saved. Two days later Elian was found floating three miles from Pompano Beach in the same inner tube his mother had placed him in. Elian was in the custody of his uncle when Immigration and Naturalization Service officers kicked in the door and “rescued” Elian at gunpoint.

Elian would be reunited with his father and grandmother in Cuba. Well, sorta. Actually, Elian was returned to Cuba and sent to a special school. It was a school for re-educating. It was a school that would help reshape the way that Elian thought. It was school that would teach Elian that the wonders of America weren’t really wonderful, that what he thought was real was artificial, that poverty is better than wealth and opportunity, that up is down, down is up, good is bad, and bad is really good.

There were striking moments during Welcome Week when I thought this must be what Elian went through at his special school. It didn’t seem like I was at a university, an intellectual institution shaped by the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare. It seemed like I was at a school exactly like the one Elian had returned to, not an institution of education, an institution of re-education.

I had gone to college excited about the new beginnings, new academic challenges and the opportunity to live out my faith as my own. I had gone to college with expectations. I expected students to be mature, professors to be enthusiastic and fair, and course work to be challenging. In retrospect, I probably went to college a tad naïve and wearing rose-colored glasses. Perhaps it’s only fitting that I now remember my first week at college, Welcome Week, as the time when my rose-colored glasses were knocked off my face and left in pieces among the empty beer cans and cigarette butts. Once again, philosopher Seuss summed up my thoughts:

“You can get so confused

that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place”

Hindsight

Looking back, if I’d known what to expect from Welcome Week, it would have softened the jolt. My advice is to go prepared with your eyes and ears open.

Here’s a nutshell of what to expect:

  • Expect a quick pace to Freshman Orientation.
  • Expect a lot of ideas that will challenge moral absolutes.
  • Expect that, initially, you won’t have a lot of down time to process thoughts.

Don’t abandon the notion of privacy.

We live in a Jerry Springer world that applauds people for airing their deepest, darkest most shameful moments in public. Remind yourself that privacy is your right. The Bible says confess your sins one to another, not confess your sins to an entire college campus. You don’t have to reveal personal information that you’d rather keep personal.

Play defense and offense at the same time.

You’ll hear ideas that challenge your moral foundation. Pray that your conscience remains sensitive and your mind discerning. It’s important to deflect half-truths without growing defensive. Play offense. 1 Peter 3:15-16 addresses this situation:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Even when you’re deflecting the half-truths and lies of moral relativism, make sure you’re friendly. Reach out to others; introduce yourself to as many people as possible. If an information tent is set up showcasing student groups and campus activities, sign up for every club and activity that interests you. There’s no way you can participate in all of them, but you won’t know which ones you can or cannot do or not do until you have a better feel for your course load.

Exercise your options.

On most campuses, students are strongly encouraged to attend and participate in all of the Welcome Week activities, but they truly are optional. Exercise your option to skip a few, particularly the ones that blatantly promote immorality.

Pray for wisdom.

Pray you gain wisdom at college, not just knowledge. There’s a difference. Some universities may think they’re the same, but they’re not. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). If you don’t have the fear of the Lord, you can only have book intelligence. You’ll want something more than facts and figures at the end of four years.


You’ve Got Mail!

From: “Nate”

To: “Abby”

Being a freshman at Centre College (a small liberal arts school in KY), I’m learning what it’s like to be Dorothy realizing she is not in Kansas anymore, as you put it, but for my sake, we’ll say I’m more like Toto (seeing that he is a male). Of course, the secular environment did not completely surprise me, having grown up around a private liberal arts college. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but it’s still been hard.

Being one of the few conservatives on my hall (let alone campus), I’ve been bombarded with new ideas, lifestyles, and values. I know that I’m here at Centre for a reason. God wanted me here; there’s not a doubt in my mind. But with a druggy roommate, a gay hall mate, constant “Bush-whacking” from professors and hall mates, and drunks every which way I turn, I sometimes find myself asking, “OK, God, I’m here. Now what?” The past two nights I’ve been reminded that love really is the magic key and that the best thing I can do is show them love, real love.

But at times I want to have a huge impact with visible results. I’m left there loving these people with no recognizable results, and it’s depressing. But then I’m reminded that God is in control—He changes their hearts; I can’t do it alone. Maybe the love I show them will have an impact right away; maybe it will take 30 years. In any case, there’s no reason to give up. I can still shower them with love and prayer with the hope that one day they will take notice.

Nate

You’ve Got Mail!

From: “Mom”

To: “Abby”

Hey, Abby,

Your dad and I have just read the University Parent Guide that’s been sitting on top of the microwave for several weeks. I’m sorry to tell you we will not be abiding by some of the recommendations. I don’t know if you read it, but “Signs of a good student” says parents should encourage their child to be a student, not an apprentice for a job. The article also says parents “should not ask what s/he is going to do after graduation as though real life begins only then.” A parent should ask “what s/he is learning to think about, what s/he is reading, what s/he has written. A student, after all, is one who studies, thinks, reads and writes.”

A parent is never to ask about grade point average. Instead, we should ask what ideas have held your attention, caught you by surprise, or taken your breath away. Parents should ask “what s/he does for diversion, how s/he plays, what makes him or her happiest, what s/he finds beautiful. Help your student to discover the quality of his or her mind and the color of his or her imagination—to know himself or herself.”

Parents should “encourage their student to study subjects which most engage his or her mind, not what the job market designates as the surest, most lucrative employment.”

Apparently the author thinks parents have money trees growing in his/her backyard if the cost of college and the preparation for the job market is of no concern. As you know, we do not have money trees growing in our backyard, so we are very interested in what you plan on doing after college. We fully anticipate that it will involve that four letter word known as work.

You should further know, that in total defiance to the Parent Guide, we will be asking about grade point average. We also will not be asking how you play with others. We covered playing with others in preschool. We also will not be helping you discover the color of your imagination. (Who ARE these people?) We will also not be asking what takes your breath away. We are giving you total responsibility for your own breathing. And finally, we will not be using that s/he business. When read aloud it causes one to lisp something terrible.

Study hard, plan for the future, and make good grades.

Love,

Mom (a she)


Who among the evangelicals can stand up to the great secular or naturalistic or atheistic scholars on their own terms of scholarship and research? Who among the evangelical scholars is quoted as a normative source by the greatest secular authorities on history or philosophy or psychology or sociology or politics? Does your mode of thinking have the slightest chance of becoming the dominant mode of thinking in the great universities of Europe and America which stamp your entire civilization with their own spirit and ideas?

—Habib Malik

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Footnotes

  1. “What to Expect at College,” Focus on the Family magazine, (copyright 2000). Back
  2. “BMOC: Big Mandate on Campus College ‘Diversity’ Activists Grab Freshmen at Orientation and Won’t Let Go until Everyone Holds the Same View, WORLD (September 14, 2002). Back
  3. Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silvergate, The Shadow University (New York City, Simon and Schuster, 1998). Back
  4. “BMOC: Big Mandate on Campus College ‘Diversity’ Activists Grab Freshmen at Orientation and Won’t Let Go until Everyone Holds the Same View (September 14, 2002). Back