Each Getting Started Weekend, students arrive at Cedarville with a variety of schooling backgrounds. Many were homeschooled or attended private school or some combination of the two. Others, like me, attended a public school and experienced a significant transition as they began freshman year. There were many changes that I anticipated in my transition, and many that I was not prepared for. Here are 5 things to be aware of as you shift from public school to Cedarville:
1. You will be surrounded by like-minded people
For someone who attended public school K-12, I encountered a variety of differing worldviews that I had to be sensitive toward. Although I did not hide my faith in high school, there were many things that I simply had to keep quiet about. When I am in community with nonbelievers, I am interacting with those who have a completely different way of seeing the world than I do. My motivation for loving others, desire to do well in school, and foundation for truth are in contrast to those I am surrounded by.
At Cedarville, I was finally surrounded by like-minded people. I went to chapel surrounded by thousands of people my age worshipping the One who is the ONLY source of hope and purpose in this life. I went to class where we prayed every day and discussed biblical truth. I went to the dining hall and saw my peers praying for one another. I was home.
I recognize that this may not be the case for everyone attending Cedarville. We would be naive to think that there is any school out there where every single person lives in a Christ-honoring way. However, a huge blessing about the Cedarville community are the many people who will encourage you toward holiness. Just like in a public school, it is your responsibility to choose to spend time with those who point you toward the right things.
2. You and your high school friends will walk different paths
Something I really did not consider before my first reunion with my high school friends during winter break was that my life in college looked very different from theirs. I did not have a fake ID, stay out all night partying, or have guys hanging out in my dorm regularly. Many of my friends started to explore the world and experiment with different things once they got to college, but I was at Cedarville where there is a genuine attempt to live in community based on our biblical core values. I began to recognize that my high school community was now walking a very different path than I was. I could still be friends with them, but I had to be careful to stand strong in my own convictions. The people that used to be my main friend group were now in a different place than me, and that was difficult for me to process at first. I have come to recognize that this change is not necessarily a bad thing. My friends are still my friends, but their role in my life looks different now. And that’s okay.
3. You will be protected from many of the pressures of a secular school
One of the biggest reliefs that came from my transition from public school to Cedarville was that instead of experiencing peer-pressure to go against my convictions as a believer, I found myself being pushed toward holiness in my friendships with others. Far from being a legalistic campus, Cedarville’s guidelines seek to set students on a path for holistic positive development, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally.
I do not want to give the impression that Cedarville students never encounter peer pressure, but rather that the majority of the student body holds similar views on relevant issues. What a blessing to be in a community that points you in the right direction!
4. There are STILL opportunities for outreach
One of my biggest hesitations about attending a private Christian college was the concern that I would no longer have people to reach out to. My public school was my mission field, the place where I interacted with people every day who needed to hear the hope of the Gospel. Once I got to Cedarville, I quickly realized that people here need the Gospel just as much as my peers from back home. We know that being a Christian does not make a person’s problems go away, so that means that our Christians peers can also have difficult lives and come from very broken homes. We are all so in need of Christ every day, no matter our background or setting. I have found so many people at Cedarville that need to be encouraged and directed to the hope found in Jesus. We would be foolish to think that there is any place we could go where the brokenness of sinful humanity would not extend, and where people would not need to be reached with the gospel.
5. Your worldview must still be your own
In a place where you are surrounded by other believers, it can be easy to think that you will be able to cruise along on other people’s faith and not have to worry about being challenged spiritually. The reality is that everyone who is college-aged will have their beliefs put to the test, even at Cedarville. Regardless of the environment you are in, college is a time where you have to decide what will drive you, bring you hope, and be your source of truth. In college, you will need to develop your own worldview that will impact every aspect of your life. Ideally, this worldview will be based on the Bible, but that is something that each person has to decide for themselves. What will your foundation be?
Although the transition from public school to Cedarville may require some adjustment, I am here to testify that it is a blessing. As a senior at Cedarville, I could not be more grateful for Cedarville and the impact it has had on my faith journey. And I can STILL be friends with and reach out to those I was close to in high school. My encouragement to you is to trust that Lord’s sovereignty, no matter your story. All He calls you to is to be faithful, wherever He has placed you at this time in your life.
Majoring in Social Work, Class of 2022
Where I’m From: Reynoldsburg, OH
Favorite Class: Biblical Care and Counseling
Go-To Rinnova Order: Frozen Hot Chocolate