Thriving at College

Alex Chediak has just released his new book, Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World.

Alex covers 10 common mistakes students can make in college:

  1. Chucking your faith
  2. Treating college as if it were high school
  3. Not being intentional
  4. Distorting dating and romance
  5. Refusing to grow up
  6. Being a flake
  7. Living out of balance
  8. Being too passive or too cocky
  9. Living for grades
  10. Wasting opportunities

It is endorsed by Al Mohler, Jerry Bridges, Randy Alcorn, and more.

You can read some of the book online for free:

The book looks excellent, and the parts that I have read so far have been insightful.

Alex’s first point is the most important, and if you get this right, everything else will follow: “College is a season in which you can — and must — really take ownership of your faith. You can’t truly grow in the Christian life on borrowed faith, and most find college to be a season in which their Christian faith is put to the test.”

I agree completely. The most important thing you can do in college is learn everything you can about God — whether you are at a Christian college or a secular university (sometimes, this goes better at secular universities!).

Here’s why you should do this: you will never have more free time and be more free of concern. If you are in college, this  may sound strange. But just wait. Life gets incredibly packed and busy. Use the extra time you have to build a good foundation of knowledge about God (doctrine and practice) and great Christian friends. This will serve you for the rest of your life. Here’s how Edwards puts it (which I blogged a few months ago):

It is fitting that we should begin our lives with God; and the first business persons should enter upon should be getting into a converted state and condition. Therefore God has so ordered it in providence that in the beginning or morning of our lives there should be room left for it. There is a vacant space left in the beginning, a time of leisure not filled up with the other cares and business, to give the better and freer opportunity for this business; for God expects that we should do this business first. Persons have ordinarily abundantly freer opportunity, freer from those cares and hurries that come upon persons afterwards. Providence has filled up all the rest of our lives with cares, but here it has left, as it were, a vacant space on purpose that we might begin in the first place with that great business.

Second, here’s how you can do this: read everything you can (especially books like Desiring God and Knowing God), get involved in a solid campus ministry, and learn how to handle intellectual challenges to Christianity.

Some courses and professors are especially interested in raising challenges to the Bible and Christian worldview. This is not something to shy back from, but is an opportunity, at the very least, to go find the books and do the research and talk to the people that will help you go deeper in learning the evidence for Christianity, which is really solid (one of the best books here is William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics). This is a really, really good way to grow in your faith. I would often end up writing papers defending various aspects of the Christian worldview (Jesus as the only way, evidence for the resurrection, evidence for the existence of God, and so forth). You don’t have to do that, but at the very least, encountering challenges to your faith is something to be harnessed rather than shied away from.

Alex has more thoughts on confronting challenges to your faith in college, and a whole host of other things, in his book. I am not aware of any other book like it, and would agree with what Justin Taylor said in his post: “From what I’ve seen of the book, it’s probably the first book I’d recommend for students going off to college.”

  • Loren Pinilis

    Another one I’ll have to add to the reading list :)

    Additional advice that I would give to college students (which Chediak probably covers) is that a college is not there to give you an education. A college is there to give you opportunities to get an education. That’s a totally different mindset. When the college student takes initiative in pursuing their education, that’s when growth explodes.

    That fits as a nice corollary to your thoughts – take advantage of this time in your life to be proactive about growing.

  • Pingback: Matt Perman, Bob Hayton, and Kim on Thriving at College | Alex Chediak()

  • Pingback: Thriving at College | all.things.loss()