During my time serving with a college ministry non-profit and now as a pastor, I have had the privilege of seeing hundreds of high school students make the transition to college.
While many have succeed in their pursuit of Jesus and a college degree, college has been a dark time of regret for others.
I will not add to the cliché statements about how this semester you are starting a new chapter in your life book, but I do want to offer some advice as you head into a new phase of life.
I believe college is a perfect opportunity for you to grow as a disciple of Jesus, to see how you have been wired to make a difference in this world, to build friendships that will shape your personality, and to serve God like never before.
6 Things Every College Freshman Needs To Hear
1. Serving Jesus Is The Most Important Part Of College
As you step into your first class you will feel the pressure to believe your grades are the most important part of college.
This is not true.
Serving Jesus is the most important part of every phase of life.
Yes, your education is important, after all, you are spending tens of thousands of dollars on this degree each year. But anything that hinders your pursuit of Jesus (even the pursuit of a college degree) is not God honoring.
Your worth is found in Jesus, not your degree.
Don’t miss out on opportunities to serve God while you are in college.
2. Choose Your Friends Carefully
Newsflash, your friends will change from high school to college. Some of you will be horrified that some friends won’t last through adulthood, but others will rejoice at the opportunity to start over!
Here is one thing you need to know early on in college: drama is forever.
The notion that high school is too dramatic and somehow college will be more chill is naïve. The world is full of drama. You will have to learn how to navigate interpersonal problems.
But the best way is to limit the drama is to carefully choose the group you run with.
3. Get Connected to a Church, Not Just a Group of Christians
Small groups of Christians do not replace the need for a biblically based church.
Christians need to be connected to a local church to benefit themselves and the church community.
Joining a campus ministry or non-profit is not the same as worshipping at a local church.
Don’t get me wrong, campus ministries are incredible – they simply aren’t a church.
(And a group of friends who listen to a Matt Chandler sermon together as their “church” isn’t a church either.)
You need to be a part of a biblically based community of believers. If you have been burned by church, I’m sorry for your negative experience, but don’t give up on the church because of a negative experience.
There are thousands of churches with different styles, traditions, and formats for you to visit and pray about joining.
4. Just Do Something
Deciding on a major doesn’t have to result from God writing out the perfect choice in neon lights for you. In fact, few of your life decisions will be clear.
If you are daily in the Word and prayer, it may really be as simple as “What am I good at and what do I like to do?”
Our communities need more teachers, government workers, doctors, and mechanics who are strong Christians.
Make the jump and prayerfully pursue a practical faith. Once you jump it is incredible to see how God starts to reveal how you are wired.
5. The Price Tag On Your Bad Decisions Increases With Age
The older you get, the higher the price tag on your bad decisions. This is a concept I heard from Brandon Conner, senior pastor at Mosaic Church in Gulf Coast, Mississippi.
As an adult, your decisions hold more weight.
College is a phase of life where people believe that you should live in complete autonomy, but nothing is further from the truth. You need more accountability, wisdom, and encouragement as you mature.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to walk through life on your own. Sooner or later, you will make a horrible decision that may cost you more than you could imagine.
Be proactive in the decision making process by inviting others into the conversation before you make a decision. This is what mature adults do.
6. Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable
Resist the urge to go to class, go home, study, and then repeat.
College is a unique time when you get to do stuff that is difficult once you have a full-time job and family.
Run triathlons, travel the world, do a summer-long mission trip overseas, spend time drinking coffee late at night with friends.
You will have more free time over the next four years than any other time in your life. Don’t waste four years on Netflix.
Even worse, don’t waste four years being self-centered. How can you make a difference in your community and around the world?
Redeem your time and do something to further the Gospel of Jesus.
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