Parent's Guide to College

December 21, 2016
12 mins read

Without giving away too much personal information, let me explain why I am qualified to write this article. First, I possess multiple graduate degrees from accredited institutions of higher education. My field is in the humanities, the most godless of the academic disciplines, and I somehow managed to keep my Christianity intact, with my Man of the West bearings properly oriented. So I have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees, have spent quite a bit of time at universities, and learned how to navigate through that environment successfully.
Second, I have worked at numerous colleges and universities. My experience as a professional hired by these places is not limited to one or two locations, but several. So I have a good perspective on how things work in general, as well as at specific places.
Third, my experience covers both administrative and academic roles. I have served as faculty and administration, so have seen the inner workings of both the academic side and the behind the scenes stuff.
So, trust me, I know what I am talking about.
Honestly, I am often viewed as a fish out of water by my colleagues, who like me personally, but are just not sure what to do with me socially or politically, much less religiously. I have worked very hard to make myself indispensable, as much as possible, so that I can live according to my principles in a challenging environment.
christmased-2Understanding that the American university system is antithetical to pretty much everything near and dear to a Man of the West, yet is seen as a vital requirement for many jobs in our society, the editors at Men of the West decided it would be a good idea for me to offer some suggestion for parents who have children nearing college age. So I agreed, and provide my insider thoughts, in hopes that it can help us reclaim academia, as well as allow your child to navigate some potential minefields.
My primary suggestion might seem odd, but trust me, it is important. If your child does not need to go to college, then he or she should not do so. College has become, for many students, simply an excuse to avoid the real world for a few more years, allowing them to engage in ungodly, debauched behavior. They major in drinking and fornication, with academic course work rarely considered. If you can keep your child from those temptations – and trust me, they will be tempted – then please keep them away. I have seen too many good kids get lost in this environment. Many, if not most, career fields do not require a college education. Plumbers, computer programmers, and electricians can make a fine living, and those skills can be learned on the job. It is important that you make an honest and realistic assessment of your child’s goals, and plan accordingly. Remember that it is common for students to graduate with ridiculous degrees, having amassed massive debt, and be unable to find a job.
You might also consider Vocational Training at local trade schools or community colleges. There are fantastic training programs for culinary arts, truck driving, mechanics, welding, dental hygiene, nurse’s aides, etc. A good friend of mine started out at such a trade school, learning to work on computers. I mean the hardware stuff, changing  hard drives, etc. He found out that he had some talent as a programmer, and shifted into that, and soon owned his own business. There are quasi-academic/vocational programs, as well, such as in the nursing field. My point here is that for many important jobs, there is no reason to go through the traditional four-year academic program. In a few short weeks or months, you child could be earning an income.
Another option, if your child needs a degree, is online learning. There are a large number of schools that offer degree completion programs. The regular way that these work is for your child to take courses at a local community college, get the “basics” out of the way, and then enter the degree completion program, where he can take those discipline-specific courses to meet the rest of the requirements. There are other schools that offer entire programs online. Be careful, as many of these are “for profit” institutions (Univ of Phoenix, Ashford Universtity, etc.), and the price can be quite high. That does not mean they do not offer a fine education, as many of them do, but simply that they can cost much more than a traditional non-profit school (which is what your public state institutions are).
The point here is that technology has opened a door that can allow your child to complete the required education in many fields on a computer. The degree will have the same utility and accreditation as the degrees offered at the university for students who attend on campus. Consider the fact that while you will still be paying for tuition and books, you will not be paying for room and board, or transportation costs. It can lower the overall price for the degree, if you choose the school properly.
Of course, some fields do require a college education that is not completely available online, so if your child finds himself in a position where he must physically attend a university, then you may find the following guidelines beneficial.

  1. Check out the college/university before you child registers. Go online and do some research. Is the school hopelessly SJW-converged? Avoid. Put your kid to work digging ditches. Anything is better than having them lose their souls so they could attend some prestigious den of iniquity. If you are considering an Ivy League school, or any other high profile institution, I encourage you to rethink that. These places are so overrun with liberal dogma that not only will your child be pressured to discard traditional values on a daily basis, he will learn nothing useful anyway. Well, unless you think “The Joy of Garbage” or “Queer Musicology” are useful. So do your research. What sorts of clubs are prominent on campus? Are most of them liberal, hippy, or minority based? Are there active “conservative” groups? How has the college treated non-liberal speakers on campus? Has it released SJW-esque press releases? Find a school that will be less likely to damage your child.
  2. What are the required courses for your child’s degree plan? You can usually find these on the school’s website. Do they required your Math major child to take a “gender studies” or “Queer Rights” course? If so, avoid it. Will they at least allow you to replace it with something less offensive? If not, find another school. This one is converged.
  3. What is the school’s “party” reputation? You can easily find some generalized lists, but you might search online for each school specifically. If it has a “party” reputation, then you can rest assured that they are not going to encourage your student to actually learn anything valuable.
  4. Once you do decide on a school, consider where you child will live. Trust me, this is important. Read this next sentence carefully: DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD LIVE IN THE DORMS. Are there exceptions? Sure. There are a few schools where the rules keep sinful behavior less likely, but these are the exceptions, not the rule. The vast majority of dorms are horrible. Just think about it. You have one building with dozens upon dozens of 18 year olds, who are getting out of their homes for the first time, and are all crammed together. How much good thinking is going to take place there? Not much. It is hard for dorm parents or supervisors to keep up with them all. Dorms will be full of drinking, drugs, and sex. Don’t take my word on it. A former student has given me permission to share this in the article, from one of her papers: ” …today many people have become so fixed on money or sex, that it becomes the main thing being talked about. During a walk through on a college campus, there can be many conversations heard about partying, girls, and one night stands, but not so many about study groups and things learned in the classroom.” If you want to throw your child into that, then I suspect you are not a Man of the West.
  5. It is much better for your child to continue to live at home, if possible. If you have found a school that will actually teach your child useful academics, they will find it much easier to focus on academics if they remain home, for as long as they can. (Again, using the online option mentioned above, allows your child to remain at home).
    If home is not an option, then an apartment or small rental house is your best option. If they have mature and school-focused friends, they can room together to save money. This is not as good as staying home, but much better than living in the dorms.
  6. Keep in close and frequent contact with your child. Phone, text, email. Whatever it takes to keep yourself in contact with your child – do it. If he is not able to remain at home, but is living in an apartment, show up unannounced, and let him know that you will periodically do so. Each semester, get his schedule, so that you know when he is in class, and what classes he is taking. Ask questions about the classes. Keep up with his grades. (More about that in #6). The point is this: he needs to know that you have not abandoned him, but are allowing him a little more freedom. You are still there, though. This can help him make better decisions. If he is concerned that Dad might show up just when he was about to snag that honey, he might reconsider. Maybe not, but we want to maximize the opportunity for success.
  7. Get your student to sign the appropriate paperwork that allows you to speak to professors and administration about your child. Many parents are not aware, but federal law prohibits faculty or staff from talking about students to anyone besides the student, and that includes parents. In fact, if you call me, asking about your child, I am not even able to admit that the child is in my class. This is not something faculty have any control over, as it is federal law, and we can lose our job and/or be sued over it. So we will not talk to you about your child.
    Unless you get the proper paperwork signed, and how this is done is different for each school. It tends to be a simple form that allows designated people to be able to have these conversations. It must be signed by the student, so you cannot do it behind his back, but just have your child do it as soon as he is accepted to the school. The one form lasts until the student rescinds it, so it only has to be done once at each school. If you want to be able to be actively involved, you must do this.
    If your child resists, just remind him that as long as he wants to receive your financial support, he will sign it. Do not back down on this. I have seen struggling students saved from the brink by caring parents, who had this ability to contact me directly.
  8. Encourage your child to become involved in wholesome activities. Most schools have plenty of organizations that will allow your child to interact with likeminded folks. There are religious, political, and social groups. Make sure he avoids the aforementioned “progressive” groups, but do encourage those that can be complementary to a Western Cultural mindset. I have seen Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox, Mormon, and other denominational groups. Most schools have a Young Republicans, or other such political groups. Many schools have pro-life or Christian Athlete clubs, if your child is inclined to such things.
    Even if no such club is available, most schools will allow students to begin new clubs, if there are particular interests that a new club could encourage. At one of the schools I have worked for, a couple of gamers got together, found a supportive faculty member, and started a Gaming club, where they play video games together, as well as other such activities (board games, etc.).
  9. Each year (or even each semester), reevaluate your child’s status. Is the school still providing the needed education, and not drawing your child away from God? Fine, continue. Are you seeing warning signs, or has something changed at the school? You might want to consider a new school, or even a totally new path. Universities often change policy in mid-semester. Here is an example, where one Texas university has decided that not only is the word “Christmas” offensive, but even “Holiday” might get under someone’s craw. They now advocate using “End of Semester” for parties, etc.
  10. Some practical issues: Books are crazy expensive. For each class, find out if you can get the book used on Amazon or some other discounted option. Sometimes, the books must be bought at the school bookstore, as they are designed for that particular course at that particular campus, and there is just nothing you can do about it. You might fork out $300 or more for some of those (note: not all books are that expensive, but if you can get Campus bookstore books for one course at less than $100, then you did well). I once had a class that had a whole bevy of required books, and at the bookstore, I would have forked over about $350. I got them all used, on Amazon, for about $30 total. Do your due diligence and save a ton of money.
    Some courses will require an online component, as part of the textbook supplement. Often, if you buy access directly from the publisher, you can save $5-20. Again, if you are paying for the books, it is worth your while to shop around.
  11. Meal plans. If your child is living at home, it is not worth purchasing a meal plan. He can eat breakfast and supper at home. Anything else needed can be taken in a bag, or purchased elsewhere. Look, cafeteria food is not the worst, but it is not great, either. In the long run, the food will be healthier and cheaper if it comes from home. The same is true if the child is living in an apartment off campus.mizzouhunger-2
  12. Parking is also pretty expensive. Make sure, before purchasing a parking permit, that the child actually needs it. If living on the dorm, or far from campus, then yeah, you will just have to buy the darn thing. But if the apartment (or your home) is close to campus, then he can walk and save some money and get some exercise to boot.
  13. Get your child involved in a local church. Of course, if living at home, this will take care of itself. But if your child is not living at home, do your best to get them to attend church and get involved. Get to know the priest/pastor, and make sure he knows who your child is and that you expect your child to attend services. Get his number, and if needed, contact him to check in on your child. Do not abuse this, but it needs to be an option. The pastor will also be an important contact if something bad happens and it will take you some time to get there.

Now, all of this supposes that your child is actually equipped to handle the rigors of the course work. Depending on the major, the quality of instruction may be very high, or it may be abysmal. Unfortunately, I see many students who are not only ill-prepared for college-level work, but really have no business being there anyway. They would be happier and more successful if they just went and got a job and worked their way up the chain. I will leave you with this parting word: there is nothing wrong with going to work. It is honest, good, and appropriate. There is nothing special about going to college, at least not in our day. Compare my experience with that of a cousin, who is just one year older than I. He spent exactly two weeks in college, realized it was not for him, and went out and got a job. He worked for that same company for about eight years, learned valuable skills and gained experience, before moving to a second company, where he was brought on in a supervisory role. He has been with that company for over twenty years and earns a very fine living.  On the other hand, after a stint in the military, I completed college, including graduate school and eventually entered academia. My pay was pretty low for a few years, but has increased significantly, as I have “put in my time.” Currently, my salary is only slightly lower than my cousin’s, enough to be considered statistically insignificant. But it took me nearly thirty years to catch up with him. He has been able to parlay his higher income into a higher standard of living over the past three decades than my family has enjoyed. The only “advantage” to my path is that I get to sit in an air-conditioned office, while he has had to work a more physically demanding job (especially in the early years). There is nothing wrong with either path, but I wanted to highlight the fact that going out and getting a job is not a bad choice.
Now, if there are any specific questions that you might have, or if you have some topic related to the college experience that I have overlooked, leave a comment. I will reply there, and if there are some significant issues, I will be happy to come up with a follow up article in the future.

Lead Scheduler at MOTW. Husband, Father, but most importantly, a man of God. Possesses more degrees that most people find useful.


  1. You failed to bold:

    My primary suggestion might seem odd, but trust me, it is important. If your child does not need to go to college, then he or she should not do so. College has become, for many students, simply an excuse to avoid the real world for a few more years, allowing them to engage in ungodly, debauched behavior. They major in drinking and fornication, with academic course work rarely considered.

    I do engineering without a degree and my professors were stupid (i.e. not knowing 0 divided by 0 isn’t valid). Every bit of knowledge is online, and available for a fraction of the cost. With Trump, the possibilities are changing but I’m hopeful, and don’t be the OZ scarecrow that achieved a degree but without gaining a brain.
    Most of the rest of your article is how to mitigate the evil – a local community college is better. Going online in the basement (instead of vid games) will turn you into the equivalent of a demigod. I had to do so via the library and bookstores. Code. Add to (non-converged) opensource projects (or fork and fix). Infogalactic needs volunteers. Or find some other role. DO SOMETHING. Learn 3d printing at the local makerspace. Fix cars.
    A few things still are provided by colleges, but they are overpriced and of low quality.

    • Excellent comment tz. Community College might not sound as sexy as a bigger league college, but it will help that child get his/her feet wet properly, and give them a good feel for what is out there too. The party aspect of College as a general rule cannot be over stated, or even underestimated by a parent.

    • Absolutely, the article is about doing the best possible thing to limit the damage. That is why I recommend avoiding college if possible.

  2. One way to see if the child is up to the curriculum requirements of college, is to have them cut the cost of tuition at the bigger school by spending a year at a Community College, taking a lot of the basic 1st year classes that the college may require. Most schools will transfer those credits to the school of the student’s choice.
    Given that most community colleges are at about the sophomore level, this is a great test to see if one’s child is ready for college. I took some classes at my local CC and I was shocked at how some of the students were melting down. The high schools are not doing these kids any favors by letting them coast. Then the kids get to college, and they have a minimum of 2-6 hours of homework PER class. So many kids cannot handle that after 4 years of coasting.
    This is a great article sir, and one that parents really REALLY need to hear and listen to.

  3. Sales. Some should consider sales.
    I went to college and quit just short of getting a speech degree. While working at a radio station, I realized that the guys driving the nice cars were salesmen, so I started off with the list of loser accounts, but my being an on-air personality worked in my favor and I began rolling in the commissions. I read several books on successful sales techniques, but most importantly, I knocked on doors and made the calls.
    Look around where you’re sitting. Every single object has been sold from one person to another at least once, but more likely several times over. Everything was sold and someone made a commission. From pencils to jumbo jets, someone shook hands and closed the deal.
    Sales doesn’t require a degree, but you have to be resilient and persevere. More importantly, you have to live an breath honesty and integrity. Anyone can make one sale, but repeat sales are accomplished because of trust and dependability.

  4. Having just graduated from a liberal arts college with a degree in theatre, I can’t agree more. I had the good fortune of a conservative Christian upbringing and a hardworking father to ensure I got through college with my mind intact and my finances unencumbered. I wish that both he and my mother had pushed back harder when I said I wanted to go straight to college after high school. Take a year off, work, and figure out what you want to do rather than getting a degree in something you were good at in high school.

  5. A couple of other thoughts to add from another man who’s trodden the academic milieu: MSCS from a top 5; served on academic committees; currently a trustee at a Christian university.
    1) The vocational path is viable. Sent my second son to the Nashville Software School, a six month full-time immersive with good contacts into the local business community, a decent percentage of slots covered by hiring firms. Six months later he had a certificate, a software development job in a software shop with good mentors, and is rocking the house a year later. The school is designed for students in their twenties or thirties going through career transition, but they took him straight out of high school and did right by him. Additional benefit: If he does eventually decide to pursue a degree, he’ll be able to pay for it himself. Nice.
    2) Some universities offer high school dual credit coursework at highly discounted prices as a recruiting tool, allowing your kid to graduate high school as a sophomore in college, getting the freshman work out of the way inexpensively while living under dad’s umbrella of protection. As a homeschooling family, this option has worked very well for us.
    There are other options of course. My brother is spending a small fortune to send his daughter half way across the country to join a sorority. A semester in, this morning she just got on a airplane to go ski with her boyfriend before school resumes. I’m sure this option will turn out well.

    • RC, those are great additions! I am intrigued by the folks at Praxis, which is similar to your Nashville Software School option, in some ways. I have dug around a bit on their site, as it seems like something viable for one of my children.
      On your dual credit option, I know of some HS that have agreements with local colleges, and students graduate HS with an Associate’s degree. You are right, there are good options out there, if you look for them. We also used Dual Credit, as a homeschooling family, and it has worked for us.
      I am sorry to hear bout the impending disaster awaiting your niece. I hope she wises up soon.

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