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10 Things I Wish They Told Me at College Orientation: Part 2


Better late than never — five more tips for college students (see part 1):

6. Summer/semester lovin’ isn’t as harmless as Sandy and Danny make it seem.

Dating is fun, but no one ever said it is harmless. Go on a few dates to test the waters, but college isn’t a time to date “for fun.” That was high school. I’m not saying you should cancel your next date if you can’t imagine yourself walking down the aisle with that person next week, but you are now old enough to weigh the bigger questions and have those future visions. Investing in a relationship that you plan on ending in September or once you get on that plane back home isn’t healthy. What we think might be harmless, innocent and fun, might actually build physical and emotional bonds that will cause pain when broken. Also, when we are in relationships we know will eventually end, we tend to make reckless decisions and cross boundaries because we may have already realized it won’t last forever.

Be cautious with your romantic relationships. That summer fling or overseas semester love may be exciting and “fun” at the time, but your heart will reap the benefits later. Romantic connections build bonds that won’t just disappear when the season changes. Besides, while you waste your time with someone you know won’t last, you may be missing out on someone with more potential.

7. Get involved.

This may be simple for some people, but for others like me, you may have left high school completely burned out. In high school I was involved in everything possible, and by the time I entered college, I couldn’t wait to just be a student. Before I knew it, I was applying for jobs and didn’t have many activities to attribute or leadership skills to attest to from the past four years. I enjoyed attending campus activities, but didn’t want to take any of the responsibilities.

If you are burned out from high school, take some time off your freshman year, but don’t wait too long to get involved. Not only are on-campus activities and organizations great places to meet new people, they are also outstanding opportunities to build your social skills, gain leadership experience and build up that resume.

8. Capitalize on travel opportunities.

As I could see in the comments from my first five tips, this may not be for everyone, but I will say it is probably for more of you than you think. College is a unique time of life offering opportunities that grown-up life probably won’t. Even if you think you aren’t interested in studying off campus, look into what your college offers and think it through. I have heard numerous stories that start like this, “If I could do college all over again, I would definitely have studied abroad…”

Most colleges offer off-campus studies that last from a week to an entire school year. This is your opportunity to see a different part of the world (even if the study is in your home country) and experience a new culture, city or style of education. This opportunity will most likely shove you out of your comfort zone, but what do you have to lose?

I feel passionately about this because I chose to study in the Netherlands for a semester of my junior year. And like I said earlier, I know this wouldn’t be for everyone, but for me, it changed my life. Because I was completely taken out of my element, I was pushed to grow personally and spiritually. I studied in an entirely different educational system, gained respect for different cultures, built life-long friendships, was able to travel all over western Europe, and much, much more.

Think it is too expensive? Meet with the study abroad coordinator at your college to crunch the numbers. Most of the time the semester will cost the same as it would to study on your college campus. There might also be special scholarships you can apply for.

Four months not your style? Check out what your college has to offer during fall, Christmas and spring breaks.

Use these four years, friends. You are (usually) only in college once. Also, any sort of study abroad experience will make your resume scream “independent, responsible and driven.”

9. Serve/volunteer.

College is an easy time to get wrapped up in you. For the first time, you can make your own schedule, chose your own friends, create your own curfew, and truly be on your own. It may be easy to let your studies and social schedule become your life.

Most colleges and college communities have a plethora of opportunities to serve and volunteer. You may have a busy schedule, but remember to find time to think outside of yourself and continue to cultivate kingdom-thinking that outpours into actions for the kingdom.

Giving yourself to others can relieve stress, take your mind off that upcoming chemistry final, and help put life back into perspective.

Volunteer service also looks great on a resume.

10.  The grand finale, my final piece of advice… Pray. Pray. Pray.

College isn’t easy. Temptations are everywhere. You have a lot of big decisions to make. You hate your roommate. You think you love your English tutor. You are the only Christian on your wing. You are failing step aerobics. Your major isn’t what you thought it would be. You lost a scholarship. You backed into your professor’s car in the parking lot. You are homesick. You made an unhealthy decision. You missed your 8 a.m. class and spilled coffee on your midterm.

These four years will mold you and break you and reshape you. Dig into the Word and get on your knees daily. You will need God’s guidance, protection and grace. Continually be open to His calling and let Him guide you. Remember your life is His, and your plans are subject to change. Pray that He will use you as a testimony to everyone around you. Remember you represent Christ in your actions, words and lack thereof. This is your mission field. Don’t make the excuse that you will serve God after college. Serve Him now.


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