Transitioning from high school to college is a major change. New place to live, new friends, new classes, independence, and freedom. You have the freedom to do anything and be anyone you want. As a college freshman, this freedom first led me to brokenness, but then led me to Jesus. God used my brokenness to lead me to him, so I would finally choose to stop following the world and start following God.
Now you have a choice – will you follow Jesus in college or will you follow the world?
Will you turn to Jesus to find acceptance or will you turn to peers?
Will you turn to Jesus to find pleasure or will you turn to random hookups?
Will you put Jesus first or will the busyness of classes and your desire for success take over your life?
You have about 4 years in college. Those 4 years can change your life, especially in your walk with God. That is why I created Joy Skarka Ministries. I want to help young women surrender everything and follow Jesus. I want to share how nothing else in this world will fill the hole in your heart that was created for and will only be filled by Jesus.
Living for Jesus in college is hard. There will be times of trial, loneliness, and defeat, but I want to encourage you. Hebrews 10:23-26 states,
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.”
God is faithful. Jesus will be coming back to earth and he will have victory over everything. I pray that this guide will help you as you transition from high school to college.
10 Step Guide for Transitioning to College:
1. Plan time with God into your schedule. As a freshman, you will be busier than you ever were before. You will have classes, homework, new clubs to try, new friends to meet, and it can be easy to forget about God. Write “spend time with God” into your planner to help you not forget about him. The only way to get to know someone is to spend time with them, so spend time with God by reading his Word.
2. Find Christian friends and a community. God does not want you to do life alone. You can find this in your church or in a college ministry. I joined Cru my freshman year and made friends who love Jesus. Having authentic Christian friends is very helpful when you are in the college environment. I met people who truly followed Jesus because they loved him, not out of obligation. I found people who were real about their struggles. Seek out community and you’ll find a taste of heaven on earth. (Find a Cru on your college campus.)
3. Talk to God. Prayer is so important. Prayer protects the heart from impurity and pollution. There will be times when you feel alone in college. There will be times when you feel lost, confused, and question why you are a Christian. Tell this to God. Tell him your worries, concerns, fears, everything.
4. Set up boundaries. Temptation is very real and very active on college campuses. Because of this, it is very important to know your limits and triggers. What leads you to sin? Avoid putting yourself in those situations. My freshman year, I desired to fit in with my peers and struggled with the temptation of drinking underage. As a newly surrendered Christian, I learned that I could not go to parties that involved underage drinking in order to avoid the temptation. I also had to set up boundaries when it came to guys. I don’t hang out alone with guys. I don’t date non-believers. I set physical boundaries for myself and do whatever it takes to make sure I pursue purity. (Read 5 Action Steps to Guard Your Heart from Impurity.)
5. Be a light to others. Share your faith with your classmates. Invite them to church. College is a time when students are searching for themselves and trying to figure out their world views, religious beliefs, dreams, passions, and more. Statistically speaking, freshmen are more open to the gospel than any other year in college. 85% of those who receive Christ do so before the age of 19. You are in the perfect mission field! Students are very open to having spiritual conversations. Never be afraid to ask someone what their religious background is and listen to their story. There are so many opportunities to share your beliefs! I had countless opportunities to share my faith in my classes – out loud to the whole class. God showed me how to not fear rejection, but instead embrace him and my story. I had to be willing to share what I believed at any moment. (Read the painful realities of college freshman.)
6. Make your faith your own. If you don’t make your faith your own now, the world will quickly pull you away from God. It is easy to fall into the world. People around you will tell you there is no God, will have sex whenever they want with whoever they want, will get drunk, and will say all of that is okay and encouraged because it is college.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
7. Get used to being different. The Bible warns us that we were not made for this world. “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19. I’ve been there. I’ve been the outcast in a classroom and lost friends because of my beliefs. I want you to know that it is worth it. Following God in college may be difficult, but it is worth every heart ache. (Read how you can find hope in this situation.)
8. Befriend non-believers. I just stated that you may lose friends because of your faith, and this will be difficult emotionally, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid these friendships. If we don’t befriend non-Christians, how will they hear about Jesus? (Read how you can socialize with people that have different beliefs than you and not be lead astray from God.)
9. Leave a legacy. College ended before I even realized it started. Use your time to invest in other people around you. I still remember the women who invested in me during college, and now I hope other women will remember me as the one who invested in them. View your time in college as a gift and use it wisely to invest in others. Leave a legacy. You could be the only Bible that your classmates read. Live consciously. You may be the only authentic believer that your classmates, co-workers, and professors ever meet.
10. Plan fun activities for your weekends! During my freshman year of college, I worried that I wasn’t truly experiencing college because I wasn’t drinking and partying. What a lie I believed, because these last 3 years have been insanely fun! College may be portrayed as a party scene, but that is not how your college experience has to be. As a Christian in college, you can still have the time of your life. (Check out my list of 25 weekend activities for college students!)
Do you know someone transitioning to college this fall? Share the image below and a link to this post on Facebook or Pinterest! Together, we can help Christians successfully transition to college.