I just want to go to the school God wants me to go to. How can I figure out which one that is?
Here's how: By being faithful in gathering data about each school that interests you and by praying for guidance as you evaluate that information. Research each school as thoroughly as possible by checking out Web sites and reading their brochures. And if possible, visit every campus in which you have a strong interest.
You can trust God for this decision. He may use a series of very practical experiences to direct you. For instance, you may be thinking about teaching high school chemistry after college. If one of the colleges you're considering doesn't have a chemistry or a secondary education major, you can cross that one off your list. Or maybe you'd like to major in music; you can eliminate the schools that don't offer a music major. Maybe you're an average student, but some of the schools you're considering have very high admissions standards; you might cross them off your list too. And geographically, some schools may just be too far away from home for your tastes. So, you see, God uses your preferences and circumstances to eliminate many schools from consideration—and to open doors at other schools.
Even when you start applying to schools, it's possible that some won't accept you. If that happens, don't be discouraged; think of it as part of God's answer to your prayers.
Finally, it helps to think of the college search as an adventure into a new and exciting land. You're following your Guide along unmarked trails, not knowing for sure where you will end up until you arrive. By being faithful in prayer and faithful in your process, God will hear your heart and guide your choice.
What About Bible College?
I really want to go to a Bible college, but everybody from my dad to my guidance counselor says it's not "practical," that it won't prepare me for the "real world" as well as a Christian liberal arts college. Are they right?
No one is right or wrong on this one. It's a matter of what's right for you. Both kinds of colleges integrate your fields of study with your faith. Bible colleges exist for their particular mission, which they do very well—to provide intensive study in Bible and theology in order to prepare students for the ministry. Christian liberal arts colleges have a mission to provide an education that prepares students for a broad range of careers in which they can serve God in the world of work.
A year or more of Bible college may be just right for you, no matter what your future career is. I think your dad is concerned that you won't be as "marketable" with only a degree from a Bible college. For some types of jobs, he may have a good point. For example, if you want a job in biochemical engineering, a potential employer won't be impressed that you can write a 40-page thesis on the historical and spiritual significance of the Book of Leviticus. But for other post-college positions—especially in ministry, missions or some other career of Christian service—a Bible degree may be the absolute best degree you can get!
Talk with trusted persons in your life about what you feel you are called to do in the world. Ask them to pray with you for a sense of where God is taking you. Having that sense of direction may be the biggest help in determining where to go to school. A more clear sense of your calling will suggest whether a Bible college is right for you, or whether another option is better.
Break a Family Tradition?
The university I want to attend is kind of a family tradition. My parents and all my brothers and sisters went there. I've never even thought about applying to another school. Is there anything wrong with this?