Is it wrong to send our daughters to college?

Last month, a blog article on reasons NOT to send your daughters to college was making the rounds. One of my friends forwarded it to me after a discussion we had had on the Biblical Patriarchy movement‘s views of higher education for women. It may be surprising to some, but there is considerable debate within certain homeschooling and other Christian groups about whether or not to send young women to college.

The arguments against sending women to college generally include some combination of the following. Since good Christian women will be primarily wives and mothers, it’s a waste of money and time to send them to college. Young women will not be learning the most important skills they’ll need, instead they’ll be trained for a career. This will only lead to heartache because they’ll either be dissatisfied with life by not following their career path, or they’ll be neglectful of their families by working outside the home. The college environment is filled with temptations, and why would we want to put our daughters through that?

The most recent article, by a Catholic group, included a couple of reasons that I hadn’t heard elsewhere. One is that young women will meet the wrong kind of men at college:

She will attract the wrong types of men.  I share the common concern addressed to us, again mainly by angry women, that there are so many lazy men in our society.  But what mystifies me is why girls continue to marry them and then live to complain about them, along with their parents.  So what normally happens with this setup is that those lazy men who are looking for a mother-figure in a wife are very attracted to this responsible, organized, smart woman who has it all together along with a steady paying job with benefits.  So if he wants to go to work he can, but if not he can always fall back on her income.  Or if he “doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone” he can start his own business, and it doesn’t matter if it fails or succeeds or makes enough income because again she’s there to help. The bottom line, HE is only supplementing HER income, but he’s supposed to be the provider. These are very strong stresses on families that I have observed to consistently repeat themselves over and over.  What she did that was looked upon to be the “responsible thing ‘just in case’” ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the type of man she married.

Along with this, the group explains that getting an education in order to be prepared for the future, i.e. something happens to your husband, is not a valid reason:

A woman needs to have something to provide income in case her husband dies, becomes disabled or leaves her. True. The first 2 issues can and should be resolved with insurance, which is very affordable for young couples who may be vulnerable to these VERY remote possibilities, which is why it is so affordable. A responsible family will have such coverage in place. As for the husband leaving her, the possibility of being left in such a state would make a woman MUCH more careful about the man she decides to marry. Think about it. If you know you’re throwing your COMPLETE trust and future on a man, you’ll want one you can certainly rely on.

I find the last part of their reasoning incredibly heartless. Basically if your husband leaves you, it’s your own fault for not choosing better. Nice.

Now, to be clear, I do not believe that everyone has to have a college education. There are many people who have no need of higher education. Apprenticeships can be an excellent option. However, I do believe that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college.

I believe that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of college at work here. College is not simply, or even primarily, preparation for a career. A college education should teach people to reason, to understand history and the world around them, to think logically, and to communicate effectively. College should be about becoming a well-rounded person and about learning to be an adult. (I do realize that these are ideals and that not all colleges and universities do this well.) For these reasons, among others, I think it can be very wise to send our daughters to college.

Here are some reasons I believe that young women should go to college, in no particular order:

1. A college education trains your mind to think and reason. Women, especially if they are going to be wives, mothers, and home educators, need a good education. This is not to say that women without college educations won’t be well-equipped, but that a college education can serve to prepare women for their future roles in the home.

2. College can be an excellent place to meet the right man. While not universally true, most men who are serious about providing for their families and preparing for future needs will be attending college. Also, men who are well-educated may very well be looking for wives who share their interests and who can discuss issues with intelligence. Again, one doesn’t have to have a college education to be well-read, but it can be a great help.

3. College is like the real world with training wheels. One of the goals as parents is to raise our children to be godly, independent, self-sufficient adults capable of making their own decisions. Having given our children a good foundation and trained them well in their faith, we can send them to college to learn how to make decisions on their own in a somewhat safe environment. Obviously, our children are not completely on their own at this point, but they are moving in that direction.

4. College can strengthen your faith. While it’s certainly true that there will be many challenges to your faith in college, it’s equally true that these challenges exist in the world regardless of whether you go to college or not. Learning how to respond when your beliefs are questioned is important in strengthening your faith. Many children are sent to college or out into the world without a strong foundation in the faith. As parents, we should be diligent in raising our children to understand and to be able to give a defense for what they believe. We have to trust that God will work in them whenever they face challenges.

5. College is good preparation for the future. Despite what the group quoted above thinks, there are many reasons that a woman might find herself needing to work outside the home. A husband may be injured, have significant illness, die, or abandon his family. Also, many godly women may never marry or may marry later in life. In all these cases a college education would provide greater opportunities for a women to provide for herself or her family.

I’m sure that there are other good reasons for sending our daughters to college. These are simply some of my thoughts on the matter. I realize that some may not agree with me, and that college isn’t for everyone, but I do think it’s important to consider the benefits of a college education.

15 thoughts on “Is it wrong to send our daughters to college?

  1. Lori Corell Grassman says:

    Your logic is excellent on this subject. I would only add that not preparing a young woman for the world, be it college or some other training, is to put a stumbling block in her way that she may have a very hard time getting past, if ever. It is heartless to entrust a woman with almost no skillset to function in the world except possibly a naive faith, to a man who could potentially take complete advantage of her naiveté. It’s just bizarre that these people think that young people understand the world and can make impeccable logical decisions, no problem. Therefore any problems they get into is their fault. But I think you already said that!
    There’s also an ugly insinuation that the woman is of much less value compared to the man, by this patriarchal crowd.


  2. Angela says:

    It really shocks me that there are men who think educated wives are a waste of time and money. Soooo thankful for a husband who respects and even relies on my degree and masters degree!


  3. Timothy says:

    Wow, this entire subject is completely new to me. I can’t say that sending or not sending our daughters to college was even an issue.

    Having said that, I did want to comment on the “losing your faith” aspect that seems to afflict so many students and causes so much fear among those in the faith. As I’ve pointed out on my own blog, the only children the church loses in the end were never truly children of the church in the first place. College will test the faith of those who actually believe and expose a lack of saving faith by those who don’t. In fact, some of the most outspoken atheists of our day are those raised in the church rebelling against the God they know is there. My point is that this isn’t a reason not to send our children to college. Even those who don’t believe, still need a good education. Just some thoughts.


  4. Cara says:

    Building on your reason #5, I would add that we have no way of knowing if we are going to be called to singleness. Marriage is beautiful and much sought after, but may not happen for everyone. Statistically speaking, there are many good, godly women who will not marry, or who will marry much later in life. What of their time, talent and resources during those times?

    Also, the comment by the Catholic group about families having adequate insurance strikes me as preposterous, as any reasonably affordable policy might cover funeral costs and, at maximum 5 or so years of living expenses. Hardly a good long-term option.


    • Ron Hoyle says:

      Term life insurance, especially for the young, is very cheap. You can get a half million dollar policy for around $20 a month. This is more than a short term solution, a must for all families.


    • Stephanie says:

      I would agree, Cara. I am a perfect example. I went to college and obtained a degree. However, I never secured a career from that. Instead I married and started a family. I stayed home, worked a mixture of part-time, full-time, and then home schooled for several years until I had to take a permanent part time position. Then my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Two years later we lost him.
      He had insurance. But here I am with some cash and some investments, but no way to make a good salary because of a lack of a career that will support us. I am now fortunate to have a full time job that will pay for me to get my masters degree.

      My point to those who bring up life insurance as a way to sustain a wife and family is: and after that what? She is going to have to find some way to support herself unless her husband and she are just very wealthy.

      God is truly Great and his mercy endures forever and ever. And what is everyone so afraid of? If God is for us (our children) who can be against us (our children)?


  5. Mark B says:

    I would agree with those who question sending their daughters to college. However, not for the reasons given but for the same reasons that I would question sending sons to college. I believe that there isn’t such a thing as too much education, but what passes for that in many schools today is a farce. In too many schools these things cannot be assumed as a given: “A college education trains your mind to think and reason.” “College is like the real world with training wheels.” “College is good preparation for the future.”


  6. Meredith says:

    A very good rebuttal to the reasoning found in the patriarchy circles. However, because you are a woman your view is invalid to them (tongue in cheek).
    I would agree with the above comment that not all colleges teach one to think or adequately prepare a young person, but that is where the counsel of wise and loving parents and the Holy Spirit help steer a young person to the right school. The college route is not for everyone, but these girls are trained at a young age to think that it is wrong and even sinful to desire such a thing. Truly a sad situation.
    Having spent considerable time with those in this camp, I have noticed some observations. By depriving their daughters of a college education, they have also limited their daughters capacity to marry well. I might add, that a college education also helps a woman be a better help meet to her husband by understanding the workplace and being able to discuss the big ideas with him and also feel more comfortable in social settings of the professional realm. These girls are typically not well educated in high school either, so if they do later decide to pursue post secondary education, they need to spend at least one to two years in remedial community college to get the math and science needed to gain entrance into a 4 year institution.
    Another observation, most of the sons in these circles also do not attend college. They push mentorship/entrepreneur routes instead. I am not against these, however, the thinking/reasoning skills and business model/internships/networking that would be available to them through a college setting greatly lack. They then find themselves in a job situation that limits future advancement due to the lack of a diploma with a growing family to support.
    In the end, I believe it is an improper view of women and education. All people are created in the image of God to think and reason. We are all to cultivate the mind.


  7. Kim Shay says:

    Great article! I have a 24 year daughter in graduate school. Being away from home and learning has indeed trained her mind. It has also shown her how to live within her means and what is a “need” as opposed to “want.” People who “lose” their faith in college were on the way there before they left high school. I worked in youth ministry, and I could see the signs as early as 16.

    And yes, the last portion of that second quoted passage is indeed heartless.


  8. Reformed Reader says:

    Excellent post! I’ve been studying the patriarchy rhetoric for several years now (on and off) and have been utterly floored that people actually buy into things like “The Return of the Daughters” and stuff like that. I have my theories about why parents find that attractive, but I’m sure there are a variety of reasons people get tied into these movements.

    Anyway, solid post. As a father of 2 girls who I very much want to send off to college someday, I really appreciate and agree with your comments!



  9. Already Reedemed in Texas says:

    Thanks for this post! I agree and will add that young women should set their sights on seminary (not for ordination…don’t worry) or at the very least pursue as much theological knowledge as possible. What better way to be wise and helpful in any calling?!


  10. Charlie J. Ray says:

    I think that choosing the right college is the issue here. Personally, I think even Christian colleges and seminaries can be dangerous for men and women. The Christian faith is constantly under attack in secular schools. Also, if finances are tight, it is a legitimate question as to whether men or women should go to college. I’m still repaying my student loans and I’m in my 50s……


  11. grantsgazelle says:

    I had this discussion years ago with a few friends. We all had mix opinions. My view is if your daughters want to go to college let them. The only thing that could be a problem is what are they going to college for.

    The discussion I had before was concerning a young man whose girlfriend was going to medical school to become a doctor and he was wanting to get into the ministry. He was concerned that she wouldn’t want to be a stay at home mother after spending all that time and money trying to become a doctor. Maybe that should be an issue on sending daughters to college. What are the daughter’s goals? Will she learn a profession or just get a higher education? Will she plan on staying in the work force or stay at home or never get married?


  12. Jim says:

    Agree especially on point one. I want my children to be as well-educated as possible, and that means I want the person looking after them to be as well-educated as possible!

    And on point two. I want my wife to be someone I can actually have stimulating conversations with!

    Rather shocked at the implication in the quoted article that desiring a “responsible, organized” wife is a bad thing! I’d better tear Proverbs 31 out of my Bible …


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