“I don’t want to waste time in college.”
“That doesn’t fit into my career path.”
“I don’t want to spend any extra money.”
These are all typical rebuttals I receive from parents and students when I discuss spending freshman year of college studying the Bible at Word of Life Bible Institute. I explain to them that the Bible Institute is a fully accredited college and that it’s not a typical gap year. I point out the financial benefits of completing an affordable freshman year program with great transfer scholarships to larger Christian universities. I even spend a good deal of time talking through the spiritual benefits of being challenged to take their faith seriously, reading through the Bible three times in a year, and being consistently pushed to share their faith with others. I give them every reason to see this as one of the best next steps in their lives. The problem is that, in our typical American Christian family, our priorities have somehow shifted over time from eternal to temporary.
I’m not saying that parents and students should not care about their careers or their future. We absolutely should be thinking about the important decisions we need to make. What I’m worried about is that too often, I meet parents and students who place a higher value on temporary things like a career, a degree, or finances, instead of eternal things like the Word of God, their relationship with the Creator, and the souls of other men and women.
When we place a higher value on temporary things and demonstrate by our actions that eternal things are of less importance, apathy and disbelief are the result. Studies show that many high school students who enter college with a Christian background leave with little to no faith, while most of these students will be completely disengaged from the church by age 29. Desiring God released a great article on this subject called, “Will You Lose Your faith in College?” written by Vaneetha Risner. She shared a little of her own testimony, saying:
“Many of us started strong. We assumed that if we were raised with the right values and involved in church, we would always stay faithful. I believed that. I had a passion for the Lord in high school and college, but as I immersed myself in my career, my church attendance became sporadic and my time with God infrequent and rushed. I found that the less time I spent with the Lord, the less I wanted to know him. My unbelieving coworkers were my closest friends. Originally, I hoped to share my faith with them, but instead they passed on their spiritual indifference to me. They had a subtle but profound influence on my priorities.”
This testimony is unfortunately not unique. It is a growing reality that being raised in a Christian home and coming from a good, Bible-believing church doesn’t guarantee you or your student’s faith will last.
At this point, you may be thinking: “Then what in the world can we do?”
We need to shift our mindset from valuing the temporary to valuing the eternal. The Bible tells us that only two things last forever – the Word of God and the souls of people. This means the most valuable aspects of a college are whether it teaches God’s Word and whether it helps people come to know Him. Our first questions should not be about the location, the degree, the finances, or the placement rate, but rather, is this college going to build on my student’s biblical foundation? Will this college encourage my student to make their life and career decisions based on an eternal mindset? Will this college teach a biblical worldview in the classroom, no matter what the subject may be?
I believe if we can make that mindset shift, it can make all the difference in the lives of high school graduates everywhere. I believe this because I was almost one of those who walked away. I originally chose to attend a secular school. All it took to get me to doubt my faith was one video from a friend, and my entire foundation started to crack. It took an immense situation for God to force me out of that environment. I was at rock bottom – no job, kicked out of college, no place to stay. It was in that place where God, in His grace and through His people, gave me the opportunity to attend Word of Life Bible Institute. There, my faith was transformed. I experienced what the Psalmist described; I tasted and I saw that the Lord is good, and I am never going back!
If you are in the middle of deciding where to go to college, or if you’re helping your student decide, I want to encourage you that there is hope! You or your student can make it through college with a faith that is intact and thriving. If you shift your mindset and make your decision based on the right factors, you will be far ahead of most believers headed into college.
If you don’t have a Christian college in mind, or if you’re searching for an affordable Christian college, Word of Life Bible Institute is a great place to start! With intense Bible study, personal growth, ministry experiences, and transfer scholarships, the Bible Institute could be the perfect option for you. You can learn more online at www.wordoflife.edu.
An even better way to discover the Bible Institute is to come and visit for yourself! You can sign up for a personal visit or our Campus Preview Days event at https://wordoflife.edu/admissions/visit-the-bible-institute/. Come and see what God is doing in the hearts of thousands of young men and women around the world!
“Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64%—But What About Those Who Stay?” Barna Research, 2019. https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/
Risner, Vaneetha Rendall. “Will You Lose Your Faith in College?” Desiring God, 2018. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/will-you-lose-your-faith-in-college
Brian Tanedo is the Dean of Enrollment at Word of Life Bible Institute in Pottersville, NY, and Hudson, FL. Brian has worked in admissions and recruitment for over a decade, both with Word of Life Bible Institute and with Cedarville University. He is passionate about reaching this generation with the gospel of Christ and helping them see the importance of attending a Christian college. He is married to the love of his life, Rachel; they have their hearts and hands full raising two bunnies, one cat, and three very excited boys: Elias (5), Emmitt (4) and Ezra (1).