I’m excited because this fall thousands of students are going to college for the first time. A casual glance around my social media accounts confirm this fact as I see many parents posting pictures of their kid’s new dorm room, and these no-longer-high-school-students adjusting to a new home and life.
This excites me for two reasons:
As a believer, college is a two-fold opportunity to 1) be trained to make a difference in your world vocationally, and 2) be challenged to apply the Gospel to your everyday life.
I remember spending a lot of time my freshman year wondering what I should do (and equally important, what not to do). I spent a lot of time around older students looking for their advice. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I decided to put together a list of things I wish I had done my freshman year. I didn’t take advantage of all of these, but you can and should!
Here are 15 things you should do their FIRST year of college:
- Set your priorities. Time is finite, so plan to use it well. What are your priorities?
- Walk with the wise. The Book of Proverbs reminds us, "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20). As a freshman, you’ll likely meet a lot of new people — spend time with the ones who will make you better.
- Show up. Seriously. Showing up and paying attention is half the battle. You can make a "B"-average with almost no effort just by going to class and turning in projects on time, regardless of how smart you are.
- Learn to like coffee. You’re gonna need it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Be involved in your community. Meet a local. Find the historic parts or community centers of your city. Visit a family-owned restaurant. Pray for your city. The more you get off-campus, the more you’ll become aware of the people who live around you.
- Be involved in a church. As a student, what you lack in the ability to give financially, you make up for with enthusiasm and energy – even if it’s just showing up to help stack chairs. You can make a difference in a local church. If you want to read more about getting involved, my fellow blogger Stephen Vaughn wrote an excellent article on 5 Ways Young Adults Can Serve at Church.
- Call your parents. Take some time to call and catch up. Your parents helped raise you and prepared the way for you to go to college, so spend some time each week building that relationship.
- Serve someone else. College breeds a “consumer” mentality. Break the mold by finding ways to volunteer and serve others without expecting anything in return.
- Spend time alone. The older I get, the more I realize my need for alone time. Learn to put up boundaries and spend time alone to do homework, to think, and pray, especially if you’re an extrovert like me.
- Spend time with others. If you’re a workaholic, you’ll spend time obsessing over your grades and miss out on some really great relationships. Get your work done, then go have fun.
- Learn thyself. Use this time to learn about yourself: your personality type, love language, spiritual gifts, strengths & weakness, and whatever else you can. It will help you communicate with others better & set healthy boundaries for yourself.
- Read. Want to get better at practically everything? Read. Reading will teach you to think better, write better, and explore new ideas.
- Learn skills, not just information. Learning to write a better essay is more important that what you write about.
- Make friends with someone vastly different than you. Ask them questions & listen to their story. Have challenging conversations. Jesus wasn’t afraid of people of different worldviews or backgrounds, and we shouldn’t be either.
- Stay weak. No matter where you go to college or what degree you study, you will never outgrow your need for the Gospel.
I loved nearly everything about my college experience, however there are a lot of opportunities I wished I had taken advantage of sooner. If you apply even a few of the things your first year, you’ll be prepared to develop academically, relationally, & spiritually.
What are some things I missed? Let me know in the comments below! If you like this article, share it with a friend so they can read it too!