Helping Your Teen Choose a Christian College

At this writing we’ve been traveling fourteen hours on our way to northern Wisconsin (and that’s after a six hour trip Sunday from Bethel to Pittsburgh). I’d like to suggest a few guidelines for you to consider as you and your teenager seek God’s will for college:

  1. Make the decision together.
    I know that you are attempting to wean your child toward independence and not more dependence. Some of the most critical decisions are upcoming for your teen/young adult: choosing a major, whom to date, marriage, first car, first job, etc. Rather than stating, “I’ve raised you right – now go out and live life,” remember this stage of life is definitely different than what your young adult has faced during their high school years. Even if you have really prepared them well for their adult years this stage of life can really throw a young adult some major curveballs. You, no doubt, have begun to loosen the grip and are allowing him or her to feel their independent status, but within the framework of freedom help guide them with biblical principles. It really is helpful if you can coach them through this decision-making process, not just for them to make the right choice, but also so that they will see you work through a difficult decision by biblical principles. Remember, mentoring is a part of the parenting process.
  2. Match the strengths and weaknesses of your child with the specific college.
    Your teen has strengths and weaknesses. Each college has strengths and weaknesses. Some colleges have a family atmosphere, some are more rigorous in their academics while others specialize in specific types of training. Spend time on the college websites. Call an admissions counselor. Solicit opinions of the respective college graduates. Get advice from people whom you respect and trust. Listen to preaching from their chapel platform to discern if this is the type of preaching you want your teen to hear on a regular basis. What kind of local churches are available for your son or daughter to attend? If your daughter has a desire to be a nurse and God has confirmed that direction in your heart, encouraging her to attend a Bible college that does not offer nursing is probably not the best choice, but there are other Christian colleges that do offer a nursing degree. If God is leading your son to get a degree in Bible, help him choose a college based upon a philosophy that most represents what the Bible teaches and is reflective of the local church he grew up in. If you have a young adult that is desirous of teaching someday, get to know the educational requirements for that degree in that college. Bottom line: you need to become an informed expert so that you can guide your teen through the process.
  3. Remind your young adult that this decision is first and foremost a spiritual decision.
    The tendency for any young adult is to make this all-important decision based solely on finances, weather and the food. A Christian college education is so much more than any of that. Obviously the most glaring consideration for any 18-year-old is the cost of college, but as a more mature believer you can help them see beyond the price tag to something of greater worth than the cost – the privilege to live by faith! It’s not simply the major, but also the atmosphere in which that major is taught. College students are taught much more than just the basics of science, engineering and various business models. They can so easily pick up the spirit that life is about how much you make, the positions of status in life or that financial security is the essence of a good life. As Bible-believing Christians we reject these philosophies on paper, but sometimes it is easy to pass those philosophies on by how we counsel our young adult toward their career path. Encourage them to walk by faith. Encourage them to give their lives for something of great value. Encourage them to see their profession and occupation as a platform to extend the Gospel in the sphere of their life.

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