College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

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The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Web Addition: Suggested Reading for College Bound Students

The following is a list of books I have compiled for the “suggested reading” section on CPYU’s website. You can view the list on the web here. I’m always looking to expand the list, so feel free to offer suggestions. The books are listed alphabetically by author. Enjoy!

Study Bible. Every major translation offers the Bible in a “study” form. Study Bibles include commentary, notes, cross references, and additional information to assist in Bible study and devotions. A study Bible is essential for all Christian college students.

How to Stay Christian in College, J. Budziszewski. This book offers a helpful introduction to what it looks like to be a Christian in college. Buziszewski is honest about the realities that students face and suggests practical ways to make your faith “real” on campus. The author is significantly qualified to write this book: he “walked away” from the faith while in college, received a Ph.D. from Yale, and then returned to the faith ten years later. He currently teaches at the University of Texas. (I also recommend his follow-up book, Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students.)

The Survival Guide for Christians on Campus: How to Be Students and Disciples at the Same Time, Tony Campolo and William Willimon. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly applies here. With the “Survivor” theme and clipart on the spine, this book looks trite and trivial, but it’s not. It is a solid book written by two people that have spent their entire adult lives on college campuses.

Letters to a Student: Encouraging Words from a Christian Mentor, Donald J. Drew. This book is a collection of letters sent to college bound students. The letters include insight on every aspect of college life including, your first two weeks on campus, postmodernism, dealing with temptation, doubt, how to choose good Christian books, and preparing for your vocation. Very readable and encouraging.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, Os Guinness. The best book I have read on “calling” and vocation from a Christian perspective. This book is also available in a shorter form (five chapters), making it an ideal gift for graduating high school seniors. The shorter version is entitled, Rising to the Call: Discovering the Ultimate Purpose of Your Life.

Understanding God’s Will: How to Hack the Equation without Formulas, Kyle Lake. Where will you go to college? What will your major be? What will you do after college? These questions have two things in common: (1) every college student asks them and (2) they have everything to do with understanding God’s will. Lake’s book clarifies some of the confusion around “discovering God’s will” and helps readers see how their story fits into God’s story.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis. All college students should know about this important historical figure and Christian apologist. Mere Christianity is a good place to start and should help to encourage yet another generation of Lewis readers. It’s not an “easy read” but it is well worth the effort.

Freshman: The College Student’s Guide to Developing Wisdom, Mark Matlock. The college years are formative for the rest of life. Decisions made during these “critical” years will determine the “rest of your story.” Students need wisdom to make God honoring decisions. This book helps students become wise.

New Way to Be Human: A Provocative Look at What it Means to Follow Jesus, Charlie Peacock. This book was written as a response to conversations that the author had with college students. He wanted to write a book that would address the kinds of questions that students are asking today. It is clearly stated and very informative.

Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning and Living, Cornelius Plantinga. Originally written for incoming college freshman, this book invites students to engage in the crucial process of life-long learning, "One way to love God is to know and love God's work. Learning is therefore a spiritual calling: properly done, it attaches us to God. In addition, the learned person has, so to speak, more to be Christian with."

Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper. This book is powerful, plain and simple. Piper challenges students to take their lives seriously and to not settle for the status quo. The title says it all.

Life Inside the “Thin” Cage: A Personal Look into the Hidden World of the Chronic Dieter, Constance Rhodes. One of the toughest issues facing female college students concerns body image and eating disorders. Even if you don’t think you struggle with these issues now, just wait until you get to college. The temptation is great. This book will help you navigate the challenge faithfully offering very practical advice.

Keeping Your Faith in College, Abbie Smith. This unique book is a collection of stories concerning college life and faith from over 35 colleges across the nation. Smith paints a realistic picture of what it is like to live out one’s faith in the college setting. (Visit her website to learn more:

On Earth As It Is In Advertising? Moving from Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope, Sam Van Eman. Perhaps the most influential “professor” students have in college is the media. The media is pervasive, teaching students what is and what ought to be. Van Eman equips college students to see through the lies of media and advertising in order to see more clearly the truth of the Gospel.


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