“College can be a wonderful and dangerous place,” writes Alex Chediak. And he should know. As the associate professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University, he has worked with and taught students for several years. But even though college can be a difficult place, his desire is that students not just survive, but thrive. Therefore, he has written Thriving In College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for The Real World, a book designed to help students make the most of their college days.
“The purpose of college,” writes Chediak, “ is to be a launching pad into all that goes with responsible Christian adulthood.” He comments how “it’s shameful that one in every three men of ages twenty-two to thirty-four is still living at home with Mom and Dad.” College is the place to begin to develop responsibility. But to do so takes intentionality. It requires a plan. And it involves being aware of a few dangers ahead.
Naturally, Thriving In College seeks to encourage its readers to grow closer to God during their college days. Chediak writes that “college is a season in which you can—and must—take ownership of your faith.” There will be moral and intellectual challenges to one’s faith in college, but one must not neglect his/her relationship with God. Chediak argues that “Christianity doesn’t just make sense; it provides a firm basis to build your college years and your entire adult life upon.”
As Chediak builds the case that Christianity should be the foundation for one’s days at college, he allows it to guide him to write about some practical advice a college student needs to excel. I really appreciate this aspect of the book. He does not compartmentalize Christianity but allows it to speak to how a student should do everything from taking notes in class to building new relationships.
The specific suggestions Chediak mentions throughout each chapter to help students “thrive in college” are practical, helpful and challenging. Below is a sampling of some of his advice…
You don’t want to assume that college is just like high school (p. 31).
It’s so important to have friends whose character you admire because, like it or not, as they go, you will go (p. 68).
Before you jump into a dating relationship, you need to take responsibility for your own Christian life so that you aren’t looking for someone else to be for you what only God can be (p. 94).
Embrace responsibility and avoid making excuses or exaggerating (p. 169).
As you select a major, move toward the decision with intentionality, an accurate self-assesment, and a wise consideration of the pros and cons, but recognize that the selection of a major os only the beginning of a journey (p. 221).
Study regularly instead of cramming (p. 228).
Don’t waste opportunities in college. Prioritize and develop your academic skills, but also take advantage of extracurricular growth opportunities like internships, mission trips, student organizations, and special events (p. 281).
If you are a college student, work with college students, or are even a parent of a college student, Thriving In College will be a tremendous resource for you. Of all the resources on the market that deal with the transition to college, I have found this book to be the most balanced as Chediak deals with matters from apologetics to learning to handle finances.
At around 350 pages, Thriving in College might appear a bit lengthy for some students, but nonetheless, I would consider placing a copy in their hands. Or better yet, using the material in a high school senior or college freshmen small group.