May 16, 1987, when enough hairspray held the feathery locks against even gale force winds, I walked across the stage at Bob Jones University to receive my bachelor's degree. That was thirty years ago! I thank the Lord for those years - the lessons learned, the opportunities afforded, the relationships made, and the growth experienced.
Room, board, and tuition in the fall of 1983 was around $4,500 for the year, a huge amount of money for my family to consider but nowhere near the equivalent costs today. $4,500 in 1983 had the same buying power as $11,132 in 2017. Like most colleges and universities, the cost to attend in 2017 has far outpaced inflation.
Ironically, I remember my first year more than any of the rest. I've forgotten the names of roommates from some years but remember well Stacey Mauk and James Morris. Stacey was another freshman from Nebraska. James Morris was a fellow Chicago guy. These two impacted me far more than I knew at the time. As the only boy in a family of just two kids, I'd had my own bedroom most of my life. This was going to be an adjustment.
For a Christian high school, my graduating class of 26 and high school enrollment of nearly 140 was large compared to other Christian schools. Of course the number paled in comparison to public schools in the Chicago area. You can imagine my culture shock when my parents dropped me off on a campus of more than 5000 students. This too was going to be an adjustment.
It's funny to me that the classes I recall most are those from my freshman year. My first day of History of Civilization I sat in a lecture hall with 400 other students and listened as Dr. Edward Panosian told me of empires and civilizations that shaped the world. Dr. Panosian was a living icon, and History of Civilization immediately informed me of the reality of college classes. Never did I work so hard to get a D, the grade for my first test. Freshman speech and freshman English brought me new friends and a love for words spoken and written. When I sat in Principles of Christian Growth, the freshman Bible class taught by Dr. Mark Minnick theological mentor to me and to many others, it was like I was hearing the Bible for the first time. He taught me Bible truths I follow every day.
From singing in an opera to preaching on a street corner to paying my own bills to living in a dormitory with a couple hundred other guys to talking to my family once-a-week, God used those early months of adulting to stretch and shape me.
I continue to believe in the value of higher level Christian education. The impact isn’t measured merely in the value of the degree but in the shaping of worldview, in the challenge of the college chapel, and in the formation of Christian character.
The Lord was good to provide quality institutions to the church in the past decades, and the Lord is good to provide them for our students and families in the present. Our prayers go with these schools that God would keep them viable and Christian.
As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.