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Here is an endorsement I recently wrote for Alex Chediak’s latest book:

After writing for college students (Thriving at College) and for parents of prospective college students (Preparing Your Teens for College), Alex Chediak has now written a book that all of us need: Beating the College Debt Trap.

Readers can trust Alex. He knows the college world inside out (both as a student and as a professor) and he is able to cut through the confusion, break down what you need to know, and present the results in a wise and accessible way.

Learning the information in this book is an exercise in stewardship. Ignore it at your own risk!

You can find each title below with the author’s description.


Preparing Your Teens for College: Faith, Friends, Finances, and Much More (Tyndale House, 2014)

Preparing Your Teens for College is about getting teens ready to leave the home and enter the adult world with the faith, character and maturity to be successful. It’s about training them not just for college but for the totality of their lives.

You don’t have to look far to see that many teens are having a tough go at it. In school, their teachers will tell you about short attention spans and superficial interests crowding out their appetite and even capacity for learning. Out of school, even part-time jobs are hard to come by, depriving them of the chance to develop a work ethic, build skills, and earn money. At home, one in three is being raised without the love, protection and security of a father. After high school, the link between higher education and professional success has never been stronger. Yet higher education has never been more expensive, and the U.S. now has the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world: 44 percent of those who enter a four-year college will not graduate in six years. And 71 percent of those who start two-year degrees will not finish them within three years.

The message of Preparing Your Teens for College is that thriving at college begins before they get there–with what you do as Moms, Dads, youth pastors, mentors, and guidance counselors. Academic and professional success flow from character and maturity. And as Christians we know that character and maturity flow from a God-mastered life, from the heart of a person who has bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ. Preparing Your Teens for College is about helping you raise teens who understand the biblical message and are committed to putting away childishness, embracing responsibility, pursuing godly relationships, practicing moral purity, aiming for academic excellence, working unto the Lord, and honoring God in every aspect of their lives. If that describes the kind of teen you want to see leave your home someday, then this book is for you.


Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! (Tyndale House, 2011)

College is this glorious, crucially significant “in between” stage. You’re on the threshold of adulthood. Most enter college under their parents’ care and financial support. But if it’s done right, they’ll graduate as men and women ready to assume an adult role in an interdependent society and as a functional, contributing member of a local church.

In short, college should be a launching pad into all that goes with Christian adulthood. Yet for some it’s a time when they abandon the Christian faith, never to return, giving evidence that they never really belonged to Christ (I John 1:19). For others, their faith remains intact, but college is a somewhat frivolous season of entertainment, recreation, and amusement–an expensive vacation funded by Mom, Dad, and student loans. And many learn to privatize their Christian faith, worshiping God on Sunday but never seeing their academic life as an expression of their devotion to God.

I was particularly prompted to write this book by the widespread phenomenon of delayed adolescence—young adults failing to launch. A third of all 22-34 year old men are still living with their parents. Many college students have an entitlement mentality, as if a high GPA, a summer job, money, and success are all supposed to come easily (like the trophy in Little League they got for showing up). There’s an inflated sense of self-worth, a sense of personal greatness not grounded in actual accomplishments. Thankfully, that doesn’t describe all young adults or college students, but the trend is sufficiently common in our day that many commentators, Christian and otherwise, are taking notice.

I wrote Thriving at College to help young people transition well—to not just keep the faith, but to dig deeper than they ever thought was possible. To not just stumble upon a major, but to wisely discover their calling. To not just have a blast with friends, but to cultivate lifelong relationships of substance with those who most provoke them to trust and love God. To put away childishness, to make wise choices, and as missionary William Carey once said, to “expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” In short, to make the very best of their college years.


Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree without Going Broke (Zondervan, 2015)

Does the cost of college seem maddeningly out of reach? Have your parents told you they can’t afford to help?

Join the club: millions of students these days have no idea how they’re going to afford the education they know they need to have a shot at landing a decent job. But what if I told you the “I can’t afford college” line is mostly an illusion?

In Beating the College Debt Trap, I present an optimistic, empowering, and counter-intuitive message: Americans from all socioeconomic backgrounds, including first generation students, don’t have to be totally dependent on Mom, Dad, or Uncle Sam to get through college. You can get the training you need to launch a meaningful career without going broke in the process. Graduation on a solid financial foundation is possible. But it will require knowing how the system works, intentionality, creativity, and delayed gratification.

I start the book by debunking the myth that a four-year college is right for everyone. There are less well-known, equally valid paths that can lead to a variety of high-paying jobs. Then I explain (in simple terms) why college is expensive and why it’s so important that you take full responsibility for how you pay for it. From there, I move into three crucial decisions every student makes – choosing a college, picking a major and looking discerningly at loan opportunities. Then I give some practical advice on how to spend less and save more during college. Lastly, I look beyond the college years to the hurdles new graduates face in a slow-growth economy.

Whether you’re a parent filling out the FAFSA and getting ready for that first tuition bill, a student wanting to make wise financial choices (and understand what the financial aid office is telling you), or a graduate trying to launch a career, pay the bills, and dig your way out of debt, you’ll want to check out Beating the College Debt Trap.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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