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Bachelor Degree: Passport to Privilege?

Orange Leaders
Orange Leaders Monday May 14, 2012
<? echo $type; ?> Bachelor Degree: Passport to Privilege?

A bachelor’s degree can bring an unparalleled amount of hope to college students. Every high school graduate knows that not getting one will make it extremely tough to get a decent paying job in the future. Actually, for them, the dreams of having a meaningful vocation will be brought to reality once they have their degree.

If you talk to college-age people about obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you’ll find their aspirations to be off the charts as to what that means for them. Our culture preaches the hope of an education as the passport to a privileged life. And college-age people believe it hook, line and sinker. That is, until a few months after graduating.

Add Entitlement to Ideology
In addition to this hopeful ideology, immediately after graduating they also have a sense of entitlement. They think that because they have the degree employers would be honored to have them work at their company. Idealistic and arrogant, but this is the reality of most college-age mindsets. But shortly after graduating, their dreams are shattered after realizing the economy doesn’t cater to their ideology very well. Reality doesn’t just creep in; it crashes in.

Recent graduates are likely to go through an array of negative emotions with the lack of job opportunities, but that’s just the surface. I would suggest that as spiritual leaders our focus needs to be beyond vocational pursuits and deeper than crushed dreams. From a discipleship perspective we need to see this as the consequences of misplaced hope. The reality is they’ve placed a tremendous amount of hope in their vocational pursuits being brought about in a degree. Is that where our hope ought to be? Of course not.

That might sound super spiritual, but here’s the reality: The false senses of hope they hold so dearly end up crushing their spirit. And the sooner we help people think biblically about hope, the less their spirits are crushed. It’s that simple.

Guiding Thought Processes
Working with college-age people requires us to help guide their thoughts toward biblically mature conclusions, especially when it comes to the placement of hope. And, ideally, we can do this before their dreams are crushed. I’ve found many things helpful in guiding the thoughts of college-age people in this, but here are three that may help you today:

  • Remind college-age people (and their parents!) that a bachelor’s degree is nothing more than a high school diploma was 35 years ago. It’s now the minimum for a job in the U.S economy—not a passport to privilege like it used to be.
  • Ask questions that help pinpoint where their convictions actually are. Here are three questions you can ask:
    • What commitments do you want to shape your life?
    • What gives you hope today?
    • How do you think all of this fits into the gospel message?

    These are very pointed questions while at the same time being ambiguous. But they will certainly be a help to creating good discussion! As you ask them, pray that God shows you how to guide their thought processes toward His perspective.

    XP3 College offers Conversation Guides for mentors and small group leaders to connect older adults with 18-25 year olds. XP3 College also offers a transition piece, called XP3 Next,  for High School seniors and an ongoing connection piece for the first semester away. For more information, visit www.XP3College.org.

    This article was originally published at www.collegeleader.org

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