rebelling against low expectations

Thriving at College by Alex Chediak


Our friend Alex Chediak, an Associate Professor at California Baptist University, has written a great book called Thriving at College. Here is the foreword we wrote:

College can be a wonderful and a dangerous place. We’ve seen some of our peers flourish and find their identity at school and we’ve seen others completely lose their way—or even self-destruct. Is the college experience inherently bipolar, good for some and unavoidably bad for others? Or is there another possibility, that each outcome is a path we can choose to take? In this terrific book former college student and current college professor Alex Chediak says the answer to that last question is “Yes!”—and we wholeheartedly agree.

For most high school graduates today, going to college is the default. As a result, a lot of teens end up drifting from high school into college, without any clear plan in mind. Maybe you are going to make your parents happy, or to get away from somewhere or someone, or maybe college just sounds like a fun new experience. Whatever your motivation, entering college without a sense of purpose is dangerous.

Why? Because for most young adults, college provides at once more freedom and more responsibility than they’ve ever had before. Whether you choose to focus on the freedom or the responsibilities of college will determine whether you thrive—or just survive. At college there are no parents to make you read your Bible, do your homework, get sleep, eat well, or do laundry. At college—even at Christian universities—there are “friends” willing to support whatever lifestyle you choose to engage in: from bookworm to party animal.

So college is both a crisis and an opportunity. A crisis, because while embracing the freedom of campus life can lead to temporary fun, the end result can be a lifetime of regret. An opportunity, because embracing the responsibility of college can result in incredible intellectual, spiritual, social, emotional, and physical growth.

The student who thrives at college—the student who glorifies God with his or her college years—is the one who sees it as a great opportunity that requires great responsibility. Alex Chediak understands this better than most, with the experience and heart to help students reach their full God-given potential. Thriving at College will help you navigate the common pitfalls relating to faith, relationships, academics, and extracurricular activities.

There is no better guide to college than this.

If you are currently in college or heading in that direction, this book should be part of your “college survival kit.” On April 14th, is hosting a “book bomb”—which gives you the chance to grab a copy and spread the word!

Join the discussion by answering the following questions:

  • Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?
  • If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?
  • If you are in college, is your focus on freedom or responsibility?
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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?

    I think those who “lose their way” at college never really had a firm foundation. And at home were just forced to put up a front.

    But, I have also seen my sister(s) thrive at college due to organization and challenging courses. One of them had a period where she was questioning everything she came in contact with, because of a particular class. During that time she was able for the first time really explore and know why she believes what she does. She read “A Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel and that she found to be a great resource.

  • I have seen people both thrive and lose their way at college, but thankfully, more of the former among those I have observed. From what I’ve seen, the senior year of high school is a crucial year in determining the course a student will take in college in their academic, personal, and spiritual lives. So much spiritual development happens in the life of a 16 to 17-year-old, and the progress they make often sets the stage for what they will do in college. Friends of mine who chose to spend their final years of high school pursuing the Lord and reaching out to younger peers are now thriving at school. Some who drifted from the Lord during those years are now doing all right at college, but they have not made an impact. Perhaps it is really those last couple of years before college that make all the difference …

    For me, college is part of the plan. (I am planning to hopefully attend PHC.) I’ve thought carefully about what my goals are, and higher education is an important step in reaching them. Given the financial investment college is, I plan to make the most of every experience available there. My goal is to truly excel in academics and relationships and come away a stronger, wiser, well-prepared adult.

  • Awesome! 🙂 My little sister knows him! I enjoyed my time there at Cal Baptist and I think that more college students need to hear this stuff. College is a tough place to remain faithful to the Lord. But we must do hard things!

  • Wonderful post! I am looking forward to reading the book! 🙂 I go to a secular university and it can be tough at times. I love college and it is a great opportunity to witness to others. Sometimes though, it feels as if you are the only one living for the Lord. But God is faithful and He is always there for me. 😀

  • I have grown up around college kids for most of my life. My parents have been involved with the college ministry at church for years and I have seen many college kids come and go. We have kids over often in big groups, small groups, and individuals, for volleyball, meals, Bible study, help around the house, and we had one even live with us and taken them on family vacations with us. Next year I’ll actually be in college so I’ll get to see it from a whole new perspective. It’s exciting but I’m also very nervous about it.

    Through meeting so many different students I have definitely seen many college students who do very well and who don’t. There are ones who struggle a bit and then the ones that just fall off. They lose their motivation and just end up in a mess. I have also seen many students thrive. Mostly I have seen students thrive spiritually while in college. My dad has worked closely with several different college guys over the years and I have seen them change into men of God and it’s been really cool growing up and seeing that. I’m thankful for that experience.

    At first I didn’t want to go to college and my mom did not like that idea but now I feel like that’s where God is leading me. I don’t know what he has planned for me but I’m excited to find out.

  • Yes, I have seen my friends thrive and lose their way at college. I think it is because some of them were overwhelmed with the newly discovered freedom that they have achieved so they “experiment” with this freedom rather than focusing on their studies. Others excel at college because they are driven with a desire to help their family and to improve themselves. If you live in our country where because of poverty, only 4 out of 10 high school graduates were given the chance to continue until college, most of them are serious in their studies. Most of us strive hard to so that we could give our families a better life in the future and we could also support our younger siblings in their studies.

    Yes, I’m planning to go college. It is a part of my plan. I also want to improve myself and to hone my skills. I also want to help my family after I graduated from college. I want to serve my parents by helping them to raise my younger siblings.

    For me, my focus will be my responsibilities. As a daughter, I have the responsibility to give importance to the sacrifices and hard work of my parents. As a young minister, I should not neglect my ministries and I should be a good steward of what God has entrusted upon me. As I Christian, my number goal should be to please my God to whom I am indebted with my life and with my existence. Just like what you have said at Start Here, God does not give conflicting obligations. Therefore, with this freedom that I am about to receive, I should always remember my priorities in life. I do believe that freedom is not about being liberated and wild, it is all about choosing what is right in the eyes of God and of my God-given mentors. It is a matter of choice whether you would follow the call of the world and this pleasures or you will follow God whatever it may take.

  • I never thought of college that way. I’ve always thought that if you go to college and graduate, you’ll succeed in life. But to think that I can hurt myself by going to college also is just new and weird.

  • Far too many Christian young people go to college just because it’s the expected cultural norm and not because it’s necessarily what God wants them to do with their lives.

    As a result, most of our generation who have gone to college have shipwrecked their faith (or it wasn’t strong enough in the first place,) and we end up with apostasy on a large scale in the U.S..

    Not to say that college is inherently evil, but why go into debt (which goes against Romans 13:8) just get a piece of paper (diploma) in order to get a job if going to college is not what you are absolutely sure God is calling you to?

  • I am in my first year of college, and I already see the lines being drawn between those who are using college as a time to prepare for who they want to become, and those who see it as a less supervised extension of high school. As for my focus, I’ve been very blessed to be going to school in a town that I already have family, and therefore church connections, in. School has always been fairly easy for me, and so God is using this time to show me how to be responsible as part of the church, and even as a leader, in ways I’ve never been before.

  • True! After reading this, I plan on definitely embracing the responsibility at college and not pursuing the pleasures of freedom.

  • My mom and I were just talking about this!

    I really want to go to college, but my mom has some doubts. She said a lot of people go off the deep end when they go to college because they have no elders to tell them whether this would be right or wrong (sorta what you guys are saying). But I think, like Noelle, that if you get a good start in your teen years, then you are much more likely to thrive in college.

    I have experienced this a little in my life. I am homeschooled and 2 of my siblings are slower learners. I, on the other hand, can pick things up faster. This means mom spends a lot more time with my other siblings than me. Well, that allows me to “slack” a little more. NOT GOOD!! When I read Do Hard Things, my mind set changed and now I am trying to thrive in any kind of work.

    What I am trying to say here is that I think that if we start trying to thrive even in high school, then we will have more practice for college and much more likely to thrive in college.

    Sounds like a very good book!!

  • Leah, another important thing to consider is that if you attend a solid Christian college and build strong relationships, you will not be without people to advise you and give input — if you seek it — in your decisions. Also, finding a mentor and keeping close contact with your family will drastically reduce your likelihood to “go off the deep end” in college. Freedom is not inherently wrong at all — in fact, we would never mature without it — but great quantities of it can, indeed, be a stumbling block to young adults if they do not use it prudently. It sounds like you have a wise outlook and godly focus … continue to seek the Lord on whether He would have you pursue higher education!

  • If you are in college, is your focus on freedom or responsibility? I was just thinking about something similar to this last night! I kept getting distracted by wanting to check my Facebook to see if someone had written something on a post I’d made, and I found myself thinking, “Nella, you’re such an idiot. God doesn’t care if so-and-so likes what you wrote on Facebook, He cares about how you are using your time and if you are using wisely this opportunity which He has graciously given you.” I didn’t have any more homework interruptions for a while after that!

    And I would just like to add that college is waaaaaay too expensive to be part of a default 😛

  • I definitely plan on going to college, in the fall in fact! I’ll be at The Master’s College–an amazing Christian college (John MacArthur is the president) and I’ve been involved with it my whole life, so I know what I’m getting into–for better or worse. In August, my best friend started going there and not surprisingly, we’re both learning that college really is what you make it.

    I’m going because I would love this unique opportunity to learn from incredible professors, be involved in a great community, and have access to some awesome resources there. I know I’ll get these things at college. My major is Biblical Counseling, and the department is great for that, and it’s such an applicable major. I’m not going because I love to study or because I want some amazing career–I really don’t. But it’s one way I can spend this season of my life profitably.

    Financially, it’ll be hard at some points, but God has blessed my family in a way that I’ll be able to make it work (especially if I can get some scholarships and a good job and work work work and save save save!)

    But the key thing here (which Joshua Harris actually talks about in his book “Stop Dating the Church”–such an incredible book!) for EVERY Christian college student, whether they go to a Christian college or a public one or whatnot, it being involved in a solid local church. Our calling to be involved in the church isn’t put on hold during college–it becomes even more vital because like other commenters have said, you’re getting all of these ideals, philosophies, opportunities, and risks thrown out you one after another and as a new and young adult, possibly far from home, you need the wisdom and leadership of a church in your life that you just can’t get at any college. There’s no replacement for solild, wise leadership of those who have gone before us (other, than, of course, the inerrant and holy Word of God.)

    I’m thankful because my college is SO close to home (so I can even live on campus of finances require) that I’ll be able to stay involved with my church and have my parent’s guidance close at hand. But others are not so fortunate.

    College can be an amazing thing, or it can go the other direction. It takes effort–both in studies and in every other way. You have to make decisions, hard ones, and learn to deal with it. You need to be involved in a Biblical church. You have to take the opportunities that are beneficial (not necessarily just permissable!) and seek moment after moment to glorify the Lord.

  • 1) “Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?”

    I’m thankful to say that I’ve seen all my friends thrive at college. Obviously the grace of God plays a major role in their faithfulness to Him, and their continued motivation to work hard, but I also think a key role in their success is a mature attitude to begin with. I would say all of them are there solely to earn their respective degrees, and thus their focus is quite narrow-leaving little room for distraction.

    2) “If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?”

    Yes. I’m off to a University in the fall to pursue a combined B.S and M.S degree in chemistry. Furthering my education via college is definitely part of a plan-God’s plan that is! My four years have been planned since my junior year of high school:
    Year One: MCAT (medical college admissions test) preparation. Maintain strong GPA, and start some sort of student organization over the summer.

    Year Two: Take MCAT, if score is bad, study some more and retake. Maintain GPA at all costs; get involved in community work, and volunteer at hospitals. Did I mention maintain GPA?
    Year Three: Begin medical school applications. Maintain GPA.

    Year Four: Send out applications and continue maintain GPA. Conduct final summer research project, and get thesis published in the JACS (Journal of the American Chemistry Society). Cross fingers and hope a medical school accepts me!

    I can’t afford (financially and physically) to waste any time getting off track; I have a dream, and a calling, and I plan on squeezing every second out of my college experience!

    3) “If you are in college, is your focus on freedom or responsibility?”

    Although I’m not actually at my university yet, I know my focus will be responsibility. America doesn’t need more “free people”; she needs hardworking, focused individuals who can come out of college ready to contribute to society in a positive way.

  • Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?

    I’ve seen both, and I can definitely tell that it was related to their goals, and why they were going to college. My friend went to college because he didn’t know what else to do, and he kept switching majors until last year when he finally dropped out. On the other hand my brother went to college and he had a definite direction that he was headed towards, and he is throughly enjoying and flourishing there.

    If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?

    I possibly going to college, I still haven’t made a firm decision yet. If I do go it will be part of the plan to become a dance teacher.

    Great post! I’ll try to be part of the book bomb.

  • I agree with Noelle, your years before college will determine or impact the way you view the college experience. Some of my friends they drifted away from the Lord during their senior year, which afected their decisions in college. I firmly believe that it is important to have goals and purpose in everything we do, including going to church and reading your Bible. While some believe that freedom is giving in to your fleshly desires, I believe that freedom is a gift from God where we can choose to serve and please him by sacrificing our flesh in order to enhance his Kingdom.
    This year I will be attending the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and I’m a little nervous, but I know that if I stick to my goals and know why I’m doing whatever I’m doing, I will be fine. As a Christian, my goal is to receive a good education with the purpose to glorify and enhance God’s Kingdom through my career. Even though there will be the big temptation of “exploring” this new acquired freedom, I truly believe that if I guard my relationship with God through prayer and meditation on His Word, I will not be shaken but will stand firm through the storms that are to come.

  • As a high school junior, there seem to be so many “big decisions” that need to be made within the next year. It can sometimes feel overwhelming! What is your advice for a high school student debating whether or not to go to college? I’d love to hear your thoughts!! Thanks so much for the post!

    In Christ,

  • Khloe hit the nail on the head for me! I’ve gotten really frustrated over college decisions. I’m afraid NOT to go, but I’m not sure what I’d do if I DIDN’T go. Everyone is always saying “Get things done early! Apply, apply, apply! Work hard! Save money!” I’m doing the best I can, but I’m still unsure what to go into and where to go.
    What would you suggest? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • I think that college is a very big part of my plan for life. I will be going to college in a few years, and am not going because it is a default. Although I totally understand what Alex and Brett are saying! During this time period it is not whether or not you want to go to college. It is just the next school after highschool. And most of the time when you think of college people you think of people at Starbucks with cafe mochas and laptops.

    But college is about getting a higher education so you can thrive in life doing the job you love instead of being stuck working at places like McDonalds.
    College is pretty much mandatory to do well in life and make a difference.
    That is my take on college. =)

    God bless,

  • Khloe and Lindsay,
    This last year I went through that stage in my life. It was honestly a struggle. At times I worried about what I was going to do, but my only advice is this: pray and wait, and keep praying!! In my case, the Lord waited a long time to answer, but in the end He did! At the moment you feel like He’s never going to answer, and you keep praying for some sort of sign to show you what to do. But the Lord did answer me. He didn’t give me a sign like I thought, but He gave me peace, wonderful, incomprehensible peace and it totally makes it worth the wait 🙂 Also, I think the Lord really uses these experiences to teach us to pray and trust that He will answer in His time. Be encouraged, the Lord will answer!!

  • – Unfortunatly I have seen many friends lose their way in college. One thing that I noticed was that all of them started to drift in their junior and senior years of high school.

    – College is definately not a default plan for me. As far back as I can remember I knew God wanted me to become a medical missionary so college will be a part of my life. I plan on attending a local community college whose RN program is well respected by several nurses in the area.

    – I know I struggle with focusing on responsibility. For the past 5 years I have pretty much been homeschooling myself. The only thing my parents do is correct my tests. To some extent they have given me the liberty to choose to succeed or fail on my own. This allows me to slack off sometimes. They do push me to succeed but let me know I am the only one who can make the decisions to do what is right.

  • I have seen way to may people lose their way when they leave for college, and unfortunately sometimes its people I went to church with. I think people really forget how to say no to things when they are away from an environment where people are mainly Christians, and a lot of people just decide they want to be free;especially if they had parents they thought were strict. But I have had some friends that thrive, but they had to decide to make the right friends and get involved with a church or Christian college group.

    College is definitely part of the plan for me. I’m not exactly sure what God has in store for me yet, but i do know he has a plan that he wants to complete in me.

  • Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?
    I don’t know if the reasons I’ve seen people thrive or not at college are the same as most people, because I don’t live in the States, and the reasons here are different. I live in China, and I’ve seen a lot of believers fall because of the pressure to have a girlfriend/boyfriend. They feel like they can’t wait for a Christian anymore, and start dating an unbeliever. Their unbelieving boyfriend/girlfriend usually messes up their lives, and leads them away from God. Sadly I don’t know as many who have thrived.
    If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?
    I’m planning on going to college next fall, and it’s been a part of my plan for a long time. I’ve prayed a lot about what college I will go to, and God’s helping me to rely on Him more as He shows me His will piece by piece. The hardest parts for me are that 1. I feel like I won’t fit in, and 2. I’ll only be sixteen. A lot of people are telling me I should wait until I’m eighteen, but my parents and I have prayed about it a lot, and they feel like I’ll be ready. I know I need to continue praying, and seeking God’s guidance though.

  • 1). I have heard horror stories of those that “lose their way” and go party-crazy/slacker at college. But thankfully I have not really ever seen it.

    2). Yes. College is a big part of God’s plan for me… Though not really in the way that I would have thought. Mainly college is so that I can get a B.A. (or B.S.) degree and then apply for the JET program so that I can go to Japan (and hopefully through that figure out where God wants me permanently in Japan). Side Note: For the JET program you have to have a B.A. (or B.S.) in something so that you can get the 6 year teaching visa.

    3). I am not in college myself, but I do know that I’m going to have tons of responsibility. So I’m going to focus on getting through college with good grades, with the least amount of debt possible (not very easy at my college of choice, but doable), and do my best no matter what comes my way.

  • Khloe,
    I know exactly what you’re talking about! I’m finishing up my junior year, and I understand all the different decisions that you’re facing. My mom’s advice to me was to wait a year after graduating, and then evaluate where I am, and what I really want to do with my life. So go ahead plan for possibly going to college (Saving money, taking SATs, etc.), so you have everything done if you decide to apply somewhere, and if you decide college isn’t for you then it’s not a big loss. My mom also said that during this time I should really try to get involved with some type of ministry, so that I will be using this time wisely.
    Hope this helps you!

  • “Are you on your way to pursuing your calling, or are you pursuing your calling on the way?”

  • Mmm. Yes. Good post. I’ve blogged a lot about my college experiences (since I go to a secular college- for a while I really struggled with loneliness)- but I am blessed to say that God has only grown me and made me stronger through my college experience. Praise to His name. 🙂

  • Really good stuff here. I’m going to college next year because I want to be a teacher. I kind of HAVE to go to college to get certified and know all that I need to know to corral a classroom of 25+ kids. 🙂
    In regards to the last question, I think my answer is that I’m free to be responsible.

  • Good blog… I’ll be interested in reading the book when it comes out!

    I’ve found (and so has my sister) that college strengthens us instead of weakens us. College helps us firmly plant ourselves in the truth by discussing the beliefs, world views, and opinions of the fellow students we interact with on campus.

  • I think whether my friends have thrived or lost their way at uni is all down to the friends that they made when they went and how much of a stand they took in the first month or so. Of course, there could be exceptions, but generally the Christians that have tried to show that they’re different and that they’re not going to go out drinking etc. have been less pressurised into doing stuff by their peers. It’s difficult to thrice if you don’t have good Christian friends, but not impossible. In the UK universities we have CUs (Christian Unions) Do you have an equivalent in the US?

    I will be going to University (God willing). Everyone at my school is expected to seeing as it’s a grammar school and we all passed an exam to get into it when we were 11, but as well as that there aren’t a lot of decent jobs where you don’t need a degree. But it’s also part of the plan, hopefully God’s plan for my life. I’m still not certain, I’m trying not to worry about tomorrow when I have enough to focus on today.

    At the minute I want to study Medicine and become a doctor, so Uni will definitely be full of responsibility as I’ll be working very hard from my first year to get a first class honours. I really don’t want to waste the 5 or 6 years at Uni by not reaching my potential. I always have freedom, to be honest I’ll be free from family to focus on working more than I can now. So I will be free, I’ll just not be using that freedom to do unwise things.

  • I can’t help but notice that most of comments here contain very similar ideas of what success at college looks like as I had when I entered college. I came to college with great purpose. I had planned out what I wanted to do for a career (major in physics, then a grad. degree in astronomy), as well as what a great impact I was going to make for Christ on campus. I had given these plans much prayer, and thought I knew what God wanted me to do. Let me just say that God can throw your plans out the window faster than you can blink, even the things you are most sure about. Although this be very unsettling, God will use it to grow you in ways you hadn’t thought of. I think the most important thing I have learned so far at college (I am a junior now) is that I need to put my trust completely in God and His wisdom. It would be nice if we could just learn this all at once, but that’s not how God usually works. I know I still have a long ways to go myself.

    Its tempting to think that our college experience is only successful if we get everything done that we planned on doing, but God grows us most through our darkest circumstances and biggest failures. I know for a lot of incoming, purposeful students (myself included), it is very easy to try to push yourself to perfection, whether in academics, or resume building, or even in relationships. Rest assured, you will fail if perfection is your goal. We need to put our confidence in God’s grace instead of our abilities. In terms of being responsible with our time and resources while at college, these are worthy goals that we should pursue. Just remember that from God’s perspective there are much more important things than getting straight A’s and saving every last dollar for expenses. I think too often we pursue these personal goals because we want to build ourselves up and do great things for God. One of the hardest lessons for me has been being content with being a small piece of God’s plan rather than trying to be someone great and influential on my own, no matter how noble my aims.

  • I found that during my first year of college, I did excellently as far as school work, at the cost of my relationship with the Lord. I am (sadly) a perfectionist, and also homeschooled. So, as a result, my first “school” experience resulted in my losing sight of the true reason I came to college.
    Thankfully, God returned my focus to Him and having survived the first whirl of college life, I am thriving.
    I think that, at least in my case (and in a few others I’ve seen), I got wrapped up in the here and know worldview that a secular college brainwashes you with. It is tempting–because if you are studing something that you are passionate about, you are easily drawn into creating your own goals in post-college life, and forgetting God’s plans for you.

  • Thanks, this sounds really cool!! though i won’t be at college for another 5 years! Thanks anyway, i’ll check out the book sometime when i’m older!!!

  • I am a sophmore in college. I consider myself a freshman because I just transferred from a technical school in the middle of the semester.

    For those getting read to go to college, especially on your own when you don’t know anyone, I say get ready. Because God will definitely test you. You will either choose to conform just to belong or choose God and grow so much more closer to Him than you could ever imagine.

    That’s where I am. College is hard, not studywise, but life wise. You have to figure out who you stand for and then follow through. You got to have faith when you don’t want to. I see people fall all the time at my university. What’s worse is some get away with faking their faith and give a bad example of what christians are supposed to be like. But again, that’s when you make the choice.

  • I went to a private Christian School for six years and I’m now living at home and going to a local technical college. Even though I live at home and have limited freedoms, earlier this year I found myself slipping further and further away from the Lord. I thought I didn’t need Him anymore but then a few weeks ago when I failed my midterms, I realized I couldn’t do anything without Him. In high school I may have had teachers and weekly chapels to keep me from slipping away but now as I’m out in the real world I realize that I need Him more than I ever have before. I know I’ll succeed in college but I won’t be doing it alone

  • I was wondering about something. Has anyone heard anything more about the Twenty29 project Alex and Brett were working on? ( I was just curious and thought that maybe they have released more information that I missed.

  • » Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that? Yes, my dad teaches at a college. We have seen some thrive and some lose their way. There have been numerours reasons. Those who intend to glorify God hardly ever “lose their way”.
    » If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan? I could go to college, I mean I do get free tuition. I might do college but if I do, I will go as part of a plan, not a default.
    » If you are in college, is your focus on freedom or responsibility? I am not in college yet. 😀

  • …going to college did wonders for me. My mind was opened to more ideas and possibilities. I was able to walk away from SGM and dogmatic thinking after 18 years of being told a one sided story. Thankfully, I’ve survived the harsh idealism of SGM and basic Christianity. It’s taken a long time, and I’m currently seeking professional help and counseling to be able to live my life in a more positive guilt free manner. Please understand, you have a choice. I respect the freedom for individuals to choose what they believe, but I also believe in the freedom of speech and expression.

    This comment will most likely never see the light of day since the moderators on this site most likely don’t approve of free speech or dialogical reasoning (so in a way, this is to you). Don’t feel bad, I too at one time did not listen or respect individuals with a different opinion that challenged my beliefs. I believe that a part of humanity is realized a discourse with all kinds of people (remember, Jesus hung out with those his society wanted to repress).

    Believe in yourself. Fight for what you believe to be true. Question your authority. Observe the actions of of those you esteem in authority. Are they making money of you? The results are relevant to the context. Check your premises…


  • This sounds like a really neat, and impactful book…..actually it sounds like the perfect book for me right now! I’m trying to find God’s will for exaclty which path I’m supposed to take–and which college to choose!
    Thanks for endorsing this book…I need to get it asap! 🙂

  • Because I went to private school for six years, college was my first actual public schooling experience since I left the public school system seven years ago. I think the culture shock combined with the liberal attitudes of practically everyone in my program was what caused me to fall luckily I have great friends outside of school that keep me grounded and I know that next year it will be a lot better

  • 1) Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?

    I have seen some friends thrive at college and others lose their way at school. The ones who got involved in the party scene stopped coming to church and spending time with believers, and drifted off into sin. Those who thrive spend time with God and with believers.

    2) If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?

    I am in college, and it was a part of a plan. I want to go on the mission field, so I’m working towards a teacher’s certificate.

    3) If you are in college, is your focus on freedom or responsibility?

    Some days I find myself focusing on the freedom, but most days my focus is responsibility both in my studies as well as in my leadership in the Christian group on campus.

  • This book sounds great! Hopefully I’ll be able to read it soon…

    I’ve seen a lot of people come into college with strong convictions, but I watch as they slowly slip into bad habits. Often, it starts when they stop going to church. That one all-nighter where they sleep in and skip church the next morning turns into a weekly habit. It effects people. I think part of it is because the majority opinion shifts- growing up in a church and a Christian family, for some, the majority is Christian values so it becomes “easier” to live the Christian life than to go against the flow. But when you get to college, the majority shifts and, suddenly, being a Christian is far from easy. People have to decide what the really believe. That’s one reason I think so many people start to drift.

    When I decided to live on campus at my school, it was because I wanted to share the gospel with my friends. That helped a lot – coming in with that focus, knowing I wouldn’t be a part of the majority, and ready for people to disagree with or mock what I believe. While most of my friends have been pretty open to hearing me talk about my faith, there are times it can be hard or hurtful.

    Rebelutionaries, if you’re in college or heading that way, hold fast the gospel! And find a solid Christian community – both in a church and friends at school. Don’t let quiet times or prayer fall away. Those things are some of the most important “survival tools” you’ll need to make it through college!

  • Thank you for this heads up!

    This will be a great resource.

    Sadly, many of my friends gave up the ghost of their faith after reading
    John Loftus’ book “Why I Became An Atheist.”

    I think Alex’s book wiill be a good antidote to secular criticism.
    The mind and heart can thrive through faith!

  • This is my first time on this website so here’s my response to that 2nd question!:
    College is definitely part of MY plan, but God may have plans of his own! And one of the things I am worried about is certainly staying connected with God in ever aspect. I plan on attending a fashion school where many people don’t believe in God and really care about that latest trend coming out next spring. I don’t want to get sucked into the worldly concept of conforming to what the rest of the world wants. I have always had a bad habit of not reading my Bible often. I know that God will protect me if I continue to seek after him it’s just that it is really hard for me to stay on top of it. On the other hand I want to be a light in that school. 🙂

  • To answer your question “If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?”

    I plan to go as part of my plan. I don’t fully under stand my plan and what gift or gifts God has givin me to use to help advance other youth and adults to know him but all I know is that I will use my gifts for that purpose till it happends. If I am to do as I want and go to cooking school and use that gift to get to know people that is what I will do. But if I must go out my comfort zone and apply myself in ways I’m afrade to now, that is how it will be. My Youth Pastor always tells that we sometimes we have to get out if our comfort zone for things to turn out the best. Tho I plan to go to a Collage where I don’t know anyone, getting out I my comfort zone will most likely be the best option but when out of that zone God works best.

    Sorry about it being a little long or off track, not really one to write. Its my first time on this site after a friend of mine’s mom got me Do Hard Things.
    -MDL The Poet

  • Survivor, I’m glad you survived 18 years of being around Christians — I did too! *high five* Now, about what you said:

    “Believe in yourself.” Well, I certainly didn’t think I didn’t exist! But I know what you mean, and although self-esteem is good to a limit, depending on God’s limitless supply is wonderful to the point of surpassing all understanding.

    “Fight for what you believe to be true.” I’ll do that! I’ll keep on preaching the gospel, thanks for the encouragement!

    “Question your authority.” I’ll do that too. Especially my Mom; whenever I have a tough life decision, it’s great to question my Mom to see what she thinks I should do. Having godly parents with whom you can counsel is such a blessing because they’ve been through many of the same things that we’re going through. My Mom’s my best friend; thanks for the good advice to seek godly council!

    “Observe the actions of of those you esteem in authority. Are they making money of you?” Yeah, now that you mention it, I really do esteem my Mom and Dad’s great examples of Christian living, and they have, as a matter of coincidence, spent a lot of money on keeping me alive, so I should be thankful to them. Thanks for the reminder!

    “The results are relevant to the context.” You bet they are! Isn’t it awesome to see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Christians you appreciate? Isn’t it awesome and God-honoring to see people who practice what the preach and live out their beliefs with conviction? Hallelujah!

    “Check your premises…” This last one seems kind of off-topic, but, no matter. Yes, I was checking my premises just earlier today; very nice house this is that my father and mother has provided for our family. Isn’t God just so amazing to set up the family as a divine institution to nurture, strengthen, and protect the children entrusted to it? God is truly amazing!

    Well, nice talking to you, Survivor, and may God draw you ever-nearer to Him. Thanks for all the great advice on how we can be thankful and thereby honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


  • I’m a Junior in High School right now, so to answer the question about if choosing to go to college is default or part of a plan, God has definitely given me a passion and purpose for college.
    In December, I had some medical problems and was in the hospital for a few days. That’s when God put the medical field on my heart. I’d always hated science. Disecting frogs in Biology freaked me out. But God gave me a strong desire to help others through the field of medicine. Since then, science class has become interesting to me, and everday I feel more and more called to become a doctor. I’ve been traveling to different colleges, looking into their Pre-med programs. I’m confident that when I get to college, God will give me the strength to live with purpose and faith that He is making me into who he wants me to be.

  • College is default for me and my goal in college is both freedom and responsibility. I know I need to be responsible, always, but my parents are restricting my spiritual growth in my opinion because I have scrupulosity and that means that I am so religious I am literally crazy about it.

  • Have you seen friends “thrive” or “lose their way” at college? Why is that?
    I’ve seen both. Some revel in the freedom too much. Others take the freedom and use it to do amazing things they never had the chance to do before. Some take the responsibility in stride. Some are overcome by it. College is a challenge. It changes everyone in different ways.

    If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?
    I am planning on going to college. It is expected that I go to college but what career I choose has mostly been left up to me. My parents are both born-again Christians but what type of college my sister and I attend is our choice. She went to Ohio State. I want to go to Cedarville and have for a long time. I plan to become a teacher. Special education, elementary education, or elementary choral education. But I may go to the community college in my town if I find I am unable to make it on my own. My parents promised to support me either way.

    If you are in college, is your focus on freedom or responsibility?
    I’m a junior in high school. I’m struggling with worry. The future freaks me out. My parents are working with me but the stress is getting to me. I still have to learn to lay those things at the cross. Hopefully in college I can become the kind of person God created me to be.

  • I am planning to go to college. I’ve been lately motivated by my parents saing that if I got all A’s I would get a lap top and since then I’ve been making nothing but A’s. It is important that kids go to college. It is where people can fing their strong points in life and their weak points in life. I can’t wait until I get to go to college!!!

  • I know this blog, book, and comments are focusing on Christians going to college and how their spiritual life does at college, but nobody has mentioned the impact of college on non-christians. Many of my friends at my secular college grew up in homes where God and church were just things that got mentioned on holidays and at funerals. At college, they recognized the responsibilities of adulthood and started really drawing close to the Lord. Many have gone from nominal CHristianity to living for the Lord in a major way!

    Much of college is about figuring out what you want your life to be like without your parents there telling you what to decide. Although it can be scary for Christians to think about making such decisions in a seuclar environment, it’s ESSENTIAL to have Christians in secular universities, so that the non-believers asking the big questions have somebody answering with the truth. Sure, it makes us feel more comfortable to go to a Christian school, but God often doesn’t want us comfortable.

    Honestly, I don’t know that I would have felt nearly so secure in my faith had I gone to a Christian college. Being at a secular college helped me assure myself that I wasn’t believing this just because my parents, homeschool and church friends, pastors, and people I grew up with all did. Plus, seeing how society views Christians has dramatically increased my ability to share about Christ in a way that isn’t offputting to people who have been very hurt by Christians in their lives.

  • I think people should focus on responsibility and freedom – especially as Christians. The greatest freedom is found in Christ and following after Him! I think people can go to one of those extremes and they both can be detrimental. An love for freedom at the expense of responsibility is really no freedom. A love of responsibility with no freedom is actually not taking responsibility.

  • I am still not sure about whether or not I’m going to college. I really want to get married young and be a Mom and homemaker, but I also want to be sure that I don’t lay around waiting for that to happen, and waste some of the best years of my life. So far I am interested in so many things that I’m not even sure what I’d study if I went to college! God has really blessed me by giving me wonderful opportunities, and although I don’t know what He has for me yet, I can’t wait to find out. Thanks so much for this post, I can’t wait to read the book! I have been really blessed by your blog. 😀

  • I have seen and hurd a lot of people failing and fluroushing in college. Me being a Junior in high school im kind of unsure of whats going to happen. I hear of parties all of the times and I have had friends ask me if I want to go. I already know that I’m going to be asked when I do end up going to college. I just got to keep reading my bible and not give in. College is part of my plan i wanna go to college so i can become a probation officer and use my testimony to help kids my age no to get out of crime.

  • One thing I have seen and have expierenced myself is once you/ enter college, I did not have as much exposure to the Word (Chapel, youth group, multiple Church services, etc…). Without being in the Word as often, you can start to sway if you do not strive to be in the Word and to be involved in the local church and fellowship with Christians.


  • Louis J. Gervais-

    …um not quite sure how to respond to that. Normally I look to engage others in conversation, and usually it’s not that hard. But I’m not sure if you understand of what I am speaking of, and that’s okay. I detect a good amount of sarcasm and ridicule, which is normal in the way many Christians respond to me. So thank you for fulfilling a stereotype that proves that most Christians are unable to discuss things with non believers in an adult manner. I only meant to add a voice on this blog that surely is not represented. I’m happy that you are happy in your faith. God bless.

  • As a high school sophomore, I am a firm believer in attending college after high school. I recently wrote a pro-Christian college article in our high school newspaper and believe that attending a Christian college is a part of a plan which leads to a well equipped Christian able to fight against the corruption in this world. I agree with the statement that some flourish in college and that others lose their way. It is a person’s individual decision to attend a Christian or secular college but I believe going to a Christian college if one is able is the most prudent course of action if he is preparing himself for spiritual and cultural warfare.

    The article:

    All throughout high school, one of the main goals for any student is to get into college. But which one? There are over 4,203 colleges in the United States to choose from, so how does one determine which college to attend? One of the first steps towards making this decision is determining whether one wishes to attend a Christian (private) or secular college. Depending on the person, it is definitely important to consider going to a Christian institution if the person is a follower of Christ. Not going to a Christian college would be like a soldier going into battle without his weapon to face the enemy armed with the latest precision weaponry. A person must have education grounded in faith to fight against the evils and corruption in our world.
    If a person calls himself a follower of Christ, he will want to do everything possible to make sure he is equipped as best as possible in order to fight against the evils that Satan has planted in every corner of the globe. In order to be a true Christian, one must be able to defend his faith in a way that is reasonable, educated, and true. It is not enough to attend a Christian high school and then dive into the real world. In this life it’s pretty much do or die; there is no fence on which to sit safely and watch as the battle rages all around. Many students who attend a Christian high school may think that they are prepared to face the real world and stand firm. Though this may be true for some, many others are mistaken, and can easily be dragged down by the temporary pleasures found in sin. The best way to face the world with the strength to withstand it is to be firmly grounded in faith so that none can shake the foundation.
    Those who hold the view that going to a secular college is the better course often say so because they believe that there are more ministry opportunities there. They also say that one can get a better, well rounded education at a secular college. This is true, because there are many secular (state) universities that are the best in the world in whatever field they are centered in.
    However, the only reason that there are more opportunities for ministry at a secular college is that there is an exponentially greater amount of evil present. The world is corrupted and going to a place where that evil is ever-present is not the wisest course of action. Even though going to a secular college may seem like the way to go, it has just as many pitfalls as opportunities. Christian universities have often been ridiculed because they are “close minded” or “exclusive.” Such descriptions and accusations have two sides. One is that yes, Christian institutions tend to be exclusive because they are working to keep evil out of their system. Second, the claim that these institutions are close minded is false. Christian universities strive to build up men and women as they “develop in students a commitment to scholarship that is persistent in its pursuit of truth and sensitive to the concerns of the Christian church, the scholarly and educational community, and the world at large,” as stated in the Huntington University’s mission statement. It is clear that students who attend a Christian university will be educated in the ways of their faith as well as the ways and workings of the world.
    For those who have attended a Christian school all their lives, they may want to get out of the Christian “atmosphere” and dive straight into the secular world. This is unwise because it is wiser to have all of one’s education grounded in faith so that they will be best equipped to do the work of the Kingdom (effectively). Sophomore Claire Brownie said, “I don’t think I will go to a Christian college because I don’t want to be in a Christian bubble because that’s not what the world is really like.”A person spends approximately one quarter of their life in education, and if a person can’t stand to wait that long before going out into battle, he may want to reconsider. It is wiser to spend that quarter equipping one’s self as best as possible, and then go out and fight against the impieties of this world.

    This, of course, is just an opinions article and there is also the other side of all the good that can be done at a secular college by those who are strongly grounded in their faith.

  • I don’t go to college yet…but I have a couple of friends who got in early. I know my friend’s older sister is having a really rough time at college, I’m not sure if she’s save or not…anyways, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind when I go later on. 😀

  • I have just finished my freshmen year, and I have noticed one thing, “Culturally Compromised Christians”. The three C’s, they can either make you or break you. Christians especially young christians thinks they know all when they actually do not know very much (and by young christian, I mean born again christian which could be 15 yrs old or 35 yrs old, age is irrelevant). It breaks my heart when I see Christians have youth group every week but then go out into the real world and don’t excercise their faith. Make no mistake, I am nowhere near perfect. Now these people are good people, they go to church, read their bible but sometimes I feel we get our priorities mixed up. I know for sure that I did. I was so focused on being accepted that I forgot that God could never love me and accept me anymore than he does now.

  • Sorry, I didn’t mean to submit my comment yet because I was not finished.

    I really liked what Noelle said about how about people she knew who seeked the lord their last few months of their senior year are now thriving in college. Those months are really the most important!! As I have said before the Three C’s can either make you or break you. Instead of letting cultural compromise our faith, let us walk with Christ to build Character Courage and utmost Conviction.

  • I definitely planned on college when I was younger as a default future. However, I now know that God wants me to go. Many of my homeschooled friends have opted for a fast-tracked way to get a degree called CollegePlus! if any of you who are unsure about college would be interested in such a program. I personally feel that getting connected to a strong core of believers at a college will be the best way for me to grow spiritually. From what I have heard from others, college is a great time to grow and learn more about yourself. I am super excited for such an opportunity! I have seen many go to college and thrive and many go and “lose their way” simply because they either got connected or didn’t get connected into a good group who could continually stretched them in their faith. I encourage those of you who are still uncertain to keep trusting God. He will eventually reveal His will to you! WIth college comes a lot of freedom, so let’s use that freedom to grow into young Christian men and women who will impact the world for Christ! Blessings to you all!

  • Since this is over in britain and college is more of sixth form, but yes I want both freedom and responsibility in the sense that i get to make more of my own decisions. with freedom in the sense that i feel more free to talk, more… understood if u get me 🙂 But i would also like to use that freedom to help god work through me and show me want he wants me to do for him 🙂

    But as to whether i’ve seen my mates thrive in sixth form is a hard question to answer… But generally they seem to lose their way and go into drugs and alchohol.

  • Such a helpful book I just finished reading and have recieved a whole new perspective on college! Awesome read!

  • If you are planning to go to college, is it the default or part of a plan?…

    I plan on going to West Coast Baptist College this fall. I believe that it is God’s plan for me to attend college. A few years ago I had my own plans to attend a college here locally then God began to work on my heart and now I believe He wants me to attend West Coast this fall to study ministry. I’m not sure all of His plan for me yet but He has shown me the next step which is college to learn and grow closer to Him. I’m really excited and can’t wait to see what God is going to do! Thanks for the post!

  • Survivor,

    You’re right, I was kidding.

    You said, “thank you for fulfilling a stereotype that proves that most Christians are unable to discuss things with non believers in an adult manner”

    You’re welcome, but I’m pretty sure I detect some sarcasm and ridicule in that statement as well. But, any time you’d like to discuss things, my email address is [email protected] or you can contact me through my website.

    Have a nice day!


    “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” -2 Samuel 7:22 NIV

  • awesome, i’m in college right now and i’m looking for a book that could help me meet the expectations and all the pressures in college. 🙂

  • @Jel I read Facing Intellectual Giants recently and started blogging about it because of how useful I found it. It deals with all that confusion with faith and classroom worldviews and how to understand them from a biblical worldview.

    Great post. I look forward to getting my copy of the book. I’m done with college now but wish the book was out during my time. Anyone passing out of high school and going to college without his purpose clearly defined and firmly declared should probably not be surprised if he is swallowed up by the intellectual sharks out there to maul the unsuspecting. Let’s hope that parents will take the job of solid Biblical preparation of their children for the intellectual exposure at college very seriously.

  • I’m excited about college, but I also find it daunting. Somedays I feel like I’m prepared and other days I wish I had done more. But I do know what I believe and why I believe it. I have been blessed with people who have challenged me to examine my stances and why I believe them. I’ve been in a Christian, Homeschooled family and I realize the environment in college will not be as supportive. I think the most important part of college preparation is not the AP courses or the career counseling, but the making sure you have a firm foundation and you stand on the Rock and will not be shaken. I think a lot of students go to college without realizing that your professors and peers, even at a Christian college, will start to challenge your core beliefs and you need to know how to answer them. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15…….but the next verse is also important: “But do this with gentleness and respect”

  • I tried college. I graduated high school a year ahead of my peers, but I decided to go to college even though I was young. I found a house of other believers to live with, and I found a ministry I could be a leader in. I found a job to support myself, and I signed up for classes. What I found is that I hated it. I could not stand the subjective postmodern system of education. The academia choked all of the zeal out of my life. I was not thriving. So after one semester, I quit.
    I still lived in community with believers, but I found a better job with more hours, and I worked full time, and even added more ministry to my plate. I did that for a semester, but even that was not fulfilling. I became a legal adult in March, but I was still not thriving. So I quit that job.
    I found an internship at a church 1000 miles from home, and I left everything and everyone I knew behind. Now, after this summer, I am going to go to Chicago to serve in the inner city as an urban missionary for a year. I feel like finally, I am thriving.
    I believe that it is not college that matters, or a career, or starting a family (though those are all good things); I believe that what matters is getting in tune with God’s plan for you and not mindlessly following what society- even “Christian society”- tells you to do.
    Follow God where ever he leads you, and I promise you will not fail to thrive.

  • I just finished reading an amazing book that definitely applies to the ‘surviving in college’ issue – The Veritas Conflict, by Shaunti Feldhahn. I would recommend it to any thoughtful Christian….

    It is so true what you said about going to college for a purpose, not just as a matter of course. This is why I think it is good some Christian homeschoolers are saying it is perhaps better for girls to stay at home instead of go to college. Not because I particularly agree wholeheartedly with that, though some of what they have to say is great, but because it calls into question WHY we go to college.

  • The student who thrives at college—the student who glorifies God with his or her college years—is the one who sees it as a great opportunity that requires great responsibility.~a big AMEN ! ..

    well for everyone’s information, I’m currently a college student who was force to take the course i don’t even have an idea about .. but instead of making things worst .. i prayed , praying and making the best out of it in glorifying JESUS ..

    looking forward to buy and read the book 🙂

  • Staying vigilant about your safety may not be a college course but it’s one of the most important lessons you can learn. Please don’t learn the hard way!

    A high state of awareness is more essential now than ever. You’re exposed to things you’ve never seen. You’re seeing things you’ve never pondered. People are acting so outside your norm, you wonder where you are or where they came from.

    Aside from the excitement of your newfound freedom, you also have the responsibility of taking care of yourself like you’ve never done before.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →