A Review of Freshman: The College Student’s Guide to Developing Wisdom by Mark Matlock

The college transition is a difficult one to make. For most, the transition just “happens” to them, but in Freshman, Mark Matlock prepares the reader to wisely navigate the challenges and changes that lie ahead. As you go about this adventure they call student life, the best decision you can make is to seek wisdom and make it the foundation of all your other decisions” (p 13). It is to this end that the book is dedicated to providing fresh perspective and practical steps.

In Section 1, Matlock consider the tools necessary for moving through the transition wisely. Although, “very few of us wake up with the goal of messing up our lives” (p. 16), we also do not embrace biblical wisdom to guide us through life. Matlock provides a realistic look at why people avoid wisdom and encourages a corrected perception of wisdom. With this new perspective, we can better align our lives with the purposes of God. The three areas in which Matlock focuses are cause-and-effect relationships, values, and justice. He defines and illustrates these areas which may be quite new to most readers as many of us have largely adopted the culture’s views. According to Matlock, “We can’t do much about the culture, but we can do something about ourselves” (p. 59). He also includes a real-to-life talk about the mystery of God’s wisdom and “speed bumps” that we are sure to encounter along the way. This provides the reader with a context of sincerity that this teaching on wisdom is not simply an ideal but is necessary in spite of the struggles that lie ahead.

Section 2 delves into the practical outworking of a biblical perspective of godly wisdom. Matlock addresses our need for humility as we make wise decisions regarding friend, money, and sex. He also encourages follow-through in each area. In his word, “making a decision helps define your actions, but putting it into practice is another matter” (p. 144). The key way Matlock encourages us to follow-through it through accountability and mentorship. While many college-bound students want to revel in new-found freedom, Matlock warns against transitioning alone. He not only outlines helpful parameters for finding and establishing a mentoring relationship, he also presents that “though we may be mentored in various areas of our lives over the course of our lifetimes, at some point we become mentors too, feeding others what we have learned” (p. 154). Thus the baton of biblical wisdom is passed on to others along the way.

Freshman is written like a conversation between a sincere, godly mentor to a young adult. Mark Matlock does not speak down to the reader, but offers helpful guidance along the way. His words and approach are saturated with Proverbs and other biblical wisdom literature. Those looking for answers to specific questions may not find them here, but they will very clearly be establishing a context within which every decision can be made according to sound wisdom. I highly encourage this book for those entering the college transition, students already in college, and parents of all who will need guidance through the adventure of launching out.

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