After giving my family a good-bye hug I returned to my dorm room a little nervous and very excited to start my new life as a college student.
I knew this was God’s will for me, but I also knew I was in a whole new world. I would need wisdom to make the right decisions over the next four months. I’m sure you are facing many of the same challenges, so to help you out, here are five tips to ace your first semester:
- Try to squeeze as much as you can out of your first semester.
Don’t be the student that hides in his dorm room once classes are over. Make friends, go on student activities, serve in as many ministries as possible, study for your tests, and volunteer to help on special days. The more you do, the more memories you will make, and the more fondly you will look back on your first semester. Believe it or not, your time at college will go by faster than any previous time in your life. Make the most of it.
- “Wherever you are, be all there!
Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” This quote by Jim Elliot is one of my favorites. When you are in class and chapel, pay attention and take good notes. When you are with others, focus on them not your phone. Discipline yourself to actually study during your study times. (It’s amazing how quickly hilarious youtube videos can overtake your study time.) Whatever you’re doing, be 100% there!
- Call your folks… but not too much.
Choose to keep in touch with your parents, grandparents, and others you are close to. Your parents poured eighteen years of their lives into you. Not hearing from you for several weeks is not healthy. When you return home for Christmas or summer break it’s important that you did your part to maintain the relationship. On the flip side, spending hours each day on the phone with your parents and friends back home prolongs home sickness and stunts your growth at college. For me, a phone call to my parents and each of my grandparents once a week seemed to be the sweet spot.
- Remember where you came from.
Your home church is still your home church, and your pastor is still your pastor. Keep him or his wife informed of what’s going on in your life. If you have decisions to make, ask for advice. Let them know your prayer requests and continue to pray for your pastor’s and church’s needs while at school. Maintaining this relationship with your home church and pastor will help guide you through school and help you continue growing when you return home.
- Do your devotions.
It has been said countless times one of the easiest places to backslide is in Bible college. All day, you are hearing the Bible preached and taught while being surrounded by Christians. It’s easy to allow this to replace your personal time with God. Choose to spend a meaningful time each day reading your Bible and praying. You will need to put effort into finding a place and a time to be alone with God each day. This may be in your dorm room while your roommates are in class, in your car, or in a quiet spot on campus. During my freshman year I became close friends with another freshman in my dorm. Every day we asked each other how God used our devotional time. It helped both of us grow because it kept us accountable.
College is a wonderful new chapter in your life story! Ask God to help you put in practice these five little nuggets of wisdom. They will help make your semester a success.