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Choosing Cedarville and Saying Good-bye: One Parent's Story

Choosing Cedarville and Saying Good-bye: One Parent's Story

October 6, 2014

Photo of Chris and Jamie BraunsDr. Chris Brauns, Pastor of The Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL, is the guest contributor for today's Parent Prep post. A parent of a Cedarville freshman, he and his wife Jamie just completed the college search process with their son and now share perspectives on the importance of that decision. Dr. Brauns is an author whose books include Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds. Chris and Jamie have four children including Christopher who is attending Cedarville University.

A few weeks ago my wife, Jamie, and I left our son, Christopher, to begin college at Cedarville University. We smiled for final pictures outside the Dixon Ministry Center. But we cried on the way home. It is a hard transition for parents.

Our emotions didn’t stop once we pulled into our garage. A few days after we left our son at college, I walked into our bedroom and Jamie was quietly emotional. I didn’t have to ask why. We always knew our children would fly away quickly, but it seems as though it has been only a few days rather than 18 years. We picked our baby boy up at the hospital on Monday and he left for college on Friday.

I knew it was my job to encourage Jamie so I evaluated strategies. I considered Elkanah’s approach from 1 Samuel 1:8. Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, tried to console her by saying, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” However, my highly tuned sense of discernment told me that Jamie wouldn't feel better if I insisted that I am worth more than many children. Instead, Jamie and I talked about what truly does comfort us as we miss our son. We feel better knowing that Christopher is at much better! We know he is where God wants him to be. We are confident in the decision we made together as a family.

Christopher’s decision to go to Cedarville was the culmination of a long process. Together we evaluated Christian liberal arts colleges and public universities all over North America. We read books about higher education and talked for many hours about a theology of Christian education. I made phone calls and researched the backgrounds of different college presidents. We met with the dean of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Cedarville and we corresponded with faculty from various colleges and universities. We made long trips and many campus visits.

Our son then applied to a long list of schools. We wanted to keep our options open. Christopher competed for scholarships. He was admitted to a top-five university engineering program and was awarded generous scholarships at other institutions. But, in the end, we chose Cedarville, and the more time goes by, the better we feel about the choice. Our decision came down to a combination of several key factors:

  • Cedarville is committed to offering Christian liberal arts education. Christopher doesn’t know if he will end up in engineering. He may change majors multiple times. He is very interested in missions and at Cedarville he will also receive a Bible minor regardless of his choice of majors. Wherever he is called, we know that a Christ-centered liberal arts education will prepare him by laying a broad foundation that offers the stability of a life built on Christ and the flexibility required to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
  • The engineering program. Only a few Christian liberal arts colleges offer engineering programs. We learned that fewer still have specific programs for electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering. 
  • Cedarville is an excellent value. There is no way around the fact that the price of a college education is an expensive endeavor. Christopher is the second of our four children and we are scrambling as a family to help our children get started without irresponsible debt. Ultimately, we found that the cost of Cedarville was favorable even when compared with state universities. 
  • Cedarville has excellent facilities not only for classrooms but also for dining, exercise, and building community. At one college we visited, we learned that most of the students fix dinner for themselves in their apartment style dorms. While that is appealing to some students - - who are doubtless better cooks than the Brauns men - - our son was excited about getting to know the community of students in Cedarville’s dining hall looking out over the campus. 
  • Most, important, we are thankful for Gospel-centered leadership. This is evidenced through an excellent line-up of chapel speakers and through Dr. White’s strong commitment to sound doctrine. We trust Cedarville’s commitment to Christ our King. 

A month into Christopher’s freshman year our confidence in Cedarville has only grown. He has already told us about specific moments in chapel. He is meeting many new friends who are committed Christians. He is taking full advantage of tutoring help that is available for difficult classes. He claims that he and some engineering friends made something out of cardboard that will actually float. We’ll see ...

Our son has already distinguished himself. Christopher was one of a select group of students awarded a first-semester ear infection. We knew it was an ear infection because my wife diagnosed it over the phone and a nurse and doctor, both of whom were available on campus at the University Medical Services Clinic, confirmed the diagnosis. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and Jamie took advantage of the opportunity to check on our son just a little more often.

Where ear infections and other questions are concerned, it’s still nice to be needed as parents. But it’s nicer still to know our son is in good hands and to be confident about one of the most important decisions he will ever make. We are thankful for Cedarville.

Posted in Academics Admissions Affordability Spiritual Growth Why Christ Centered Higher Education?