Dear Christian College Girl,
I saw your pictures the other day. You are moving in. You’re leaving the safety of all you know and love, the warm cocoon that kept you safe all these years, and leaving for the great unknown.
It’s been a while since I stood in your shoes, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Moving my stuff up six floors of stairs, sweating with every step because the elevator broke. Meeting the eyes of my floor-mates for the very first time, wondering who they were. Hugging my mom and dad goodbye and hiding my tears, only to crawl into my bed and cry that they left me. Watching them drive away from my sixth-story window, and knowing things would never be the same.
What I didn’t know then was that I was steps away from meeting the best friends I have ever had. What I didn’t know then was that that place would come to hold my favorite memories. What I didn’t know then was that in the next four years, I would grow and blossom into the person God had created me to be.
Everyone had told me, “Your college years will be the best years of your life,” and that was true for me too. My freshman year I overcame my fear of being a small fish in a big pond and got involved in a ministry. My sophomore year I became a quad leader, and my junior year I was a resident assistant. My senior year I started dating my husband. With all of those years and experiences behind me, I wanted to give you a few tips for how to make these truly the greatest years of your life.
First, let’s talk about boys. If you go to a Christian college, you were just thrown into boy-Disneyland, where all of your dreams just came true. You will be surrounded by boys who love God, raise their hands in worship, serve in missions, and might even want to be your boyfriend. Christian college girl, guard your heart. When you see that handsome boy cross your path and you’re tempted to pray, “God, if it is your will for me to marry him, cause him to say ‘hello’ to me right now,” (yes, that actually happened), just stop. Remember that God didn’t put you there for the boys, after all. Don’t let them be a distraction and woo you away from your studies. Don’t give your heart to every boy you see. Take time to develop who you are; there is always time for that later.
Second, let’s talk about God. He is the one who opened the door for you to attend this school. Make Him proud. Don’t waste your newfound freedom on partying and “finding yourself” and just having fun. There is a place for fun, and there is a place for studying. But let there always, always be a place for God. Find a church near your school and get involved. I know you’ll miss your home church, but it’s true there is “no place like home,” so don’t expect your new church to be perfect. Also, chapel doesn’t count as church. Sure, you are getting fed, but you are in there with your backpack and on your way to class. Church requires some level of commitment, of getting to know people in the community, and of worshipping with multiple generations. It will be good for you. This is the time for you to plug in and grow closer to God, so take advantage of the opportunities around you—get involved in a ministry, go on a missions trip, go to late-night worship services. These will change your life.
Third, your friends. You are who your friends are, so choose wisely. Even at a Christian college, there are the good crowds and the bad crowds. Choose friends who will build you up, hold you accountable, and challenge you to be a better person than you are right now. Don’t get involved with the Christian college gossip scene. Go out of your way to find the lonely girl who needs a friend. She just might become your very best one.
Lastly, let’s talk about you. A few more words of wisdom before I go:
- Nobody escapes the Freshman 15, so choose wisely (well, actually the really skinny girls always escape that one for some reason). When that late-night all-you-can-eat ice-cream-bar comes calling, have some self-control, girlfriend. Take it from someone who has been there.
- Don’t go home every weekend. I know you miss your kitty. But you need to get to really know your floor-mates and new friends, and the weekend is where those relationships are built the fastest and the deepest. All of the girls I met who had the hardest time adjusting to college life (and some left after the first semester) were the ones who went home every weekend and never developed an identity of their own on campus. It is a hard transition to make, but I encourage you to do it. (Now, if you don’t go to a Christian college and everyone just parties on the weekend, maybe you should just go home. Just sayin’. Although that can happen at Christian colleges too . . . but I digress. Still with me?)
- Call your mom. You may be a little busy-bee with no time to call home, but just check in. Let your mom know you appreciate her raising your butt for the last 18 years and teaching you enough to get you off to college. It’s just the right thing to do.
These will be the years when you laugh the hardest and cry the deepest. You will feel tired like never before. You will work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. You will feel confused at times—about relationships, about decisions, about career goals. There will be times you feel completely lost. But these will also be the absolute best years of your life. And when you look back 20 years later, you will smile.
Thank you to the talented and inspiring Jaimie Bowman for sharing this post!