As the fall term winds down, have any students enabled you to cling to The Myth of First-Year Enlightenment? Here’s 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), writes on the topic:
“Most of the mainstream American teens I spoke with neither liberated themselves intellectually nor broadened themselves socially during their first year out.” … “What teens actually focus on during the first year out is this: daily life management.” . . . “Only 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.”
My friend Derek Melleby summarizes Tim’s thoughts on religious teens:
They do want to take life seriously. But here’s what’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 “keep faith in college” but to “engage faith in college.” That’s an important distinction that will hopefully lead to a paradigm shift in how we prepare students for the most important transition in life. — Derek’s review available 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-year liberal arts college student transformations. I emerged from the darkness of naive nihilism to following Christ as part of the people of God. Furthermore, I received a call to transformational campus ministry which I have come to understand as a slow process of tilling, sowing the seed, watering, nurturing the growth, and gathering the Harvest.
Anyone have a testimony? I’d love a report of a first-year transformation witnessed this fall by a member of ESN ;-)