Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Introduction by William J. Bennett
Reviewed by: David L. Lauer
Date posted: 07/02/2006
Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth about America's Top Schools, by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.Introduction by William J. Bennett. Published by Eerdmans, 2001. Paperback, 762 pages, list price $26.00. Reviewed by David L. Lauer, a communicant member of Grace OPC in Sewickley, Pa., and a high school senior.
In a world that places a high value on a college education, the Christian does well to select his college wisely. The Christian should seek a college that not only seems to suit his personal taste, but also actually promotes it, or at least does not impede his spiritual growth; it is imperative that a Christian in his transition to adulthood grow in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. How can the Christian applying to college find a college to meet this special requirement?
Many who search for colleges depend on books that offer overviews of many colleges. Despite a plethora of such books on the market, it is hard to find a good guide that meets the Christian's special concerns. Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth about America's Top Schools is exceptional in this respect.
This volume evaluates 110 of what the authors judged to be the top colleges and universities. While not claiming to provide a Christian perspective, the book does not look down on Christian colleges. (It treats Calvin, Grove City, and Wheaton, but not Covenant, Geneva, Gordon, or Westmont.) It wholeheartedly endorses a traditional liberal arts education that has not been "modernized" or made to conform to political correctness. It does not pull punches in its evaluation of even some of the most prestigious colleges in the United States, such as Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley. Choosing the Right College offers a surprisingly fair assessment of each institution's academics, student life. and political atmosphere (including moral issues and "political correctness").
The section on political atmosphere is particularly helpful. It gives examples of students who have suffered "for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong" on moral and political issues (1 Pet. 3:17). For example, Carnegie Mellon University tried to force a dormitory resident assistant to wear a gay and lesbian pride button. When he refused, he was fired, but he sued the school and won.
Before a Christian matriculates, it is helpful to know that these things have occurred in a prospective school's past. This book provides an easy resource to investigate such histories. While the volume is obviously not exhaustive, it does a fairly good job of concisely communicating the character of each school.
Choosing the Right College is not totally objective, nor is it distinctively Christian; yet, if one would like to get a taste of a college's flavor from an independent source, it is worth looking at.