It’s “Back-to-School Season”; that time of year when youth and young adults around the world say “good-bye” to Summer fun and freedom, and go back to the structure and routine of school.
Senior year symbolically marks the end childhood and the beginning of adulthood: and for many, life on your own in college.
I still remember my first realization that I’d be leaving the small-town comforts and familiarity of home and family to embark upon the journey to adulthood in the big city. Up until that point, I’d spent most of my time focused on finishing my last year of high school; planning and preparing for entrance exams, college applications and portfolios; and gathering the necessities for dormitory life. Then it hit me: I’m going to be living a totally new life – and I had no idea what that was going to be.
Looking back now, I see an amazing adventure, and I wouldn’t have traded in a day of those experiences. But years later, much has changed in the world of today. The times are very different: and there might be a few things I’d want to know if I were doing it all over again.
Here are 5 things I wish I’d known before going away to college:
- Your faith will be tested. Your first encounters may be with people, activities, or ideas which are the exact opposite of everything you’ve learned to be true up until now.But although it’s great to learn new things, that doesn’t mean that your faith is wrong: even if everyone in society says otherwise.Your homework assignment for today: Read about Daniel and his friends in The Book of Daniel, chapters 1-6. Best advice here? Practice discipline. Know that saying “No” is a strength: not a weakness.
- It’s not necessarily a Christ-centered education you’re getting. Unless you’re attending a Christian college or seminary, your education is going to be secular; meaning, it may uphold more worldly ideas than Godly ones. I always thought that college was a more in-depth, specialized version of what we get in high school, and like the news, education was supposed to be neutral and objective, based on a central (bible-based) truth. Well, that’s no longer true for the news, and it’s not always true for your college education either. Holding onto your faith will prove to be an important asset (Proverbs 2:1-2).
- It’s a crash course in tolerance. My coed college dorm was a converted apartment building with large apartments as dorm rooms. Within my first two years of college, I’d had seven roommates; among them: a lovable white “hippie” drug dealer; a physically-challenged adopted Asian; a free-spirited African-American; a prim, Southern white supremacist; a shy Latino. That close proximity to actually living with diversity has continued to prepare me for life experiences to this day (Ephesians 4:2-5).
- You won’t always have someone on your side. Nope, not even professors. As a matter of fact, many professors feel it’s their duty to break you of whatever old ideas they think you’re harboring in order to make you “a new creation”. But remember your faith: and according to 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, that’s Jesus’ job. Joseph’s story in Genesis 34 is a great one to remember regarding the trials – and rewards – of staying faithful to the dream God has for you.
- It’s a very important step in a much bigger journey. Be proactive about your education; develop as many of your skills as possible. Where a syllabus may fall short culturally or spiritually, research other titles which can supplement your knowledge base. It’s important to seek and learn all you can to prepare yourself for the life God created you for (Matthew 25:14-30). Staying true to your Christian faith when you’re young will yield many rewards later in life, and this is just the beginning.
I guess the diversity of experiences was a gift, and I chose to accept it head-on (unlike our troubled, white supremacist roommate who, upon asking to be moved to another apartment during our first semester, was never seen or heard from by any of us again). My college years eventually led me to a fuller understanding of Jesus, of God, of my own values, and of the world. It may sound trite, but life really is a wonderful journey if you remember to keep the faith, stay the course, and hold on to the lessons it brings.
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES -Daniel 1-6, Proverbs 2:1-2,Ephesians 4:2-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18,Genesis 34, Matthew 25:14-30.
Are you ready for college?
Watch the trailer for the film, “God Is Not Dead”-
When atheist philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) plans to forego “dusty arguments” in his class, he insists the new students declare that “God Is Dead.” Unable to do this, Josh (Shane Harper) is challenged to defend his faith and prove to the class that God is NOT Dead.
DO YOUR DREAMS seem to be marked, “Never to be fulfilled”? Do you feel that it is impossible for your dreams to come true? Do you fear your dreams are too big to achieve? Let Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. teach you the biblical principles to follow from the life of Joseph and other dreamers. In Free to Dream: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, you’ll learn how faith, integrity and endurance will pull you out of the valley and up to the peak of success. Bishop Blake will encourage you to pick your dreams back up, dust them off, and persevere to the fulfillment of God’s plan for your life.
PURCHASE Free to Dream: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, by Charles E. Blake, Sr. at the WEST ANGELES CHRISTIAN EMPORIUM, 3021 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Phone (323) 731-3012 for more info.
In the latest installment from West Angeles’ Education Enrichment Program, Deacon John Wilson shares 3 tips to help families manage their expectations during the college application process.
Should a student attend the college of their choice? Nearly everyone reading this article will immediately think that the answer to this question is a resounding “YES!”
After all, you might ask, “Our children should get what they want if they worked hard for it, right?” In fact, you often hear a seemingly rhetorical question like this asked in political speeches by local and national candidates, and the idea is also creeping into our national educational policy for sure. In fact, most good, loving and caring parents think that their youth should attend the college of their choice.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with asking the question, as long we also understand that students should actually not get their college of choice! Instead, they should attend the college they are admitted to through their grades and test scores, by the quality of the application submitted, and – because it’s the one their parents can afford without non-sustainable debt.
College Costs on the Rise
With the cost of tuition rising fast in the last 6-8 years (and even in the 5 years prior) – especially for private colleges – we have to face the real truth that private colleges and even many public colleges out of state are way too costly for 95% of the families with whom I speak, unless their youths have exceptionally high grades and SAT Scores, and earn institutional merit scholarships. Realistically, for college to cost less than $15,000 per year, for a family of three making $70,000 to $200,000, students must have unweighted GPAs of 3.75 or above and SAT Scores of over 1300 on the Redesigned SAT. Below that level of high school academic performance, families usually have to take on debt of $20,000 to $45,000 for a private college.
There are a few private colleges of note that have more favorable financial aid policies (as a rule they do not), but they are not the schools that youth and/or parents would prefer to choose. Your student must be made aware that, as in life, GOOD or even VERY GOOD performance may not be good enough to get what he or she desires. The fact is, a student can be a good student and still not be accepted into the school of their choice.
*Important Tip: If you do not make your student aware of this reality, then you may feel more compelled to spend non-sustainably for college, in order to get them into the school they want.
Accordingly, many parents might resort to taking a Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Since the federal government eliminated non-federal “alternative” student loans that would normally cover the cost of college above and beyond the Financial Aid Award, the PLUS has been the primary loan which has served this same purpose. Private College and the United Negro College Fund have successfully lobbied the FEDs to make the PLUS even easier to attain for students’ families trying to obtain their school of choice, and whose parents are willing to take on the debt.
Lobbying has certainly not discouraged a corresponding 6-year record increase in private college tuition and room and board costs. Parents who want their students to have the school of their choice have been taking on astronomical debt in the past 4-6 years – and private colleges know it. Just a rather common $28,000 PLUS loan becomes a $100,000-$112,000 PLUS after four years and will cost nearly $160,000 by the time it is paid off – if it is. Indeed, the PLUS default rates are on the increase as well.
3 Ways Families Can Prepare
So, what’s the answer if a student cannot always have their college of choice? Here are 3 ways that families and students can manage their expectations during the college prep process:
- A realistic college list that has schools to which a student can affordably be admit.
- Tough Love…Parents must be willing to discuss the fact that they are not willing to take on unlimited college debt. It will be tough to tell their children this, and the student maybe upset at first, but usually they understand – especially if there are other affordable options.
- Consulting with a community-based college admissions support organization like the West Angeles Education Enrichment Program, which can review your 12th grade youth’s transcript and test scores, help develop a Family Income Profile with you and your family, and recommend some affordably-admissible schools for your youth’s application plan.
The West Angeles Church Education and Enrichment Ministry Program offers participating youth mentoring programs such as college admissions prep, college counseling, after school and summer math, science, and writing enrichment programs, and many other exceptionally high-quality educational offerings. In conjunction with its partner, The Princeton Review TM, The West Angeles EEP also offers low-cost SAT preparation and high school course requirement informational seminars to assist youth and their parents with all phases of the college admission process. at significantly reduced cost. Contact Deacon John H. Wilson, III at 323-733-8300.
Featured photo, Getty Images.
It’s that time again! Register now for the 2016 Youth Summer Enrichment Program! Mandatory orientation for the 2016 West Angeles Youth Summer Enrichment Program is:
Thursday, June 30 at 6:30 p.m.
For registration package, please see the bottom of this page.
To download the Summer Enrichment Program Registration Package, please
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