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5 Things I Want My Child to Learn in College

  • Arlene Pellicane
  • 2016 22 Jun
5 Things I Want My Child to Learn in College

There’s a box in my garage containing memorabilia from my college days – campus newspapers, yearbooks, and my journals. Thumbing through my heart scribblings from decades ago, I had to laugh at my college crushes and daily musings. I wrote on January 19, 1991 that I “went to Disneyland, consumed large amounts of sugar, met three obnoxious girls, and employed the services of AAA (my car died).” That sums up much of the college experience doesn’t it?  

But don’t worry, my journals also contained some very important conclusions about the faithfulness of God and the purpose of my life. At the end of my junior year at Biola University, I wrote, “This has got to be the best year of my life.”   

My children’s college journals have yet to be written. No doubt they will wrestle with things like calculus, financial aid, sleep deprivation, and loneliness. But when the college experience is all said and done, there are five things I want my child to learn about life while pursuing a degree. I want them to be able to answer these five questions:    

How do I choose a spouse? Aside from a relationship with Christ, the relationship my child may have someday with a spouse is the most important relationship formed. Our children will be exposed to many unhealthy relationships in college. Students having sex without the commitment of marriage. Same-sex couples being normalized. I want my child to know that marriage is best between one man and one woman for life. 

Christ should be at the center of that relationship and the two should be compatible in values.  Yes, there should be fireworks and butterflies and chemistry. But since being head over heels can often restrict blood flow to the mind, there is safety in the multitude of counselors. I want my son or daughter to seek guidance in choosing a spouse wisely. If one’s family and closest friends don’t approve of the relationship, that’s a big red flag which shouldn’t be ignored.  

SEE ALSO: 5 Things I Want My Kids to Know before They Go to College

How do I manage my money? I’ve seen many parents ignore teaching the area of finances either by bailing their kids out financially or avoiding the subject because money is the root of all evil (which it’s not; it’s the love of money that is the root of evil). Yet a graduating senior from college needs to understand budgeting, saving, investing, and debt. After college, my children will be on their own, needing to provide for their own basic needs of housing, food, insurance, car payments, etc.    

Programs like Dave Ramsay’s Financial Peace University do a phenomenal job at teaching young people how to make money work for them. If our kids can stay out of consumer debt and leverage the power of compound interest and investing when they are young, their futures will be far brighter.  

What career do I want to pursue? With the average annual cost of college around $32,000 at private colleges and $9,500 for state residents at public colleges, it’s good to know what career match is waiting on the other side of this hefty investment. A McKinsey & Company survey of over 5,000 new college graduates found that half of them (53 percent) would now choose a different major or a different school. Employability and earnings were common sources of regret.  Four in 10 students hadn’t looked at job placement or salary records.  

I want my children to interview professionals in the fields they are interested in (it’s never too early to start this) and gather as much information as they can before choosing a major. When they settle on a major, I want them to focus on summer internships and searching for job connections so they have a warm lead to pursue after college.        

SEE ALSO: Life's Scary Choices: A Letter to My Teenage Children

How do I live independently from my parents? When I was 21, I was working my first job after college, renting a room in a home. I had to learn how to divvy out my little check to pay expenses, make new friends after college, and deal with stress at work. My parents lived about two hours away so I would see them a few times a month which I always looked forward to.  This was my time to sprout wings and fly independently of my parents and my former on-campus college life. 

The college experience prepared me to live on my own. I want my kids to gain confidence and live more independently each year they are at college. They will learn how to make good decisions for themselves. They will figure out eventually what happens if they eat Lucky Charms for breakfast every day. They’ll reap the consequences of too many late nights and learn to say no to the midnight fast food run and yes to going to bed.    

Is Christ really the Way, the Truth and the Life? More than anything, I want my children to emerge from college not just with their faith intact. I want their faith to be emboldened, to be strengthened, to be ignited. I want them to see for themselves that the God of their childhood is faithful and true. I don’t want them to be seduced by feel-good philosophies which deny the existence of God.  

College can be a very positive experience of uniting with other Christian believers in organizations like Cru and InterVarsity. I want my children to make friends for life with other Christians who will build them up, not tear them down.   

SEE ALSO: 6 Admissions Tips for College-Bound Teens

When my children go to college, I hope they will have a positive experience like I did. I want them to grow more excited about the purpose of their lives, not more skeptical. I want them to embrace and protect truth, not question its existence. I want them to celebrate the uniqueness of America, not disparage our rich history of liberty and freedom.    

Let’s dream and pray that our children will have the kind of experience that makes them say “This has got to be the best year of my life!” 


Publication date: June 22, 2016