Choosing a college is a big deal no matter what your background happens to be.
Certain aspects of missionary life in particular can make that process even more complicated and intimidating. Missionary kids (MK’s) and third-culture kids (TCK’s) face unique challenges when it comes time to make college decisions.
- Moving far (1000’s of miles) from family and friends
- Long-distance planning and wondering if you really, actually understand what is expected (“lost in translation” is a real hazard)
- Trying to anticipate transportation needs (no car, no US license, and quite possibly no local connections)
- Looking the part (looking like typical American kids) but being completely different
- Stepping out by faith while still making wise financial decisions (typically, MK’s cannot legally hold a job in a foreign country and might not even have access to a US bank account)
- Learning a new culture (culture shock) while attempting to handle all of the above
That is a lot to navigate on your own — especially when you’re 18!
In these situations, it certainly helps when college staff and faculty are aware and sensitive of the hurdles that MK’s and TCK’s are dealing with when they begin their college adventure.
Trinity Baptist College has a history of welcoming MK’s and TCK’s from missionary families all over the world — Japan, Mexico, Zambia, the Ukraine… and the list goes on! We count it a privilege to provide a safe place for them to transition into life in the USA while earning their college degree. And we enjoy added benefit of the cultural diversity and life perspective they bring to our campus! Several of our staff and faculty have personal experience as missionaries or MK’s themselves.
A recent alumnus of TBC, Nancy Patton (’18), agreed to share her point of view on coming to TBC straight from the mission field.
Nancy, you came to TBC from Hungary. How did you learn about TBC? Did you have prior connections to our campus, or maybe have a family member who graduated from here?
Nancy: We didn’t know anything about TBC until Pastor Messer came to visit our family ministry in Hungary one year. At the time we didn’t know where we would go to college – the only Christian college we knew much about was the one where my parents attended. He told us about Trinity and encouraged us to consider it. In the end, this is where we decided to come.
Did you have a particular goal in mind when it came to college? Were you looking for a Christian college? Did size matter to you?
Nancy: In our family, the idea was always for us kids to go to a Christian college here in America after graduating high school. Like I mentioned before, we really didn’t know where… that is where our meeting Pastor Messer really helped a lot.
How much time had you spent in the US before coming to college? Were you fairly familiar with life here in America?
Nancy: My family and I would come every few years – usually during the summer time, and it always felt sort of like vacation. We would do fun things and try new foods and things like that but I didn’t really know what real life was like here. When I got here for college America just seemed so huge and overwhelming.
Was there a certain level of comfort for you and/or your parents in coming to TBC? If so, what was it that made you comfortable?
Nancy: Yes, my parents knew Pastor Messer pretty well by that point and Ed and Bonnie Gibson were family friends as well, so knowing that we would have influences like that around us definitely made it more comfortable for my parents. I think the small campus here really helped me adjust easier than I would have at a larger school. Somehow I didn’t feel so out of place because there were quite a few other students who were from other countries. I liked that I felt like a real adult; I had freedom to make choices. But there were rules too, and that made me feel safe. It was a good place to get to know the culture without getting lost.
Was there anything (or anyone) in particular that you felt was particularly helpful to you when you first arrived?
Nancy: Two people come to mind right away. One was a college student who was such a huge encouragement. She was a senior and had this desire to connect with and help missionary kids. She took me under her wing and always seemed to come by my room at just when I needed her the most. Then there was my small group leader, Mrs. Whitley (Assistant Professor of English at TBC), who really helped me a lot. She was open and friendly and I always knew she was there for me whenever I needed to talk to someone.
It brings us joy to know that MK’s and TCK’s can come here and feel welcome and at home. We also want to do our part to make the financial aspect of this transition as stress-free as possible. Our representatives are trained to help every step of the way, and are always willing to go the extra mile to answer questions and get the job done!
If you are an MK or know an MK looking for a college, please get in touch with us! You can call us at 904-596-2451 or visit my.tbc.edu to get personalized information.
Additionally, we have a brand new scholarship match available for incoming MK’s. We will share more details on that next week — stay tuned!