College life may test religious upbringing

Some students at Florida A&M University are finding spiritual growth and guidance.

“I was inspired through the scriptures that I could handle college life and maintain my integrity,” said Laquandra Frazier, 18, a freshman general studies student from Orlando.

“At times, many students get distracted by what is going on around them, and they tend to stray from what they were taught in their upbringing.”

Frazier went on to say that many students who come from various religious backgrounds find themselves drifting away from church upon entering college, making the transition from home to college a big step.

While some students will decide to be proactive about their activity in church, others may explore things outside of what they were taught. The transition itself may challenge some students to see if they will maintain the religious practices from their upbringing.

Matthew Smith, a freshman general studies student from Miami, said he believes the transition from home to college has challenged some of the religious beliefs he was taught growing up.

“I was raised in the Pentecostal church, and that was all I knew,” Smith said. “Many times the students have been so sheltered by their parents all they know is the church, so when they come to college, it is a whole new world. They want to explore things that they are unfamiliar with.”

As a result of Smith’s sheltering, he said has begun to live a lifestyle that is opposite of what he was taught.

“At first, I was uncomfortable going out to night clubs, but as time progressed it became part of me,” he said. “I begin to miss a Sunday service here and there and eventually stopped going,” said Smith.

While some students find transitioning from home to college to be challenging, there are many who continue with the religious practices that were instilled in them while growing up.

Joseph Harris, who is active in the youth and collegiate ministry at his church, said he always remembered the upbringing and training that his mother instilled in him at a very young age and kept it with him throughout college.

“I came straight out of the church, and I guess I just stuck with what I knew,” said Harris, 24, an English student from Enterprise, Ala.

Harris said, “Proverbs 22:6 is a scripture that gives many parents the assurance that their child will do the right thing upon entering school. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ “

Harris plans to start an outreach program geared toward helping collegiate students adjust to the various changes from home to college. The program is scheduled to begin in early spring of 2007.

“Train up, not beat up. Train up, not discipline up. Train up, not educate up. Train up, not positive affirmation up. Training is the most obvious missing element in child rearing,” said Michael & Debi Pearl in the book “To Train a Child Up.”

“Training is the conditioning of the child’s mind before the crisis arises. It is preparation for future, instant, unquestioning obedience,” the book said.

While many parents train their children to believe in a certain religion, the child has the choice to continue in his or her training, or explore what the world has to offer and form his or her own ideology.