Seven Steps to the Perfect Start to College or UniversityAugust 04, 2011:
This month many students are beginning their first year of college or university. Here are seven steps to the perfect start, not only for these new freshmen, but also for those students who have already begun and are seeking a fresh start.
1. Read the Bible and pray.
This sounds obvious, but it isn’t. With more social pressure, less time, and less privacy, maintaining a regular, daily, discipline of quiet times is going to be difficult. Don’t let it slip.
2. Be a member of a local Bible teaching church.
The one consistent predictor of who stays a Christian and thrives spiritually after university or college is who is committed to a local Bible teaching church. I love para-church groups, have been involved with many, and support them, but if a student is not a part of a local church, they are far less likely to be part of a local church when they are no longer a student. You need to find out what it is like to worship with people who are not all between 18 and 23 years old and who have different life experiences than you do.
3. Do evangelism.
At university you will come across complex ideas that will joyfully stretch your mind and may cause you to question your faith. One of the key antidotes is to be active in personal evangelism because with such a face to face encounter with real questions, you are forced to dig deep to provide answers. As you do, you will find out time and time again at an experiential level how profound the gospel truly is.
4. Be willing to think for yourself.
Once you get to college or university, you can no longer take everything that a teacher says as the last word on truth. You have to learn to think for yourself, to sieve the information, to apply logic and discernment to the pronouncements of the professors. If you are going to survive at a liberal school, the answer is not to hide from the challenges, but actually to engage the brain and think through the issues yourself. The same may be more true than sometimes thought at specifically Christian schools, universities, and colleges, too.
5. Develop good work habits.
Yes, staying up to 4 in the morning is probably not going to kill you, and if you don’t do it at university, when are you going to find out what it’s like? But at the end of the day the purpose of college is to graduate with a useful degree. And to do that you’re going to have to learn to be disciplined with your work. Otherwise, you’ll find you’ve just wasted years of your life. And they will be very hard to recapture afterwards when you are older.
6. Plan to have a God-centered career.
There are multiple legitimate options open to Christians in terms of career, but there is only one way through them all: seek first the kingdom of God. As you consider what you will do after college or university, you have to make sure that your consideration answers the question “with the person that I am, and the gifts that God has given me, what can I most do to advance the kingdom of God?”
7. Choose good friends.
Perhaps the most counter-intuitive piece of advice I received when I first went up to Cambridge was not to do any work at all for the first week. Instead, spend all that time making friends. The reasoning was that people are very open during that window to make lifelong friendships. Afterwards you will have time to sift through who specifically are going to be your friends, but there is a window of opportunity at college or university to make lasting friendships that will significantly impact your life. This includes the consideration—perhaps—of whom you should marry. Be proactive in choosing friends that will stretch you spiritually in a biblical way.