4 Questions to Ask Yourself – Or Your Student – Before Heading Off to College
Twenty five years ago, I set out for college 1,100 miles from home, scared out of my mind, yet believing I was ready to conquer the world. My college journey was one of the most transformational experiences of my life. It was during that time that I grew into a man under the mentoring and teaching of faculty and coaches who poured into my life and pointed me toward Christ. As I reflect on the decision process that I went through as a high school student preparing for college, I realized that the answers to these four questions were crucial to my journey leading up to leaving for college and during it.
1. Are you ready to work hard?
As a young boy, my dad sought to instill a strong work ethic in our family. His words echo in my mind still today: “If you know how to work, you will always be able to find a job.” College is a place where work ethic should be cultivated. Academic challenges, along with balancing a busy schedule, are great preparation for life on the other side of college. I am also a strong believer that students should work while in college – including doing jobs they don’t enjoy. Washing dishes and mopping floors were great reminders to me to take my education seriously so I could someday work a job that I loved.
2. Are you ready to make your faith your own?
I thought I knew what I believed as I began college, but here’s the truth: my college days forced me to decide if my faith was truly my own or if it was just my parents’ faith. In college, I grew in an environment that was similar to my upbringing. But, most of all, I was challenged to put my faith into action. This allowed me to experience my faith actively rather than just with mental assent.
3. Are you ready to embark on a lifetime of learning?
This was perhaps the greatest takeaway for me from college. Due to some amazing professors and mentors, I have embarked on a lifetime of learning that was ignited in my college years. My professors who challenged me to think and gave me an insatiable desire to learn were one of the greatest gifts of my college education.
4. Are you ready to learn outside the classroom?
College is so much more than just learning in the classroom. In fact, one could argue that as much learning takes place outside the classroom as inside the classroom. Living with roommates and doing your laundry are just two of a myriad of responsibilities that you gain in college. Growing and learning opportunities abound in music, drama, intramural sports, clubs and service opportunities inside and outside the college. Look for opportunities to travel locally and globally to expand your worldview.
For me, the greatest joy of my life is to invest in students to help them answer these and other questions that serve as the springboard for their professional careers and service to God and others.