How to Stay Christian in College
- Thursday, August 20, 2009
Who This Book Is For
I've written this book for three groups of people. The first group is Christian students who plan to go to college. The second is Christian students who are there already. My goal is to prepare, equip, and encourage you to meet the spiritual challenges of college life. Few new college students are ready for them.
The third group is the parents of students in the other two groups. My goal is to help them understand what their children are going through in college so they can offer more effective spiritual support. Maybe they never went to college. Maybe they went but can't remember what it was like. Maybe they remember, but they've heard that college today is different than it was when they were there.
This chapter gives a quick overview of what to expect in college. We'll go into some of these matters more closely later on.
College means leaving many people behind and going into a world of strangers. Here's what two college students say about the experience:
When I entered college I did not know what to expect. I was alone, I discovered, more alone than I thought [I would be]. At first my roommate and I got along, but that lasted about two weeks. Then I began to get more and more frustrated. I had left a boyfriend in California, and that complicated things.
My first two years at college were probably some of the most stressful of my life, and I thought high school was stressful! But I also know that I have done the most growing emotionally, physically (dorm food = fattening), mentally, and most important spiritually, through the trials, the missing people, and the loneliness.
If you know some of the people at your college already, you might think it won't be that way. For example, maybe some of your high school friends graduated a year ahead of you and went to the same college you're planning to attend. They were glad to hang around with you when they came home for summer break, so you're thinking they'll be glad to hang around with you when you show up on campus.
Things might work out that way, but they might not. Chances are your old friends will seem different on campus than they do in your hometown. For one thing, they'll probably be busier. For another, during their year at college they will have formed new interests that you don't share and joined new social circles to which you're a stranger. They may be less interested in spending time with you than they were at home. Or they may be just as interested but act differently than they did at home. You weren't expecting their new ways because during summer break they fell back into their old ones. Changes like these may make it hard to get your old footing back with them. You know them—sure you know them!—but somehow they're strangers too.
Another reason you might think "aloneness" won't be an issue is that some of your friends are going to college with you: They've graduated from high school at the same time and chosen the same college. But you may be surprised how this works out too. High school is a smaller world than college. At college there are more people, more groups, and more activities. There are also more things to learn and more opportunities to make mistakes. Sometimes old friends grow closer at college, but sometimes they grow apart. There's no way to predict what will happen in advance.
So one way or another, to one degree or another, aloneness will be an issue for you at college. Not everyone reacts to aloneness in the same way. For example, some feel lonely, while others don't (or say they don't). Whether lonely or not, everyone is affected somehow by aloneness because we were designed to be with others. God said it wasn't good for Adam to be alone, and it isn't good for us either.
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