Blog | Topic: Events

Everything Matters: Jubilee 2014

Jubilee1What if everything we do matters to God?

What if our Mondays are just as important as our Sundays?

 What is our faith is supposed to connect to every area of our lives?

What would that look like?

My favorite event of the year is only one week away! The Jubilee Conference is about living faithfully in every area of life. For 37 years, the CCO has hosted over 60,000 college students in Pittsburgh, PA to help them “to talk, learn, think, and dream about the public implications of their personal transformation.”

I’ve been an emcee for the last 3 years and it is such an honor to have a small part to play in this big event. The speakers, the worship, and the conversations at Jubilee have been life-changing and inspiring for me and my family for the past 13 years! I can’t wait. The video above does a fantastic job of capturing the Jubilee vision and experience.

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The College Choice Seminar Recap

BlogOn Saturday, the College Transition Initiative launched a new seminar to help families with college planning. We gathered at the Shady Maple Banquet Center in Lancaster County, PA. I presented a biblical vision for college and my good friends Terry Evearitt and Matt Reitnour shared from their expertise in college financing and college admission. We have received positive feedback from those who attended. Judging from the amount of emails I’ve received from across the country desiring more information about the seminar, this topic is on the minds of many people.

Unfortunately, the seminar was not recorded. We are still trying to figure out the best way to make this information available to a wider audience. We are considering a webinar as well as thinking through other locations to host an event. Please contact me if you have any suggestions or questions about making this seminar available in your area.

To recap, here are a few big takeaways from the seminar:

First, the admissions process is changing, and changing fast. The economic climate in which we live has many people questioning the value and worth of a college degree; colleges and universities are becoming more and more expensive each year; and there are more and more ways to obtain a college degree. Now, more than ever, we need to seek out a variety of wise counselors and college options to make a wise decision.

Second, debt is a major problem facing students today and we need to take it seriously… BUT, debt should not be our only concern when making a college choice. College is about more than getting a degree to get a job (although that is certainly an important aspect to consider). College is also about character and spiritual formation. There is a financial cost to college, for sure, but there are other costs to consider as well. What kind of person do you want to be? With whom will you surround yourself during these formative years? How should we, as Christians, define success? Taking these questions into account should help us to re-frame the “college choice” conversation and help us to think “Christianly” about life after high school.

PanelThird, we can’t be afraid to envision different college scenarios as legitimate next steps for high school grads. We can’t get too locked in to thinking that every student must go to a residential college, to obtain a bachelor’s degree, immediately after high school. For some students, this is still a wise life path. For others, especially those with financial concerns and/or confusion about where to go or what to study, other options are available. All of the speakers discussed the benefits of taking time off before going to college, exploring community college and trade school options, and considering an intentional gap year program.

Most importantly, we were reminded of the value of communication. Every student and every family needs to create space to have more meaningful conversations about life after high school. My hope and prayer is that the College Choice Seminar was used to that end.

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College Questions? Seminar Has Answers

MerchMeGearing up for the new seminar The College Choice: Faith, Family & Finances, our local Merchandiser ran a very nice article about the seminar and the reasons behind it. From the article:

“Graduate from high school. Go to college. Get a job.

Many teenagers feel that is the path they are expected to travel. Times have changed, however, and today’s teens are likewise changing the way they look at their future. Many parents feel unequipped to join their teen in that new vision.

The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU) recognizes that parents feel at a loss when it comes to college planning for the next generation. CPYU’s College Transition Initiative (CTI) seeks to help parents navigate this period in their teen’s life so that they can make wise decisions. The CTI provides seminars, books, articles, expert interviews, and events that shed much-needed light on preparing for college from a Christian perspective.

Parents and their college-curious teens are invited to CPYU’s upcoming CTI seminar, titled, ‘The College Choice: Faith, Family, and Finances,’ taking place at Shady Maple Banquet Center, 129 Toddy Drive, East Earl, on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Registration is available online at or by calling 717-361-8429. Separate prices have been set for individuals and for families.

According to CTI director Derek Melleby, everything is different about preparing for college in today’s financial climate. ‘The financial cost has changed, obviously,’ Melleby pointed out. ‘Job prospects for college graduates are something that has changed in the last decade as well…

Read the rest of the article here.

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Christian College Fairs 2013

CCFairs2The College Transition Initiative is committed to helping families make wise decisions about life after high school. This fall, I’m excited to be partnering with the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP) as a speaker for 3 college fairs in the Northeast:

Lancaster, PA (October 7)

Milton, PA (October 8)

Central, NJ (October 10)

By attending a college fair, parents and students have the opportunity to learn about many colleges in one stop. I will be there with a CTI booth and will be making a brief presentation called “College & Calling: Finding Your Place in God’s Story.”

You should also know:

Representatives from many of the top Christian Colleges in North America will be at the fairs.

Important! To avoid long lines at registration, students are encouraged to pre-register prior to the fair.

Financial aid workshops will also be offered at the fair.

I hope to see you there!

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College… Not Just Where, But Why?


CPYU president, Walt Mueller, recently asked me a few questions about the new seminar “The College Choice: Faith, Family & Finances” for his blog Learning My Lines. You can read the entire post, including Walt’s reflections on his own college decision days here.

What follows is our interview and a fuller explanation of the motivation behind the seminar as well as what I hope is accomplished on October 12:

What motivated you to put together a seminar on college planning?

Derek: The mission of CPYU’s College Transition Initiative is to provide resources to help students (and parents) be more spirituallyprepared for life after high school. Since 2005 I’ve been giving seminars for students and parents that address issues of faith, spiritual formation and how to make the most of college from a Christian perspective. Since the economic downturn of 2008, I’ve noticed a trend during the Q&A: parents are really questioning the cost and value of higher education; students seemed to be more and more unsure about what they want to do after high school; and so many students are graduating with excessive, crippling debt. New books are being published every month that call into question the worth of a college degree.

From the many conversations I’ve had with parents and students, and from my own research into the contemporary landscape of higher education, I kept thinking that CTI was uniquely positioned to address “college planning” from a biblical perspective. The seminar tagline says it all: “Put faith first in college planning.” I’ve written more about the motivation behind the seminar on CTI’s website. I had a tipping point experience after a conversation with a father in Houston. You can read about it here: “Houston, We Have a College Planning Problem.” And here is a short video message:

What do you hope seminar participants walk away with on October 12?

Derek: I should say upfront that I am not naïve enough to think that this seminar can prepare families completely for the college planning and admission’s process. But from the beginning of CTI, my main focus and passion has been creating opportunities for parents and students to have more meaningful conversations about life after high school. We live busy lives. We need to be intentional about creating space to ask good questions, listen to each other and think through the best “next steps” in the process. My hope and prayer is that people who attend the seminar will (1) learn to ask the right questions about the college planning process, questions they might easily miss and (2) be pointed in the direction of helpful resources that can guide them along the way.

Who should come to the seminar?

Derek: Anyone who is thinking about or already planning for college. It really doesn’t matter if you are early in the process (family with a 9th grader) or later in the process (family of a senior in high school). It’s never too early or too late to start thinking wisely about life after high school. Also, all of the advertising for the seminar says that “seating is limited.” This is not a marketing technique! We actually do have a limited space. If you are interested in attending, please do not hesitate to register.

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Houston, We Have a College Planning Problem

College Choice - CTI HomepageCPYU’s College Transition Initiative began in 2005. For the last eight years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to groups of students and parents about how to be prepared for and make the most of life after high school. Recently, I’ve noticed a shift in the way families talk about higher education. Here’s a story that captures what I mean…

A few years ago I was speaking in Houston, TX. During one of the breaks a father and his son hurried over to talk to me. The dad stood behind his son, his hands on his son’s shoulders and his plea went something like this:

Please tell me what to do with my son. We don’t have a clue. Everything has changed! When I was growing up, this is how it worked. I grew up in California. During my junior year of high school, the guidance counselor took the initiative and told me, based on my interests and academic ability, that I should consider a career in engineering. I went to a state university, for free, got a degree in engineering and I’ve been an engineer at the same company for over 25 years. Now my son is entering the college admission’s process and it seems so confusing! He doesn’t know what to study or where to go. He’s has received very little help from his school. We receive mail from colleges every day. We really don’t know how we can afford it. Make sense of it for me!”

He smiled after the last sentence. He knew I couldn’t possibly provide all of the information he needed during a five minute break. But this conversation has stuck with me. Since that day, I’ve wanted to provide a seminar for students and parents to help them “make sense” of the college planning and admission’s process.

The times have changed… Think about this father’s story: A guidance counselor knew him well enough to help him in the process. He went to college FOR FREE! He got a job in his field shortly after he graduated. He has been working for the same company for over 25 years.

This scenario is no longer the norm. But the other parts of his story are now very common: His son isn’t sure what he wants to study, where he wants to go and the father has no idea how to pay for college! Sound familiar?

Countless conversations like this one has been the motivation behind the new seminar “The College Choice: Faith, Family & Finances” being held in Lancaster, PA on October 12.

The seminar has three goals… Participants will gain:

A biblical vision for making the most of these years

A clearer understanding of the cost/value of college

A wise approach to the college admission’s process

This seminar is for students, parents, educators and youth workers looking for resources for making better decisions about life after high school. The seminar will be beneficial whether you are early (parents of middle schoolers) or late (parents of high school seniors) in the college planning process. I hope to see you there!

Click here to learn more about the seminar.

Click here to register.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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Containing the Cost of College

College Choice - CTI HomepageThis past weekend, the Lancaster Sunday News (PA) featured two, side-by-side columns about the rising cost of higher education. Both articles are worth reading: “Paying For College Is A Whole New Ballgame” by Lancaster Newspapers staff writer Gil Smart and “Student Services Fuel Rising College Costs” by Elizabethtown College professor April Kelly-Woessner. Here are a few highlights…

From Mr. Smart:

“According to U.S. News & World Report, the total cost of a four-year degree by the time my youngest goes to college, assuming he does, will top $200,000… My own schooling was paid for with grants, loans and the occasional credit card; the debt was paid off a decade after I graduated, and the feeling of liberation was palpable. But the $10,000 or so I owed is minuscule compared to the debt accumulated by graduates today. And particularly in this job market — one likely to continue deteriorating in terms of quality, good-paying jobs for those just out of school — how in the world can grads expect to conquer the resulting mountain of debt?

From Dr. Kelly-Woessner:

“College costs are largely consumer- driven. The solution may be to simply reduce the money available to students. Unfortunately, universities often find that instructional costs are the easiest to cut. Indeed, many institutions are increasingly relying on low-paid adjuncts. In the face of financial strain, my husband has seen the full-time faculty members in his department at Penn State Harrisburg cut in half. So, although faculty salaries have not driven the rising tuition costs, instruction is often the first casualty in the face of budget cuts.”

From my many conversations with families, I’m realizing more and more that parents and students have questions about how to make wise decisions concerning life after high school. That’s why I’m so excited about the seminar on October 12 in Lancaster, PA. Registration info coming soon!

Related resources:

Seminar: The College Choice: Faith, Family & Finances

Expert Interview: “College, Crippling Debt and Financial Wisdom: J. Steve Miller Interview

Infographic: “Unprepared for College: Half of All College Students Drop Out Before Receiving a Degree

Blog: “How Should Christians Count the Cost of a College Education?

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NEW Seminar on College Planning: October 12, 2013

College Choice - CTI HomepageFeeling unprepared for college? 

Learn how to plan for college with confidence!

Announcing a NEW seminar from CPYU’s College Transition Initiative…

What: The College Choice: Faith, Family & Finances

When: October 12, 2013 – 8:30am-12:00pm

Where: East Earl, PA (Shady Maple Banquet Center)

Why: Put faith first in college planning…

Higher education has faced sharp criticism recently. Many pundits and families are starting to question the value of a college degree. And for good reason. Did you know…

Nearly 50% of first-year students do not graduate within six years?

Student loan debt has exceeded $1 trillion?

Only one in seven high school seniors report feeling prepared to face the challenges of college life?

Now it’s more important than ever that families make wise decisions about college, particularly concerning where to go, what to study, and how to pay. Participants will gain…

A biblical vision for making the most of these formative years
A clearer understanding of the true cost and value of college
A wise approach to the college admission’s process

This seminar is for students, parents, youth workers, and educators looking for resources to make wise decisions about life after high school.


Derek Melleby, director of CPYU’s College Transition Initiative and author of Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning.

Terry Evearitt, certified college planner, College Funding Advisors, Inc.

Matt Reitnour, director of college counseling, Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, NC.

Cost: $15/individual $25/family

Mark your calendars. Seating is limited.

Click here to register!

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FREE Webinar: The Best Books for Pastors, Parents and Youth Workers

Top 10 Reading from Byron WebinarTop Ten (or so) Picks for Your Summer Reading

June 27 – 1:00pm (EDT)

Click here to register.

Join me as I ask CPYU’s favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, to suggest the best books to read this summer. Byron owns Hearts & Minds, a bookstore in Dallastown, PA and has been in the book business for over 30 years. He enjoys crafting custom-made lists for specific audiences. He is a long-time friend of us here at CPYU and has agreed to offer a list for us. Listen in as he shares key titles to inspire us in our tasks as parents, youth workers and Christian leaders.

Watch a video of Byron discussing why reading matters here:

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Senior Night Webinar: Preparing for the Next Chapter of Your Life Story

SeniorNightOn May 19 at 7:00pm (EDT) gather all the high school seniors (and other students too) you know for this special event! I will deliver a 30 minute talk to help students be more spiritually prepared for life after high school. As students enter what experts call “the critical years” (ages 18-25), this webinar with pose two important questions:

What kind of person do you want to be?
What story will shape your life?

Consider inviting students for a meal or dessert or simply tune in at a youth group gathering. The presentation will conclude with questions for discussion.

Register here.

Watch a video invitation here.


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