College Prep: What Do We Mean?

This past weekend my oldest daughter graduated from high school. Graduation parties and family coming to town to celebrate made the weekend extra special. My wife displayed pictures from her first day of kindergarten up through her senior year and those memories are still vivid in my mind, as I have watched her grow, mature and ultimately walk across the stage.

Along with the many memories came the realization that she will be leaving home in about two and a half months to start college. She will be living on her own for the first time and I can’t help but wonder, is she ready? Have I done enough to prepare her for this next step? Is there something I missed? Is she really “prepped” for college and for life?

The school my daughter graduated from describes themselves this way: “Charlotte Christian School is a Christ-centered, college preparatory, independent, non-denominational school serving students JK-12 grade.” “College prep” is a popular descriptor for many Christian schools around the county. It is important to market this distinction and communicate this commitment, because parents want to know that their child will be academically prepared for a college university. Schools create student profiles that they promote to parents and send to colleges to demonstrate the quality of the students and the programs they offer. Data points of average SAT, top 25th and 75th percentiles of scores, number of AP courses available, success of students taking the AP exams, college acceptance list, % of faculty with advanced degrees, college scholarships earned; and the list goes on and on.

I truly believe my daughter is ready for college, but after going through graduation this past weekend, college prep became even more important to me – not because of the schools she got admitted to, but because of the training she received from her school and being prepared for life outside the classroom. The classes she took in Christian Philosophy and Apologetics, Christian Theology and World Religions, Logic and Debate, Old and New Testament have helped prepare her for what is to come both in college and out. I’m thankful that her teachers poured into her Truth and have lived it out in front of her consistently.

As schools and educators, we are charged to create an academic experience that will train students and provide opportunities for the future. Students have an incredible amount of 4-year college options (Christian or non Christian), gap year, vocational schools, military or into the work force. It is essential that we prepare them for their next step academically, but do you have a formalized plan for growing them spiritually? What is the path you have created to prepare students to walk at graduation that includes their spiritual formation? As you have a sequence and a plan for math, science, history, is there a focus and picture of what your spiritual training is going to be?

In promoting our schools it is so important to prove the academic quality as our research continues to show parents will not sacrifice a quality education at the expense of Christian education. They want to know outcomes of your graduates to prove, in their mind, they will be admitted to quality institutions and prepare them for their next step. It is also great to hear the testimonies of the graduates who share of their preparedness to leave home and start their next phase of life. Graduates who consistently share of the investment and the impact the faculty, staff, coaches and school administration have had on their lives is also very powerful.

Make no mistake on what I am saying, I am very thankful for the quality of the academic program that my daughter received and the opportunities that were afforded to her. But today, now that graduation has come and gone, I am forever grateful for the other aspect of college prep, which grounded her spiritually and will last a lifetime.

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