An Open Letter to Adventist College Presidents

A decision made by Adventist colleges and universities is reducing enrollment at all Adventist academies as well at Adventist institutions of higher learning. A chance at increasing those enrollments may depend on rescinding or modifying that decision made years ago.

Greetings College President,

Parents are having a difficult time paying for academy tuition. This has always been a challenge for private school parents, but our denominational forefathers helped solve this problem by creating the half day school / half day work academy schedule. At his 1970s academy graduation, the principal of my friend Rick handed Rick his diploma in one hand, and in the other a check for the overage Rick had earned toward his tuition. This half day work / half day school system is no longer possible today and it is because of actions largely taken by our Adventist institutions of higher learning.*

Some years ago, UCLA increased its admissions requirements and Adventist colleges and universities, like most other institutions of higher learning across the land, both public and private, followed suit. Now, added to the previous high school academic curriculum, in order for a high school graduate to receive an admissions letter from the college or university of his/her choice, he/she must demonstrate an acceptable performance in at least one additional high school Math class, one additional Science class, two additional years of English, two years of foreign language (preferably three), one or two additional Social Studies courses, and one or two other miscellaneous requirements which I cannot remember at this time. In the Union where I taught there was concern students were not getting enough exercise, so an additional PE class was required for graduation. All of this additional course work overwhelmed the academic portion of the half day school / half day work program, making it impossible for this previously successful system to continue.

In the old system, if the student attended classes in the morning of his half day school / half day work program, his morning was filled with his academic load. There was no more room in his morning schedule to take another class or two. When these additional college entrance requirements were put into place, the student’s class load could no longer fit into the allowable morning schedule. In order to work these additional required college admittance courses into the student’s academy class schedule, the student’s academic load spilled over into the afternoon time allotted for his work program. Hence, there was no longer enough time in the afternoon to work sufficiently to defray the tuition costs. Also, with so little time left for the student to work in his afternoon, this left the campus industries with an unpredictable, unreliable, and most importantly to the success of the business, an unprofitable work force. The industries were simply forced to hire full time adults instead of half time students and, in some schools, even where the industry had chosen to locate at the school specifically because of the half day work program, the industries relocated entirely elsewhere from the academy campus to a more profitable setting.

For the parent these additional required classes presented a double whammy. First, the additional classes required the school to hire an additional academy teacher(s) which added likely $80,000, plus or minus, to the annual school budget. This naturally had to be added to the school tuition which naturally became an added cost to the parent. Second, because the student could no longer work there was loss of family income. Increase in tuition cost…. Reduction in family income. Double whammy. Consequently, many Adventist parents were priced out of an academy educational experience for their children. An experience, because of the half day school / half day work program, the parents had been able to enjoy during their high school years, but now, the very same experience they wanted for their children was denied.

When my own son was in academy from 1990-1994, in addition to taking the prescribed college prep curriculum, he and his buddies wanted to take one extra-special favorite elective. This required his first class of the day to begin at 6:50 in the morning and his last class period, two days a week, ended at 2:20 p.m. Two other days at 3:15 p.m., and one day a week some Science-based lab required him to be in school until 5:00 p.m. On the days he was out of school before 5:00, he had a small job that gave him a little gas money and something with which to buy flowers for his date to the Christmas banquet. Certainly not enough in wages to make much of a dent in his tuition. All this financial change in Adventist academy financial structure (and survival) due to the additional admittance requirements instituted by our colleges and universities.

There is another unanticipated consequence which may be affecting the college campuses themselves. The academies are feeder schools for the colleges. Success at the academy builds confidence and momentum in the belief that the same success can be had at the Adventist college or university. This confidence in academics also transfers to confidence in the financials. “If I can work and pay for my academy, I can work and pay for my college.” But with these Adventist kids now getting their four years of high school in public institutions, it is a simple and easy transition and decision to just attend a nearby public college for future career training instead of an Adventist college. “If I can’t afford an Adventist academy tuition, why should I even consider — how can I afford — an Adventist college tuition? Attendance at an Adventist college is out of the question for me.”

In an effort to improve the academic standing of your institution by adding these additional admittance requirements, you may have inadvertently ultimately eliminated the purpose for your institution’s existence. That purpose being that Adventist students are interested in coming. If Adventist students are not interested in attending your college or university, for whatever reason, then you have no purpose to exist.

Not only am I suggesting these additional college admittance requirements have affected attendance at the academies, I am suggesting the colleges may have also academically shot themselves in their own attendance foot. My teaching experience is in the halls of Adventist academies, not the halls of Adventist higher learning, so I leave it to you to ask the question if these additional courses for admittance are absolutely required for student success at your institution, or, if so, if other modifications are not possible so that Adventist kids can get back to work, both in academics and employment, in both Adventist academies and colleges and universities.

The formal courtesy of a reply to this note is not required.


Jay Linthicum

*This bold analysis has been the expressed opinion of more than one academy principal and business administrator.

Jay Linthicum taught Technology/Industrial Education in Adventist academies in Nebraska and California for 41 years. Newly retired, he has followed his granddaughters to a place of which he had not heard of previously — northern Idaho.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Since 1969, I have never encountered this half-day school schedule within Adventism. Where and when was this? Just curious.


It is interesting the various considerations that have now appeared. Colleges cost far too much, Technical colleges and training provide much better use of one’s money nowadays, and covid-19 has necessitated distance learning which is far more affordable and often acknowledged as the future of education. So education is in the middle of a paradigm change. If I were to suggest and action for the SDA academies I would suggest something similar but it would not help with tuition. I would say half the day on academics and half a day on technical education and have the schools specialize in an area like diesel mechanic, HVAC service and repair, auto repair etc. Place the school into the position of being able to have highly employable students when they graduate or if they desire one of the degree programs that still require a college degree they can choose a college or distance learning college. My thinking is as education changes prepare for the education that requires hands-on learning in your brick and mortar buildings. Also like Liberty University become heavily involved in college distance learning. I am pretty sure things will not remain the way they are running now for much longer.


Since 1969, I have never encountered this half-day school schedule within Adventism. Where and when was this? Just curious.

In the 80s for sure, at many if not all boarding academies. (I personally know about Sunnydale and Maplewood.) Probably in the 90s and beyond as well until labor laws changed.

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Yes, the labor laws did change at least adult students working for much less than minimum wages which I think occurred in the 80’s.

You would need to add a heavy emphasis on computers, software, etc., in order to compete in the real world. There would be some students that might have interest in blue collar work- but not so many now. Jobs of the future require those who know how to design, program, and conduct business online. The World Of Work has changed and is greatly accelerating with many jobs that are already obsolete.


This poorly written and weakly argued piece is beneath the editorial standards of Spectrum. Let’s do better, especially when addressing higher education.

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I was in academy and college in the 60s. In academy, we did the half-day thing. But pay was well below minimum wage unless you worked at the industry. You couldn’t work there until you were 16 and there were restrictions for some jobs unless you were 18.

In college, I made an effort to manage the half-day schedule in order to work at the industry, but had to change eventually because class schedules didn’t accommodate a half-day schedule.

To respond to the article, as a mostly life-long member of university/college communities, I know that many of the college admission requirements are/were based on accreditation standards, without which an institution of higher education is out of business unless they have an extremely well-to-do clientele.

Before anyone jumps on the accreditation issue, that goes back to the medical school. If graduates wanted to be licensed as doctors and be eligible to practice, the medical school needed to be accredited. For that to happen, applicants needed to graduate from accredited undergraduate degree programs. Which meant the colleges and universities needed to up their game and gain accreditation. Nowadays, professional standards in every field require the program to be located in an accredited institution before the program can be professionally accredited and the graduates eligible to take certification exams and practice their profession. This is true for many professions beyond the healthcare field.

Add in the governmental “unfunded mandates” that require more institutional personnel to manage, and finances get even more complicated. Reporting of many kinds is required, but the expense ends up coming out of tuition dollars.

While I’m well aware that academies have major challenges on multiple fronts these days, I’m also painfully aware that many academy and high school graduates aren’t prepared for college. They may have taken more coursework in science, math, English, and PE, but somehow didn’t take the right courses or gain enough skill from them to perform well in college. Research shows that the more math courses and the higher the level of math courses taken in secondary schools, the higher the performance overall in college.

In response to the need for technical and practical training, I heartily agree. Multiple institutions in the church have tried them. Unfortunately, there are problems with offering them. They are expensive to operate, and, probably of more concern, many parents have “higher” expectations for their children. They would rather their children not “get their hands dirty.” They seem unaware that a skilled plumber or electrician can make as much or more as a physician and have more freedom to set their own hours, etc.

I’ve gone on too long, but I wanted to make the point that many things are so much more complicated than they were when I was in academy and college. In other words, the issues are extremely complex and there are no easy ways to solve them. I wish there were.


I am one of those parents who was able to attend an academy because of the half-day work schedule in the 70’s. By the time my daughter attended 25 years later, the work opportunities were more limited, but they existed. As a result my daughter not only received an Adventist education, but developed a strong work ethic that has served her well. I agree that reinstating that policy would boost attendance at our academies. As for blue-collar vs white-collar work, there is a stigma attached to the trades that we have been passing on to our children by over-emphasizing the need for every child to have a college degree, even if they prefer working with their hands in some way, whether as a mechanic, a hair stylist, or other service industry. A well-rounded Adventist education can and should allow the child to become vested in their own education, by helping pay for it themselves, and maybe learning a valuable skill in the process.


Went to a boarding school in ‘72 and worked 1/2 and studied half. Still finished some $500 in the hole.

My family fortunately gifted me enough to bail out my HS diploma.
I went to an Adventist college in 74 and 75 with the same plan. I ended up over $25K in the hole and had to bail after only 2 years (with 1 years worth of credits)
I joined the military and used the GI bill to finish up at a public university and still had to take out a HUGE personal loan (@ 22%) to pay off my Adventist bill so I could get my BS. Only took me 14 years!
My daughter went to an Adventist college for 4 years straight and graduated cum laude, still hasn’t paid off her student loans after 8 years. I managed to help her out with some 15k, but she still is indebted. Maybe she’ll pay it off by her 20th reunion.
We must find an easier way!


i’m getting the feeling that we may be thinking that college debt is a uniquely adventist problem, but actually, it isn’t…the average debt load from college in 2017 was over $31,000.00, and the combined debt load of all college graduates was well over $1 trillion, with a “t”…in fact, overall student debt accumulates at a rate of almost $3,000.00 per second, which is astounding:

it’s probably understandable why bernie’s feel-the-bern free education platform has gained such traction:


Not sure how UCLA has influences all of Adventist education…

While I agree that tuition costs have sky-rocketed, this article reflects an obsolete academic past that no longer exists.

An academy student receives a diploma as a result of accreditation by both Adventist, state, or province entities. While students can write a GED, it is not common practice for public or private high-schools to use this avenue to gain entry to higher education.

An Adventist university student receives a degree, often approved and accredited by multiple accrediting entities and licensure professional organizations. To gain accreditation, programs must meet current licensure requirements. If we did as the author suggests, our academies, colleges, and universities would all close. Labor law restrictions, accreditation requirements, and professional licensure organization’s minimum criteria for entry to the work force are what has influenced increased entry to program requirements, not UCLA.

If I send my student to a nursing program at an Adventist university that does not meet national nursing accreditation requirements, and professional entry to practice criteria - my student will not be eligible to write the licensure exam and will have wasted 100% of their tuition. Our higher education entities must require students to meet minimum accreditation requirements for admission. I want my young adult student to be ‘work ready’ or it’s not worth my investment.

Instead of looking back 50 years to a model that does not align with current best practices and ‘work ready’ excellence, why not look forward to innovative creative new ways of meeting and exceeding entry to practice criteria for real world professions.


I graduated from academy in 1967. And I never heard of a half work / half study program. I went on to complete a B.A., M.A., M.S., and PhD. How? By working hard at jobs I obtained myself. I spent my career in higher education, during the last half as an academic dean.

Even accredited community colleges that offer more “technical” / practical degrees must have faculty with accredited masters degrees.

Degrees from unaccredited institutions are not ultimately practical for most students, although there are a few exceptions.

What the author describes / recommends here is, unfortunately, not practical for careers today. Not even for most “technical” careers. The world described from the '50s and '60s will not return and is not realistic - it is more idealistic.


The longing for days gone by is nostalgic and history. Believe me, smart administrators would already have implemented such a plan if it were workable. Scheduling is one of the most challenging yearly tasks. It’s complicated.


*Kim you state that not so many students are interested in “ blue collar “ work.

Why are they not interested? They should be !!

My four adult children graduated with expensive ( even Ivy League )
bachelor degrees and were literally unemployable on graduation ( except as taxi drivers / bus boys, waitresses ). I had to send them to expensive graduate schools before they had earning capability.

I am one who advocates for PRACTICAL EMPLOYABLE skills.

Particularly when my recent plumber’s bill was more than my urologist got paid by Medicare, for an equal time expenditure!

I like plumbing, electrician, BMW mechanic, air conditioning specialist.

All of these can lead to running your own business and being your own boss — how nice is that, when you are beholden to nobody!

I also prefer NURSING degrees
— a shorter training period than medical school,
and almost equal pay —-
now that OBAMCARE reimburses its physicians so poorly !

Physical therapy, X ray tech, lab tech training offer instant employable skills.

Even hairdressers make good money when generous tips are included!


Just curious, do you happen to know how much those physicians cab make (average) on an yearly basis?

I have found that most high school students are more interested in computers and all things “online”. I see it as just a preference and where we are as a society. Of course, there are those that like to work “hands on”.

I have found through the years that most people are more comfortable working for others and usually don’t have the interest or ability to work for themselves (much more risk and responsibility).

“Practical working skills” in these times would necessarily be those working with computers, systems, engineering, online business, etc. Sure, as a society we will always need “boots on the ground” workers…but business has shifted to the internet with more remote workers- and this will continue to grow.

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When I read your words describing your impression from the dream they sounded more toward the idea of the sovereignty of God than I am used to in Adventist theology. I took them to mean God is in ultimate control of your life whether you have faith or not (which I think is true).

i don’t think i agree that god is ultimately in control of everyone’s life, whether they have faith or not…my feeling is that he gives us control over our own life and destiny, but that if we willingly give him sovereignty over that control, while we actively exercise the control he has given us in accordance with what we know is his will, then he works everything out for our best good…but i don’t think he works everything out for our best good when we don’t have faith, and haven’t willingly given him sovereignty, or when we don’t exercise the control we have in accordance with his will…

i don’t believe any of us, believers or unbelievers, are passive zombies, with god working out everything that affects us according to some pre-ordained formula…we are the arbiters of our own destinies, whether we understand this or not…god has put this responsibility in our hands…

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My dermatology MD daughter, resident on Maui, tells me that nearly every primary care physician on the island has quit their practice, moved to the mainland, or transferred to become an employee of Kaiser or the VA.

BECAUSE OBAMACARE pays so abysmally low that with the higher cost of living in Hawaii, they cannot survive financially here.

I myself have MEDICARE plus an extremely high end secondary insurance — I never have to pay a co pay or anything out of pocket.

However, when I see how much my physicians have been reimbursed for services done to me, I am appalled — the local plumber makes more per time expended — and the local plumber has zero overhead, like office rent, nurses / receptionist / lab assistants salaries, not to mention high medical malpractice insurance premiums.

This is not the time to advocate for your offspring to accumulate high student debt by going to medical school!

Yes, healthcare is a concern for both sides, providers and patients. Until about 3 years ago, every year there was a threat from Medicare to cut 27% of our (MH) pay. Soon WE would have been paying THEM for any service we provided… Now it’s at least quiet, they dropped that threat.

In my opinion, there has been a huge imbalance between very rich/rich/middle/poor for too long. Insurance companies took advantage of the landscape and became a very expensive “middle man.” Now we are all in limbo. Don’t know exactly what I would suggest as a solution that could take care of everyone fairly. Getting rid of those “middle men” would be certainly very helpful.

I have Kaiser for several years. At age 65 I got Medicare Advantage through Kaiser, too. The hospital in Riverside is 2 blocks from my home, so just imagine how good it feels. I don’t have a secondary, so I have co-pays not to exceed $4,500/year. Usually spend ca. $1,500, which is much less than any secondary insurance premium. So far so good. Actually, surprisingly, there was a reduction of copays this year as cpmpared to 2019, of ca. 20%, including meds. I never complained when I saw the reduction… :wink: