A week after graduation, Laura was hauling her luggage back up to her bedroom at her parent’s house. Everything was just as she had left it before leaving for college. She surveyed the room with a sigh. She was happy to be home, but not too pleased about her professional direction. She wished that, before she had headed off to school for five years, someone had sat her down and told her that graduation is not synonymous with career direction.

Now Laura had her degree, but she still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. Everyone had encouraged her to “find herself” and “discover her passion” in college, but that led her in circles—trying class after class, searching for her niche.

She had started out in pre-med, wanting to be a sports medicine doctor. But once she reached organic chemistry, she decided that wasn’t for her. Then she switched to exercise physiology, figuring she could still work with athletes that way. But that too, didn’t seem quite right ... a bit too demanding on her social life. So, she changed to pre-law—thinking she could be an attorney for athletes. However, she had trouble keeping up with all the writing. She finally settled on a sociology degree, hoping the right career path would fall into her lap before she graduated.

Well, here she was, five years and one diploma later and she still had no idea what career to pursue. What could she do with a degree in sociology, anyway?

Needing money to pay off her student loans, Laura applied for a department store job. After a few months of working there, she decided she wanted to go into business management like her dad. So, she deferred her loans (by taking out more) and went to graduate school to get a masters degree in something she could actually use.

Does this sound familiar?

Too many of us are jobless, directionless, with the wrong degree, and in thousands of dollars of debt.

The Scriptures encourage us, as Christians, to be good stewards. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12, NIV)

Jesus calls us to be good stewards of our (and our parents’) money. College prices have skyrocketed! In just the last year, public in-state tuition increased 8.3 percent and private tuition increased 4.5 percent.[i] While housing prices have gone down, the cost of education has continued to rise. Although college dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs illustrate that college degrees are not necessary for success, the truth is, unless you’re going to start your own business, you probably need a degree. Most prospective employers today won’t even look at your resume if you don’t have a degree listed.

College is one of the largest investments we will ever make. So how can we make wise decisions about our education while being good stewards of our finances and time?

1.      Choose Responsibility

It’s easy to fly through college and think that one day our debt will magically disappear. When you’re applying for a student loan, the astronomical figure of 40k doesn’t seem a whole lot different than 60k. But these numbers become real very quickly when it’s time to pay up.

As Christians, we should be responsible about our educational choices because they significantly impact our finances and futures. A responsible college choice might mean waiting and saving for a few years before attending—shocking idea, I know!  Or, it might mean starting at the local junior college if you aren’t sure what you want to do yet but don’t want to fall too far behind.