For just about everyone beginning college, there are some mixed emotions.  There’s excitement for new adventures and experiences swirled with the potential anxiety of the unknown. 

Questions are running through one’s mind that might include, Will I fit in?  Will I make friends?  Will I like my classes and professors?  What do I really want to do with my life?  Will I manage being away from home?  And there are the “what if’s?”   What if I don’t get along with my roommate?  What if I don’t like that field of study like I thought I would?

These and other matters are seemingly encountered by nearly all newcomers at the beginnings of their respective “university life”, so the following are some tips to allow you to launch your college career on a soaring arc.

1. Realize you are not alone.

Typically, nobody walks around with a sign that reads, “I’m lost” or “I’m lonely” or “I’m nervous because I’m new” or anything of that type.  But almost everyone that is new feels that way to some extent, they just don’t say it out loud much.  New is new.  Newbies at nearly any endeavor appear to have their heads on a metaphorical (if not literal) swivel in trying to figure things out.  New routines. New expectations. New places. New faces. New paces even maybe.  Remember that anything new doesn’t stay new for long. Those new pants felt a little uncomfortable the first time you wore them perhaps.  Once or twice through the wash cycle and now when you put them on they’re as comfortable as everything else you wear. 

2. Set goals for yourself.

Not everyone is a daily calendar planner, 20-item “To-Do” list maker.  That’s fine.  We all operate a little differently.  Setting achievement marks for yourself is beneficial, though. Goals are specifically personal and aid you greatly in evaluating your growth in different areas of your life.  Use as a foundation the four areas mentioned in the New Testament about Jesus’ journey of maturation on earth.  Luke 2:52 reads, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and others.”

  1. Wisdom = applied knowledge. Set a goal for your academic growth and appropriate application thereof.
  2. Stature = physical health. Set a goal for your fitness level. Make it suitable for your schedule and desires to stay healthy with exercise and nutrition.
  3. Favor with God = spiritual. Set spiritual goals for yourself.  Set aside time to spend in growing closer or getting to know God.  Attend chapel, worship or Bible study to edify your relationship with God.  And if you don’t have a personal relationship with God, then challenge yourself to explore what that means and how it can occur.
  4. (Favor with) Others = social. Set goals to grow socially.  Challenge yourself to meet new people and become involved with others.  Make friends and allow yourself the opportunities to enjoy long-lasting relationships by getting out and engaging with others in different ways or through various activities, especially in service to others.

3. Get Up and Boogie

Seriously, get up and move. You will undoubtedly experience some good days and some perhaps not so good in college, especially as you start.  College students generally don’t get enough sleep or rest.  That can negatively impact your physical and emotional health.  You can bank on encounters with some highs and some lows as life comes your way.  Particularly following the lows, it is easy to coil up and shelter in place.  Don’t.  Get up.  Get Out.  Get going.   Recorded in the Old Testament in I Kings chapters 18 and 19, God’s prophet Elijah is given what is literally a “mountain top victory” only to immediately feel so afraid of a threat that he runs for his life!  He’s so frustrated and tired he prays God would just let him die.  That is an awful desperate place to be emotionally.  If you read the story you know he is instructed to do these things: 1. Get Up.  Eat & hydrate 3. Rest 4. Get back on his journey.  He also comes to see and know God is present with him.  It’s a great reminder everyone deals with difficult times, but there’s a way to successfully combat them.

4. Practice Gratitude

Being thankful profits your attitude toward everything in life. You are being given wonderful opportunities for your edification in many areas during this time in your life, but you haven’t arrived at your current place in life without help.  Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teachers, coaches, and others have all perhaps aided in your successes.  Expressing genuine appreciation supports your emotional and mental health, but also serves as an encouragement to others.  Nobody climbs or achieves on their own.  Yes, it takes your effort, but you have many around you who are aiding you along the way.  Let them know for their sake.  And yours.

5. Recognize Reality

The cold hard fact is- time flies. Make the most of your moments every single minute of every single day.  Those ticks of the clock are precious and fleeting.  A common theme among college graduates is, “I can’t believe it’s over.  It went so fast!”  It does.  Treat each day as an opportunity to soak up all you’re able- of knowledge, of relationships, and of healthy experiences. And when you get to the end of what truly is a quickly traveled road through your time in college you will be well off if you can say you “I’d love to do that all over again if I could!”  It’s not possible to go back in time, but it is possible to take all of those experiences with you to the next steps on your pathway. 

Know that change is a part of life and isn’t to be feared, but rather it is to be embraced.  It helps you grow and mature.  Find joy in your journey.  And remember that happiness and joy are different.  Happiness is circumstantial.  You are happy when we make an “A” on a hard test in a stressful class. That’s a good thing, but joy is deeper.  Joy is an appreciation for the process.  Be patient with yourself and others. Try these things and know your college life will be off to a high-flying start.

UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!