How Stepping Into a Christian College Changed My Life
In the spring of 2016, a frantic high school senior leaned over her kitchen table, intently staring at three college acceptance letters. As she looked over these papers, they appeared more like roadmaps than words on a page, all displaying various paths to begin a new journey. While these places looked intriguing, each presented their own challenges. For a student that lived her entire life in homeschool, each option felt like a leap rather than a simple step; whether it included moving across the country, or only a few towns over, each option would take determination, courage, and a willingness to grow in innumerable new ways.
Today, as I consider the unmade decisions lying in front of my former self, I wonder what my life would look like had I not made the crucial decision to attend college, particularly at Northwest University. Since arriving at NU two years ago, my incredible experience has replaced my many worries concerning social involvement, academic success, and my spiritual life with an overwhelming sense of purpose and belonging.
Although I have always been a social person, my anxieties regarding interactions skyrocketed when I set off to college. Oftentimes, people assume homeschoolers to be quiet and standoffish, and I feared that my own experience in homeschooling would make me an oddball
among my peers. I found, however, that my anxious attitude allowed me to connect with other freshmen; no matter the background, whether a student came from Alabama or Africa, nervousness is a universal language that we all understand. After spending a few weeks on campus, it wasn’t difficult to involve myself in the community; the intentionality of staff, faculty, student leaders, and my peers was incredibly impactful.
Within the realm of academics, one of my other most prominent fears was a loss of the intimate learning experience that homeschooling offered, especially as a lover of academic work and achievement. Wouldn’t I be easily overlooked in a college classroom? At Northwest University, my fears and questions were quickly diminished. The dedication to intentionality and interaction that I saw in my professors was unparalleled to any other place I had been. Contrary to my beliefs, a larger student body did not lead to a neglect of students or individual learning.
Socially and academically, I began to flourish. But my most crucial worry in coming to college was that my spiritual life would potentially suffer. I wanted a place to immerse myself as I continued to walk with God and discovered how to live with others that reflected Him. In finding this, I also witnessed the incredible beauty of diversity in pursuing God. I have met students from all different cultural and church backgrounds, each of us serving and worshiping Jesus in different ways. Not only did this cause me to solidify my personal faith in Christ, it delivered me into a deeper understanding of how big God is, something that I would not have seen had I stayed in my own safe corner of the world.