Thousands of young people across the country are embarking on one of the greatest adventures of their lives. College is a two- to four-year endeavor that shapes habits, builds friendships and, most importantly, forms the way that young adults see the world.
Most people have heard dire statistics about young adults leaving the faith when they go off to college. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many students grow in faith and develop personal, lasting relationships with Christ that impact them for the rest of their lives.
The students who do these three things become better people after the journey’s end and are equipped for whatever life throws at them:
Find the campus ministry and get connected.
First things first, students should locate the Catholic campus ministry or Newman Club and incorporate it into their center of gravity. Chances are there will be retreats, free food that doesn’t come from the cafeteria, and Mass on Sunday evening. Yes. That’s right. Many students are glad to hear they can sleep in on Sunday and still make it to Mass! College is a magical place. Students should work Mass into their schedules and make a plan to go with the other Catholic or Christian students they met during orientation. While there, they can connect with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) or NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries missionaries if they serve at the campus.
Secondly, students should be adventurous. One idea is to make a freshman year bucket list and tick it off one by one. Weekends are a blank check for blanket forts and scavenger hunts, for hiking, bowling, kayaking, camping, cooking or road trips. The last thing someone should do is spend hour after hour on TikTok or SnapChat. They should ignore Snapstreaks and invite friends to venture out and experience God’s beauty and how he speaks through nature and fun, leisure activities. Getting outside and off the screen provides time for authentic fellowship, profound reflection and hilarious memories.
Intentionally put God onto their schedule.
Time for God needs to be put on every week’s schedule beyond Sunday Mass. As they look at their class lists, students should ask themselves, “When will I pray?” “When will I go to Bible study?” “Where am I going to pray?” Carving out time for the Lord gives meaning to the rest of the adventure that college is going to be. He puts every challenge, sorrow, joy and frustration into context. Students should intentionally set time aside to remind themselves who they are in Christ and invite friends to do the same. Prayer doesn’t have to be done alone.
College is a time for exploration and discovery, where students can explore their faith and discover what God has in store for them. The exciting thing about the world, life and God is that each is a delightful mystery. Students just have to take that first step out of their dorm rooms and seek him first.