Selecting a school

The Christian student needs to recognize the importance of discipleship as a college search factor.  One, two, three, four or more years apart from the community of believers is TOO long, and TOO many students lose their Christian faith after spending TOO much time in a spiritual desert.  Plan ahead to select a college that is close enough to a strong church that recognizes the authority of the Scriptures.  Additionally, ask the Christian colleges about the types of Bible studies and prayer groups that meet on campus, and ask the secular schools about Christian fellowship groups that meet on campus.  Be intentional about planning for your Bible training, fellowship, and accountability– not just your academic training.

Recognize that you will be shaped not just by the “major” you choose, but also by the school and education you receive in general.  Consider the college choice in terms of where you wish to be mentored in your young adult life.  Many people simply choose a school based on a major, but think about where, and under whom (faculty and administration) and with whom (fellow students and dorm-mates), you want to study, not just what you want to study.

Most companies and organizations are flexible about majors when recruiting and hiring; they want to see that you took challenging courses and performed well in them.  They want to see that you have received a solid education and that you are someone of integrity and commitment and willingness to learn new skills.  They want to hire people who can think, reason, demonstrate leadership, and solve problems.  A Christian liberal arts school will not set you back, it will propel you forward in those areas. In fact, it is common for companies and even some government agencies to practice preferential hiring from particular Christian colleges where the graduates have demonstrated integrity, academic training, and a strong work ethic, as well as confidence (whether or not the recruiters understand that to stem from the students’ growth in the Word and their walk with Lord during those formative years).

Examine a school’s Christian environment, study environment, living environment, and social environment as well as the school’s worldview and academic perspective in various subject areas.

Finding Mentors

Once you have selected a school, and the school has approved your admittance, begin making some contacts on campus, especially with trustworthy adults, and especially if you are not commuting from home.  For instance, contact the church (or a few of them) you hope to attend and learn about programs for college age group and also general service and sunday school times.   Contact some Christian ministry staff leaders that serve on campus and set up a meeting for sometime in the first few weeks.  Learn about faculty members who are believers; especially in the small schools (where you know they are not in the job for the high salary), professors are very committed to mentoring students through their college years and love to meet them for lunch or coffee on campus.  Older students, especially in positions of counseling (such as R.A’s) are also a great mentoring resource, so get to know the Christian upperclassmen in these roles; they are more than willing to take time to talk, and often they are required anyway to spend a certain number of hours in their dorm being available to listen to and coach other students.  These relationships will be SO valuable to you as you are training for adulthood.

But even if your college is a distance from home, keep in regular communication with your primary mentors—your parents!  Their responsibility to coach you through the decisions you need to make and the judgments about your time and relationships is not over just because you are off to college. Keep your relationship with your parents strong, and you will have the best of both worlds, maintaining the support of your family while broadening your community and opportunities.