Higher education and its role in higher calling

The underhandedness has been going on for ages. However, the world sat up and took notice when the Justice Department released details of the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted in U.S. history. More than 30 wealthy parents have been accused of using bribery and fraud to gain admission for their children to elite, big-name Universities.

In a culture that values success and status, it’s not surprising that Hollywood celebrities and prominent business leaders were willing to pay to keep up appearances.

I’m glad we don’t have to play that game. Jesus, our ultimate example, did the complete opposite of what these parents were trying to achieve–bigger, better, bragging rights. He became less to do more. I’m excited to be a part of a movement that’s been working for years to flip culture’s thinking about what success looks like and a higher calling than higher ed alone.

Gen Z is about to head to college, and they are thinking very differently about it than their predecessors.  These tech-savvy, debt-averse creatives consider higher ed a short stop on their well-crafted journey. Many have started a side-hustle or career to finance the education they see as a hands-on workshop gaining them instant access to the people, networks, and experience that is a means to their end.

In 2011 Clayton Christensen, disruptive innovation theorist out of Harvard Business School, predicted that online education would bankrupt as many as half of American universities within 10 to 15 years.[1] This ubiquitous access to information is rapidly changing the game for traditional higher ed institutions. Coupled with the trend of nearly 70% of Christians dropping out of church during their college years[2], we’ve been rethinking our approach to higher ed. Deuteronomy reminds us that we are to keep God’s Word at the forefront of every aspect of our lives. Including the education journey of our children, which should be imbued with intentionality from birth on to their individual heavenly purpose and higher calling.

Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.  Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (NLT)

Knowing that spiritually vibrant youth are most spiritually impacted by regular and ongoing positive interactions with their family, church, and the Bible[1] , we’ve been working to create collaborative access models of higher education that incorporate those three components.

That’s not to say there aren’t incredible traditional models of higher ed that promote whole person, Spirit empowered education in an immersive model, because there are incredible universities providing this spiritually-rich environment for those who can and want to experience the traditional model. However, it’s not for everyone.

Since technology can remove barriers like geography and financial access to higher education, new collaborative access models are allowing students to stay in their communities and continue to benefit from the continued influence of family, churches, and discipleship connections that help keep them grounded in their faith as they achieve their higher educational goals.

These accredited models allow individuals to create an education and career path that may not currently exist in their geographical locale, and because many can stay at home and continue to work, this fiscal model is attractive to the debt-averse Gen Z’s. For a generation that wants to customize everything, being able to individualize their own degrees and certificates to fit their outside the box skills and unique gifting allows them to more quickly step into fulfilling their destiny. 

These new paradigms of higher education led by an individual’s spiritual calling, informed by family and their local church are counter-cultural in every way when compared with the recent college admissions scandal. Saving money rather than spending, stepping into purpose instead of buying prestige, serving your community without craving their accolades and following. 

We’re living in a time like no other where our children get to create their own future. They need us and their church family speaking destiny over their futures and stepping into the game, helping guide their journey to wisdom. The end goal should be to launch our young people fully prepared to confidently step into the messy world culture has created with a full set of Kingdom values guiding their way.

Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 (NLT)

[1] https://news.northeastern.edu/2014/11/18/generation-z-survey/

[2]https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2017/04/28/clay-christensen-sticks-predictions-massive-college-closures

[3] https://lifewayresearch.com/2019/01/15/most-teenagers-drop-out-of-church-as-young-adults/

 

 

Rob Hoskins

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Rob is President of OneHope and Chairman of the board at Oral Roberts University (ORU). His innovative Outcome Based Ministry model and training has helped thousands of global ministries shift their paradigm and begin incorporating best practices that dramatically increase their effectiveness.

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