Thoughts for College Freshmen

July 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

I feel like everyone with at least one year under their belt likes to write these sort of posts.  “Do this, don’t do that!  I’m older, wiser, I’ve survived college!  Listen to me!” 

Maybe because it’s just such fun for the writers.  But I also know that last year, as I prepared to embark on the Great College Adventure, I loved reading every piece of advice I could get my hands on.  Feel free to question my wisdom because I have only survived (thrived!) two semesters, not eight.  But that just means I’m not far away from where you stand as a freshman – so I really do remember it all.

So.  For any of my readers heading off to college, or anyone who (like me) still enjoys reading such articles – these are my thoughts for you.  Because I’m going back to school in exactly a month – so it’s been on my mind a lot.  And I thought it would be great fun.  And my thoughts are in no particular order, as usual.

1. Give grace.  To others.  And especially yourself.  Know that, no matter how excited you are to go (or how much you’re dreading it) – it will be a transition, and there will be bumps.  You can’t expect yourself to have everything figured out the moment you get there, and you can’t expect to instantly bond with new people and become as close with them as you are with your high school friends.  You’ve spent years developing those friendships, and while college friendships can develop quickly, two weeks still doesn’t match up to several years.  So give yourself grace for the bumps, the surprising emotions, and even feeling idiotic when you get lost on campus.  As much as you don’t want to prove yourself to be as green as you are – it’s okay, and everyone else is in your shoes too. 

2. Initiate, Initiate, Initiate! Knock on doors down the hall and ask if anyone wants to go to dinner.  Suggest to your new friend that you walk to class together.  See if anyone on your hall – or off! – wants to watch movies or play games on the weekend.  The point is simply this: everyone is feeling new and uncomfortable and few people want to ask others to hang out, or are thinking ahead enough to actually plan things.  But the person who does becomes a real blessing for the entire group – and you make friends a lot faster. 

3. Show Up.  Show up for social events.  If you’re interested in a club, or a Christian ministry, or anything else – show up to the activities and events.  Yes, you will feel awkward because you won’t know most of the people.  But if you don’t show up – you never will know those people, and you never will make those friends and be a part of that group.  For example, this past year I’ve been involved with the Navigators.  I’d always come to my small Bible study, and then to the large-group events on Friday nights, but there were so many people on Fridays that it was almost hard to meet new friends when everyone seemed to know everyone.  I joined the facebook group for the freshman class, and they started planning things like dinners on West campus.  First semester, I didn’t really go, because I didn’t really know anyone and it was much more comfortable to just eat dinner with my roommate.  But I started going second semester, and while it was a bit awkward at first, I soon met everyone and now I have so many friends that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t tried to be a part of the group.  So just show up.

And for classes: yes, it’s terribly important to show up for class.  And it’s also the strategy that my sister and I employ for the tough classes.  Show up for class, show up for office hours, show up for review sessions.  The point is to work hard and make sure the professor knows you’re genuinely working hard.  It will make a difference in your grade – because not only will you be able to handle the material better, but the professor might give you a few extra points for the effort.  You never know. 

4.  Prioritize God.  This is probably obvious.  But frankly, it’s all up to you now.  You will likely have many friends who could care less about God, or who call themselves Christians but are too swept up in the busy-ness of life and college to actually seek Him.  And that glorious invitation and responsibility rests solely on your shoulders now.  You will probably not have to do anything – go to church or Bible study or have a quiet time.  And college is quite busy.  So, be strategic; know that if you want to continue to grow in your relationship with Him, you will have to intentionally prioritize Him and make time for Him.  It won’t happen by accident.

And those are some of my thoughts!  I’ll add the rest of them tomorrow.  For those of you who are or have been in college – do you agree with my thoughts?  Would you care to share some others?

Entry filed under: college.

a portrait of me Thoughts for College Freshmen, Part 2

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