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When classically-educated students graduate from high school, where do they usually go next? Where should they go next?

This is a question I think about a lot, as the vast majority of our students go on to secular universities and a small handful go on to Christian universities. Of all these schools, a couple might qualify as classical. (My own situation was the opposite: after a K-12 public education, I couldn't wait to go to a Christian college. Then it was back to a secular school for grad school.)

What guidance would you give to a student who is deciding on what to do after graduation? What are the main factors on which one should base one's decision?

Edited by Patrick Halbrook

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My son is in this situation. He was petering out his junior year with me at home, so I begged a gap-year program to take him on his senior year. Did he take up the challenge and overcome to learn great things? Not exactly. :( However, I don't regret the decision; he did learn a lot about life being away from home. Now he's back and working at a franchised coffee shop and considering his next option. He thinks he wants to produce music, but I'm not sure he's got enough drive and, honestly, talent for that as a profession. I'm not a big fan of chasing "dreams" in this culture and age. But I'm not advocating pragmatism. He may have an opportunity to attend a small classical christian college, but he also may get a full time job locally that will train him in a professional trade of body painting helicopters for a main source provider. What if he gets the scholarship to the college? 

I told him if he gets the job he should take it and try it for a few months. If he gets the scholarship but likes the job, he can turn down the full ride and continue to work, save up and attend college wherever he wants doing whatever he wants in a few years. Or, if he doesn't like the job and gets the scholarship, then he can quit the job and go to school - I really want him to want a great books education in the humanities! It just makes you a better human being. Then he can go to work anywhere or specialize in a trade or something else. But I do worry that he'll bomb in college because of lack of discipline or organization or just be overwhelmed by the material but not ask for help, and then what? He loses the school AND the job he could have had here with benefits. - eeek. Pragmatic worries. 

I do believe in a classical education for students who want to continue onto college. What's hard to find is a school for nursing or engineering that also values integrating humanities like colleges used to do. Most places barely require a semester of history because students and parents complain about those classes not having anything to do with their major - :( It has to do with being a human being!! 

There's not enough human beings in the world any more. But I can't make my kid be a human being either. I tried the best I could. He's going to have to want to become fully human himself. But I can pray! 

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I think they should do...whatever they want to do. Classical education prepared men to be warriors, so joining the military is a perfectly legitimate option. Charlotte Mason believed that a person who had a humanistic (in the good sense) education would be a better farmer or laborer, or anything he did. I think we do a great disservice to the fundamental values of a classical education if we assume it must produce scholars and nothing else. Classical education should produce good men (and women) who will live out virtue in any area of life.

My own little homeschooled cadre of classically educated (ala Charlotte Mason) scholars have done wildly different things:

1) Son went to Bible college, joined the Marines (he's still in the reserves), and became a Sheriff's deputy. He considers it his calling to defend victims against violence.

2) Daughter got a degree in Graphic Design and Advertising (dean's list and debt-free) and is a stay-at-home mom to my darling granddaughter. :)

3) Daughter declined college, took a job teaching in a bi-lingual preschool (she is bilingual), got married young, became interested in pet rescue and rehabilitation, and is still exploring options.

4) Daughter still at home, a work in progress. (9th grade)

What matters to me is that they are virtuous people, lights in the world, and the world needs light everywhere. I think classically educated students should be prepared to go to college if that's what they want to do, but I think the whole wide world is also an option, and college is not the only valid way to further education (because I think we should all be lifelong learners).

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I think classically educated students should and could go anywhere and do anything. I see that as the benefit of classical education. Just as Cheryl and Karen already said, classical education makes a more virtuous, better human being. So, a student should be prepared to go to a secular university, a Christian university, or into the work force to learn a trade. 

What I don't like to see are students who give up the humanities altogether. Like Cheryl said, too many college programs cut out the humanities after the freshman year, which is tragic to say the least. 

I like to encourage students to keep taking literature or history courses even if they are going into a more technical field. Most colleges allow students to minor in something unrelated to their majors, so that's a good way to keep reading about being a human.

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Great thoughts, and I definitely agree with most of what has been said. Depending on the person, different options may be appropriate, and there's no reason everyone should have to do the same thing.

At the same time, I still wonder this: at what point do we consider someone to be "classically educated," or at what point has a student really received a classical education to the degree that he or she is prepared to leave and go do other things? We naturally think in terms of K-12 since that's how schooling works in our culture. But if you had a student who attended a classical school for elementary and middle school and then left to go to public school for high school, was he or she classically educated? Or what if the student just spent a few years in a classical elementary school? We'd probably say no, he or she was not really or not fully classically educated, because classical education as we envision it culminates with high school. But why shouldn't it culminate with college? Especially if our model is inspired by the medieval university system?

(Of course, there's also a sense in which education is a lifelong endeavor and one must spend their whole lifetime becoming truly educated...I'm planning on continuing my own classical education for many decades to come...but that's a slightly different question...)

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2 hours ago, Patrick Halbrook said:

At the same time, I still wonder this: at what point do we consider someone to be "classically educated," or at what point has a student really received a classical education to the degree that he or she is prepared to leave and go do other things?

I think this is an interesting question, but I am going to be highly skeptical of any attempt to answer it in a concrete way. :D

I think there are different levels of classical education--at the high end, you've got the full Greek/Latin language scholars who are reading ancient texts in the originals, and that's great, but that's never going to be the object for everyone. Classical education is subject to criticism for being "elite"--and at this level, it has to be. I tend to think of this as "classical scholarship," and it's not happening in K-12.

I suppose you might also consider a deliberate in-depth study of the 7 liberal arts to be the definition of classical education, but again, you're not going to finish that in a K-12 program. "Introduction to the 7 liberal arts" is probably as far as it goes.

But then, there's the whole mythos/logos/dialectic/paideia (ala Norms and Nobility) that would have us reading for meaning and taking instruction for the sake of our characters--in an effort to be a more virtuous person. This is what I think can happen during the K-12 years, and I would not call it "receiving a classical education;" I would call it "being educated in the classical tradition." I think I don't like any terms that make it seem like it's a finished business, but rather part of an on-going process. (In Plato's Republic, his full educational plan takes 50 years!)

I really like the stuff about paideia in N&N. To me, that's an intellectual awakening--an awareness of the intellectual life, an interest in at least some aspect of it, and the ability to read and learn for oneself, accompanied by the desire to do that. Once you get a person to that point, they can, indeed, do anything. Charlotte Mason thought it could pretty well be achieved by age 13 or 14. It's not a "complete" classical education, but it gets you to a place where you could continue it *on your own* if you wanted to. I'm not sure you can do that by 13 or 14 in our current climate, but surely you can by 17 or 18, at the end of K-12.

I'm just enough of a pragmatist to prefer that we focus on what I think is possible, and that is "educating in the classical tradition." If we graduate our students and they never pick up a book again, we probably haven't accomplished it.

 

Edited by KarenG

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