It’s graduation time. Soon your students will enter into their next chapter of life, and for many of them,
this means they will be heading off to college. Life on campus can be difficult for a Christian, but there
are some things you can do to help make that transition easier.
- Prepare them for the questions and challenges that are going to come.
In college, students will face hard questions from professors, peers, maybe even from themselves. It is only natural to question the things they are learning. Whether they are responding to someone else’s questions or processing their own faith now that they are out on their own, students need to know it is okay to ask. Where will they turn for answers? There are ‘answers’ everywhere, but most will not be from a biblical perspective. Prepare your students now by showing them how to use their Bible to answer those questions, and be available for them to ask you. Start building these habits today in your group so they will be well equipped when they graduate.
- Plan now to help them connect with other believers.
Encourage your students to not put this off! Many students will say, “I’ll get to this after I settle in,” but it should be a priority. Connecting with upperclassmen believers can also help new students through the transition. There are two key connections they should make soon after arriving. The first is to a Christian group on campus. There are many organizations that offer campus ministries, and www.everystudentsent.org has a search tool that you can use to find Christian ministries at your students’ college. Don’t just send them to the site, go there yourself and get the info for them, then be sure to follow up. The second key connection is a local church. Be proactive to help your students find a church close to their campus. Many churches will work with students to arrange transportation and will provide other special services for students.
- Encourage them to seek out ways to serve and use their gifts.
Moving to a new location and starting at a new school can be chaotic. Looking for ways to serve others in this new season can bring peace and joy, and serving together helps build strong relationships. As a result, students can strengthen their relationship with God as they see and experience him working through them. Encourage your students to look for ways to get involved in the local church or in the community.
- Stay Connected
College life can be lonely for new students. For the first time, they find themselves on their own having to build new friendships, maintain new schedules, navigate new freedoms, and keep up with classes. In these lonely times, a message from home from a familiar voice can be just the comfort they need. They may or may not respond, but it is still a good reminder to them that you are thinking of them, and also that you are available to ask questions when they need. Graduations can feel like you are losing students to the great unknown of college. However, preparing them for questions, helping them connect and serve can make this time more missional. Don’t just let your students leave for college, send them out to impact their college.
Dwight serves as the National Operations Manager for Word of Life Youth Ministries. Prior to that, he was a Word of Life Youth Ministry Coach in Southern New England for 23 years. He and his wife Diana currently live in Schroon Lake, NY and have two adult daughters.