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.