By Jonathan David Faulkner.
I do not usually do lists, especially since The Gospel Coalition released a great list for graduate students along the same lines. But I want to take time to share my own wisdom at my own school year (year two of graduate school) begins in just a week. This list does not include the ever popular “Grades are not everything” not because they are the most important thing, but because it has been on every list that has ever come out. These are ones that you may not think about. So here we go.
- Do not become Apathetic: Grades really are not everything, but we cannot become apathetic towards school either. Greek is hard, so is beginner Calculus, while grades are not everything we do need to be vigilant in our studies. Seeking to strike a balance between academic pursuit and rest is essential, but do not become Apathetic towards school work. (I have to thank my friend Brian for this one.)
- Don’t Jump Into a Relationship: I know, I know, this one’s cliché, and sometimes, those first week relationships do work out, but making too big a life change too quickly can lead to unneeded anxiety. I know, she’s cute, big brown eyes, but you have three or four years to pursue and win her, get into the rhythm of college life before you start dating, that is okay to do, even at small Christian Colleges.
- Find a Church and Stay there: For the sake of your spiritual life I would advise you to find a church immediately. Most Christian Schools have a church fair where you can go and talk with the different pastors and church officials who would love to meet you, shake your hand and get you involved in their congregations.
- Set Time for Personal Devotions: This is not a must, but it is important, you need to feed your soul and you need to feed it with good food. Set apart time in the morning for some time to study and contemplate the word. I personally spend about 30 minutes in prayer and 20 minutes reading and praying over scripture. It has helped me keep my head about me in Graduate School and I wish I had done it as a freshmen in college.
- Don’t be So Hard on Yourself: That mid-term C is not your final grade, that paper you did really poorly on is not your last paper, that exam you bombed is not the end of the world. College is tough, a whole lot tougher than high school and graduate school is even harder still. Show yourself a lot of grace and do not panic when your grade is a little bit lower. Most professors are not out to fail you. Perhaps that lower grade is them pushing you to do better.
- If you Can, Go home on Breaks…: Your friend and family miss you, don’t forget about them, they are important to.
- …but don’t go home every weekend: Statistics show that students that go home every weekend are at greater risk of dropping out. Don’t be a statistic, spend time on campus with friends, make new friends, spend weekends trying the local establishments with friends, find a coffee shop and spend a Saturday curled up in a corner. These are great parts of the college experience.
- Encourage Others: If you encourage others, you may find that you yourself are encouraged. It’s a vicious cycle, I know.
- Don’t stress about Finances: This is a big one for college and graduate level students, if you have to find a job, go find a job, if you are going into debt, then trust that God will help you find a job after you graduate.
- Beware of Abusive Groups: I would be remiss if I didn’t leave this one here. There are many groups on college campuses across the country, and churches that would love to take you in and abuse you. Beware of these churches and if you want to know more just go back through the God’s Heart Archives to find out more about these kinds of groups and churches.
So there you go, I hope this helps, these things that I have learned the last decade of my life. =]
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry