Now more than ever, students are looking for whole-person education with an ethical, Christian perspective. Professor Gregory Rummo, Lecturer of Chemistry at Palm Beach Atlantic (PBA) University, wrote about the value of Christian higher education in his essay below.
College Is Not A Waste of Money, Time Or Talent
Gregory J. Rummo
College was the best four years of my life. I looked up to my professors as if they were sages on stages. For three of those four years, I worked for the university as a teaching assistant and laboratory technician in the chemistry department. The faculty made me feel as if I were part of the team. We had “good chemistry” so to speak. I still think fondly about all of them. Sadly, most have passed away.
College opened the door to everything else I have ever wanted to do with my life including further studies in several different graduate programs and careers in both industry and academia.
I get it that college isn’t for everyone. Mike Rowe provides a valuable resource through his Mike Rowe Works Foundation for those who want to pursue a career without a four-year degree. And there are trade schools for those who’d rather build or fix things instead of designing them.
But for those of you who are considering college, let me encourage you to hold on to that dream. It will be worth it all in the end. And it’s not a waste of money, time or talent as some have bloviated.
You don’t have to go to an Ivy League school to be successful or achieve your dream. There are exceptional students in every college just as there are short-cutters and cheaters. Hard work and integrity will be worth far more to a future employer, graduate school admissions committee or the college professor who writes you a stellar letter of recommendation, than the name of the institution appearing on your diploma.
There are public community colleges and smaller private universities that provide a good education— maybe better in some aspects—since class sizes tend to be smaller. And there are affordable degree programs online offered by accredited schools for the truly self-motivated who cannot attend a traditional day institution due to work schedules or family responsibilities.
And consider a Christian college! When I first applied to teach at Palm Beach Atlantic University, I was required to submit a statement that described how I would integrate a Christian worldview in my courses. I wrote, “in whatever discipline I have taught, my goal has always been to create a sense of awe for the creation (general revelation) and for its pinnacle—man—as expressed through the Scriptures (special revelation) through an understanding of a biblical world view, i.e., that each of us carries the Imago Dei—the image of God within our souls—although marred, broken by sin and in need of redemption.”
You may be wondering how a chemistry professor can blend the Bible and science together in the classroom. In the words of former ABC News Science Correspondent, Dr. Michael Guillen, “Christianity and science are an awesome power couple.”
It is noteworthy that the father of classical physics, Sir Isaac Newton, and the father of quantum physics, Max Planck, were both able to seamlessly integrate faith and science. Belief in God did not present a contradiction to their understanding of the design and the mechanics governing the respective worlds they studied. They both believed that God is the Ultimate Designer, ‘For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’” (Colossians 1:16-17).
I attended what was then a small, private Catholic college for my undergraduate degree and a larger, Catholic university where I earned one of my two graduate degrees.
My parents started saving money for my college education when I was still in grammar school. But that was during an era when their first house, a small Cape Cod in Yonkers, N. Y. cost them less than $6,000. (Yes! Six-thousand dollars!) Inflation has inflated everything, not just college tuition.
My father, who had an M.A. From New York University and taught music in a public high school in the Bronx told me that he’d pay my tuition, but anything beyond my undergraduate degree was on me. “Oh—and get a job to pay for your books,” he added.
Gregory J. Rummo, B.S., M.B.A., Iona University, M.S., Fordham University, is a Lecturer of Chemistry at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL and currently a DMin student at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
A version of this essay appeared on the Op-ed pages of The South Florida Sun Sentinel on July 23, 2023, The Palm Beach Post on July 20, 2023 and The Orlando Sentinel on July 13, 2023.
Kingdom-minded Leaders Make an Impact
PBA’s mission to equip students to grow in wisdom, lead with conviction and serve God boldly is ingrained in everything we do. Our theme verses going into this school year are Philippians 4:6-7. They urge us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [our] requests to God.” The verses promise us that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I am thankful that we serve a God who will sustain and equip us for whatever trial or hardship we are facing, and who cares for hearts and minds. My prayer is that PBA will continue to produce Christ-first, Kingdom-minded leaders who are able to make an impact in their communities, in the country, and in the world, and I am grateful for individuals like Professor Rummo who seek to do just that.