Dear College Friend,
Instrumental music plays in the background as I sit in a lounge chair in a building that didn’t even exist when I was here at this college (my alma mater). In an hour, I’ll head over to the BSU (Baptist Student Union) building for a worship service. Fourteen years have lapsed since I walked into that place, serving as BSU president; one of my dearest friends and her husband lead the BSU ministry now, and it’s still precious to me–a place of growth and rest. Every Monday night at 9:00, we have corporate student-led worship followed by a speaker. We would exhale the pressures of college life and regroup and refresh.
If you aren’t a part of such a community, push this priority to the top of the list. I realize it’s challenging to get involved in a church and/or small group when college life places so many demands on your time (especially if you go to a place that requires chapel attendance, work hours, and convocations like mine did). In college, you’ll be pulled several different directions. And for probably the first time in your life, your parents won’t be glancing over your shoulder, privy to every decision. Make sure your decisions count for something. Say “yes” to the stuff that really matters first. Go for the good grades and the excellent attendance, but if the choice lies between and A and a B, choose the B and go to a Christian-led weekly event (and that’s coming from a college Professor…go ahead, you have my A-OK). 😉
So, after you get involved in a solid community of believers, take a step back and assess what else you are involved in. Perhaps it’s too much; maybe your schedule has gone helter-skelter because you’ve said “yes” to way too much. Focus on the essentials. Balance fun and play with grades and work (don’t make it all about one or the other). And for goodness sake, get some sleep, please.
When classes squeeze you and you wonder, “Am I going to make it?” tell yourself you will. My freshman year, I was a deer in headlights, awed and inspired, but overwhelmed. My sophomore year I got involved in way too much and had to reset my direction (including my major). My junior year, I felt stagnant and unmotivated. Senioritis hadn’t kicked in yet, but I felt like the 4 years would never end–even though everyone told me it would fly by. My last year, I moved off campus to get some breathing room and just wanted to get married. Each year tested me in a different way and each year I learned something new about myself. Give yourself grace and persevere; realize it will be over faster than you think. And someday you’ll look back after fifteen years and think, “Wow, what happened?”
Cherish friendships and be intentional with those bonds you made. Don’t let them drop just because you get married or move to a new city. You will need people to encourage and challenge you in the next step and you just spent four years investing in something worthwhile, so don’t toss it aside just because you are no longer living down the hall from one another.
And lastly, I’d just encourage you to take it a day at a time; very few people in college know exactly what they want to do with their lives. Although I’d known my major field of study since I was 14, I ended up changing directions my sophomore year. It happens; give yourself permission to reroute. Even those that spend 4-5 years planning for a career don’t often stay with it till retirement. College is more about the overall learning experience and life preparation than it is about the perfect major or GPA.
Rely on the LORD. College is a time of prioritizing and learning and realizing who you are as a person independent from your parents. Look to your Heavenly Father as your Source of peace, hope, and truth.
Be blessed, my friend.