On choosing a college

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

One interesting thing about traveling on a bus is listening in on other people's conversations. One day, I heard some high-school students talking about the colleges they wanted to go to. They mentioned one in particular, and said that it had a worldwide reputation and that a friend had applied there just for the experience of applying and going to see it, regardless of whether she was accepted.

What should you look for in a college? Its reputation, the courses it offers, proximity to home (or not!), the financial situation, accommodations - all have a bearing. But college is also a part of life's great adventure. And, as well as being an opportunity for learning, it is the outcome of, and an opportunity for, spiritual progress.

I know from experience. I didn't get a place in the university I wanted to attend and grudgingly attended a college I considered second-rate. I often skipped classes and was generally unhappy. Also, I thought I had been praying about finding my right college, and it looked like my prayers hadn't worked.

But my prayer led me to an idea written over 100 years ago by the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy: "Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 506).

I thought I was all too clear about my holy purpose. But it took some years to realize that God does all of it. He gathers unformed thoughts, unfolds them, opens the petals. I stopped trying to outline how things should be and stopped feeling let down if they didn't happen, and I concentrated on learning more about God and His holy purpose. I became more aware of the needs of those around me. And armed with an understanding that my holy purpose was to witness and live out God's holy purpose, I found a fascinating and absorbing job that I could never have imagined.

After a few years in that job, I felt a need to expand my horizons. This time I prayed earnestly with the words Paul used during his conversion on the road to Damascus: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6).

An opportunity arose for me to travel, which I took. On my return, I knew I had to find a new job. I didn't particularly relish the idea of going back into the business world, but as I couldn't think of anything else, I decided to pursue that idea and trust God with the outcome. On my way to my first interview, I walked past a college that specialized in fashion design. I had no academic qualifications in this field but had gained some experience in my previous job, and I was interested in this line of work. It occurred to me that they might offer evening classes. When I stopped by to ask, one of the senior tutors came downstairs and spoke to me. She said I was exactly the sort of person they wanted, and asked if I would be interested in studying full time again.

As I walked up the stairs, I knew I would spend a chunk of my life in that college. I loved it. And because I had the business experience, I approached my studies completely differently than if I'd gone earlier. I had well-paying jobs during the vacations. It was a brilliant experience that I draw on most days of my life. Oh, and by the way, it was the college those girls were talking about on the bus.

So if you're faced with decisions about college, trust God. He will show you the way. He will dissolve the pressure of decisionmaking. He will guide you and provide what you need for every step of your adventure in life.

I will instruct thee

and teach thee in the

way which thou shalt go:

I will guide thee

with mine eye.

Psalms 32:8

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