April 25, 2007

A Higher Education

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly” (Prov. 2:6, 7, KJV).
2007 1512 page31 capike millions of families across North America, my family has been consumed over the past year researching colleges for my daughter, Jeanene, who graduates from Takoma Academy in June.  
Even though I’ve gone through this exercise before, I’m still amazed at how many factors one must consider when choosing the right college or university. The whole process can be a long and arduous task that takes a lot of soul-searching and reflection for parents as well as students.
When our family started the search process, the first question that had to be answered was: “What will our daughter’s major be?” That’s a question that takes some students a few years to decide. And when they do finally decide, many students end up changing it two or three times before their college career ends. 
20 Questions
After the essential question of “major” was settled, the answer brought 20 new questions—questions that demanded thoughtful answers. For example, which college offers her desired major? Which university offers a strong curriculum in the desired field? Which school has a faculty with strong ties to leaders in the student’s profession? Are there opportunities to study abroad? What about internships and job-search counseling? How well do graduates perform on professional examinations? Do the alumni have a strong track record of success in the student’s chosen field? Are the alumni active in helping new graduates establish themselves?
2007 1512 page31Once you sort out answers to the above questions, the task is still not complete. There are dozens of general issues to clarify. What’s the size of the student body and the faculty-student ratio? Can the student perform well in a large, impersonal setting where class sizes may approach 100? Or would they be better suited to a small campus where students and faculty members develop strong relationships and teachers often go the second mile to help students succeed?
With the academics issues behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to social questions. Is there a strong spiritual tone on campus, or a fun-loving, frivolous atmosphere? Is the student body ethnically diverse? Will your son or daughter have a hard time finding friends? Can she choose her own roommate? Should the college be close to home or one that’s far away?
Now just when you’ve checked off all your questions and concerns, there’s still one item we had better not overlook. Where will the money come from? After all, higher education is expensive. The cost of a four-year stint at some Adventist colleges—including tuition, room, and board—now exceeds $100,000. Books are extra. And you can expect a 3 to 5 percent cost increase each year.
A Rejoicing Heart
As I reflect on the high cost of higher education and the effort it takes to guide our children into adulthood, I’m so thankful that God offers the most precious knowledge in the universe tuition-free.  
Throughout His holy Word, Christ offers divine principles that prepare us for a life on this earth as well as the earth to come. The apostle James wrote: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5, KJV).
The greatest gift we can give our children is an understanding of God’s precious promises, and an introduction to the wisdom He lays out in the Scriptures. The wisdom and understanding Christ shares will stimulate the intellect, ennoble the character, and sensitize the soul.    
There’s no limit to what most parents will do to help their children get a good education. Loving parents will go to the ends of the earth to prepare their children for a successful, prosperous future. But if we simply lead our children to the deep rivers of knowledge that flow through God’s Word, they will discover an education that prepares them for eternity. 
Ellen White wrote: “Christians are to be faithful students in the school of Christ, ever learning more of heaven, more of the words and will of God; more of the truth and how to use faithfully the knowledge that they have gained” (Sons and Daughters of God, p. 72).
Carlos Medley is online editor for Adventist Review.