Should I go to college and earn a degree? And, which college is best for me?
“Ahhh! What do ‘You’ want me to do Oh God? “
Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet familiar with hearing God’s voice, who asked for His guidance. It might be helpful to consider including his words in a prayer for God’s direction in life as well.
“O Lord, I know it is not within the power of man to map his life and plan his course – so, you correct me, Lord; but please be gentle” (Jeremiah 10:23-24).
God really does have a plan for your life, a good one that gives you a future and a hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)
But there isn’t anyone who doesn’t get self-willed and miss it from time-to-time. All we like sheep have gone astray. The truth is, there is no such thing as a mistake-free life. The deep comfort is that if we keep a humble listening heart, God will always help us correct our mistakes. He really will!
When considering where to go to college, here are a few questions to ask that can help bring clarity and direction as each individual heart makes a quality decision.
Will this college help me fulfill my God-given destiny and purpose?
Obviously the availability of the course of study to earn your degree is critically important. This question has more to do with whether the instructors are teaching students to accomplish it from a God-directed perspective. You have a God-given purpose that needs to be clarified and strengthened.
Will this college encourage my faith or discourage my faith?
Research shows that faith grows positively for students attending a Christian college, but negatively at other colleges. Our everyday faith has a huge effect on our whole future. We really need it to grow, not be smothered and de-oxygenated.
Will this college have other students who share my core beliefs?
Students in my classes very frequently exclaim that attending classes with other believers is far more helpful in their learning and growth. They often say, “It’s like a breath of fresh air. We weren’t allowed to have a different opinion, especially a biblical opinion, in our last college. Yet, they said they were inclusive.”
Are there out of classroom opportunities to apply my learning and growing faith?
A Christian college will help direct the application of learning outside the classroom. Sometimes, special assignments and activities can make a valuable impact both locally and internationally.
Am I going to live in a sheltered, spiritual bubble?
This is a serious consideration that can be very controversial in your family, church and your own heart.
Some students need a very protected strict environment to experience that maximum amount of growth for their life and goals. These colleges often have a very narrow, strict doctrinal stand and are quite “exclusional.” Are you the kind of person that needs this?
Other students need a more “inclusive” environment that accepts students from many different cultures, denominations and even religious backgrounds. A biblical basis is taught and strongly supported, but students are encouraged to explore their own denomination’s doctrine alongside other Christian doctrinal beliefs. Intellectual, emotional and spiritual development is encouraged.
Finally, other students take the route of attending a Christian college for the first one or two years and complete the rest of their degree at a larger public institution. This gives them the advantages of preparing a strong Christian life foundation and learning to stand in the face of broad secular reasoning and philosophies often contrary to biblical faith.
During the four years of college you will be making strategic decisions concerning your future. In this transition period, you are learning to make decisions on your own and you need the best environment to help you do that.
Which is best for you? Which is God’s plan for you?
Never fear making an honest mistake if you are honestly and continually seeking God’s plan for your life. He will help you get back on track every time.
He is far bigger than our mistakes and is always a very present help. Always! (Psalm 46:1)
Steve Davis, Ed.S. is an adjunct professor at Trinity International University and writes about personal development and education. He can be reached at [email protected]