July 16 • 08:46 PM

It was simpler back then, but not easier

May 30, 2012
"Bushel of wheat, bushel of rye; Whoever's not ready, holler 'I'"!

Remember that little ditty you used to sing out on long summer evenings when you were playing Hide and Seek, and it was your turn to be "It?" Admittedly, that was a generation ago, when your mother didn't have to think twice about whether to let you watch TV or play video games or text your friends. In my case, anyway, none of those options existed. Things were so much simpler then, weren't they? Not easier, but simpler.

Why that memory surfaced now, I have no idea, unless it's because I had been reading Thriving at College, written by Alex Chediak and recommended by, among others, Randy Alcorn, Lisa Anderson, Jerry Bridges, Bob Lepine, and Leland Ryken.

Choices were simpler back then, I thought. The work was hard (especially for the moms) but in many regards, the choices were less complicated. But we didn't remain children. And our children don't remain children. They grow up, and there comes a time when big decisions have to be made.

I kind of wish this book, (published 2011) had been around before I headed for college, and that it had been there before my kids went to college. But it wasn't, and ready or not, I went. And ready or not, they went. I survived; so did my children. There were times, however, where it would have been nice if we had thrived, not just survived, if you know what I mean.

Bob Lepine, cohost of FamilyLife Today has this to say: "Many in my generation look back on their college years with regret, wishing we had been more intentional and focused during our time on campus. Before you invest four years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars, spend a few dollars and a few hours to read this book."

In the forward, Alex and Brett Harris, cofounders of, make the following observation: "For most high school graduates today, going to college is the default. As a result, a lot of teens end up drifting from high school into college without any clear plan in mind."

The author himself bares his soul, telling his readers: "I made the decision to go to college almost by accident. What else was I supposed to do after high school? I was a fairly good student, but I lacked the maturity to make that really huge decision in a constructive, sensible manner...Today, I look back on my younger self in college and wish I could have a cup of coffee with him. I wish I could give him some hard-earned advice.

"That's why I'm writing this book. I can't take my younger self out to coffee. There's no time machine for that. But as a college professor today, I have the chance to observe students and how they live their lives. I'm amazed at how many of them remind me of my former self. This book is, in essence, an attempt at taking you out to Starbucks and telling you what I've learned about the college years—and, most important, telling you how to make your college season the best years of your life (so far). I cannot tell you how much I wish someone had told me these things when I was in college."

My first impulse was to grab up copies of this book (which I found at Amazing Grace) for every high school senior for whose open house I'd be buying a gift, and pair it with a music CD and maybe a $20 to make them take notice. Maybe I still will. Or...will I recommend it for every parent I know who will be sending a kid off to college? That way it would be up to THEM to discuss the questions at the end of the chapters, and/or make the book required summer reading for their college-bound kids.

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Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.
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