I am 24 years old, and, as of the writing of this article, I am at least $18,088.36 in debt. Have I gone crazy with my credit card? No. Bought a new car? No. So what did I do to ensure that I'd owe money until I have kids in elementary school? I went to college.
And it was worth every penny.
I graduated in 2002 from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. In addition to a solid education, the benefits I gained from attending a Christian college include great friends, a wonderful husband, a math degree, a Bible degree, and four years of growth as a person and, more importantly, as a Christian.
Not everyone is suited for a Christian college; police officers have their own academies, for example. However, most young people, even those who will eventually need to transfer elsewhere to finish their degrees, can benefit from Christian education.
Here are three things that will help you as you send your child to a Christian college:
1. Priorities. Jesus asked, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?'" (Matthew 16:26) It's an interesting question to keep in mind when helping your teenager choose a college. What is an equal exchange for a supportive environment that promotes spiritual growth and offers a wide selection of Christian friends and potential mates?
Money? Any college is expensive. Though it is true that private schools cost more than state or community colleges, the benefits to be gained far outweigh the work of applying for scholarships and grants and the debt involved in taking out loans. Consider it an investment, a part of the treasure we should lay up for ourselves in heaven. (Matthew 6:20)
Prestige? Our Christian colleges are educationally sound, with high placement rates in graduate programs. We must be careful not to be like those who "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:43) The bragging rights a college's name can provide are not sound criteria for choosing it.
Keeping your kids close to home? It is always hard to say goodbye, but isn't it worth it to be apart for a little while on earth if it will help to ensure that you will be together for eternity in heaven? In the words of one Christian mother, whose daughter had chosen a Christian college eight and one-half hours from home, "The mommy in me hates it, but the Christian mother knows its value."
I am so grateful that God did not decide against sending His Son to earth because the cost was too great or the distance too far!
2. Prospective. Even the church an institution with a perfect design given by God is composed of imperfect people. There is just no such thing as heaven on earth.
At any Christian college, there will be students who are not Christians, and there will be students who will not live like Christians. A teenager who goes to college looking for trouble will be able to find it.
More importantly, remember that no college or university can, in four years, make up for 18 years of no discipline or training. Don't expect a Christian college to "fix" a rebellious teenager. It is the parents' responsibility to raise their children "in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
3. Prayer. "A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." (Proverbs 16:9) No amount of planning, research, or preparation can take the place of earnest prayer (James 5:17).
I will always be grateful for my parents' encouragement and assistance that enabled me to attend a Christian college. At a time when the focus is on preparing for the future, it would be a tragedy to forget that no career choice is as important to your child as his or her choice to continue in his or her Christian life. A Christian college is the perfect place to help a young person prepare for both decisions. -54549 St. Joe St., Bellaire, OH 43906.
(Editor's Note: Katie is the wife of Jack Gilchrist, the minister of the St. Joe Road church of Christ in Bellaire, and the daughter of Phil and Darlene Grear.)
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