Finally, what does it mean to the future of America to have 4 million of its best, brightest, and spirit filled students graduating from the most prestigious universities in the world? What will it mean to have four million new business persons, artists, authors, military officers, business leaders, and government leaders who are spirit-filled evangelical Christians? I can feel the ground shaking!!!!
Archive for November, 2009
- Find a local church before you go to college. Go to the first service you can.
- Parents should meet the local pastor and introduce themselves.
- Participate in a local Christian groupâ€”Navigators, Inter-varsity, et al. But that does not substitute for a local church.
- Purpose to live a Godly life before you face temptation.
- Set up a study schedule that is a priority only behind your devotional life.
- Practice courtship.
- Expect persecution. The main persecution you will receive will be about your profession that Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life.
- Summer school can be a spiritual and financial opportunity for you. You can participate in mission trips that may count for academic credit and may also help you grow spiritually. Also, summer school may be a cost-effective way to accelerate your college experience and thereby save money for you and your parents.
- Avoid all appearance of evil.
- Write from a Christian perspective but do not allow your confessional stand to be an excuse for shoddy work.
- You will probably not be able to choose your roommate before you first arrive. But you can choose your roommate for your sophomore year. Choose wisely.
- Pray for your unsaved friends.
- Know the Truth.
- Live the Truth.
- Work hard and be the best follower of Christ that you can be!
Next, once we understand the world to which you are called there are several things I want to see happen to you.
Make sure that you know who you are and who your God is. â€œBy faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.â€ (Hebs. 11:24)
Refuse to be absorbed into the world but choose to be a part of Godâ€™s kingdom. You are special and peculiar generation. Much loved. But you live among a people who do not know who they are. A people without hope. You need to know who you areâ€”children of the Living Godâ€”and then you musmust live a hopeful life.
Take responsibility for your life. Moses accepted responsibility for his life. â€œHe chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.â€ (Hebs. 11: 25) If you donâ€™t make decisions for your life, someone else will.
Get a cause worth dying for. Moses accepted necessary suffering even unto death. You need a cause worth dying for (as well as living for). â€œHe [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.â€ (Hebs. 11: 26). Evangelicals know that we are crucified with Christ, yet it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Gals 2:20).
Never ever take your eyes off the goal. â€œBy faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.â€ (Hebs. 11:27). How long can you wait? How long can you persevere? What is your threshold of obedience?
The following are ten moral issues that must be clear in your mind before you go to college:
- Punishment and blame: What is fair punishment? Do you accept your authorityâ€™s right to enforce laws?
- Property: What is property and who owns it?
- Affiliation roles: What is a family? What are the motivations and obligations of a good family/ community member?
- Laws and statues: When if ever should laws be disobeyed?
- Life: What makes life valuable? Is life inviolable?
- Truth & Contracts: What is the truth? Why is truth telling valuable? Are there inviolable covenants that human beings must make?
- Government: What is a good citizen?
- Social justice: What are basic political, economic, and social rights?
- Sexuality: Is sex merely a biological response or is it related to religious or social guidelines?
If we are confused about what is right and wrong, about individual responsibilities, we are even more confused about toleration. S.D. Gaede, When Tolerance is No Virtue, says . . . â€œIn our culture, there is considerable confusion about how we ought to live with our differences and a cacophony of contradictory justifications for one approach as opposed to another. All appeal to the need of tolerance, but there is nothing like common argument on what that means. The question our culture raises by nature and development is what is truth and what can we believe? Our culture doesn’t know the answers. In fact, we have lost confidence in truth and have come to the conclusion that truth is unattainable. Thus, tolerance moves to the forefront.â€
Finally, in the years ahead, there will be real confusion about sexual roles. Sir Arnold Toynbee says . . . In the nineteen forties Toynbee studied civilizations and came to the following conclusions: Based on his study of twenty-one civilizations Toynbee found that societies in disintegration suffer a kind of â€œschism of the soul.â€ They are seldom simply overrun by some other civilization. Rather, they commit a sort of cultural suicide. Disintegrating societies have several characteristics, Toynbee argues. They fall into a sense of abandon People begin to yield to their impulses-especially in the sexual area. They also succumb to truancy that is escapism seeking to avoid their problems by retreating into their own worlds of distraction and entertainment. There is a sense of drift as they realize that they have no control over their lives. Consciousness is adrift, unable to anchor itself to any universal ground of justice, truth on which the ideals of modernity have been founded in the past.
Evangelicals, therefore, must not merely talk the talk. They must walk the walk. They are seeking to create an alternative community of hope. We/they are sabotaging the conspiracy of hopelessness and self-centeredness that is so pervasive in our nation. Bring on the revolution!
Next, there is a pervasive and abiding concern about the future. To those of us who lived through the Cold War this seem ludicrous. But the tentativeness and fear that pervades American society are real. Witness the catastrophe at Columbine. Those two young men were angry, confused, but most of all hopeless. We have lost our way; lost our dreams. Harvard professor Dr. Harvey Cox writes: â€œWe once had dreams and no technology to bring them to pass. Now we have technology but no dreams!â€
In fact, most social critics argue persuasively that this generation is one of the most hopeless in history. Interestingly enough this hopelessness has made us rather sentimental. We have become very sentimental about the past. Even in our most creative creations it is more of the same. Even though Hans Solo is a liar, a criminal and a fornicator, he still is a do-gooder spreading George Lucasâ€™ version of truth and justice across the land. But God is totally absent. The Star Wars phenomenon is so appealing because it is about the past; not about the future. Luke Skywalker is more like John Wayne than he is like Tom Cruse.
To this hopeless generation history is not sacred; it is merely utilitarian. It is not didactic; it helps make them feel better. The modern psychologist B.F. Skinner, for instance, disdains history and gives M & M’sÂ® to monkeys. We have no actionsâ€”only fate driving us. We are rudderless. The fact is we Christians know, however, that God is in absolute control of history. We need to teach our children to be tirelessly hopeful. We need to make sure that we are not mawkish! We can easily do so by speaking the Truth found in the Word of God in places of deception.
One of the greatest problems in this generation is confusion about individual responsibility. It was Freud who told us that feelings of guilt were a sign not of vice, but of virtue. That our problems stemmed from our mothers, not from our sin. Perhaps our problem began with Goethe whose Faust escapes the consequences of his sin by sincerity and good humor. What does this say for poor theistic Gretchen? Look at the evolution of the American understanding of hero:
- 1930-1970 Traditional John Wayne . . . While he was not overtly Christian, Wayne exhibited Judeo-Christian behavior in all his actions.
- 1970-2000 Modern Clint Eastwood . . . Eastwood is moral but the end justifies the mean. He is motivated by a golden-rule sort of moral code.
- 2000-Present Post-Christian Tom Cruise . . . Morality to Cruise is defined by what is right in his own eyes.
Perhaps our movie icons best typify what America values and promotes in her culture.
As you make final preparations for college, consider this information. American society is manifesting:
- Increasingly dysfunctional culture.
- A pervasive and abiding concern about the future
- A serious breakdown of community.
- Confusion about individual responsibility.
- Confusion about what toleration is.
- Confusion about sexuality.
As we begin the new millennium, Robert Bork in his prophetic book Slouching Toward Gomorrah warns us that the out of control individualism and egalitarianism of the 1960s are very much with us. One merely has to recall the impeachment hearings several years ago to see evidence of this sort of morality where â€œif what he is doing harms no one (individualism) then it is ok to do it (egalitarianism). We are part of a therapeutic culture, where wholeness is replaced by holiness, sanctification is replaced by therapy. And even the heartiest pagan is getting really tired of this mess! And, as he does, he may very well choose home schooling as an alternative to public education.
Os Guinness warns us that at some point Americans will become fed up with the excesses and dysfunctional aspects of our culture. He says that as American mainline culture fails to sustain Americans in their hedonistic pursuit of self interest, they will want something more. It is now questionable whether America’s cultural order is capable of nourishing the freedom, responsibility, and civility that Americans require to sustain democracy. Modernity (a word to describe modern American culture) creates problems far deeper than drugs. It creates a crisis of cultural authority in which America’s beliefs, ideals, and traditions are losing their compelling power in society. William Bennett is right to warn us that there is a â€œdeath of outrageâ€ in our country but he might add that there is a numbness spreading across the land that offers much opportunity for Christians in general and for home schoolers in particular.
Finally, my 30 years of coaching remind me how important stress reduction is to high SAT I scores. In fact, in my opinion, it is the most important preparation variable. For Christians, at least, stress reduction is best accomplished by a frequent and rigorous devotional and Bible memorization program and disciplined devotional time.
Here are a few common-sense sorts of things to know about college admission:
- Don’t be discouraged by high tuition charges. Private colleges, for instance, especially the costly ones, usually have much more money to give away in financial aid than state-supported schools. While cost consideration is an issue, many competitive colleges are very generous with financial aid.
- Financial aid is offered according to SAT scores, need, race/gender, transcript/ recommendations, zip codeâ€”in that order. The financial aid process is separate from the admission process.
- A college will look at your entire high school record, from ninth grade on. But a college knows that a transcript is subjective and still want an SAT I or ACT score.
- Keep good records of interviews. Use your prayer journal to record what God is doing in your life through the process.
- You should make sure that you have taken pre-algebra, algebra I, algebra II, geometry, and advanced math (optional). If the way is clear, for practical considerations, take a consumer math course senior year.
- Playing a musical instrument and participating in debate are two events that many colleges consider special, and applicants with special talents get special consideration, above and beyond those who do nothing in school but get good grades.
- A second language helps your college application but I recommend Latin as one of your languages. By all means, take at least two years of each language.
- The volume of your mail is an early indication of how desirable a college applicant you will be. Colleges only recruit students they really want. The more mail you get, the more colleges want you.
- Show interest in the college. Be assertive.
- Be creative on your transcript. Advanced Literary Analysis: Beowulf to Ben Jonson sounds a whole lot better than English Literature I.
- Take the SAT I in the spring of your junior year.
- Take the SAT II if necessary. The SAT II is a subject area exam. Besides many competitive colleges require that all students take 2-3 exams, it is a way to show special knowledge. For instance, engineering majors who wish to attend Georgia Tech may find it advantageous to take a subject area in physics.
- Consider taking a CLEP or AP test or two.
- In your junior year visit the college(s) you are considering.
- If you apply to a college, you want the admission officer to have a favorable impression of you, even before reading your application. The interview when you visit the campus is your shot at creating that impression. The interview is important-especially to a home school student.
Students do not have to know how to solve quadratic equations to do well on the math portion of the SAT I. Some algebra and basic geometry is helpful, but I have found that the key to high performance on the math portion is the same as it is on the verbal portion: critical thinking and critical reading skills. Thus, best scores come from individuals who think well and read well-even if their math skills are average. The 2005 SAT I math section will not only cover concepts from geometry and elementary algebra, it will contain concepts from Algebra II. The math computation on the SAT I is usually not difficult. What makes the math portion of the SAT I so difficult is that it is presented in a word problem format. Thus strong critical thinking and advanced critical reading skills will increase SAT I math as well as SAT I verbal scores. The addition of Algebra II computations should not alarm good students. Good students, especially good home schooled students, usually have had or are taking Algebra II before or during the junior year when the SAT I should be taken.
The best time to take the SAT I is May or June of oneâ€™s junior year. This allows students to retake the SAT I October of their senior year if necessary. Preparation is very helpful if the student implements a long- term programâ€“as advocated in The SAT and College Preparation Course. Without long-term coaching, there is no correlation between the frequency of taking aptitude tests (e.g., SAT I and IQ tests) and increased scores. Therefore, the author recommends that students take as many unofficial, old, real (i. e., from the College Board) SAT I tests as they can. Students should avoid the high cost of taking stressful official tests at their local high schools and universities. They are much better off if they take practice tests. Practice SAT I tests can be obtained by contacting me (www.forsuchatimeasthis.com) or they can be borrowed from some libraries. Remember, there is evidence that a small percentage of colleges average SAT I scores (rather than accept the highest score). Therefore, students should anonymously obtain as many unofficial scores as they can and then take the test one or two times officially.
The PSAT is the major determinate of the National Merit scholarship. As you know, for years I have advocated ignoring the PSAT unless students are legitimate National Merit Scholar possibilities. I observe that since 1% of Americans actually are National Merit possibilities, since there is no correlation between PSAT and SAT I scores, and since some students are discouraged by low PSAT scores, it is unhelpful or even harmful to take the PSAT. I argue that the best preparation for the SAT I is the practice SAT I and years of advance preparation. Students should use practice SAT I tests as practice for the SAT I. They should not use the PSAT.
Some of you will consider distance learning programs. Obviously these alternatives are growing very popular. With good reason. More and more of them are accredited. But be careful. Not all are accredited and some are actually more expensive than resident education. You should contact several graduate schools and ask them how they feel about admitting online students from your preferred undergraduate school.
There are four major components to college admission:
- An SAT or ACT score
- A Completed Transcript
- An Admission Essay(s)
By far the most important component to college admission is the SAT/ACT tests.
It is important to understand that the SAT I is an aptitude test, not an achievement test (like the Iowa Basics or Stanford Tests). The SAT II or Subject Area Exams are achievement tests. The SAT I is a math and English testâ€”there is no history, science, or any otheer subjects on the exam (although students will need these other subject for college admission).
The College BoardÂ® claims that almost 4 out of every 5 American colleges require the SAT I. That is not bad news. Christian students in general, home schooled Christian students in particular, are doing very well on the SAT I. Evangelical Christians should view preparation for the SAT I as an opportunity to grapple with an important question: Can they become what God is calling them to be? They won’t have the whole answer to this vital question at the end of their SAT preparation, but this can be a first step.
Students usually take the SAT I during the second semester of their junior year or first semester of their senior year. It measures their potential success in college, but it does not necessarily measure their information acquisition and assimilation skills. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with a student’s worth or esteem in God’s eyes.
The math portion and the verbal portion of the SAT are much different from the SAT some of us took several decades ago. There are more analysis questions, vocabulary is understood almost entirely in context, and there will be exercises requiring students to compare two reading passages. They will even have to write in some answers, instead of just picking a letter! There will be no antonyms on the SAT I, but double the number of reading comprehension questions. Finally, students will be allowed to use a calculator to help them with the math portion of the exam.
Vocabulary development is critical. As a matter of fact, I judge that 40 percent of the questions on the 2004 verbal portion of the SAT are related to vocabulary. Since analogies will be dropped and vocabulary problems will be increased, there are indications that that percentage will decrease on the 2005 exam. But that does not mean that students should ignore vocabulary development. Therefore, more than ever, it is vital that students learn the Latin/Greek roots of words. Also they should learn to define words in context. It is a waste of time for students to memorize the 500 most frequently used words on the SAT I. A better approach is to read good books (a list is included in the back of The SAT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student).
Higher level critical thinking is important to high SAT I scores. The SAT I is a cognitive, developmentally-based exam which assumes that students learn in stages. Bloomâ€™s Taxonomy is frequently a reference resource for cognitive developmental thinking. Bloomâ€™s Taxonomy argues that students learn in six stages. Most of the questions on the SAT I are based on the bottom and most challenging three levels: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. As a matter of fact, unless students are able to function at these higher thinking levels, they are doomed to manifest scores below 1000.
Sixty percent of the 2004 SAT I concerns critical reading exercises. That percentage will increase to eighty percent with the 2005 exam. In fact, the College Board is renaming the verbal section of the SAT I â€œCritical Reading Section.â€ This change in titling shows how serious the College Board folks are about critical reading. The verbal section will no longer include analogies. Instead, short reading passages will be added to existing long reading passages. A new section called the SAT writing section will be added. It will contain multiple-choice grammar questions as well as a written essay. That is good news to most classical-educated students who have spent years studying grammar and writing.
Be careful: what is a Christian college? Only a very few Christian colleges offer Ph.D.s. This means that the majority of Christian College faculties are trained in secular universities. That means there is no guarantee that Christian faculty will have a world view different from secular university faculty.
As a rule of thumb, in my opinion, evangelical students should try to attend Christian colleges. The fact is, if you are planning to attend graduate school, undergraduate degrees (if they are accredited) are more or less perceived equally by most graduate schools. If you have any doubt, phone the school and ask where their students attend graduate school.
Finally, in many ways it is a moot point. The majority of evangelical parents prefer to send their students to local, state or community colleges. Why? Cost. You can save on tuition and housing costs. In fact, it is not a bad idea to take most of your basic courses at a community or junior college. Keep this in mind, though. Transfer students with two years of college (c. sixty credits) virtually never receive financial aid. So, if you have a chance to receive scholarship aid, it might be more financial feasible for you to attend a four year undergraduate school immediately after high school graduation.
Speaking of graduation, why donâ€™t some of you home school students consider a senior mission year? My son, Peter, finished his academic work junior year, obtained a good SAT Score, and spent his senior year suffering for Jesus at Maui (as in Maui, Hawaii) Bible College. It was a very positive experience for him. When he finished Bible College, he applied to college (his SAT scores were current) and he began his undergraduate education at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia.
Some students wisely learn a trade before they begin undergraduate school. For instance, I have heard of a young man (home schooled) who learned how to wire houses. While an undergraduate and then a graduate student at Cornel University, he paid his way through college by wiring houses. When he graduated with a Ph. D. in electrical engineering he had no debt and obviously he was very employable.