Fewer things are more daunting than getting to the middle of your high school career and realizing you have a choice. High school isn’t forever. What’s next? As your junior and senior years progress, you and your friends are driving all over the state (or country) visiting colleges and frantically filling out applications.
And then reality hits. High school is over and the cap and gown have been put away. You start shopping for dorm supplies, textbooks, all the fun stuff, and then comes move-in day.
How do you get there and know you’ve made the right decision?
It’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement. Take it from me. When I was a senior in high school, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. At least, I thought I did. I was all set to go to a super prestigious school a few hours from my home. I was so excited. And I thought it was exactly what I wanted. In August 2014, I moved into my dorm. A week later, I moved out.
I choked. I was so nervous. In the midst of the excitement and nervousness, I didn’t realize what a huge, life-changing transition college was going to be. Truth be told, it was kind of embarrassing. I didn’t take the time to make sense of the transition that was going to happen in my life. I didn’t research the school well enough or determine whether or not it was the right fit for me.
GOD’S WILL AND LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
Does God have that one, absolutely perfect college picked out for us? I don’t think so. I don’t think we can disappoint God by going to the “wrong” college. But it is important to understand how He wants to use us, no matter where we end up.
How do we know what God wants for us when we plan post-high school life? Of course, prayer is a valuable discernment tool when it comes to making decisions. But it’s wise to punctuate prayer with Scripture. One of my favorite verses about the will of God comes from the book of Job.
Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42:1-3 (emphasis added)
This passage perfectly summarizes God’s will. There is absolutely nothing we can do to thwart God’s will. Even when we feel distant from God, He is constant and knows his plans. He wasn’t shocked and appalled when I suddenly changed college plans (honestly, there’s not a lot you can do to “surprise” God!); God would not have abandoned me if I’d decided to stick with my original decision.
And guess what? God’s plans are just as Job said—wonderful! He doesn’t have one exact college in mind for you. You won’t be “sinning” if you choose the “wrong” college. If I had stayed at that college, I don’t think God would have disowned me. But I would not have had the experience I had at Cornerstone University if I had stayed. I would be a very different person. And God knew that.
Here are a few guiding questions that might help you consider God’s will when choosing next steps for post-high school life.
Will I be able to utilize my God-given talents if I choose this path? Think about what degrees or programs the college offers. Are there extracurricular activities that line up with your interests?
How does this path line up with my potential goals for the future? How will this college/career plan prepare me for what I want to do in the future?
How will I be able to honor God if I take this path? You don’t have to go to a Christian college to honor God, but does the college you’re looking at offer opportunities to serve and worship?
God has a magnificent plan for you. There’s no doubt about that. In fact, that plan is so broad in scope that it’s impossible for you to know it. But if you remain close to God’s heart and follow in His footsteps, He will guide you, whether you end up at a state university or join the workforce right after high school.
I no longer look back at my experience with embarrassment. I look back and see God’s hand working throughout. He guided me, gently and patiently, to Cornerstone, where I ended up thriving. If I had stayed at the other college, I would have been a very different person. But I firmly believe that I am where God wanted me to be all along. It just took some time to get there.