Hope for your financial life and beyond

Does God Want Me To Attend College?

Every fall like clockwork, the same ritual happens during the months of August and September – students return to high school. Each year a special group of these students enter their senior year, excited about wrapping up one of the most exciting times of their life thus far. And chief among their thoughts as they start their final year of high school is this question, “Should I go to college or not?”

should i go to collegeFor people of faith, there is an underlying component to this question that sometimes factors into the answer to the college question. That element is this – “Does God want me to go? Does He really care if I attend college or not?” Mom and dad sure have made it clear they think it’s important. They’ve been pounding the table for months to get those applications finished.

But what about God? Does He even have an opinion on college?

To those with no religious inclination this may seem silly. Why consult a higher power at all about a non-spiritual issue like whether or not to attend college? I understand that line of thinking.

However, for those who value their relationship with God, it’s huge for several reasons.

Should I Go to College?

For starters, I believe that God is wholly invested in my life. He is not a hazy essence or force that floats around the universe, unknowing and uncaring about what I am experiencing. God cares for and deeply loves me. Ultimately, He wants a relationship with me and desires the best for my life.

Related Content: How to Become a Christian (off site content at ReadtheBibleinaYear.com)

Because of this, I can count on Him for wisdom. One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:5 which reads,

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

That’s a promise from God that He will supply us with wisdom when we ask for it. It’s a guarantee. You can count on it because God does not break His promises.

With that promise in hand, why wouldn’t someone ask Him for help in making this or any decision for that matter? After all, the choice to attend and where to attend college is one of the biggest decisions a young person can make. It could define the rest of their life.

Jesus Was a Learner

God’s son Jesus came to earth and experienced a life much like you and I. He had parents, brothers and sisters, helped his earthly father Joseph in the family carpentry business and was involved in ministering to others. He also learned, most likely in the Jewish school system of the day.

We know this because of verses like this one in Luke 2:52,

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

In this verse, we see three reasons how personal growth and development (i.e. learning) helps us:

1. It increases our wisdom. Through learning, we gain experience and knowledge, which hopefully in turn produces better judgment.

2. It builds our stature. As we learn and express our abilities and knowledge, we develop a reputation as having achieved a certain level of status or competency in a particular discipline. In other words, our standing and importance naturally grows in the eyes of others.

3. It produces favor. When we implement our wisdom and our stature grows, favor is produced. We gain the approval and satisfaction of others because we’ve provided them with something of value or helped them learn how to solve a problem.

This relates to the “Should I go to college?” discussion in this regard – Has a young person’s wisdom, stature and favor with others been sufficiently developed by age 18? From reviewing my own life and the lives of high school students I’ve interacted with through the years, I believe most teens would answer “No” to that question if they were being honest.

The accumulation of wisdom, stature and favor has a direct impact on the success level one might find later in life. That’s a fairly compelling argument for continuing your education post-high school.

College Is a Tossup for God

There is not a verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt attend college.” So only you can decide the direction God is leading. And, believe it or not, that path can be determined by following some basic steps:

1. Start thinking about college early. Realistically begin thinking about college by age 16. Dwell on it. Dream about it. Picture what it will be like. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin thinking about it. A rushed and uneducated decision is a poor one and spells doom.

Related Content: Choosing the Right College Starts by Answering These Questions

2. Be honest about your ability to excel. It’s a big sign if you hate high school and don’t like to learn. Avoid pushing a square peg into a round hole. It will never fit. Your path probably lies in going straight into the workforce or maybe trade school.

3. Get wise counsel from trustworthy people who are not your parents. Parents are the #1 stop for advice. You should trust them the most. However, seek out other trustworthy adults in your circle of connections. They’ll have perspectives (and probably unbiased opinion) you haven’t considered.

4. List the pros and cons. This always helps when facing a big decision. Seeing items listed on paper brings perspective and the clarity you are looking for to make a wise decision.

5. Visit schools. Get out there and put your feet on campus. Walking on campus sidewalks and through buildings will help stir up some feelings. You will eliminate several school choices just by being on campus.

6. Pray. Make this a routine habit. As mentioned earlier, ask God for wisdom in making this decision. He will not turn a deaf ear to your requests.

Should I Go to College Conclusion

When you engage in the process by following these steps, God will provide a peace about your specific decision. It may be hard to understand how that peace is being generated. But in that moment it will be obvious what God wants you to do. Then it will simply be up to you to follow through.

Does God care if you go to college? Maybe. With His help you can find an answer to that question.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: What answers have you been receiving from others when asking the “Should I go to college?” question? Was it hard for you to figure out whether to go to college? How did you finally make the decision? Do you regret your college of choice? What other steps can help in this process?

Photo by sean Kong on Unsplash

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  1. Stephanie Gonzalez says

    No, I don’t think you should go to college or universities, I think people should learn a vocational skill like Jesus Christ did, going to get a “degree” is MASONIC, and you are not relying on The Father in Jesus Christ name, you are relying on that degree, Jesus Christ says he will never forsakes, so trust him, going to university is prideful, having a title, and buying things for prestige, be humble and follow God in Jesus Christ name and he will never forsake you, trust him!!

    • Thanks for reading and your comment Stephanie, but you are not really thinking this through properly. In fact, I’ll be blunt…your perspective is incorrect.

      We need people who want to go the vocational route and learn a trade for their career. There is nothing wrong with that and you certainly don’t need a college degree for that path. But the vast majority of careers REQUIRE a college degree. Not only that, but we the people desire professionals in those roles who have been vetted through an educational endeavor and have thoroughly learned the applicable knowledge of their field. Do you really want to go visit a surgeon who has “learned” his trade in a back alley some where? Do you want to drive your car over bridges designed by engineers who learned their craft on YouTube? Do you want to pull anyone off the street and put them in the classroom to teach your children? You want your lawyer to know the law, your therapist to know counseling techniques, your pharmacist to know how to fill the right prescription, and your pilot to know how to take off and land. All these things I listed require a college level degree or advanced educational certification of some kind.

      It’s your right to believe people shouldn’t go to college. But that doesn’t make those who do prideful, arrogant, selfish or untrusting in the Lord. It doesn’t mean they don’t rely on the Lord in their daily lives. In fact, I could make an argument all day long that believers who know they have a love for a certain profession, want to become the best they can in that field to honor God with their talents and be a witness for him in their daily lives. And if they refused to go to college solely because they believed it was inherently wrong, they couldn’t become what God called them to be. So in that case, all other things being equal, they’d be disobedient not to go.

  2. I have come across this post a week away from when I must make an enrollment deposit. I have college acceptances lined up and a few I am deciding between now, but important factors working against my ability to make a decision. I thought about all the points you made, and I can’t find a concrete answer to each of them. Did I start thinking about college by age 16? Sure. Meaning, I sort of thought about it but then didn’t want to think about it at the same time because it made me nervous thinking about needing to make a decision. Do I love school and learning? Kind of. I have always made the good grades in school, but I felt I was doing a lot of busy work that wasn’t genuine learning. Then there were days where I felt I was learning and enjoying the process. Did I mostly enjoy it when my performance earned high approval from my parents, teachers, and peers? Yes. Have I gotten wise counsel from people other than my parents? Sort of. I hear suggestions of community college first to save money, but then despise not hearing them suggest going straight to a four-year. Have I listed the pros and cons? Sort of. Except for the points where I cannot decide whether something is a pro or a con or whether one point is maybe two or three points. Have I visited schools? Of course I have. I have visited more than five and all are ones I have seriously considered. They all were amazing, all had qualities that attracted me. Have I prayed? Sort of. I try to pray about it. I don’t pray it every day but I have multiple times. I don’t understand the concept of knowing when God has “told” me to do something though. If He does not speak audibly, how in the world am I supposed to know exactly where I am meant to go? Is it a feeling? Is it speaking through somebody? I can’t trust that feelings aren’t just of me or what someone says is more of a deceptive element. I really want to discover my adult self in a university setting. I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for it. I want to go to the Christian university I was accepted to. I don’t like the lack of academia they provide. I want to go the secular college I was accepted to for its abounding opportunities, diversity, and nature. I don’t want to have to find a church far off campus that is difficult to get to. I want to go to community college and save my money for two years. I don’t want to give up the opportunities I fought to have for university. Again, I have a week left. I am stuck and I don’t see what God’s plan is for me. What now?

    • Jaxon Dean Whittaker says

      Hey Megan,
      I hear you out and trying to hear the voice of God, especially in such a busy time of your life can be especially hard to do. I should know as I a going through the exact same thing as you are right now with my college decision except that I waited until the last day. One of the things that have greatly influenced me is multiple talks that I have had with my peers and those who seem to be the wise counsel that God has provided in my life, and not only that but committing to seeking God’s will. Romans 12:1-2 perfectly wraps this up as it tells us (as Christians) to offer up ourselves to God as a sacrifice and to not be of this world. Just trust in the Lord and in his plan. I believe (just based on your little message) that you too is an analytical thinker just like I am, and we constantly are thinking, “what if something goes wrong”. My Youth Pastor once told me that “as LNG as you are following the will of God you are making Godly “mistakes” and are therefore still doing the works of God. Thats the cool thing about our God, he has a reason for everything.”
      I hope this helps.

  3. Stirling says

    Hey! Jesus loves us!

    My name is Stirling. I’m 34 years old. I was born in Canada and have been living in Colombia for over 11 years. I speak 23 languages, thanks to Jesus, all learnt self-taught by the skill and gift from God, talents. When I was 19 I got a technical vocational degree in broadcasting, and at the age of 21 I moved to Colombia. I’ve been teaching languages here and I got a certification for teaching. BUt I’ve always felt that not having a bachelor’s degree is kind of like a shame for me. something to hid especially in interviews. In my industry , more and more ,online English teaching, they’re requiring us to have a bachelor’s degree in anything plus the experience that I have, – not so much- I already have 15 years expereince teaching, from private schools, universities, virtual clases, etc., but my only deficiency was a lack of bachelor’s degree. ANd I believe God has recently told me that he was a full-fledged carpentor and in the same way HE would have me be a full-fledged language teacher as I already am, but before men, too, in fact with the diploma. So If God wills He’s blessed me with a new opportunity to do an online virtual bachelor’s degree on languages – 4 English, Spanish, POrtuguese and French, which I already know and because of the knowledge, if God wills I already have I can validate my knowledge and basically cut a 4 `1/2 year program in half of the time.. If God wills I’m going to pursue this, adn this way if God wills I’ll be responsible to tell the truth in my future interviews if needed, that yes, I do have a bachelor’s degree and be able to get in , if God wills, the best opportunities for my skills and for a paper that men value, a bachelor’s degree. My questions were, if I study 7 hours daily, I won’t have as much time to go out on sthe streets. to evangelize which I really like doing. Because I thanks to God, presently give morning classes on line adn generally have the whole day to go abroad and sing to Jesus on streets and witness to them about JEsus. But now I that time would be cut into.. But I thought, If my industry is tightening up their stanadards that all language teachers on line soon will have to all have bachelor’s degrees. and I like my profession which allows me to only give about 3 hours daily, in order to stay in it, if God wills, I must get updated to par with the industry. ANd that way in the future I can stay in it! What if I couldnt’ stay in it later for not doing the bachelor’s degree now and being fully occupied my time now, if I’m busy now getting done, if God wills I’ll be able to stay in my trade and not have to switch for another one which would probably force me to have to work 9 hours a day .. for the rest of my life. So better to not have as much time to go out on streetes to evangelize for only 2 years and some what now and then have the rest of my life , free time , with my trade, thanks to Jesus teaching online and then for th rest of my lifle, if God wills I”ll have plenty of time to go out witnessing to folk each and every day, and I’ll have my trade, if God wills, according to worldy standards secured.. because our trades gernally speaking have to do with this world, no? Carpentry, teaching, etc. But it’s all for the glory of God, so I know that my God cares about me just like you said above , brother/sister BRian, and cares about me having the best life and he wants me to be able to provide for my family. ANd not to be a liar but to the contrary to make an honest living! And my trade to honestly stay in it, I must have a bachelor’s degree in most of the cases. So Thi s is something that I must do. IT’s been my trade for the last 15 years and I know God likes it, Just like Paul had his trade in tent-making. If they said, hey tent-makers, everyone must update their skills by doing a year-long course because the industry is moving up, Im sure if he weren’t in prison and still providing for himself and giving his example of “He who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat”. he responsiblily would update his resumee or whatever needed to stay abread his worldly trade. And he says that he who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever, God says in Bible. So if I see that this is the best way to provide for my family, … ??? then of course, I think if GOd wills, it’s biblically true, now that I should go ahead and do it! So that’s my testimony if God wills I”m going to begin this online bachelor’s degree coming up next month! I’m excited adn thanks to JEsus and I thank HIm that He loves me so much that He wants the best for me and wants me to know that I’m worth it ! He loves me!

    • Sounds amazing Stirling! In your situation, I see only positives in you furthering your education and getting your Bachelor’s. It won’t be easy but God seems to have gifted you with a special ability for language comprehension. Securing that degree will only make you more valuable for Him in the future, however He chooses to use you. I wouldn’t worry too much about your studies cutting into your evangelizing. If that is a passion of yours, you will still find time to do it as God allows. You mentioned Paul. What many people do not realize is that, after his conversion, he spent several years studying before he actually became a full-time missionary. That study time was to prepare him for what was to come. So you in essence are following that same path. Hope it all works out for you…please update us when you finish your degree! 🙂

  4. Hi Brian,
    Thank you for your post. I am 22 now. I’ve been struglling alot lately wether I should study or not. I started university just a month ago, and I have to admit I decided going to school because of social pressure from family and some people in church. I enjoy learning new things and develop but I really did not enjoy high school and I never saw myself going back to study a degree. My concern is to not be able to provide for a family in the future without a degree or education. Maybe I just need to let go and trust God woll provide( I know he will) but for me it is also the balance on what I do with what God gave me. Now with the coronvid19 I’m even less motivated to keep on with school cause all classes are online and thats not a great way for me to study. I’m having a hard time to decide what should I be doing. I’d like to thank you again for your words. I need his wisdom and alkt of prayers.

    Love and shalom from Israel.

    • Hey Kevin…thanks for reading first of all. I agree with your assessment of life being a balance of trusting in God to provide but also being responsible to wisely use the gifts and talents He has given you. The wife of Proverbs 31 is not held in such high regard because she threw up her hands and said, “I’m out…God you take care of me and give me everything I need.” No…she is praised because she was a doer. Check out these action words the passage assigns to her…it says she brings, selects, gets up, considers, sets, sees, opens, makes, speaks, and watches. It’s clear to me that we have a role in our own fortunes.

      COVID19 has thrown everyone for a loop. I’d caution against making any life changing decisions during a time that is so emotional. I’d let this play out a bit and see what you think when school returns to normal. And in closing, you are doing the best thing already when you don’t know what to do – pray. God promises wisdom when we ask for it.

  5. How do I pray for God to reveal to me the college He’d have me study in?

    • Great question CeeJay. Don’t know if I have an exact answer for you. But, when I pray over and over about something, I eventually just get a sense of what the right decision is. I get that peace I talked about in the post. I just somehow know the path I’m supposed to take. I believe that is God helping to direct my path.

  6. Seekingthetruth says

    That’s the thing. I am torn between this because i know if i go to University then i will have to be faced with many temptations and sin. All the partying, sex and drug use will always be on my mind if i enter into a University. I dont think God wants me to go to University because of this sinful lifestyle. The other part is, i simply don’t know what i would study at University.

    • I believe as long as we are in the world, we would surely face temptations. What if you start work, and your organisation throws compulsory parties which are sinful? Would you let the fear of temptation prevent you from fulfilling the glorious destiny God has planned for you, as you are called unto glory and virtue (2 Pt 1:3).
      Also, remember, you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you and he has already given you all things that pertains unto life and godliness, so you can overcome!!!

  7. Eric Chamberlain says

    I am an older man…okay a much older man. LOL I am trying to return to college. I am finding that with every hoop I jump through, another is waiting as soon as I clear it. Now things are coming down to the wire at the start of the Fall 2016 semester. I am frustrated that I cant seem to find a way to get everything completed that I need to accomplish on the University’s timeline. I am unusually edgy and sharp with the people closest to me because I want this so badly. I feel that God has given me a second chance to do something important with my life. I completely blew my first shot. I feel SO frustrated that I am not going to find and be able to put all the elements that I need together in time for this to work.

  8. Matt Shreve says

    I believe that the Lord does NOT want us to waste our time on anything that is not of Him. College takes secular humanism and forces you to spend countless hours studying godless concepts, following godless Communist heathen professors and subject yourself to all diverse (did I mention godless) alternative lifestyles. And why do you need to better yourself anyways? Don’t you believe God loves you just the way you are? And what are you trying to prove to the world, that you’re important and smart? Are you trying to compete with the Lord? Look at what the Scriptures say about these things:

    Ephesians 5:11 says “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;”
    Ecclesiastes 12:12 says “But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.”

    Remember, all this knowledge of the world will not save you if your heart is not right with God. What does it profit a man that he gains the whole world (or the knowledge thereof) and loses his soul?

    • I get where you are coming from with this Matt and I appreciate your enthusiasm for staying separate from the godlessness of the world. As followers of Jesus we do need to be careful about what we get sucked into. And I don’t disagree that secular humanism is a destructive philosophy on college campuses. However…

      If God has given you talents and abilities then it’s being a wise steward to maximize them to your fullest potential. Remember the parable of the talents Jesus told? The person who buried theirs was criticized by the master for not doing anything with it. What would you tell the young Christian with a love for science who wants to help people by becoming a medical doctor? What about the person who desires to teach and wants to become a college professor so they can be a witness for Christ? Should they not pursue these vocations because of some godless concepts that are taught in colleges?

      There are many, many believers working in all kinds of secular jobs who could not be there without a higher education. We can be of this world and exist in it without participating in the godless pursuits we see around us.

      I’m reminded the Bible says that even Jesus was a learner. He increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. I don’t see increasing knowledge (or college itself) as being an evil thing. It’s a means to an end that can lead us to do great things for God.

    • Stephanie Gonzalez says

      Exactly!! Amen brother! No college or universitity just a vocational skill to provide for the family, universities is not of GOD, it’s prideful titles you don’t need, you need to rely on Jesus Christ, not a Masonic Degree to get you a title, to live in an affluent neighborhood, and to forget about our FATHER IN JESUS CHRIST NAME

  9. This is very interesting to me because I am a 18 year old girl who has graduated highschool in May and I know that God is calling me to speak for him through music it has Always been a calling for me and I don’t see college in any of that. But my parents want me to go they don’t understand that God has a greater purpose for me I do not know what i should do I feel like God doesn’t have anything for me at college or maybe I’m just wrong.

    • I can appreciate your dilemma Maricela. I think you need to analyze a) how would I use my talent to honor God and b) how would I make a living at it. Unless you plan to marry and be a stay at home mom you will have to support yourself. Do you have connections already that could lead to a career in music? College may supply those. Plus, if music was your major you’d learn a lot that would increase your God-given talent all the more and give you even more opportunities. Something to consider…

  10. This was such an interesting post. I often wonder about what God wants me to do. You’d think the answer would be very easy but if it were, I wouldn’t be wondering. I once read a book about all the money anyone has belongs to God and He is judging us on how we spend it vs. give it. The premise was that we should give away all of our money except for you bare minimal needs. But who decides what that is? Food is a need, but do I need that ice cream cone? Should I give the $1 I spend on it to the church instead? Does anyone need clothing beyond the minimal covering for modesty? Should anyone buy a car when they can bike or walk? Should you spend money to go to college if you can learn the same stuff for free on the internet or through the public library? It is quite the conundrum, but if God does want us to be happy, I don’t think he begrudges us spending our money is these ways.

    • “I once read a book about all the money anyone has belongs to God and He is judging us on how we spend it vs. give it. The premise was that we should give away all of our money except for you bare minimal needs.” I completely agree with the first sentence…not so much on the second. In the parable of the talents (money) in the Bible, the master (God) commends the two servants who invested the money he gave them and earned more. The one servant who hid his talent the master denounced. One lesson I take from that story is that we are to use the resources God gives us to grow more resources…because with those increased resources more can be done for Him. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy!

  11. To be honest I don’t there ever really was a choice for me – I always knew I was going to college no matter what after high school. It was just a question of where and if I could afford it. Looking back I think one needs to be really honest with themselves about what they feel a college education will bring to them and what it will accomplish over the long run. There have been many times when I thought about going back for a PhD but could not justify the additional time or expense.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post. I think college is such an overwhelming experience and picking the right school is extremely important.

    • Thanks Alexis! I was completely overwhelmed my first few months in college, even though I knew I picked the right school. I think being at the right school helped me handle the difficult transition.

  13. Not the way I remotely recommend making a big decision – but a major reason why I went to grad school was because I said a prayer and flipped a coin. 3 times. I figured if some fleece worked for Gideon… fortunately, it really was the right decision.

    • Haha…love the prayer part…the coin not so much. 🙂 Glad it worked out for you in the end. There are times though, like Gideon, when we do have to exercise faith.

  14. Interesting article. More than 3 decades ago God told me to go to law school – ha! Everyone, except my husband, thought I was crazy. We were young, broke and had a kid – did I mention we were very, very, very broke? Well, go I did – to a private, Jesuit law (not cheap by any stretch). Best decision I (ha) ever made. Good advice.

  15. We all have gifts and need to learn what they are and how God wants us to use them. This could include learning skills needed to help heal, or counsel or help others financially, which may or may not require a college education. But we don’t know until we pursue avenues presented to us, even and especially if they are challenging to us, because that’s where the true growth and acceptance lies.

    • “We all have gifts and need to learn what they are and how God wants us to use them.” 100% agree with this Debs. It’s hard to imagine what the church would be like if more people actually took the time to figure this out.

  16. As soon as I saw your post title, I thought back to our high school football captain, a good friend of mine and a devout Christian. He was from a blue collar family – no college education in sight. I found out hrs been given a scholarship to an SEC college to play football and… He declined it. I was so very angry with him (as if this somehow affected me). His reason was that he thought college football would take away his focus on God. Fair. But I countered – don’t you think God provided you this opportunity as a way to reach out to thousands and thousands of people about the importance of your faith?

    I think I dumbfounded him but I think his blue collar parents, with no use for college, prevailed. I think he needed the life experience, as you said, to grow (and to see things for himself, not clouded by his parents). It’s just unfortunate that he didn’t have wise counsel truly guiding him. Maybe it was the right call for him, in the end, but he was heavily influenced by folks with baggage.

    • That’s a very confusing situation Kirsten. Seems like a gift being offered and, like you said, a chance to really make a spiritual impact in people’s lives through being a solid testimony. While I can’t say it was the wrong decision, it does seem like an opportunity missed. Hopefully his life has turned out in a way that he doesn’t regret that decision.

  17. Great post, Brian. God has a perfect plan for every one of us, which may or may not include college. It’s up to us, though, to seek Him first in all that we do so that we can hear His guiding voice and learn His plan for our lives. We work hard to teach our kids to seek Him first, so that they get used to hearing His still, small voice and then better understand what His plan and good will is for their lives based on the gifts and talents He has given them.

    • “…to seek Him first…” Yeah…that’s the problem I routinely deal with. My first inclination is to jump into problem solving mode and rely on my own knowledge/abilities to deal with the issue. If I gave it over to Him first I may not struggle as much as I often do.

      • Samuelson T. says

        @Brian, I also have the same issues. Most times, I just jump into problem solving mode and only after exhausting myself do I ask God for help and He shows me the solution, most times, right away, but always effortlessly.

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