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CheckPoint or College?

College or CheckPoint?

The world (or at least our western culture) has a pattern for what young adults should do when they complete High School. It usually goes something like this:
Anyone who has any ambition, or brains, (or a pulse) should to go to college. If you have a vision for what major you might choose, or an idea of what field you ought to study, you should start college right away. After all, there is no time like the present and you should strike while the iron is hot. Ready or not, here you come.

If you have no idea what to study or vision for a major, you should start college right away. After all, 80% of all college students change their major anyway.* The average college student in the US changes majors 3 times or more.* So you have to start early since you may need 5 or 6 years to finish a four year degree.

I have to admit that I'm not crazy about this pattern. But even more importantly, there is growing research that indicates it is not very successful. In their book The Gap Year Advantage, Haigler and Nelson report that, "According to the American College Testing service, less than half of those entering traditional 4-year colleges right after high school will have graduated after 5 years; a quarter will have dropped out in their first year; and of those in college, many will not know why they are there or what their classes have to do with their lives or the real world." It seems this pattern is not working well for many young adults.
I'm reminded of Romans 12:2 where the apostle Paul warns us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world. What if, instead of the pattern identified above, we took a different approach?

What if those who didn't know what to pursue in college took a year to study God's word, what it means to lead, and how to bring the Gospel to this broken world? (click here [link to CheckPoint study topics] for a description of what CheckPointers study) What if instead of starting a degree and changing majors multiple times, they sought the Lord for a time and went to college when they have a vision for where God is leading them? They would be much more likely to pursue college with a greater sense of mission. They would benefit from establishing a pattern of seeking the Lord first as they make choices; like what to major in or where to go to school. Their adult life could start out on a completely different trajectory, with life patterns that are deeply rooted in the Word of God.

What if those who did have a vision for their major and their future took a year to establish Godly patterns for their life, study God's word, build valuable life skills, develop leadership qualities and learn ministry skills? What if they could develop a deeper understanding of who God is, what He has done for them and how they can be a part of God's mission to redeem the world? That would definitely impact their friendships, their choices, and their responses to all the questions they will face during their college career. Research also indicates that they will likely return to college with renewed energy. 90% of students who take a year off for a program like CheckPoint (often termed a "Gap Year"), return to school within a year. Check out Derek Melleby's article, God in the Gap Year.

Those who will follow this second pattern will be much better prepared to serve the Lord and serve their neighbor with purpose, passion and vision. They will be much more likely to finish college. They will be the leaders that our congregations and our communities are crying out for. That's the vision that drives CheckPoint; helping young adults prepare for a life of ministry, leadership and service to others. So we pray for students and their parents as they make these decisions. Because which pattern we conform to may make all the difference.

God in the Gap Year URL
*these statistics from