It's just a fact of student life: We rely on those A's, B's and C's to measure our educational successes. But sometimes, the greatest lessons we learn will never be reflected in our GPA. As these four college students can tell you, college classes can offer much more than an opportunity to exercise your brain.
Learning to Face My Doubts
Meghan Hedley, junior
Major: Studio Arts
George Fox University
When Meghan Hedley came to George Fox, she was struggling with her faith.
Meghan says she was troubled by her own doubtsabout salvation, about heavenand even more troubled by the attitudes of some fellow believers. "Some believe they have all the answers and try to force them on everyone else," she says. "Some believe they're just better than everyone else."
Her struggles and doubts led to a "really dark time" in her life. She explains: "I wondered if I could have so many doubts and still be a Christian."
An Introduction to Philosophy class provided an answer to her soul-searching. "I took the class because I really liked the professor," she says. "He teaches philosophy and religion classes. I had taken a Christian Foundations class with him and he'd been helping me through my spiritual struggle.
"Learning philosophy has changed how I see Christianity. I see it's not just organized religion; it's a way of living my life. That has given me new hope."
Some of Meghan's struggles also came from feeling overwhelmed by the world's problems. She felt a responsibility to love and care for a hurting world, but the magnitude of the problem was too much to handle. "I've always been sensitive about things like that," she says.
After studying different philosophers, she found a way to deal with those problems. "Philosophy gave me a way to focus my thinking and control how I approach things," she says. "I realize I can't change the whole world at once, but I see how simple things really can impact others."
Studying Jesus in the context of philosophy was an eye-opening experience. "I see now that Jesus had a wonderful philosophy," she says. "I want to believe in, and I do believe in, a God who loves completely. Seeing Christianity that way has given me greater faith."
Meghan says she's no longer afraid of her doubts, and then adds: "I think facing your doubts will give you a deeper faith in the end."
Opening My Eyes to Scripture
Jonathan Hawkins, senior
Jonathan Hawkins's life has been forever changed by a course in Greek.
"Greek has given me a completely different outlook on what the Bible actually says," he explains. "I'm not limited to English translations now. I can go to the original words that were written years ago."
Jonathan needed to take a foreign language for his Bachelor of Arts degree, and he believed Greek would be beneficial to his planned career in preaching.
"That first year was mostly spent on grammar and basic stuff," he says. "But toward the end of the first year, we were actually able to open up the Greek New Testament and translate it into our own words. It was amazing to take the Greek version to church and try to follow along with Scripture reading."
He was hooked. He took a second year of Greek. Now, he plans to get a minor in it.
"Learning Greek has really opened my eyes to the Scriptures," he says. "Now I can explore New Testament passages for myself in the original language."
Through his study of Greek, Jonathan developed a greater appreciation for the Bible. "The Bible is fascinating," he says. "Reading the New Testament in its original language gives great imagery and helps me understand concepts that were more difficult before I started learning Greek. I have a different outlook on the meaning of verses."