Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started College

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started College

by Frank Brazell

When I look back on my four-year, undergraduate education, I am left with many fond memories: meeting my wife, forming lifelong friendships, and the spontaneous road trips associated with being young and free. At the same time, there are just a few things I wish someone had told me on the front-end of things. Here is a brief rundown of my thoughts, in the hope that it will help the college graduates of tomorrow.

1) Pick a degree or major that appeals to you.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re like me as in impressionable 18-year old, you’re being pressed to choose a major that will lead to a JOB, which in the end is one of the major reasons for going to college in the first place. My mistake, however, was to choose a major in which I had absolutely no interest or passion, in the hopes that it would land me a job after four years. I slogged through two years in that major, hating every minute of it. And then came Intro to Philosophy… Instantly, I knew I had to change majors, and immediately jumped ship to something I was more passionate about— Humanities. In the end, by switching to something I was more passionate about, I was actually able to find a job, moreover a job that I love, and one that uses the skills and knowledge learned in my major!

There’s nothing wrong with choosing a major more likely to convert to employment after four years, but make sure you don’t select something solely for the economic benefits. Do something you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

2) Don’t be afraid to go in Undeclared.

Along the same lines, there is a ton of pressure on incoming college students to choose a major early, to lock in. But many new college students haven’t experienced enough to even know what they want to do; it isn’t fair to expect them to have their whole life planned out. So, if your college has the option to enroll without declaring a major, and you’re still unsure what you want to do, why not go in Undeclared? Alternatively, if you don’t know what you want to do, start with General Education classes that apply to a variety of programs, so that when something does peak your interest, you don’t end up having to take an extra semester’s worth of loans to finish your degree.

3) Think carefully about Student Loans.

Speaking of Student Loans, I really wish someone had sat down with me to discuss how long they might take to pay off. This isn’t the case for everyone, and I know my own debt is tiny compared to some of the people I went to school with. Even still, our education system makes it way too easy for an 18-year old to lock in to 30 years’ worth of student loans with nothing more than a digital signature (I know that’s an extreme case, but extremes do happen).

4) It’s okay to take your time.

College is just as much about the experience as it is what you learn in the classroom. You spend a lot of time growing during your years as a student. Rushing that process, or even finishing in the standard four years for a Bachelor’s Degree, could result in you missing out on certain stages of personal development. You should never feel shamed about taking more than four years to finish a Bachelor’s Degree, especially if you are allowing your classroom experiences to form who you are as a person.

5) You’ll miss it when its done.

I know not everybody feels this way. Some people are so ready to be done with school. After all, you’ve probably already been in school for thirteen years, and you’re ready to get on with life. But in my case, I realized midway through my Junior year that I really enjoyed the freedom of being a student working only a part time job and having my weekends free. So I squeezed the life out of college, and experienced a lot (see point number 4) as a result. So build those friendships, take extra time to build relationships with your professors, and enjoy your experience!

Charisma Media interview with Dr. Crowther: Training Emerging Leaders

Devotional: Jessica Fletcher

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Jessica Fletcher is a GCD alumna, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Divinity degree in the Fall of 2017.

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Scene: Africa. Subjects: wild dogs and wildebeests. The only way the wild dogs have the advantage is if the wildebeest run. However, if the wildebeests have the courage to stop running and stand their ground, the wild dogs are powerless. If you desire a more detailed and graphic demonstration of this truth, go watch The Hunt on Netflix.

Everyone is made on purpose and for a purpose, and that purpose ALWAYS involves others.

Here’s the big question: are you surrounded by people who are going to have the courage to stop in the face of danger and stand with you? Are you running alone? A very important lesson can be learned from the wildebeests. When we stop running and stand together, the enemy is powerless. We are not meant to do life alone. We need to surround ourselves with people who have the faith to stand and the courage to stop running. When we stand together, we halt the enemy.

Hebrews 4:11 (ESV) – “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

Two words spring off the page: “us” and “no one.” Earlier in Hebrews 4, the author of Hebrews references the moment the nation of Israel fell prey to the fears of the faithless reporters.

Hebrews 4:2 (ESV) – “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.”

With whom are you united?

Now, let’s take a moment to look at the word REST.

In this passage, “rest” is the Greek word katapausis, used in three different ways. (1) Rest as in the way we would use the peace of God, (2) rest as in the Promised Land, and (3) rest as in how God rested on the seventh day after his work was completed.

Here’s the truth: being out of rest is being out of faith.

Hebrews 4:1 (ESV) – “…while the promise of entering his rest still stands…” He has promised, we need to enter. God has promised peace. God has a promised land for you. God has work for you to complete. Let us enter in; let us enter together.

Here are three action steps:

  1. Surround yourself with faith-filled people. Reach for the fearful ones, don’t surround yourself with them.
  2. Practice listening today (Heb. 4:7, ESV)
  3. Choose to remove the words ALWAYS and NEVER in reference to yourself and those around you. Those are eternal words, only God is eternal.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16, ESV)

Church, let us be found standing together, striving together to enter into His rest.

Alumni Highlight: Adriane Harrington

What brought you to Fayetteville?  

My husband, Clayton, is a retired service member and we’ve lived in Fayetteville for more than 20 years. We’ve been members of Manna for about 12 years.  

What made you decide to take classes at GCD?  

Off and on, I’d hear about the college, but at that time, the college was not accredited. As I raised our four sons, I had taken courses – a class here and there. Once GCD became accredited, I felt the leading of the Lord that this was where He wanted me to be. I enrolled in the Bachelor of Divinity program in the fall of 2012. Five years later, I joyously walked across the stage at Manna EP – tears running down my face! I began working toward my Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree the following semester and I am loving it!  

Can you give some examples of ways your experience with GCD has prepared you to fulfill your calling?  

My classes at GCD, especially those in Christian Leadership, have provided me with skills to more effectively lead at Manna Church’s EP Site. I’ve been in leadership for more than ten years on the SERVE team there and I consider it an honor to minister alongside my extended family at Manna EP and to be involved in training emerging leaders.  

Recently my master’s curriculum has afforded me the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant in the classroom. Once I have completed this degree, the dream would be to fulfill the calling on my life to instruct at the undergrad level.  

What tips could you offer a new student at GCD?  

A life statement of mine is: “All that I Do is Ministry.” All that we do throughout our lives should be ministry as unto the Lord. With this in mind, we should definitely guard our lives, guard our mouths – I especially have to remind myself of this – and present our whole being as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, daily.  

What have you enjoyed most about your experience with GCD?  

I consider it a great honor to be a student here at Grace College of Divinity. I love being in the classroom. As I interact with ‘young minds,’ it keeps my ‘older mind’ sharp – at least I would like to think so!  

What would you say to a person who is thinking about attending GCD?  

Do it! It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’re never too young; you’re never too old! I’m so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be a student throughout my lifetime. He encourages me to always remain a lifelong learner, to constantly enrich my life on the foundation of His Word, and to continue to serve His body with all the skills that He has entrusted to me.  

Bachelor of Divinity Degree

<h2>Bachelor of Divinity Degree</h2>
The Bachelor of Divinity program is a four-year course of study suited to the student who desires extensive training for the purpose of leadership in the local church. The program consists of 96 credit hours of required courses and 24 credit hours of elective study, relevant to leadership and educational ministries. Courses have been aligned in three specific disciplines: Biblical Studies, Theology, an Practical Ministry. In addition in the 120 hours of academic studies, student are required to complete a practicum in their fourth year of study and fulfill the Leadership in Action requirement.
<h3>Program Objectives</h3>
This program will:
<ul>
<li>Confront the student with the Word of God proclaiming humanity’s alienation from God and God’s work of redemption in Christ (Bible) and to explore ramifications of this Gospel for the student’s personal life and the work of the Church in the world (theology);</li>
<li>Equip the student with the tools to communicate clearly and effectively;</li>
<li>Bring about the student’s increased understanding of the world in which one lives, including history and philosophy;</li>
<li>Give the student a sense of preparedness by providing practical ministry experience.</li>
</ul>
<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>First Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>BIB 101  Old Testament Survey                   3hrs
BIB 103  New Testament Survey                 3hrs
BIB 104  Hermeneutics                                  3hrs
CLG 101 Destiny &amp; Calling                           3hrs
HST 101 Church History I                             3hrs
THE 101 Intro to Theology                            3hrs
ENG 101 Effective Communication             3hrs
ENG 102 Writing and Research                   3hrs
PHL 101 Philosophy &amp; Worldview               3hrs</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Elective</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                       30hrs</p>

<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Second Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>THE 201  Systematic Theology I                   3hrs                      <em>(prerequisite: THE 101)</em>
THE 202 Systematic Theology II                   3hrs      <em>(prerequisite: THE 101 &amp; THE 201)</em>
CLG 201 Spiritual Formation                        3hrs
CLG 211 Church Life                                     3hrs
CNS 201 Counseling I                                   3hrs
BIB  201 Writings of John                              3hrs
HST 201 Church History II                             3hrs
MTH 211 Math                                                  3hrs
MIS 201 World Missions                                3hrs</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Elective</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                        30hrs</p>

<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Third Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>MIS 301 Cultural Anthropology                      3hrs
GRK 301 Greek I                                              3hrs
BIB 301  Synoptic Gospels                            3hrs
BIB 303 Book of Romans                               3hrs
MIS 308 Communicating the
Relevance of God’s Story                                3hrs
HST 301 History of Music                               3hrs
SCI   301 Creation Science                            3hrs
THE 301 Kingdom of God                              3hrs                           <em>(co-requisite: THE 101)</em></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Elective                                                               3hrs
Elective                                                               3hrs</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                          30hrs</p>

<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Fourth Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>BIB 401  Book of Mark                                       3hrs               <em>(prerequisite: GRK 301)</em>
CNS 402  Marriage and Family in Society     3hrs
CLG 401  Pastoral Ministries                           3hrs
CLG 410 Homiletics                                           3hrs
CLG 480 Church Growth                                   3hrs
ENG 495 Senior Seminar                                 3hrs
Elective                                                                 3hrs
Elective                                                                 3hrs
Elective                                                                 3hrs
Elective</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                            30hrs</p>

<h3>Graduation Requirements</h3>
For the Bachelor of Divinity degree program, a total of 120 credit hours plus four approved Christian Service projects, total. (1 per semester, no more than four total projects) of Leadership in Action are required for graduation.

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