Surviving the College Experience

2024 | Week of July 8 | Radio Transcript #1574

The college experience. Today that phrase has come to mean for many four-plus years of debauchery, partying, the acquisition of liberal ideology, mounting debt, pregnancy, alcoholism, drug addiction and – allegedly – some level of academic education.

It can certainly be a treacherous path for Christian students to traverse. Their professors and peers expect them to conform – and if they don’t – label them, marginalize them and stigmatize them as unintelligent, bigoted, and narrow-minded, for starters.

Consider these sobering statistics. Sixty-two percent of incoming freshmen are frequent or regular churchgoers. Only twenty-five percent of college juniors are frequent or regular churchgoers. In just two years, college cuts the percentage of churchgoers in half, and then some.

Sixty-one percent of previously churched young people become spiritually disengaged in college and remain disengaged in their adult lives. Almost one-half of all undergrads report binge drinking. Seventy-five percent of all college students report at least one negative experience with alcohol.  Ninety-percent of all professors on elite college campuses are liberal.

These sobering statistics tell me we’re not only losing the culture war on college campuses, we’re losing our students physically and spiritually as they succumb to the siren call of pathology and debauchery.

Even private colleges and supposedly religious colleges are sometimes filled with liberal thinking and compromising temptations. What’s a Christian parent or college student to do? The answer is pray and prepare!

Parents can take steps to prepare themselves and their children to stand strong and even grow in their faith in college.  And that preparation needs to begin years before a child reaches college age. Parents discipling their children is critical. Yes, the church should help parents with this, but it’s not the church’s responsibility to safeguard young people against pernicious lies and temptations. It’s the parents’ responsibility to inculcate their child with a biblical worldview, with a love for God and His Word, and to equip them to discern right from wrong, good from bad, truth from error. Done right and well, and bathed in prayer, this begins very early and continues conscientiously as the child grows.

Several national organizations offer worldview curricula for high school and college students to not only ground them in their faith but prepare them to defend their faith.  Our LEAD Wisconsin worldview and leadership teen camp can also help parents and their children in this area.

When all of this is done and the time comes to decide about college, the groundwork is well-laid. Parents can and should guide their children in this decision; and if college is the right path, then, in my opinion, solid Christian colleges should be the first considered. Don’t categorically dismiss these institutions. Visit them together. If no Christian college offers the major sought, then secular institutions enter the picture.

Not every student is cut out to publicly challenge the status quo on the college campus, but every student can be prepared to stand his/her ground and not give in to the status quo on a secular campus or even, sadly, on a Christian campus.

Be encouraged, there are friends and resources for parents and students, especially those who decide on a secular college. Legal representation is available through Alliance Defending Freedom and other legal groups, and Christian student groups are also on campuses.  Area churches frequently have outreaches; parents should encourage their college student to get involved with a Bible-teaching church while at college. Christian college students do not need to be alone.

The hallmark of the Christian faith is that it thrives in the darkest of places. I have been encouraged and amazed by the stories of courageous young people boldly living out their faith on college campuses in spite of the ridicule and persecution of their peers, professors, and college administration. They are confronting the face of academic dogma on college campuses and challenging the status quo, slowly but surely.

But to do this, parents must make sure that their college student has a firm foundation in a Biblical worldview before he or she steps onto that college campus, or returns to it this fall. This precious soul is worth far more than the economic, physical, emotional, and spiritual cost of a “college experience.”

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you that God, through the Prophet Hosea, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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