As the fall term winds down, have any students enabled you to cling to The Myth of First-Year Enlightenment? Hereâ€™sÂ what Tim Clydesdale, an associate professor of sociology at the College of New Jersey and author of The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens After High School (University of Chicago Press, 2007),Â writes on the topic:
â€œMost of the mainstream American teens I spoke with neither liberated themselves intellectually nor broadened themselves socially during their first year out.” …Â â€œWhat teens actually focus on during the first year out is this: daily life management.â€ . . . â€œOnly a handful of students on each campus find a liberal-arts education to be deeply meaningful and important and most of those end up becoming college professors themselves. . . . And so the liberal-arts paradigm perpetuates itself, while remaining out of sync with the vast majority of college students.â€
My friend Derek Melleby summarizes Tim’s thoughts on religious teens:
They do want to take life seriously. But hereâ€™s whatâ€™s missing according to Clydesdale: basic instruction in religious life and guidance about how to meaningfully connect their faith to the rest of their lives and how to integrate faith with future plans and with the world at large. This book suggests that the biggest challenge facing youth workers may not be to get students to â€œkeep faith in collegeâ€ but to â€œengage faith in college.â€ Thatâ€™s an important distinction that will hopefully lead to a paradigm shift in how we prepare students for the most important transition in life. –Â Derek’s review availableÂ here.
By God’s grace and the active work of quite a few members of the Grove City College community (faculty and students), I am one of those first-yearÂ liberal arts college studentÂ transformations.Â Â IÂ emerged from the darkness of naive nihilism to following Christ as part of the people of God.Â Furthermore, I received a call toÂ transformational campus ministry which I have come to understand asÂ a slow process ofÂ tilling, sowing the seed, watering, nurturing the growth, and gathering the Harvest.
Anyone have a testimony?Â I’d love aÂ report ofÂ a first-year transformation witnessed this fall by a member of ESNÂ 😉
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!