Reality: College does indeed do something for you professionally, but it should also do something to you personally. It is a journey that transforms you into a critical, creative and independent thinker who asks important questions and seeks out truth. In his book Engaging God’s World, Cornelius Plantinga (2002) writes, “One way to love God is to know and love God’s work. Learning is therefore a spiritual calling: properly done, it attaches us to God” (p. xi).
Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, also dispels the myth that college is solely about career preparation in his own post Go with God: An open letter to young Christians on their way to college. He writes, “You cannot go to college just to get a better job. These days, people talk about college as an investment because they think of education as a bank account…but the years you spend as an undergraduate are like everything else in your life. They’re not yours to do with as you please. They’re Christ’s. Christ’s call on you as a student is a calling to meet the needs of the church…Whatever you end up doing in life, now is the time when you develop the intellectual skills the Church needs for the sake of building up the Body of Christ.”
The integration of faith and learning is at the heart of your present vocation as a student. “Faith without learning can never be tested for truth, and learning without faith assumptions tends to study the trivial” (Cosgrove, 2006, Foundations of Christian Thought, p. 48). Because this is a spiritual activity, learning cannot be compartmentalized to your college education. It is necessary in the life of faith and should continue even after you graduate.
This endeavor will not be easy, but find encouragement in the final comments of Hauerwas’s post. “To worship God and live faithfully are necessary conditions if you are to survive in college. But as a Christian you are called to do more than survive. You are called to use the opportunity you have been given to learn to construe the world as a creature of a God who would have us enjoy – and bask in – the love that has brought us into existence. God has given your mind good work to do. As members of the church, we’re counting on you. It won’t be easy. It never has been. But I can testify that it can also be a source of joy.”