Become independent of your parents. Don’t make the mistake of refusing to grow up. Use your time in college to learn how to function as an independent adult who can confidently perform tasks such as paying bills, balancing a checkbook, resolving conflict with coworkers and bosses, and juggle a social life with the responsibilities of daily living, like chores and errands. Move from relating to your parents as authority figures to interacting with them as friends. If you’re still living at home with your parents, make sure that you’re working at least as much as they are.

Keep your commitments. Don’t make the mistake of being a flake. Ask God to help you develop a strong character and reputation. Honor the commitments you make whenever possible. Avoid making excuses or exaggerating. Take full responsibility for your attitudes and actions.

Balance work and play. Don’t make the mistake of living out of balance. Rather than overworking and burning yourself out or playing too much and becoming lazy, spend time working and playing regularly so you can be both productive and rejuvenated.

Choose a major wisely. Don’t mistakenly think that the major you choose now will necessarily reflect your professional field for a lifetime, or mistakenly hesitate to choose a major because you’re too afraid to commit to one. Pray for the discernment you need to discover God’s calling for you, and consider both what you most enjoying doing and what you do best when considering potential majors.

Recognize that growth requires challenge. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your grades, since they matter, but don’t become preoccupied with them, either. Just do the best you can to please God when you work. Keep in mind that learning how to think well is a greater college goal than just getting good grades. But also recognize that your grades can be valuable indicators of how well you’re learning, and that God may use your grades to either confirm or redirect your sense of His calling for you.

Use your downtime wisely. Don’t make the mistake of wasting opportunities. While you should devote most of your time and energy to your relationship with God and then your academic pursuits, it’s also important to take advantage of opportunities such as internships, mission trips, student organizations, and special events that can help you grow. Also, use some of your downtime to learn better time and money management skills so you’ll be well-prepared for life after college.

Adapted from Thriving at College, copyright 2011 by Alex Chediak. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., www.tyndale.com.  

Alex Chediak is an author, speaker, and an associate professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University. Alex has been involved in campus ministries and mentoring students for many years. He has published numerous articles in Boundless, an online magazine for young adult Christians, and he is the author of 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life and With One Voice. Alex has an MS and PhD in engineering from University of California–Berkeley. Originally from the Chicago area, Alex and his wife, Marni, and their three children now reside in Riverside, California. He maintains a blog at www.alexchediak.com.

Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor.  You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.