Former Principia Students, who are former Christian Scientists, answer some of the most common questions they’re asked about their Principia experiences.
1) Why did you attend Principia?
I had several reasons for attending Principia College. My grandmother took me to Summer Session twice during my high school years and I fell in love with the campus. I was still fighting hard to understand and believe Christian Science at that point in my life because my family expected it of me. I thought being surrounded by a community of practicing Christian Scientists would help me understand. The largest reason was that I wanted to get away from my emotionally abusive father.
2) Did your experiences at Principia impact/influence your views of CS?
They did, to some extent. I was initially surprised at the strong pressure from the young men there to be sexually involved. I guess I had somehow thought CS guys would be above that. I was blissfully unaware of some of the hypocritical things that went on around campus, but just knowing that so many of my peers were not living up to the “moral standards” changed my views a bit.
3) If you had a do-over would you attend Principia again? Why/why not?
This is so hard to answer. I regret sinking myself so far into debt for undergrad school. I regret being in a department (art history) that had so little concentration on helping students be ready for employment or grad school. I do not regret getting away from home. I love so many of the friends I made at Prin. I was fortunate to miss any serious medical events like a measles epidemic (although I was there for the flood of ’93). I can’t go back and change my decision, and it’s really hard to imagine choosing anything different. Going to Summer Session made me want to be there. I didn’t even apply to any other colleges. I would like to change that part, but I loved being at Prin most of the time, so overall, I don’t regret it.
4) Would you recommend Principia to a young CS?
Only if they can do it without going deep into debt. I generally would recommend a less expensive school for undergrad. I would also warn them not to expect a bunch of perfect Christian Scientists.
5) Please share one positive experience and one negative experience about your time at the school/college
Positive experience: I made some wonderful friends during my time at Principia, some of whom are still close. I learned a lot about dealing with different personality types, too.
Negative experience: I got pregnant the first time I ever had sex, but I had no idea. My first time happened on the last day of my freshman year at Principia College. My boyfriend and I had been skirting the edges of intercourse for some time, and we both wanted to have sex before we parted for the summer. We didn’t use any form of birth control. Unlike some CS parents, mine had allowed me to attend health and science classes all through my years in public schools, so I wasn’t entirely ignorant on these matters, but I had a vague belief that my case of chicken pox at the age of 16 had rendered me infertile. I have no idea what his reasoning was; we didn’t discuss it. I was embarrassed enough without trying to ask him if he had a condom.
The reason I didn’t know I was pregnant was that I had periods pretty much as normal during that summer. The pregnancy was probably abnormal—tubal, perhaps. My boyfriend and I both arrived back on campus early that fall. He was on his House Board and I was on a sports team. At our earliest opportunity, we had sex again. I went back to my dorm to clean up and noticed that I had started to bleed. I called him with my concern, but he simply said something reassuring—I don’t remember exactly what it was. That evening, he went to St. Louis for an event. I stayed alone in my dorm room.
I bled heavily and began to notice bits of solid material included in the blood. It didn’t occur to me at first that it was a miscarriage because I had been having my period. I think I briefly realized it later on as I continued to bleed into the night, but it didn’t sink in until a couple years later. Eventually, I passed out on my bed. I woke up to blood soaked through my clothes and into the mattress. I realized my roommates would ask questions if they saw it and flipped my mattress.
It never seemed like a real option to go to Cox Cottage. I was alone and scared, but didn’t dare ask for help because I knew I would face condemnation if someone figured out what had happened. I think I also realized that I was unlikely to get any real help at Cox Cottage. That night was one of the scariest of my life.