It can sometimes be hard for college students to connect their college degree and what they are learning in their classes to their calling as Christians. What do Shakespeare’s sonnets or quantum physics have to do with God’s plan? This is why it’s important for college ministers to think deeply about how to communicate the importance of a college education to students who are struggling to understand their life’s path or purpose.
Here are four points to consider:
Jesus approved of learning.
Most of Jesus’s life was spent in learning. Jesus spent thirty years preparing for his ministry, even though his ministry itself only lasted three years. Before he started preaching publicly, Jesus spent his youth learning carpentry, and he spent years learning from other rabbis.
Education makes us wiser and more able to see right from wrong: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Proverbs 18:15 tells us, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
College prepares students to enter the world with greater awareness and perspective—qualities that are essential for Christian leaders.
College expands opportunities for leadership.
Someone doesn’t have to be a pastor or a church leader to be a Christian leader. In fact, the world needs more Christian leaders in all career paths. We need Christian leaders in political offices, in doctor’s offices, in law offices, on stages, and in classrooms. Having a college degree significantly improves employment prospects.
Having a Christian experience in college enables young adults to prepare themselves to apply God’s word to their education and their future employment—whether that is as the CEO of an organization or as a parent.
Those with college degrees also make $1 million more on average over their lifetime compared to those who did not attend college. This money can be used to support churches, ministries, charities, and other good works.
College makes students more accepting of those who are different.
College today often exposes students to a broader diversity of people than high school. Students meet people of other religions, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and more. Understanding the different beliefs and experiences of others is an important part of forming a global, compassionate Christian worldview.
A study by the Interfaith Youth Core found that relationships between students from differing faiths and political views encourage them to be more empathetic and understanding of others’ beliefs. This is one of the reasons why, on trips to Israel with Passages, students hear speakers from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim backgrounds.
College exposes young adults to opportunities they might not otherwise have had.
Like Passages, many organizations offering life-changing opportunities reach out to colleges to advertise their programs. This is because colleges have the ability to disseminate information to large groups of students at once, and because colleges have employees, centers and other resources to help organize these opportunities. This could include study abroad opportunities, mission trips, activism, local volunteering, and more.
College isn’t just about the classes students take. It’s also an opportunity to develop into more mature, thoughtful and faith-centered young adults—qualities which will take them far in life.