Who Needs You to Go to College?
Let me make this disclaimer. The question, “Who needs you to go to college?” had no presence on my vocational radar in high school, college, or all the years after until I watched the documentary, Lost Boys of Sudan. I haven’t viewed college the same since.
The Lost Boys are Sudanese refugees who “lost their families and wandered hundreds of miles across the desert seeking safety.” After a decade in a Kenyan refugee camp, nearly 4,000 came to the U.S. for safety, freedom, education, the opportunity to send money back home and “to return eventually to Sudan as educated young professionals to help rebuild Sudanese society.”
I shared this summary in a first-year student curriculum guide because we wanted participants to think beyond what was, at the time, the top three reasons students go to college:
- To learn about things that interest me.
- To get a better job.
- To be able to make more money.
Just a tad self-centered. What struck me about the documentary was a reason that didn’t make this list. The summary continued:
Just before a group of Lost Boys departed for the U.S., the tribe’s elders said to them: “Dear ones, our people are trying to return Sudan to normal [after 20 raging years of civil war, which has killed and displaced millions]. The Lost Boys are going to the U.S. because you are the future of Sudan. The American government has helped us a lot. They are going to educate you. Get what you’re going for, and then come back home.”
The Higher Education Research Institute’s Research Brief for the 2010 Freshmen Survey states, “Perhaps most significantly, a large percentage increase (from 66.2% in 2007 to 72.7% in 2010) occurred in students’ views that ‘The chief benefit of college is that it increases one’s earning power.’”
I understand this freshmen view financially. But to what end is it aimed? Work is not separate from community, either in the doing of it or in what it produces. A little creative (and Biblical) analysis will see that education – despite its personal benefits – is ultimately other-centered.
Who needed me to go to college? Who needed you to go to college? If you and I went back to repeat those years again, why would we do it? Students are so busy asking themselves questions like Who am I? and Why am I here? and What do I want to gain for myself? that they forget there is a people group, an individual, a cause that needs them to get what they’re going for, and then come back home.
Image sourced from Microsoft Online. Post by Sam Van Eman.