Summer is nearing an end, and soon, school will begin again. For most, this experience will be nothing new. It might include a jump from elementary to middle school, or from junior high to high school. But for most students in our area, it will be another year, with many of the same experiences as before.
But what about those students who are going off to college? Talk about new excitement, new experiences…and a whole new set of responsibilities! I remember when I made the jump from high school to college. I felt like I was so ready to take on the world. I quickly realized the new found freedom I had also had to be balanced with a new sense of responsibility. Sure, I could stay up as late as I wanted and eat as much ice cream from the dining hall as I so pleased. But I was also now solely responsible for my success in school, and did not have my parents or other family making me study or do my homework.
Below are a few tips for those who are going to be moving into the dorm in a month or so. Hopefully, these will help ease the transition from Mom and Dad’s house to the college campus:
- Appreciate the little things. Remember all those one-liners your parents used to tell you when you were a teenager? Well, turns out, they all had a lot of truth to them. Think about the little things your parents taught you, and the experiences you had growing up. It might just be what gets you through your first bout of homesickness, or your first struggle with a classmate or resident assistant.
- You don’t have to pick your major in your first semester. You’re probably already tired of family and friends asking you, “What will you major in?” or “What do want to study when you get to college?”. But don’t let the pressure of uncertainty make you decide on a major before you are ready. This might lead to taking classes you don’t need and prolong your studies. At the same time, don’t wait TOO long to pick a major. This could also prolong your stay in college and cost you lots of extra time and money.
- Credit cards are NOT free money. The first week I was on campus, I saw tables set up all over the place with credit card companies offering a free school t-shirt if you applied for their credit card. Seemed awesome to me! A free t-shirt? Sign me up! But one of the best ways to get you in a hole you don’t need to be in is to rely on that ever so handy plastic to buy stuff you don’t need and food or other items you can’t afford. Eating the dining hall chow will only last a little while. In the meantime, think about getting a part-time job on campus to allow you a little extra spending money.
- Find a local church and/or campus ministry to plug in to. This is possibly the most important tip of all. The college years are generally the time when most people choose to leave the Christian faith. This is for a variety or reasons, but much of it just has to do with students not getting plugged in to a ministry somewhere. Once they have left, it is difficult for them to get back into it when college is over. If you are moving to a new area, one of the first things you should do is find a church home. Then, find a campus ministry where you can meet other Christian students for fellowship, for worship, and for the purpose of engaging your campus for the cause of Christ.