Campus Ministry Matters

What is the purpose of College?

What is College all about?  Why are our students going to college.  The logical answer is to obtain a degree, which a great many of them are actually attending college for.  But along the way, something changes many of their perspectives and perhaps opens the door for us as campus ministers and chaplains to help reframe the story.

Brian Simmons in his book Wandering in the Wilderness: Changes and Challenges to Emerging Adults Christian Faith informally seems to hit upon this issue.  While previous generations articulated a succinct expectation that college was purposefully about obtaining a degree in order to pursue a career, Brian finds many of his students saying that college was where they “got their act together” or “had the best experiences of my life.”  If this shift is true, than we as campus ministers may have found a tremendous opening.

I speak often to congregations and colleagues about the reframing story that college ministry can become.  Instead of a rat race, college can be about discovering yourself, and that can be done in a healthy and open environment such as campus ministry.  And it seem to become even more essential because of Brian’s emphasis upon what he calls the “excess” of experiences in college.

This excess manifests itself in binge drinking, sexual promiscuity, and generally just taking certain things too far without considering the consequences. And we can’t expect students not to experiment during college, but as campus ministers it is our job to help provide a positive presence and at times, help students to identify when things become excessive.  But it also helps they those same students already recognize that college is a place where this happens and then we as ministers can enter into dialogue.

So what do you all do to help “reframe” the purpose of college?  What intentional ways are you helping students get out of the “rat race” and more integrated into an understanding that this journey of college might actually be more about discovering yourself than the taking of tests, writing of papers, and reading of textbooks?

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