Ann Dees is a proud woman. A proud college graduate. A proud retired school librarian. And a proud Republican, Christian, and gun owner. 

She and her husband, Bob, had come to Hunters Hollow, an outdoor equipment superstore in Oxford, Miss., on his 68th birthday so he could browse some guns. They live on 143 acres in Batesville, just west of here.

Ann, 66, worked her way through school, first at a community college, on to the Mississippi University for Women, and then a graduate program in library science at the University of Mississippi. In her entire life she says she only took out $1,800 in student loans. 

Neither of her parents had a college degree. Ann’s mother always told her that once she earned an education no one could take that away from her. That thought, she says, kept her going.

Ann believes in work, in earning what you get. One of the reasons she chose to go to the Mississippi University for Women was because she was done dealing with the attention and preference she saw men being given in her classes. 

“I was tired of all the boys getting all the breaks,” she says. “I had to work for my grades, and I wanted them to work for their grades, too.”

That’s part of what she sees as being wrong with higher education. Ann is not surprised that national polls are showing confidence eroding in higher education. 

“People are being indoctrinated with the liberal agenda, the liberal agenda where everybody gets a free ride.”

“People are being indoctrinated with the liberal agenda, the liberal agenda where everybody gets a free ride,” she says. “The Apostle Paul says, You don’t work, you don’t eat.”

In her experiences, that agenda has been a part of higher education for decades. It’s the feeling of entitlement that she feels has grown.

In the early 1970s, she remembers a psychology professor asking her to prove that God existed. She replied by asking him to prove that he didn’t.

She worries that children who grow up being taught to respect adults, the kinds of people who stand at the front of the class and hold the red pens, might be too deferential.

“Especially if he’s a very charismatic professor,” Ann says, “they may take what he says as the gospel truth.” 

The answer, she says, is to teach people to hold firm in what they believe. That’s what she says she tried to do in the 32 years she taught at a private school in Senatobia, Miss. Students she’s worked with have gone to college all over, to places like Sewanee: The University of the South, Pepperdine, and West Point. 

“You need it,” Ann says of college. “It’s wonderful. But it’s not for everybody.”

Bob, who taught science for 22 years at the same school as Ann after selling a car dealership, decided to leave Hunters Hollow without buying anything. But they plan to come back. They’ll save some money if he buys a gun this weekend during Mississippi’s annual Second Amendment tax-free holiday.

The Back-To-School Road Trip
Over eight days we’re driving from Minneapolis to New Orleans, talking about college with Americans along the way. Follow us on Twitter: @opencampusmedia.

Co-founder and editor-in-chief of Open Campus