It's that time of year again. High school and college seniors are preparing to march to "Pomp and Circumstance" and collect their hard-earned degrees, sending relatives, friends and even churches in search of the perfect graduation gift. Those who want to do more than just whip out the checkbook often head to the bookstore, where this year they will find several titles aimed at helping the college-bound or college-finished to keep their faith in the face of lots of life change. Most are priced to encourage group buying by churches, synagogues, schools or youth groups.

For Christian teenagers leaving the security of family and their home church for the first time, a little guidance about how to "live faith on campus" is offered in God Goes to College (Upper Room Books) by Emory University campus chaplains Helen Neinast and Thomas Ettinger, both United Methodist ministers. "Their message is that it's OK okay to question at this time in your life, that college is a time to explore both academically and spiritually," said editor Robin Pippin. "But while you're exploring and asking questions, hold on to God, because God holds on to you."

While Upper Room aims its advice at Protestant college students, the publishing arm of Reform Judaism has its sights on non-Oorthodox Jews going off to the world of academia. Jewish U: A Contemporary Guide for the Jewish College Student (UAHC) is written in a non-preachy tone by Rabbi Scott Aaron. "He takes a realistic look at who college students are, saying there are lots of ways to live a Jewish life on campus," editorial director Rabbi Hara Person told BookLine.

Those who have "been there, done that" dish out the real dirt about college in Letters from Campus: College Girls' Insights for High School Graduates (New Hope). Author Donna Margaret Greene has guided generations of young women through the transition to college, as the founder and director of Community Ministry for Girls in Birmingham, Alabama. She compiled the letters of 72 girls from 24 universities on subjects ranging from nurturing friendships to defending the Christian faith. Although Greene adds her observations, "the book is very much in the voice of the college girls," says editor Rebecca England.

Finally, for those who have completed their baccalaureate degrees and are facing life in the "real world," there's If Jesus Were a Senior: Last-Minute Preparations for Postcollege Life (Westminster John Knox) by noted youth leader Bruce Main, who also pictured the Christ as an underclassman in "If Jesus Were a Sophomore: Discipleship for College Students" (WJK, 2001). The newer book imagines how Jesus might have used his final years of college if he had been the Big Man on Campus.

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