University of Destruction
By David Wheaton
Ready? Set? Transition!
So will it be tremendous or traumatic ... your transition to
college, that is?
My story notwithstanding, your transition from high school to
college has the potential to be positively tremendous.
If you're prepared, you should be eagerly anticipating it. What
an opportunity to gain an education, grow into adulthood, and
get ready for your future.
And let's not forget the fun! If you make the right choices,
you will have the time of your life in college. What an opportunity
to make lifelong friends, create fond memories, and experience
a new world.
Going to college--what a potentially tremendous transition for
you ... if you're prepared, and if you make the right choices.
But, whoops! The transition can turn traumatic
in a hurry. You just read my story; you probably have heard many
others like it.
Sure, the particulars of any given version are different, but
the scenario is exactly the same: Christian boy or girl goes to
college and falls away from his or her faith. Potentially
tremendous turns into devastatingly traumatic.
The actual statistic is staggering: As many as 50 percent
of Christian students say they have lost their faith after four
years in college. (See appendix.)
Did you get that? Fifty percent! One out of two! Fifty out of
a hundred! Five hundred out of a thousand! That's a lot.
I'm actually not surprised. From what I continually see and hear
as a Christian speaker and radio talk show host, I certainly wasn't
the only one to suffer spiritual shipwreck in college. It seems
like the majority of faith stories from a twenty- or thirty-something
details a story of decline in college ... even at religious colleges.
The question is, why? Why is college such a minefield for Christian
The answer is actually quite simple: The majority of Christian
teens are spiritually unprepared for the most challenging transition
they will ever make in life.
The verb transition means "to change from one place
or state of existence to another." For most of you, that
is exactly what will happen when you go to college--you will transition
from life at home to life on campus. More than just a change of
place, though, your stage of life is also in the process
of changing from boy to man or girl to woman.
It is the transitional periods in life that are often the most
difficult and perilous. Familiar is replaced by new--new
surroundings, new friendships, new temptations ... new everything!
I believe going off to college is more challenging than some
of the other major transitions in life, like moving cross-country,
changing careers, or attending a different high school. It might
even be more challenging than getting married or having children!
(Not that I would know.)
Your Transition to College
But what about your upcoming or recent transition to college?
To varying degrees, you have just spent the first eighteen years
of your life in familiar and secure surroundings. You went to
school and spent time with friends, were involved in after-school
activities like sports, music, or work, and then went home to
your family in the evening. Perhaps you went to church on Sunday
mornings and to youth group on Wednesday nights.
While you associated with your friends quite a bit, much of your
time was spent with people older than you--parents, teachers,
coaches, employers, youth leaders. Yeah, you spent a little time
with your younger brother or sister too.
More often than not, you had to abide by the rules of your house.
Sure, you broke them at times, but there was an abiding presence
at home limiting your freedom to do whatever you wanted, whenever
you wanted. You had to let Dad or Mom know where you were going
and with whom, and what time you would return. If you botched
your end of the bargain, there were consequences.
In short, you lived a real life. You had a daily routine,
associated with people of varying ages, and heeded someone's authority.
As a matter of fact, you had it better than real life
because you weren't fully supporting yourself financially. What
College is going to be different ... a lot different. First of
all, unlike any other time in your past or future, you will be
living and spending almost all your time with people your own
age. While this may seem perfectly splendid, this is actually
not ideal because it often fosters an environment of
Spending time with people older than we are tends to mature us.
Even spending time with younger people can lead to the development
of leadership qualities. But I believe spending the majority of
your time with those of similar age results only in stunted maturity.
The positive influence that parents, teachers, coaches, or other
leaders provide won't occur naturally in college because they
are simply not around as much. This lack of authority and the
same-age dynamic on campus are just two of the ingredients in
the recipe for collegiate disaster.
The difference between home life and campus life doesn't end
there. Most aspects of college will be solely up to you: registering
for classes and getting to them on time, keeping up with schoolwork,
feeding and transporting yourself, managing your finances, choosing
new friends, doing laundry, and sleeping enough hours to function.
Congratulations--you are now on your own!
And therein lies the major problem: You--a young adult still
in the process of maturing mentally, emotionally, physically,
and spiritually--are leaving all that is familiar to you for an
extremely different and precarious environment that is going to
require critical and mature decision-making skills the moment
you step on campus.
The transition to college would be less serious if all that mattered
was polishing up your personal discipline and time management
skills. In reality there are far more important and difficult
issues you will have to face in college, namely the three Pillars
of Peril, which I'll explain in chapter three.
Better be prepared, for you are going to be smack-dab in the
middle of a battle for your soul on campus. What does
It means that the broad way that leads to destruction
will be battling and beckoning your soul to stray off the narrow
way that leads to life (see Matthew 7:13–14). It means
that your present, future, and even your afterlife are going to
be directly affected by which "way" you choose in college.
An overstatement? Not at all. For example, if you choose to have
premarital sex in college, you will be weakening yourself for
future sexual immorality and extramarital affairs, which often
result in broken marriages and families. If you choose to get
drunk or use drugs in college, you will be setting yourself up
for all kinds of future trouble and anguish, even bouts of addiction.
If you choose to believe the anti-Bible, truth-is-relative philosophies
taught by certain professors, you will eventually become unprincipled,
unstable, and ungodly in your thoughts and action. If you choose
to cheat on exams or schoolwork, you will be desensitizing yourself
to future deception in business or taxes.
Yet the opposite is also true. If you navigate the troubled waters
of college successfully--if you are true to God and His Word--you
will be paving the way to a life of purpose and contentment, a
life that honors and glorifies God. There is no greater accomplishment
You might be thinking, "College is my four years to experiment.
I'm going to have my fun now and settle down later in life."
Don't believe the "later" lie. First, you don't know
if there will even be a later--no one knows his or her future.
And second, you (and everyone else) are not exempt from the consequences
of sin just because you're in college, where "everyone else
does it" and then appears to carry on with no lasting effects.
Rather, the later truth is this: When you choose
the beginning of the way in college, you are determining the end
of the way later on. Realize it or not, you are composing
your own destiny by your actions in college. And it all starts
with your mind.
Consider this process: A thought becomes an action. An action
becomes a habit. A habit becomes your destiny. Think about
that. Your thoughts, your ideas, your views of the world determine
what you do and what you will become. In short, they determine
who you are as a person.
The Bible states this important principle in the book of Proverbs:
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs
There it is--what you "think in your heart" will determine
your degree of success--or failure--in college.
* * *
Everyone knows the positive results of a tremendous transition
to college: the opportunity for you to gain an education, to grow
in maturity, to get prepared for the future, and to have the time
of your life. Wow.
Unfortunately, not everyone fully understands, or cares to understand,
the other real possibility--the transition to college can turn
traumatic in a hurry if you're unprepared and make the
wrong choices. Whoa.
The purpose of this book is to help you make a tremendous transition
to college, all the while avoiding a traumatic one. It is not
written to a boy or a girl, but to the young man or young woman
that you now are. It will push and it will prod you. You will
not find pie-in-the-sky platitudes, but rather practical and powerful
ways to make college a University of Instruction, not a University
Ready? (Are you prepared for college?)
Set? (What are you thinking in your heart?)
Transition! (Tremendously, not traumatically.)
Very Important Principle:
Although the transition to college can be difficult and dangerous,
how you think on campus will define your destiny.
Message to Memorize:
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
Surfing, and Stanford
Read the author's account of his own transition to college.
on Campus: Is It Possible?
Charles Colson shares tips and resources to help Christian college
students finish their education with their faith intact.
Excerpted from: University
by David Wheaton. Copyright © 2005 ; ISBN 0764200534.
Published by Bethany
House Publishers. Used by permission.
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