If students are going to live out their faith beyond college, they need role models as well as safe places to ask their questions. In addition to introducing students to model alumni through metro trips, guest professional dinners, and other networking opportunities, Houghton offers a unique resource called “Living the Questions”—a collection of essays from Houghton alumni who share inspirational, real-world experiences. Houghton also just launched “Activate,” a sophomore leadership conference that provides an intentional space for students to consider their personal vocation and how their gifts can be used to further the kingdom. The conference opens up this important conversation early on. “We try to think of vocational preparation as a four-year process,” Mullen says. She hopes all students will have the courage to join the journey and face their questions “from day one.”
As someone who has dedicated my professional life to equipping students for the “real world,” I will say with candor that no one can ever fully prepare. As Devon discovered, there will always be unforeseen circumstances and bumps in the journey. It’s these very situations that remind us of our dependence on Jesus and where our true joy and identity come from. Devon is honest that work is crazy, people yell at him, he can never please his boss, and he struggles to know how to winsomely share his faith with coworkers who just want to get ahead. In all of this, though, he says, “These are just circumstances. I’m so thankful I don’t have to work to prove myself. . . . I can still have a smile on my face because I do have joy. I have Christ.” While there are many things universities can do to leverage the college years for what comes next, the best way students can prepare for the future is to surrender their entire lives to the One who holds them.
Erica Young Reitz works for the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) at Penn State University and as an adjunct faculty for Geneva College’s master’s in higher education program. She is the author of After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith.