How to Bring God to College: Secrets From Your Professor
I vividly remember driving across state lines, wistfully looking out the window of the car that was packed to the brim with my belongings, daydreaming about how my life was about to change. I had packed up the things I would need, and the things that meant the most to me, and was moving across the country to begin my first year of college. The world was about to see me as an adult, and I wasn't completely sure of what that would mean for me and the relationships I had with the people I held nearest to my heart – including God. But I knew that if I loved and trusted Him the way I said I did, that He would remain with me, even in this new chapter of my life.
Maybe you are in a similar season of your life right now - either preparing to start your college journey as a first year student, or returning to your campus for another year of study and growth. Either way, I know what you're feeling. I can recall the unique combination of excitement, apprehension, encouragement, and (yes) even a fair amount of fear that existed within me as I prepared to begin college with such clarity, even though eleven years have passed since my first year as an undergraduate. Now, I see reflections of that same mix of emotions etched onto the faces of the first year (and beyond) students I teach as a university professor.
So, today I'd like to share some wisdom with you that I've learned along the way. Think of this as an opportunity to learn some behind-the-scenes college secrets that will help you not only to thrive in your role as a college student, but also in your role as a faithful follower of Christ.
REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS
Yes, college is an exciting chance to discover who you are and what makes you happy, but please do not think of this chapter in your life as an excuse to forget about the people and things that have helped you to become who you are. Whether you know it or not, you are entering your college years as an already complete person; you don't need your experiences on campus to validate you. God and your first support system, which may include your family or closest friends, have been there for you, loving you and supporting you since you came into being, and that love is not going to change even though you are now an adult. The Word of the Lord holds reminders of the importance of consistently praising Him for His fullness.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Remember to say "thank you" for His grace and the grace that has been freely given to you by your family and friends. Your learning (and possibly living) situation are changing, but the love of God and those around you remains constant. Use that love as a tool for your strength, and practice gratitude for that love which is available to you so readily.
READ YOUR BIBLE
You're going to have a lot of assigned reading in college - it's an unavoidable truth. But do not use your busy reading schedule as an excuse to forget to pack your Bible or to put it aside and allow it to collect dust. Reading the Bible is a different, more important, and more spiritually fulfilling kind of reading that we need for nourishment in all phases of our lives. Set the Word in a special place where you will see it frequently, and pick it up often. Use the Word as a way to find inspiration as you start your day before heading off to class, as a way to break up the monotony that is sometimes found in reading too much of a textbook at one time, when you are feeling spiritually depleted and in need of inspiration, and as a way to close your day with God on your mind.
All college campuses offer clubs and extracurricular activities for students to get involved in. And those groups exist in large quantities, often into the hundreds, so chances are your campus has a lot of opportunities for you to grow. Find a club or group that resonates with you, and that gives like-minded students the chance to get to know one another in a setting that fosters common interest. You may even find that your campus offers opportunities for you to get involved in a ministry group where you will meet other believers who, like you, want to spend their free time in the presence of Christ. When you meet new people and begin to create relationships with them, you are doing the will of God, helping to encourage and build them up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Remember that everyone is nervous to meet new people, but when you have something in common to bond over, the process becomes so much easier, and really, what could be better than making new friends and serving the Lord?
TALK TO YOUR PROFESSORS
We're an intimidating group, I get it; especially if we have titles like "Doctor" or "Professor" that make us sound like we've got some place of honor on the college status hierarchy. But, if I'm being completely honest, I need to let you know that in a lot of cases, your professors will be just as down to earth and approachable as many of the new friends you are meeting on campus. We understand that this new journey of your life has many challenges, but the reason we've chosen this profession is because we want to help! We are passionate about your growth (and our subject matter) and we want to see you thrive.
Your professors will hold office hours each week, and I strongly encourage you to make use of those times as a chance to get to know your professor. Even if you don't have any specific questions or concerns about our courses, just coming to introduce yourself to us, or asking us about the research we've conducted in our field will show us that you know we're more than just the person standing at the podium and lecturing to you each class period. The students who make sure their professors know who they are will be the ones who will be less intimidated by our presence, and will likely do better in our classes because they will know just how welcoming we try to be and how deeply we want to see each of you succeed. (And, just as a side note - if your professors are anything like me, whether they know you or not, they're likely praying for you, so why not introduce yourself so they know exactly who to ask God's blessing to rain down upon?)
I know we've talked a lot about how you can integrate your faith into your workload and the time that you will spend getting to know yourself and making new connections, but I would be remiss if I finished this list without reminding you to have fun! College is an experience unlike anything else you will ever take on, so make sure you fill it with people, opportunities, and adventures that fill your soul with light.
Remember that you've been given a unique opportunity, by the grace of God, to continue your education and pursue your joy, so don't take this time for granted. He desires for you to find enjoyment in all things (Ecclesiastes 2:24). Surround yourself with opportunities for discovery, for learning, and for growing in love of yourself, others, and God, and this will be a year to remember!
How are you planning on bringing God to college with you this school year?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Rebecca Flasz is an avid traveler, lifestyle writer, and elementary school teacher turned college professor. She holds degrees in Education at the Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, and Doctorate of Education levels and has a heart for teaching others. In addition, she is a passionate free spirit who enjoys a good cup of tea, spending time outdoors with family, and listening to the sounds of wind chimes and singing birds. She believes in writing pieces that are reflective of the loving kindness of Christ, meant to help others feel worthy and loved. You can read more of Rebecca's writing on her blog Sagebrush and Salt or find her on Instagram at @with.faith.rebecca.