College - high costs, higher solutions

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

The cost of college:

A. Has skyrocketed. Who can afford it?

B. Pales in comparison with the benefits.

C. Is worth praying about.

Whichever answer you choose, one glance at the college/scholarship shelf at the local bookstore brings home the message that a lot of people, whether students or parents, are trying to figure out how on earth they can afford a college education.

For me, as a parent, a primary part of the search for an answer is praying. I've found a way to think it through from the basis of what I understand of God, Love, and of the ultimate reality of things. I needed to set aside conventional wisdom if it didn't agree with what I know of God, eternal Mind.

I also needed to bring to the discussion a reverence for a supreme, governing intelligence, and cultivate an expectation that this intelligence knows everyone's needs and takes an active interest in meeting them.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Stay focused on what's important and why. Education is not so much a commodity as an inherent capacity to expand from within. It's not merely something somebody gives us, but an aspect of our completeness.

When we see education from this point of view, we're not so much going to school in order to get an education, as finding ourselves in school because education occupies an important place in our understanding of ourselves and our world.

2. Go for wisdom. College isn't just about getting a degree; it's about getting understanding. And that's really a divine imperative. "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov. 4:7).

If God, divine Mind, commands us to get understanding, doesn't it stand to reason that He would show us a means for doing this? College is a good step in that regard. Sometimes the revealing of the means happens all at once in startling ways. But often, it unfolds so gently and naturally that we may be tempted to take it for granted. (Don't.)

3. Master fear. What are we afraid of? Not having that competitive edge? Missing out on the right connections, the right credentials? Fear is a primary problem.

Fear assumes that success hinges on putting forth the right personal effort, exercising personal intelligence. But the problem isn't simply personal inadequacy. The problem is fear. Maybe a fresh look at what fear means can help. One definition of fear is to be in awe of. If we're going to be in awe of something, shouldn't we be in awe of the power of divine Love to inform us of what to do, guide us in where to go, and direct us in how to do it? We don't have to compete for God's attention or approval. God is infinite Love. That's enough for everyone.

4. Be grateful. Gratitude is a powerful tool in the search for fulfillment. It opens one's thought to the good that God has already given. If we don't appreciate what God has given us, how will we recognize the good that lies ahead?

"Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more." Sound advice from a woman whose own search for wisdom led her to write the book from which those words are taken: "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy.

5. Give back. What's the purpose of education if not to enable us to share, to help, to be a blessing? If we keep this in mind, we won't let selfish ambitions narrow our horizons. We'll focus on how this education will enable us to give more.

If we don't find it easy to feel unselfish, we can pray for purer, more selfless desires. Mrs. Eddy also wrote, "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds" (page 1).

I can't tell you much about student loans or scholarships or grants. I don't know how much tuition is right for your budget. But I do know that praying for a more spiritual perspective on any problem brings deeper insights, clearer direction, and unforeseen opportunities.

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