The most crucial piece of advice for college students
In a few weeks, millions of students will begin a new semester of college. If I could talk to each one of them, I’d say three things. The first two are important, but the last one is critical.
Study crazy hard the first three weeks. It’s not that I want you to quit studying hard after three weeks, it’s just that if you blow-off the first few weeks, you may never recover. The more behind we get, the more overwhelmed we feel. But if you study like crazy the first few weeks, you’ll be on top of your classes, and you’ll also establish disciplined habits.
“Lazy hands bring poverty, but hard-working hands lead to wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).
Be disciplined with spending, and run away from credit card offers. Credit card companies swoop around campuses like vultures. They’d love to sign you up for a “good deal.” There will be reasons every day to use the plastic for a purchase. If you aren’t really careful, you’ll end up in a financial mess. Assume life will cost more, your job will pay less, and your future needs will outweigh your current impulses.
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7 NIV).
While the above two bits of advice can help you, the last can save you.
Seek Christian community like a thirsty man seeks water in the desert. Make it your first priority. Don’t rest until you find it. You’ll need people who care about your heart.
My friend, Drew Moss, leads a thriving college ministry (The Table) in Stillwater, OK. I asked him to weigh in on this topic and he graciously agreed:
If I only have 2-3 minutes to talk with high school seniors, I always focus on the same thing: community. Community is of course, an essential part of the Christian life no matter who you are, but I think it plays an even bigger role for incoming college students: Most of them are leaving behind a lot of their closest relationships, and they are hungry to find a community of their own in college. This I think is primarily why many students will do whatever it takes to get in a fraternity or sorority. This can be a great thing if students find a good community, and disastrous if they don’t.
This is usually the most obvious and simple difference between students who grow in college and those who don’t. Students who have already determined before setting foot on campus, that they will do whatever it takes to get plugged into Biblical community will do well.
Parachurch campus ministry is good, but not enough. It is our conviction at the Table that students need to connect to the local church. We hold to this for at least 3 reasons. 1). This is Biblical. God’s heart and plan seems to lie with his Church. 2). Students will not always have campus ministries, and they need to learn how to participate in a local church body. 3). The local church is multi-generational, and students really need relationships with older believers who can help them with their faith.
I’ll be praying you find Christian community, and that you fully engage with them. Don’t hold back. Jump in with both feet. Invest in them and you’ll care about them. And if you can’t find a community like The Table or STUMO, ask me or someone from your home church. We’ll help.