catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 9 :: 2011.05.06 — 2011.05.19


To enroll or not to enroll

You have no idea how badly I want to use this article as an excuse to complain about every awful teacher I’ve ever had, every boring class I’ve slept through and every homework assignment that taught me nothing. But, as much as I would love to indulge in the pleasure of correcting all my instructors, it’s probably for the better that I leave that stone unturned. Besides, in light of the past year, I think there is a richer and more valuable story to be told.

When I was thirteen years old, I decided that I wanted to major in the Bible and religion. Every Sunday at church, I would watch our pastor intently, earnestly meditating on his words, silently calculating their meaning and amalgamating them with my own interpretations and opinions. The next morning in the shower, I would think of creative ideas for my own lectures, conjuring up the corresponding outlines in my head. I delighted in the sermons and I dreamed of the day when I could speak among others to encourage them and share in God’s love with them.

Six years later, here I am and not much has changed (except for the shower part — I gave that up). I have approximately one month to decide where I am going to spend the next four years of my life and whether $80,000 in debt is really what it takes to serve the Lord, love my neighbor as myself and practice good stewardship. The past few months have been a hectic combination of planning graduation festivities, writing term papers and keeping an unsettling focus on the looming giants that await me on the other side of this summer.

To be honest, there is a part of me that’s whispering, “Screw college. No institution can teach me how to love.” And I think, deep down, that there is a lot of truth to that. Clearly, I don’t need to attend a “U.S. Best” ranked college in order to serve the Lord with humility and obedience. Surely, intentional living and non-conformity remain vital as personal choices, but become slightly less dynamic when presented as curriculum. Certainly, there is more to capturing and spreading the sacrificial love of Jesus than textbooks, meal plans and student loans. Perhaps this whole college thing just isn’t for me.

On the other hand, there is a significant part of me that thoroughly enjoys education, a deep desire in my heart to become intensely submerged in scripture. Many days I feel like completely disregarding my peer’s warnings of debt and instead, surrendering fully to God — relying solely on him for my future providence and care. Clearly, there is something to be said about a challenging college experience. Surely, theology and wisdom remain vital assets attained through hard work and disciplined study, but become laughably feeble when pursued outside the realm of organized education. Certainly, planting myself within a community of like-minded, academic Christians would be a positive experience. Perhaps ignorance would cost me far more than college.

Not surprisingly, I have grown quite conflicted over my decision. My heart says this, my parents say that, my pastor says yes, my neighbors say no, and I spend my nights laying awake thinking about the gravity of my success or my failure. I am terrified of getting “trapped” at a community college, unable to pursue the degree, and ultimately the career, that I long for. Conversely, I am ripe with worry that when I complete my education at a Christian college I will find myself unable to pay back student loans living on a pastor’s salary. Or even worse: I will end up like many post-college students, jobless. The whole issue boasts substantial depth and intricacy. Truthfully, I don’t know what to do.

Still, this whole process has induced a magnificent progression of self-discovery and growth. Never in my life have I worked so hard, so carefully or so joyfully at discerning, well…anything, really. And I think this whole trial is becoming a sort of model, applicable to all sorts of struggles I might face in life. Don’t get me wrong, the severity of my college decision is laughable relative to unemployment, losing loved-ones or near-death experiences. Nevertheless, the song remains the same: giving your all, passionately and willingly. Perhaps that, although exhausting, is precisely what it takes.

I am getting closer to “the deadline,” yet I still don’t know, for sure, where I am headed. Strangely enough, when I started writing this paper I was unable to afford any of the schools that I applied to. Today, however, God has made an affordable way for me to attend any of my choice colleges. To be clear, I went from no options to every option in a week (talk about an answer to prayer). So a tough decision just got really difficult, but in a very great way. And for now, that’s okay with me.

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