The high school years are nearly complete and you stand at the threshold of a new adventure with your son or daughter—the college experience is about to begin. For many, this may be a four year degree program; for others, it may be an Associate degree or trade school. Regardless of the length or nature of study, the transition to a new stage and new environment is on the horizon. If college is the right choice for your student, how does he or she wisely choose the best collegiate path?
Far too often, the road to college, especially regarding four year degree programs, is treated as a typical shopping experience wherein cost, speed, and proximity are primary concerns. None of these criteria can be ignored in the process of choosing the right school for your student; however, making such a life-altering choice based on the same type of criteria with which one chooses a new car can lead to complications that can affect your son or daughter deeply, well into their adult years.
Along with Dr. Jonathan Morrow of Impact 360 Institute, let’s take a look at the pitfalls of allowing our college search to be guided by what is cheapest, fastest, and closest.
We are called to be good stewards of all God has entrusted to us. Choosing a college is no different. The cost of any college must be weighed against what is offered and what will be gained in comparison to other schools. However, if cost is the only criteria guiding our college search, we must ask ourselves if this one consideration will serve our students to best advantage.
As parents, we look with anticipation toward the day our students can move on toward independence. After all, this is the purpose of parenthood—to raise up sons and daughters who are ready to enter the adult world as productive Christ followers.
Our students are eager to begin their lives outside the academic halls. They dream of their first paychecks and the ability to begin their own independent lives. They may have student loans to repay and feel the weight of that debt.
Fast-tracking a college career can be tempting. But is it best?
While nurturing a “professional student” mentality is not healthy for you or your student (Obviously, a 20-year college career may be a bit excessive!), a healthy expectation as to length of education should be discussed and embraced. Your high school student has experienced a bit of life and has matured toward adulthood; however, maturing takes time. Reaching the place where experience and knowledge have equal influence in life choice and decision making is imperative for success as your student enters the adult world.
Maturing takes time. This is true in all areas of life, especially the area of faith. As parents, we must look to the spiritual well-being of our children as of uppermost importance. Attempting to accomplish “microwave growth” can hinder, if not severely damage, our children’s spiritual growth and stability. A college career enables our students to have adequate time to experience real life. These experiences need to happen in order for our college students to grow into faithful sons and daughters of God who excel in their God-given callings.
After approximately 18 years of having our children with us, letting them go can be excruciating. We want to keep them close by so we can provide help, advice, and safety. This desire is understandable; but is allowing proximity to be a deciding factor in choosing a college the best way to serve our students?
We must realize the college experience is a time of self-exploration and discovery. While this may seem a bit frightening for a parent, we must trust that we have equipped our sons and daughters with the tools they will need to make right choices. They need to try their own wings. They need space to develop—as adult members of society and as faithful children of God. They need to learn to stand on their own faith. Being determined to keep them close may hinder that process.
As you embark upon this new journey and help your student determine the best school for him or her, you must ask yourself one important question: What kind of student do I want on the other side of their college experience?
Underlying this question are many considerations: What is the goal of your child’s college career? What is the target toward which you all aim? Will your son or daughter have time to grow and develop strong, personal faith? Will this experience enable your student to discover his or her God-given calling? Will your student have the opportunity to serve others?
Ask yourself, “What do I want to be the result? Who will my child be on the other side of this collegiate experience?”
A true education involves more than just checking all the boxes to get your diploma. It’s about living well.
We at Impact 360 would like to help as you answer these questions. We desire to assist you in building and developing a plan to help your son or daughter discover God’s call on his or her life. Our hope is that the content from Dr. Morrow we have shared here has already started to help as you begin to answer these questions. Dr. Jonathan Morrow, author of Welcome to College, has years of experience and expertise when it comes to how students engage with apologetics, worldview, and culture. He and the other members of our team bring their expertise to the students and parents we endeavor to serve.
One way we seek to serve parents of teens is our College Launch Conference.
The College Launch Conference has been specifically designed for you; to prepare you to help your student with confidence as you all step into this new life experience. We encourage you to check out our website and learn how our experienced team, led by Dr. Jonathan Morrow and Dr. John Basie, can provide much-needed insight and direction at this singular time in your family’s journey.
It’s never too early to start preparing for the day when college is directly ahead. We encourage you to allow our team to help your student begin the transition, so when college days arrive, they can own their faith and stand strong in Christ.