Engineering institute or liberal arts college? Small class size or large? Religious affiliation or secular? Urban or rural setting?
These are some of the obvious questions you and your child may ask when considering which college to attend. But along with a school’s course offerings, extracurricular clubs, setting, and physical characteristics, you may also have other questions on your mind.
Will the campus community support and respect my child for his/her beliefs and commitments? Are there any social alternatives to binge drinking and hooking up? Are there resources on campus that help students practice sexual abstinence and that teach healthy relationship habits?
If you raised your child to value abstinence outside of marriage and to conduct him/herself with sexual integrity, then you probably want to find a campus environment where your child will be supported and encouraged in these commitments. While it is difficult to rate campuses according to their respect for sexual integrity, we have listed below some guiding questions to help you estimate the prevalence and acceptance of libertine sexual norms at a given college, as well as the availability and type of support available for those opposed to those norms.
6 Must-Ask Questions
What are the sources of support on campus for your child in articulating and living out his/her commitments on love and sexuality?
Faculty and Staff
Whether it is a tenured faculty member, student life dean, or chaplain, sympathetic members of the campus community are valuable sources of support for your child. They can also lend credibility to your child’s beliefs or serve as advocates for your child should he/she be unjustly treated for his/her beliefs. If you don’t already know who the sympathetic individuals are at your child’s college, have your child ask an upperclassman friend. You can also contact us and we’d be happy to put you in touch with a faculty or staff member if we know one.
While you don’t need to be a person of faith to value and practice sexual integrity, the two do often go together. In fact, the activities, strength, and size of the ministries on campus are good indicators of the level of support your child will find among peers and other community members. Find out if the ministries discuss love, sexuality, and relationships, and if so, how they discuss it. Have they hosted events or speakers on these topics? Does their presentation of these matters align with or represent your own beliefs? If your child is looking for a community that will respect and encourage his/her commitment to sexual integrity, seeking out a campus ministry group is a good place to start.
Visit our Student Members page to find out if a given campus has a student group that is part of the Love and Fidelity Network. These groups offer reading groups, speaking events, social activities, and other initiatives that inform the intellectual life and enrich the social culture on campus. Many young men and women have benefited from these groups, whether they hold a leadership position or just attend events as they can. Whether your child plans to be active in one of these groups or not, it helps to know where support for sexual integrity will come from.
Do courses offer a balanced presentation of arguments on matters related to marriage, family, and sexuality?
Perhaps your child is interested in a major that will never discuss human love, sex, and relationships. But if your child does plan to major in a related field, you may want to browse the course offerings and reading lists to get a feel for the education offered and the positions represented in the classroom. If the material favors libertine arguments and conclusions, then you and your child should understand that the burden is on the student to find and present counterarguments that give a voice to your own beliefs. Check out LFN’s online resource library for help
Is there intellectual diversity and respect for different views outside the classroom?
Learn how a given campus community tends to respond to positions that defend marriage, family and sexual integrity. Is there a firestorm of protest every time there is a guest lecturer on campus who articulates such a defense? Is the campus community open and respectful of these positions even if they disagree? Does the campus community largely agree with these positions? Does their agreement make them apathetic? We have seen students have positive college experiences in all sorts of environments. In fact, we have seen many young men and women become more confident in and committed to their values as a result of having to defend them frequently in somewhat hostile environments. Know what type of environment is a good fit for your child.
What is the campus programming on sex and sexual health?
Browse the university website and student newspaper or talk to recent alumni to learn about the sexual health programming offered during freshman orientation and throughout the year. How do these programs describe the purpose and meaning of sex? How do they define sexual health? How is sexual abstinence regarded, if it is talked about at all? Is there “Sex Week” on campus, during which students can attend “pleasure workshops” and talks that encourage sexual exploration, deviant sexual behaviors, and the maximization of pleasure? Be aware of what your child will hear and what type of sexual education is endorsed by the university. We have yet to find sexual health programming that is perfect, so don’t rely on these programs to represent your views on these matters or to teach in a rigorous and serious way how to be responsible with one’s sexuality. Check out our other parent resources for more help with this.
What are the dormitory options for students?
Is there an option for co-ed dorm rooms? How about co-ed bathrooms? Is single-sex housing available? The living options available to your child can be an indicator of what residential life will be like. Substance-free housing and single-sex dorms tend to reduce the chances of a problematic roommate who will hookup in your child’s room.
How prevalent is Greek life? What is the party scene like?
Greek life and other parties are often the setting where binge drinking and hooking up occur. It is important to know what is the predominant form of socializing and partying on campus, and to understand what implications this has on the effort it will take to find alternative ways of having fun.