Parents of Grace: How to Support Your Child in their College Search
Tim and Brenda Jank have unquestionably earned the title of “seasoned parents.” Not only are they the parents of their own five kids, Josh (26), Sam (25), Joe (23), Anna (21), and Noah (19), but Tim and Brenda are both executive directors of Christian nonprofit organizations where they respond to the call to love, exhort, and disciple Christ’s church. Their road has not been an easy one, but the Jank’s story has been sprinkled with a fair dose of Grace. (And we are not just talking about the college.)
We asked the Janks a few questions about what it was like to be parents of Grace students as their son Joe (BS 19) and daughter Anna (BA 21) left the nest in Albion, IN and embarked on their Christian college journey in Winona Lake, IN.
1. Describe the college search process from the lens of a parent. What role did you play in the process?
Our philosophy is to stand back and let our kids lead the way, but we always cheer them on in their decisions. It’s very important that you are prayerful, encouraging, inquisitive, and supportive during your children’s college search.
2. What was your first impression of Grace College?
We were very impressed! I loved the personal care and attention that was demonstrated on our campus visit. We were immensely grateful for one-on-one support.
Our first son to attend Grace, Sam was on the fence between college and the military. He chose Grace, enjoyed the Ft. Wayne Campus (which no longer exists), but then decided the Army was his best bet. He is now on a career track in helicopter maintenance. The support and care of his professors was a joy to witness, and the Winona Lake campus took our breath away.
It was love at first sight — the people, the passion, and the place.
3. How did Grace put your mind at ease about sending your children away?
Our second son to attend Grace, Joe, was born with spina bifida and was in the middle of a medical adventure in August of his freshman year. Joe had a benign tumor removed from his spinal cord that spring, and was plagued by complications and setbacks as he entered into college. That summer, we connected extensively with the Student Disabilities Services. WOW! The coordinator of student disabilities services and Aaron Crabtree were amazing and alleviated a million fears and concerns.
One week into his freshman year, Joe moved into a medical crisis and had to withdraw. As devastating as it was, we had a new set of friends praying us through a year that was very tough for Joe on every front. What a joy it was the following year when Joe returned to Grace as a freshman. Despite lingering challenges and chronic pain, Joe soared and launched into four great years at Grace, but not without additional challenges. In his senior year, Joe’s shunt malfunctioned in August and he ended up in the hospital for three weeks. Joe missed the entire quarter, but once again, the Grace team worked hard to compassionately and creatively make a way for Joe to graduate in May of 2019. What a joy it was to see him walk across the stage!
4. How have you seen your kids grow in their God-given gifts in college? How has Grace fostered this?
Our daughter Anna arrived at Grace in the fall of 2017. We witnessed tremendous growth in her during that time. The community life was powerful and made an impact at every turn. Anna became a Growth Group Leader and Student Mentor during her sophomore year. These ministry opportunities provided a place for Anna to flourish, along with the Korean club, a ministry to Mormons, and the Cabaret. And her junior year was a dream never imagined! Anna spent a semester in South Korea where she was forever changed. I am certain that Anna will never be the same. Grace has offered gift upon gift.
5. What is your advice to parents of juniors/seniors in high school right now?
Grace offers trusted leadership who know Jesus, understand young adults, and seek to take part in the soul-shaping work of God every chance they can get.
This is the way of Grace.
Do you want to be a parent of Grace?
Now is the perfect time to be a part of your son or daughter’s college search — without having to take a step outside your door! Grace is offering virtual visits and live stream events during its COVID-19 campus closure. Schedule a chat with an admissions counselor, professor, or coach, live stream a student/faculty panel, and tune in to our campus golf cart tour!