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Why is Christianity Losing Influence in America?

Vishal Mangalwadi, author of The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, writes:

The branding or perception of Christianity as a religion of faith, disconnected with truth, is tragic given that the Judeo-Christian tradition is the only reason why any medieval, modern, or postmodern person talks about “Truth” that can be stated in rational words and propositions (creeds or equations). The secular academy and science acquired the truth-brand only because Secularism is a Protestant heresy. The university exists because the Church was committed to knowing and believing truth. Secularism didn’t create the university. It obtained that Christian institution because, liberal Protestantism surrendered to Rationalism and evangelicalism abandoned the life of the mind. That enabled Secularism to walk away with the brand Truth. The fact is that secular atheism and materialism leave no room for rational/propositional truth. That is why Secularism is dogmatic about relativism.

Read the whole thing. It’s quite long, but you’ll benefit even if you read  just one or two sections.

The Challenges of Christian Higher Education

Great cover story in World magazine about the challenges of Christian higher education, with input from schools in California, Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri. A few highlights:

  • A 2012 study by Bain & Co. consultants examining the financial sustainability of U.S. colleges and universities found that 36 percent of CCCU schools are sustainable, 32 percent are at risk, and 32 percent are unsustainable.
  • The four-year cost of attending a Christian college is now $100,000 (presumably for four years).
  • Federal regulations add to cost, as do amenities.
  • Students utilizing dual credit programs and online offerings see lower overall costs.
  • “Our investigation found that several key factors may doom a Christian institution: incompetent financial planning, poor leadership, indistinctive education, and unorthodox professors. CCCU schools can err at either extreme: On one end, coddling students within a “Christian bubble” and quarantining them from “bad ideas,” and on the other offering a nearly secular education, relegating the “Christian” part of higher education to chapel and campus ministries.”

Read the whole thing (which may require a subscription–totally worth it).

Anya Kamenetz, DIY U, and the Future of Higher Education

There’s a growing number of books on higher education reform. One that I recently found interesting and provocative is DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz (staff writer for Fast Company who regularly publishes in a variety of places). Thankfully, Ms. Kamenetz was willing to answer a few questions for us.

Do you think high schools today push four-year college onto students who should be considering other paths (associate degrees, trade schools, etc.)? And if so, what, historically, has led to this bias?

It’s not just high schools that push the four year college ideal. American citizens overwhelmingly support that as the ideal, especially when you ask them about their own kids, and politicians follow their lead, making discussion of alternate paths taboo. Nobody wants to track kids but I think there’s a basic lack of awareness that more years of education doesn’t always add up to a better life. The key is for people to be able to pursue the course of study that’s right for them.

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The Myth of Working Your Way Through College

Svati Kirsten Narula, writing for The Atlantic:  ”the average student in 1979 could work 182 hours (a part-time summer job) to pay for a year’s tuition. In 2013, it took 991 hours (a full-time job for half the year) to accomplish the same.”


Read the whole thing.

FYI – My new  book has tips on saving for college, lowering the costs of college, and earning money during college.

Perman/Chediak Author Meet-Up at T4G

Matt PermanMy friend Matt Perman and I are hosting an informal author meet-up in the lobby of The Galt House at 10:00 PM on Tuesday night (4/8) of the Together for the Gospel conference. (Note: the lobby is in the first floor of the Suit Tower.) We will have some copies of our books to give away. Stop by for a chance to win, or increase your chances of winning by e-mailing a question in advance. We’ll do our best to answer as many questions as we can at the meet-up.

Matt Perman is the author of What’s Best Next and a former director of strategy at Desiring God. Here’s a nutshell description of our books:

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Key Questions Addressed in My Book

It occurred to me that it might be helpful–or at least different–to introduce Preparing Your Teens for College from the standpoint of key questions that I sought to address in the book.  Here are seven of them:

1. What are the key character traits teens need to be successful at a college (of any sort)?

2. How can we help our teens own the Christian faith for themselves?

3. How can we help our teens make wise relational decisions and avoid the subversive influences of the wrong crowd?

4. How can we help our teens learn sound principles of financial stewardship so that they don’t become trapped in consumer debt or excessive student loan debt?

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How To Prepare Your Teen for College

I’m grateful to Matt Smethurst of The Gospel Coalition for taking the time to interview me about Preparing Your Teens for College. Here’s one of our interactions:

How do today’s economic conditions make preparing our kids for college more crucial than ever before?

College is more expensive than ever. But with regard to future earnings prospects, it’s also more significant than ever. In June 2013, the unemployment rate for non-college grads was 7.6 percent, but for college grads it was about half of that (3.9 percent). You’ll see this pattern, in good times and bad, over the last few decades. And the “earnings premium”—the additional money that a college graduate earns relative to a non-college graduate—has been steadily increasing. In 1979, high school graduates were paid 77 percent of what college graduates made; today they make about 62 percent.

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Student Loans Dragging Down the Economy?

Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed Outcry Over U.S. College Tuition

Good article by Sam Frizell in Time magazine. A few excerpts:

“At the end of 2003, American students and graduates owed just $253 billion in aggregate debt; by the end of 2013, American students’ debt had ballooned to a total of $1.08 trillion, an increase of over 300%. In the past year alone, aggregate student debt grew 10%. By comparison, overall debt grew just 43% in the last decade and 1.6% over the past year.”

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Access, Affordability, and Success: Response to the President’s College Ratings Plan

Awilda Rodriguez and Andrew Kelly of the Center on Higher Education Reform at AEI:

Last fall, President Obama unveiled a plan to promote college affordability by changing the way the federal government distributes student financial aid. The proposal calls for a federal college ratings system that appraises colleges on measures of access, affordability, and student success.These ratings would then govern the allocation of federal student aid dollars, with schools that perform well receiving larger Pell Grants and more generous student loans. Schools that lag behind would get less….

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Should We Become a Cashless Society?

800px-Credit-cards.jpgConfession: I hate carrying and spending cash. Always have. I like the convenience of putting everything on one credit card, being able to have an instant record of my spending, and (of course) earning 1 percent cash back. I’m not prone to impulse purchases, and I’ve always paid my bill in full and on time. But Derek Thomas has a provocative article in The Atlantic on the downsides of our becoming a cashless society.

Thomas writes: “In the 1970s, fewer than 20 percent of the adult population owned a credit card. Today, between 70 and 80 percent of the adult population does.” So what? Thomas goes on to argue:

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