Addressing the Spiritual Side of Student Development

groupbiblesession

Although our focus at My College Planning Team has been to build highly competent financial and academic teams, we have recently concluded that there is a very real and pressing need to also address the spiritual side of student development— especially in their transition from high school to college.

Keeping the Faith in College

As my partner Stephanie Kennedy mentioned in her recent blog, effective student development counseling must address the whole person–the intellectual, the emotional, and the spiritual.  She also noted that the majority of our secular universities and colleges are not effectively embracing the spiritual component in student development.

Many of you first discovered My College Planning Team through one of the several churches we partner with to deliver our workshops. In recent weeks we have been in dialogue with these churches whose youth ministers heartily agree on the need to address this important issue.

The Research Shows…

A recent survey conducted by youth ministry expert Bret Koontz affirmed that spiritual development it is actually one of the major concerns of families with college-bound children.  It shares equal importance with figuring out how to pay for college!

As Stephanie Kennedy has referenced in her blogs, recent research funded by the John Templeton Foundation and published in a groundbreaking book, Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives, by Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm, shows that students engaged in prayer, meditation, or self-reflection become more caring, more tolerant, and more engaged in their community.  They also perform better academically and have improved satisfaction with college. Because our secular colleges and universities are not addressing this important issue and because many of our churches do not have the resources in place to meet the demand, My College Planning Team is in the process of forming a spiritual development team which will be comprised of youth minister leaders with deep experience in student development.

The MCPT Response

According to Bret Koontz, this service is especially needed in many of our independent, non-denominational faith communities because they do not have resources in place from a church synod or diocese from which to draw.   We realize that families from the non-denominational churches with whom we work often want their children to maintain a connection with their own particular faith tradition.  We will soon be adding counselors to our team as a resource to families seeking colleges and resources that provide that connection. Stay tuned!