A student’s four years in college is going to be a time of self-discovery. It is going to be a time where they become independent in their faith and no longer rely on the faith of their parents. Every year, I tell my juniors and their parents that finding the perfect college fit is one of the three biggest decisions they will make in their lifetime, behind accepting the Lord as their personal Savior and selecting a spouse. I usually get some crazy looks and then I explain that more often than not, you meet your spouse in college and either deepen or walk away from your relationship with Christ which is why it is imperative to seek the Lord’s will in your college search.
When looking for colleges, it is easy to get wrapped up in college name recognition, cost, majors, and programs but it is also important to consider all the aspects that make it a S.A.F.E. bet. Meaning, spend time learning how each college is going to fulfill your Spiritual, Academic, Financial, and Environmental needs. Most students and families focus on the academics, financial, and environment of each college when shopping for the perfect fit, but lots of families think the spiritual needs will fall into place no matter where the student ends up attending. I recommend that each family include the spiritual aspect into your search and college visits. Ask yourself, will this college help you grow spiritually? Will the professors encourage your walk with the Lord? If the answer is no, then what campus ministries do they offer that you can plug in to? Check out the churches surrounding the campus while you are close by. In talking with former students and graduates, the keys to maintaining your walk with the Lord in college are:
- Find a church and begin attending right away. The longer you wait to find a church home, the harder it becomes.
- Find a campus ministry and get involved.
- Find or maintain a relationship with a spiritual mentor.
- Select friends that encourage your life choices and spiritual relationship.
- Be intentional about staying in the Word.
Research shows that roughly 70% of Christian teens will walk away from their faith during their first year of college, so it is imperative to be intentional about pursuing your faith from the beginning. I firmly believe that if you include your spiritual needs along with your academic and financial needs when searching for the perfect college, then you will begin your freshman year already determined to defy the statistics.