You finally know the college you are going to. You have registered for classes. Your stuff is packed. You know who your roommate will be. You are ready to go. This is a fun time of life! There is so much learning ahead, new experiences, new people, new thoughts, new choices to make, new food. My time in college was an extremely rich and diverse time in my life of learning, working, volunteering, traveling, meeting amazing people, being inspired and challenged as I went through my 4 years; but it wasn’t always that way.
It was mid-august 2003. I had just finished a fun summer with friends. Had spent a month in Colorado, a few weeks in Idaho, a week in Mexico, gone to Clear Lake with the College Group and High School group, and had a rich time of memories and fun with people that I loved. My mom and dad helped me pack up the car and we drove up to Chico and got me all settled, I met my roommate Amy who was really nice and everything was in its place. After my parents left I sat on my bed and had this moment of, “now what?!” I don’t know anyone. I don’t know the town. I don’t have a car. I don’t have friends. I don’t have a church. I don’t even have Facebook (it hadn’t been invented). It was a feeling of anticipation and helplessness, excited but nervous. So what did I do? Got a snack, grabbed my journal and bible and headed out to set some goals and remind myself of what is true. I went through my mind and set goals.
The questions I asked myself were:
-who am I?
-where am I going?
-what will it take for me to get where I wanted to go?
-what kind of person/ what do I want my life to look like at the end of college?
-what is true?
-what is important?
It wasn’t as big of a theological discussion as it might look like, but it really helped me gain perspective on what was TRUE at that moment.
Some of the things that I knew were true: this is where God wants me to be, I will make friends here, the reason I am here is to get an education.
As far as my life after college: I didn’t want to be an alcoholic, I didn’t want to be a smoker, I wanted to graduate with honors, I wanted to make good memories, I wanted to miss college when I was done with it, I wanted to have a great job in my field.
Things that were important: finding a bible teaching church, getting good grades and a great education, be a good witness, have accountability in friends that were like minded.
Those were some of the things that I had come up with and I have to say that that document really guided me through the rest of my college experience. I knew that if I didn’t want to be an alcoholic, I probably shouldn’t start drinking my first weekend of college (my best answer when someone asked if I wanted to go to a party was “no thanks, I am not 21” because drinking or not if the cops come, you are still in trouble) I knew that if I wanted good grades, I should probably set a good academic foundation. I knew that if I wanted to grow in my faith, I should probably find a good church. So, while life got settled I took to my room, did some studying, resisted the urge to go home every weekend, and turned into a hermit for a week or so while life got settled. I went to the booths on campus, met people found out when meetings were and visited different clubs on campus. Campus Crusade had a BBQ at someone’s house a few weeks in to the semester and I found a ride and went. I met great people, found out what church they went to, exchanged phone numbers and we became fast friends. But it took time, I went to college and knew NOBODY. If you are going to college for the first time here are my 2 pieces of advice:
1. Expect to be lonely for the first month. Everything thing is new and it will take time. You WILL get settled in. People will start to look familiar, campus will make more sense and everything will be ok. Keep investing into the community. Don’t come home every weekend! Start to get connected with people that you see who are doing similar things as you. You aren’t the only one who feels this way, it will get better.
2. Go look at the things on the walls of your professors office. Within your first month of each semester make an effort to go to each professors office and look at what is on their walls. This will do a few things: help you get acquainted with campus, give you an opportunity for them to know you by name, you can ask questions, and it give you some insight, ideas and guidance about what THEY did with their experience and knowledge (you will be graduating soon enough!), it will also leave a connection open if you need to come in later in the semester for help or grace.
Other than that… enjoy it! college is a blast! I love talking about all things college and would be happy to chat with anyone about making the most of your college experience.