Dear Christian College Student,
Congratulations on reaching this exciting milestone—you’re headed to campus for the fall semester! Whether it’s your first year or your senior year, you’ve got a fresh start, for the fall semester represents a new chapter of your life. You’re on your own now, untethered from your parents’ oversight, and learning to make your own way in life.
You’ll be faced with various spiritual challenges and opportunities that will test your faith. For those of you on more secular campuses, the challenges to your faith likely will be stark. For those of you on Christian campuses, the challenges may be more subtle. Regardless, if your heart is open to God, and if you put in place the right mindset and habits, you will experience a victorious year.
For that reason, I offer seven tips for how to make the most of your year. Taken together, these seven suggestions will ensure that you remain grounded and set the conditions for a victorious year—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and academically:
1. Trust in God: The challenges and uncertainties of college life may sometimes overwhelm you, but if you will place your full trust in God rather than leaning on your understanding, he will guide you through them (Prov 3:5-6). The primary way God guides his people is through the Bible, so make sure to immerse yourself in its teachings on a daily basis (2 Tim 3:10-17).
2. Be Meaningfully Involved in Church: God never intended for the Christian life to be a “Lone Ranger” kind of a deal. That’s why he gave us the church (Acts 2:40-47). So, my best suggestion to you is to find a good church, become meaningfully involved in worshiping and serving, and watch how your life is transformed!
3. Build a Network of Christian Friends: One of the most important aspects of maintaining your faith in college is finding like-minded believers to surround yourself with. If you’ll be open about your faith, you might be surprised how many other students on campus are Christians eager to connect with like-minded believers. You’ll never regret the time spent building Christian friendships during college.
4. Leverage Your Christian Worldview: One of the most challenging aspects of college—especially if you are at a public university or left-leaning private college—is the tidal wave of false ideologies and anti-Christian activists you’ll encounter. Thus, it’s essential to put on the Christian worldview as a “set of glasses” that will help you see unbiblical teachings for what they are.
5. Be a Responsible Student: Remember that your primary job in college is to be a student. In fact, if you are a college student, that is God’s vocational calling on your life. So, take your studies seriously and strive to do your best. Not many things undermine your witness on a college campus more than academic irresponsibility and intellectual laziness.
6. Explore Your Callings: The great Reformer Martin Luther often pointed out that God calls each Christians to four roles in life: family member, church member, worker, and citizen. He’s right. What’s more, your college years are especially important because college is a vital part of preparing for your future career, your relationships, and your lifelong role as an American citizen. So, don’t waste your college years! Prayerfully allow God to reveal his will for the classes you take, the relationships your form, and the interests you develop.
7. Form Healthy Habits: Studies show that the habits individuals develop in college often remain in place for the rest of their lives—whether for good or for bad. For that reason, take care to form good habits early on, including managing your time, taking care of your physical health, and maintaining open communication with family and friends.
Taken together, these seven suggestions form a solid anchor for your college experience. If you take them seriously, you’ll be surprised how God will work in and through your college experience. He will bless your efforts and empower you to be a shining light on your campus (Mt 5:14-16). He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability to resist (1 Cor 10:13). He will guide you always and will satisfy your needs (Is 58:11).
Your college journey will have its challenges, but with God’s guidance and the support of your Christian community, you will triumph. Trust in God’s plan for your life, and he will bless you always.
Praying for you,
Pastor Rob Pacienza