College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

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Location: Elizabethtown, PA, United States

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Student Disengagement

Hat tip to my good friend Byron Borger for pointing me in the direction of this revealing article. I first heard about it on Mars Hill Audio Journal and didn’t know that it was available online.

The article entitled, “A Very Long Disengagement” is by Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University. Bauerlein argues that students are less and less engaged each year and that many students lack basic knowledge about history, civics, literature, the arts, geography, and politics. He makes a strong case for how the media has shaped students’ lives and how it leads to more disengagement. From the article:

We can be certain that they have mastered the fare that fills their five hours per day with screens — TV, DVD, video games, computers for fun — leaving young adults with extraordinarily precise knowledge of popular music, celebrities, sports, and fashion. But when it comes to the traditional subjects of liberal education, the young mind goes nearly blank. In the last few years, an accumulation of survey research on civics, history, literature, the fine arts, geography, and politics reveals one dismal finding after another. The surveys vary in sample size and question design, and they tend to focus on basic facts, but they consistently draw the same general inference: Young people are cut off from the worlds beyond their social circuit. While the wealth and education of young Americans has increased, their knowledge levels have either dropped or remained flat in the following important areas.

The article proceeds to discuss some of the research and provides illustrations from his own experience as a professor.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Good Website and Essay for Good Friday

On Friday, April 14, Westminster Theological Seminary will launch a website concerning The Da Vinci Code novel and movie. This looks very promising. You can read a press release here. You can visit the website here. From the press release:

"We certainly appreciate the engaging narrative, and recognize an author's right to present a good yarn," explains Dr. Bill Edgar, Professor of Apologetics at Westminster. "But we are concerned because the mix of fact and fiction in the book and presumably the film is leading many readers to question the Bible's message and its impact on history."

Looking for more enjoyable reading over the Easter holiday? I highly recommend this essay by Dr. David Naugle entitled “Language, Liturgy, and Life: Towards a Christian Vision of Education.” Dr. Naugle is a professor at Dallas Baptist University and this address was recently given at the Lexington Christian Academy’s conference “Faith and Worldview Teaching: Cultivating Inquiry Across the Curriculum.”

Dr. Naugle puts forth a powerful vision for Christian education (both secondary and higher education). He first points out the other pervasive and persuasive “educator” of our day, popular culture, and explains how educators must take seriously the ways in which pop culture, fueled by the media, shapes students’ lives. Dr. Naugle then offers a way forward for Christian educators focusing of three areas:

Language: A recovery of a classic Christian vocabulary and way of naming and explaining the world that is rooted in Scripture, and mediated through the diverse yet unified academic disciplines taught in a Christian perspective.

Liturgy: A recognition of the liturgy-like character of education which consists of various academic rituals of formation that are intended to shape students as Christians in their intellectual, spiritual, moral, emotional, and physical lives.

Life: A vision that the language and liturgies of Christian education will “reconstitute” the lives of students in godly ways, fostering long-term faithfulness in their private and public callings, and enabling them to serve as agents of God’s kingdom and shalom in every area of thought and life.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Gospel of Dan Brown

My latest CPYU assignment is to research and write about the cultural malaise caused by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I have until May 1st to complete an article that helps students, parents and youth workers navigate the many questions and challenges to the Christian faith that this popular novel (soon to be a movie) has created.

As you know, this blog serves as a window to my desk, giving readers a look at the pile of articles that continues to grow in the bin next to me. Now, here’s a window into my life: My wife and I are having our basement finished by a family friend. This morning I was up early to help him carry equipment into the basement. We finished and I offered him a homemade chocolate peanut butter egg. Over our “egg,” my carpenter friend (ironic?) had some questions for me. He wanted to know what I knew about the new discovery of the “Gospel of Judas.” A good Christian man, he wasn’t sure what to believe. Last night he had watched a show on the National Geographic channel and he commented, “They are pretty sure that this old book should have been included in the Bible.” We had a nice conversation and then we both headed off to work.

I offer this story as an example of the kind of situations that many of us may face in the coming months. Of course, this is nothing new. Every year, right around Easter time it seems, a “new discovery” is made the “challenges” our understanding of Jesus. Two weeks ago it was the Jesus Papers, last week it was the “Gospel of Judas,” and in the past year The Da Vinci Code has many people reading the supposed “Gospel of Thomas.” Whatever it is, the line runs something like this: Everything the church has told you about Jesus is not true… This fill-in-the-blank “new discovery” has uncovered the secret that we have all been looking for in our quest to find the “true Jesus.” The church has lied to you in order to control you and to exercise power over you.

I’m not undermining the importance of research and scholarship. I’m not trying to sound trite or be patronizing. It’s just that it is beginning to sound like a broken record. (I mean, CD. Do CDs skip when they are broken? We need a new saying!) Anyway, you get the idea. In a “suspicious” culture like ours, any hint of suspicion can quickly get many Christians off track. And many times, the target is Christian college students forced to “defend” and explain their faith for the first time. This is a good and important exercise, to be sure, but it isn’t always easy. Hopefully my article will help students (and those charged with helping students) navigate the challenges cause by The Da Vinci Code.

I could really use your help as I do research for this article. Has anyone come across any good resources (books, articles, websites) for “Decoding the Da Vinci Code”?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Letter to the Community from Duke President Brodhead, a website dedicated to all things lacrosse, has a helpful compilation of information concerning the incident involving the Duke University lacrosse team. Duke’s president’s “Letter to the Community” is worth reading. As the president indicates, the lacrosse team incident is not unique to lacrosse, NCAA athletics, or Duke University, but is bringing to the surface deeper issues of the current landscape of higher education and college student culture. Duke’s president seems genuinely concerned to address these issues at its roots and make changes to the university where needed. We’ll see.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Marks of Academic Revival

"Is revival a meeting, or a way of living? Keith Martel calls students and teachers to seek revival that goes to the very heart of what the academy and Christian faith are about."

My good friend Keith Martel has written a great article for Comment, an online journal based in Canada. Martel’s main concern is exploring what a revival on a college campus would actually look like. He offers nine marks of academic revival and prays for a student body to take them seriously. This article is well written and worth the time... even if you are not a current college student or work in higher education. Read it and pass it along!

Marks of Academic Revival (Web)

Marks of Academic Revival (PDF)