You and I face many challenging and difficult decisions as we move through this parenting journey. Initially, they may be decisions like, bottle or breast… pre-packaged baby food or homemade? And from there the decisions never stop, they only grow more diverse and complex. As parents we find ourselves deciding things like:
*Whether to allow our young child to spend the night at a friend’s house…a friend whose family may have different rules than we do.
*When and how to have the “sex talk” with our child.
*Private school, public school, or homeschool.
*Whether or not to talk to our child’s middle school teacher about a particular grade or an episode of apparent unfair treatment.
*What our family’s stance will be on dating/courtship.
*If we will be an allowance or no allowance family.
*Which one of us should miss work when we have a sick child at home.
*Whether or not to talk to the coach and tell him to “put our kid in the game!”
*Whether to intervene in our child’s dramatic “friend situation”.
My husband and I have faced all of these decisions and more with our three children.
But the pinnacle of parental decision-making has to be the decision of which college or university a child will attend or if they will attend college at all. Some students are better suited to training at a technical college, where they can learn a skill that prepares them to enter the workforce a bit earlier. Whatever the path, it is truly a difficult crossroads for young people and their parents.
My husband and I have now been through the college decision-making process twice, and another child is fast approaching this important milestone. As I replay that process in my mind, the first thought that occurs to me is this: Boy, has college changed in 25 years!
As we toured colleges with our sons, we saw things that surprised and sometimes shocked us, given the fact that we had not set foot on a college campus in many years. Things like: coed dorms (and rooms), LGBT and College Atheists banners boldly advertising their campus clubs, displays of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution that were obviously being taught as fact, alcohol flowing freely and pot being smoked openly, soft porn as required reading, etc. Basically, Christian young people heading to college must traverse a minefield of debauchery that those of us going to college 20-30 years ago could never have imagined.
And make no mistake, christian colleges are not exempt from many of these things. That is because many christian colleges are christian in name only. And of course, those colleges that do try to uphold christian values and maintain a God-honoring atmosphere have one problem: their students! (insert LOL here) Students from all backgrounds attend christian colleges, for many different reasons. They are obviously not all Christ-following young people from christian homes. Many of the students who attended our youngest son’s college, which was a small christian college in the south, were athletes who were there to play sports at a D1 school. They knew nothing about living a Christ-honoring life. Of course, the good news is, at that college, those young people were able to hear the gospel.
Our youngest son only attended that christian college his freshman year and then moved on to a large public university that had a strong program in his field of interest, sports psychology. God is good and allowed him to quickly meet some friends from a campus ministry in which he is now very much involved.
Our oldest son attended a somewhat large public university in the south where he actually met his sweet wife. They were very involved in several campus Christian ministries and surrounded themselves with a support system of christian friends. They even attended a local church that catered to students from the university. My son is now a dentist and he and his wife are loving life and following Christ.
As we approach once again the big college decision-making process with our daughter, I am cautious, prayerful, and honestly, a bit anxious. I know that God has a plan for her and how her particular skill set will fit into the grand scheme of things– being a productive citizen in the world and impacting others for the gospel of Christ–but I am trepidatious, having had my eyes opened to the realities of college life today.
Here are some tips for parents facing the college decision-making process:
- Pray for God’s guidance.
- Trust that you know your child, having fostered a relationship with them over these many years…trust your instincts.
- Understand that there is no perfect college situation.
- Make your child a partner in the process.
- If God leads you to a place, he will make a way. Don’t let money be the determining factor. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
When helping our children with their college decision, we have to seek God’s wisdom, engage our beautifully created minds, and prayerfully listen to His voice, remembering that, God works all things together for the good of those who love him…those who are called according to his purpose. Then we have to trust that “God has this” and let go.
Oh, and here are some tips for the young attendees:
- Find a college christian ministry in which to get involved, there are many.
- Gather a support system of christian friends…they are looking for friends, too!
- Find a church close to campus that welcomes college students and plans activities for them.
- Take your Bible to college with you and read it!
- Text your parents now and then and let them know you’re ok.