As one who graduated from high school 10 years ago (yeah, I’m still struggling with that one! How did that happen?!?!?) I had some reservations when heading into college but more than anything, I was just READY for something new!! 🙂 I learned a lot throughout my college journey and there are a few pieces of wisdom I hope is helpful to those new college freshmen who might be a little nervous. I have also started a Pinterest Board that has some helpful articles I’ve pinned as well. You can find it by following my Pinterest link here on my blog. 🙂
- Be “ok” with letting go. Some of you have spent the last 13 years with the same people and have made, what you feel, the best friends you could ever have. And now you’re in this transitional season where you are all moving on to different schools and you’ve sang the graduation song and pledge that “We will still be Friends Forever…” and all of those things are perfectly normal ways to feel. But I’m here to tell you that if you go to college and you start to feel those friendships slip away… it really is ok. Just like you are having new, life changing experiences, so are they and through those things, it is natural to grow a part. Relationships are really hard work when you don’t find yourself seeing that person every day. And Some relationships are worth working to keep. Along the way, you’ll know when it’s right to work for a relationship or to let it go. And it’s ok to let go.
- You don’t have to have it all planned out. You’re going to meet people during Freshman Orientation or in the first few weeks of classes that have their major picked out, know where they are going to work after college, when they are going to get married, where they want to settle down, how many kids they want to have and what their names will be. And that’s fine. But I also want you to know that only about 1/2 a percent of those folks’ plans will work out that way and that’s ok too. For me, I thought that I would complete my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, move to NYC, slum around from audition to audition until I finally found my place on a big stage somewhere along the way finding the perfect man and us having a large family. None of that happened the way that I had planned but it has been so much better than any of those dreams. So here’s a thought: How about having a idea of what you want to do but also going in with a completely open mind. You’re going to learn so much about the world and about yourself that even if you’ve been 100% sure your whole life as to what you wanted to “be when you grow up”, college and life away from home might surprise you and take you on a completely new journey that is more than you have ever dreamed.
- Find a solid community. This is a crucial part of making college successful. There’s a reason why you find a lot of people flunking out of school. A lot of times that can come down to not finding a solid community in college that is encouraging and holding you accountable. As a college freshman, I found a great group of people who I met for bible study and worship regularly on campus. Through this community, I found a family of people who rallied around me through the toughest of times and helped me navigate through some really tough decisions. I know that I would not be where I am today without the community that I found in college. These are the people that drive 3+ hours to make it to your wedding or to your parents’ funeral. You need these people so find seek out these relationships early.
- GO. There will be many opportunities for you to go on crazy adventures during the summer and during spring/fall breaks. GO! There is going to come a time after you’ve walked across that stage and you are working your full time job where you will wish that you had taken advantage of the trips you missed out on when you had the chance in college. You don’t have to take summer classes every year! GO study abroad, GO white water rafting and camping for the weekend, GO teach English overseas, GO hold babies in an orphanage! These experiences will change you so much more than any class that you take in college so GO and be changed because there will come a time when you don’t have the same opportunities.
- Who said you have to be finished in 4 years? College takes 4 years for some people. It also takes 3.5 for some and for me, it took quite a bit longer and that is ok. Be faithful and obedient to God through it all and no matter how long it takes, the journey the Lord takes you on will always be greater than what you planned for yourself. During my journey, there came a time where I needed to take a break to figure out what God wanted for me which lead to me changing majors (multiple times!), losing my theatre scholarship and having to just take a couple classes at a time while I paid for school out of pocket. Not ideal by any means but God used that entire journey to teach me so many lessons of his faithfulness and the goodness of His timing. This is your journey and no one else’s so be obedient to God’s time frame and no one else’s.
- Don’t skip class. Take it from me. Hanging out with friends and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix sounds like a much better idea than actually attending class but seriously, go to class.
- Document EVERYTHING! Below are several photos from throughout different adventures I went on in college. I am so glad I took so many pictures and you will regret it if you don’t. Luckily, we are a society that documents everyone on social media and while that’s debatable
- Be obedient. There are going to be times in your college journey where there’s a certain yearning and longing in your heart that is different that what makes sense to the world. It’s going to be different than what your parents want you to do or what society thinks you should do but God’s ways are always higher than our ways and if we have to be obedient in the right now so that He can prepare what’s best for us in the future. Maybe that’s changing your major from corporate communications to Social Work even though it will push your graduation date back 2 semesters, be obedient to what God is leading you to do and no one else. Maybe that’s going to Haiti for 2 months in the summer instead of taking a full course load so you can get ahead in school, be obedient to what God is leading you to do because these experience that you’re feeling lead to do by the Lord are experiences that are going to shape you and those around you more in the image of God and those experiences are the ones we regret once it’s too late., document it for yourself nonetheless!
I hope these words of wisdom are helpful as you head into what is going to be the most exciting and most challenging season of your life! You’re going to meet the people who will stand by you or even officiate your wedding, who will wait at the hospital when your babies are born or clean your apartment for you when your mom passes away. This season is one where you are going to be shaped more and more into the likeness of God is you will let Him lead and guide you through this season. I included some of my favorite photos from my college journey below. Please know that with every wonderful choice I made to go on amazing adventures to beautiful places, I likely made just as many terrible decisions a long the way but God is faithful through it all! Just don’t waste this season! You will miss it when it’s gone!!