Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Out Of My House! . . . Now! . . .

My post-high school life plan was pretty simple and straightforward. It followed the post-high school script of the mid-70s: 1) Go to college. Why? Because that's what's expected and everyone else is doing it. 2) Graduate from college. . . in four years. Why? Because that's what's expected and everyone else is doing it. 3) Get a job. Don't even think about moving home with your parents. Why? Because you're now an adult, that's what's expected, and everyone else is doing it. 4) Get married and have children. Then, prepare those children to follow steps 1 through 4.

Either I failed at 4b, or we are living in a very different world. I believe it's the latter. I have four kids - ages 27, 25, 23, and 18. All have graduated from high school. Until August 7 of last year, all four were living at home. On August 7, one of them got married. We told them they had to get their own place. Now, there are three at home. One is working post-college and living at home to save money. One just graduated from college and is looking for a teaching job and working as a sub until that happens. And one is taking a gap year and working in preparation for taking Gen.Ed. classes at the local community college in the fall. Yep, it's a very different world. In many ways, the changes have been facilitated by economic realities. To be honest, those economic realities are forcing us all to ask some very serious questions about higher education, college costs, and cost of living. And in a good way, these realities are also causing us to question what has long been held as conventional wisdom on matters of calling, giftedness, and vocation. I think fewer and fewer kids are going to leave high school destined to waste four (or more likely five-plus) years and lots of money on a life-path that's expected rather than divinely willed.

Still, those of us who work in the world of youth ministry are painfully aware that many students embark on this path while simultaneously turning their backs on the very faith that should be informing every step they take during the college transition and move into life-long vocation and adulthood. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. After all, Asher Roth provided them with some musical college orientation a couple of years ago. . .

That's why we began the College Transition Initiative here at CPYU. That's also why many others in our youth ministry world have launched similar efforts.

For a long time, I wondered how we could get high school students to ask the right questions before graduation. I wondered what we could be doing better to prepare our kids for a post-high school life that could be all it was ever meant to be. In other words, a post-high school life lived to the glory of God.

Earlier this year, Derek Melleby - Director of our College Transition Initiative here at CPYU - released a new book, Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning. Instead of taking a negative spin on the college years by warning readers about all the dangers they will face on campus, this book encourages readers to reckon with the fact that while they are at college they will - whether they know it or not - live out the answers to several questions. Derek challenges them to think consciously about the questions so that they can consciously develop and live out answers that conform to a life lived by God's story, rather than by the world's story.

The seven questions? . . .
-What kind of person do you want to become?
-Why are you going to college?
-What do you believe?
-Who are you?
-With whom will you surround yourself?
-How will you choose a major?
-How do you want your life to influence others?

If you're a parent of a soon-to-be high school graduate or a college student, I want to encourage you to connect the dots between Make College Count and your child by getting them their own copy.

If you're a youth worker who is working with soon-to-be high school graduates or college students, I want to encourage you to connect the dots between Make College Count and your students. I also want to encourage to snoop around on the site for our College Transition Initiative. I also want to encourage you to consider scheduling a College Transition Seminar. It's good!

Finally, if you're looking to get a meaningful gift for your graduate(s), check out a special package offer we've got going here at CPYU.

Oh. . and by the way. . . we love having three of our kids living at home. It's been fun. And productive. Nate. . . please cut the grass this afternoon.

1 comment:

Greg said...

I heard a excellent presentation recently from a professor of psychology at a Christian university in Calif. on the history of the notion of a long period of adolescence (as opposed to the older view of a quicker transition from child to adult) and this newly-coined term of adultalesence, with many young adults still living at home through their 20's and some into their 30's (think of the movie Failure to Launch).

He made an interesting comment on the economics: in the past a young adult expected (or resigned themselves to) living at a lower economic level after they left home(driving an old car, eating mac and cheese, living in an apartment that's nothing to write home about, etc.). Kids have transitioned today to not wanting to move away from home until they can afford to live at near the current economic level that they experience living in their parents' house.

This professor has kids that are now through high school, maybe college too, and out of the house. He said it takes a concerted effort by parents in the growing-up years in setting the child's expectations and vision to be an adult and pay their own way once they are done with high school or college (especially for our young men).