This article primarily aims for the college students, but this should apply to anyone who is going to school in a general sense.
1. You are not a student first- but a child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ brought by His precious blood. Make sure that being a student does not define the core of who you are. You were called to Christ first and foremost, and other things come later. Grace defines you, not grades. Do not mistakes yourself with the grades that you receive and the degrees that you can achieve. That is the most important thing we need to remember in whatever we do as Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 and
href=”http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Ephesians%201.5″ target=”_blank”>Ephesians 1:5.
2. The pressure will come, for sure! The pressures from the parents and the professors maybe from some annoying lab partner. You will come to realize that our parents who have never gone to school here cannot relate to the amount of pressures that have been put on us. That should not surprise you…. like, how did you expect them to understand that if they have not gone through? Make sure to be respectfully open up to them, but have other friends who can share your stress with. Proverbs 27:17 and 1 Thess 5:11 say it all about how we need others in our lives as iron sharpens iron.
3. Do not be afraid to fail. Seriously, what is the worst thing that can happen? You still have your life and you can still go on. First off, those failures do not define who you are, and secondly it is better to fail at earlier age because you have less things to lose. I think we learn the most from our failures anyway. God sometimes design things that way, and nothing is out of His control (He is sovereign), yes, even in your failures. Some people may make a big deal out of it (especially our community), but we do not live just for their approval but for our heavenly Father. When we truly understand Colossians 3:23, we will know not to be afraid of what the world define as failures.
4. Do you best with the privilege that you receive. Honestly, we are presented with so many opportunities to learn and thrive to push to become our maximum potentials especially in the U.S. I was thinking about how I might not have a laptop or a book on my own if I were to attend a college in Burma, and it surprised me that I have so much more than I deserve. Don’t take anything for granted especially with the education that you receive and the people that you meet in your classes. Do not consider yourself better than others (Philippians 2:3) because everyone can teach you things that you would not have learned otherwise. Even with the little thing that you have, be thankful, and after that, make good use of it. It is not that we ‘have to’ do our best, but it is a ‘privilege’ to do our best.
5. Discover yourself. You need to know thyself before you start thinking about helping and serving others. I doubt that most of us know ourselves especially growing up in a small community where people label you depending on your parents, talents and looks. We all grow up thinking that we are something else, so I believe that college is the best place to figure out who you really are. College does not really change you but it reveals your heart (read the article below). As it reveals your heart, you need to take proper steps to make a good character out of yourself as you face trials and sufferings because…. Romans 5:3-5.
6. Find alternative things. Yes, we grew up being told that we were going to become doctors, engineers, etc, but what are you really good at and what do you really want? I hope you are going to be good at those and you really feel called to serve in those professions, but what do YOU want? Take different classes that you find interesting and learn your alternate self. It is never too late to get out of your comfort zone while in college (or even afterward). These things will stretch you as well even if you are not going to a different path, but it will expand your horizons. Stay challenged.
7. Get involved. Go explore places where you would not have gone if it wasn’t for the education. I don’t mean to be ignorant to those who are staying home while going to school and working at the same time, but you need to learn to seize the opportunity. Yes, because of your circumstances you have less chance to do some things that others might be able to do, but learn to pursue the opportunity as well. Do something new and let your eyes be amazed by the creation of God. It does not have to be somewhere far, but even just in your community, people can surprise you. Be active in finding justice for the broken and mercy for the poor for free – as how Jesus would in Matthew 9:36. Stop staying inside your own bubble.
8. Stay healthy. Freshman 15 (the new students always gain 15lbs) is so true. We eat the things that we never eat before and we come to love them especially the late night foods, so gaining weight is the road that we are all taking. More than just about gaining weight, you need to stay healthy so that you can study well and have less stress. Always make time for exercise and the time to meditate on the Word of God. Discipline is something that we all need work on because in real life, those with good disciplines are the ones who are most successful. I actually never learn about disciplines when I was young and I still have a hard time good disciplines in my life, but I eventually learned to make them up as college came. Discipline is a must as a Christian and as a student as in Hebrews 12:11 and Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 9:27.
9. Read more. Growing up, I never liked reading. Our culture doesn’t really support reading either because it sees it as just another option, and you will come to realize that it is not an option not to read. Stop being lazy (I am yelling at myself too). We need to read to expand our perspectives and pick the brains of the great minds. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one” George R.R. Martin. The Bible being the priority, spend time on it at least 20 minutes a day so that you can meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:9). More than class reading assignments, learn to love reading. When we know that something is good, should not we make every fibers of our muscles to love it? Reading is not option.
10. Stay connected. Having BBC or NPR as your homepage would help that! We need to know the world if we are to be the light of the world. Facebook does not have all the news that we need (at least the important ones), and it is good to stay in touch with the news. Not only that, please stay close to our community news and how things are happening, so that you may know which roles you should play in the future. Family is very important because sometimes the last place that you think about going is your family, but yet they are the ones who care for you the most. Regardless of whether (you feel like) they can understand you or not, they do care for you and they want to be there for you. As your drift away your life as a college student, you will feel distant from them more than ever, that is why it is important to make more phone calls (call your mom!). It is good to stay informed.
11. We are proud of you. Even though we don’t express it well as a family or a community, we surely are proud of God giving you the opportunity and the chance that you receive. Even though parents have a hard time saying out loud (I don’t know why), deep down they are proud of you. Sometimes, their proudness could come out as their pride and arrogance, please remember that they are humans too and we are their treasures in a sense. Give ‘em a break.
12. You are not alone. Don’t even feel like there is no one else who feels the same way. We are all walking on the same path where some maybe far ahead and some still behind, but you are never alone. Please feel free to message someone and share. Just learn to open up to people and trust especially the ones who have been there. We are always here to help and fight alongside with you. The best lie that Satan can tell us is that no one understands us and no one is there for us, and it is not true at all. You are never alone. “the God of angel armies is always by your side”. Isaiah 53:1b-2 is my favorite verse for this because even through the waters, God will be with us.
13. Do not forget your people. Throughout the Bible, we can see this trend that God works for His people through the inside people. What I am saying is that God uses someone from their ethnic group to help and lead His people. God does not reach out someone far away who does not understand the language, culture and struggles, but God usually raises a generation inside the nation to help His people as in Isaiah 58:12 (Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings). I understand that some of you are considering working outside our community and everything (which is totally cool), but make sure remember how to help and heal our community with whatever you got.
14. Learn your faith. You probably were that girl/guy who grew up in church always getting the first place in your Sunday School, but you probably have no idea how your faith applies to your life or you probably hold on to ‘lai’ faith more than Christian faith. There is a whole lot that our culture does not really tell us what our faith is like in the norms that we are having now. You probably thought you had a strong faith, but school and friends can totally ruin it because being once-a-week-Sunday/choir-practice-with-youth-on-saturday christian won’t save your face anymore. I strongly encourage you to get involve with other local ministries from your school and learn the faith. you will see surprise to see how God works in their lives and what God can teach you through them.
Thanks for reading and I pray that God will use this article to motivate you for your studies. For my credibility, I graduated from University of Illinios Champiagn-Urbana with Molecular and Cellular Biology, Rosalind Franklin University with Masters in Biomedical Sciences, and I am currently attending Trinity International University for Master in Divinity. I encountered Jesus Christ through my undergraduate college ministry, and I am forever thankful.
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