If you are heading off to college in the fall then you are probably working your way through all sorts of lists for your dorm room and for your classes. As you prepare, here are a couple things to consider packing when preparing for faith after high school:
A Bible Do you still have the same Bible you received for Confirmation? If so it might be time to invest in something that will be helpful going forward. A couple of questions to consider:
Translation Is there a particular translation that you love to read? Or one that just makes more sense to you? Go for that one. Buy the one you will want to read! Don’t know what a good translation for you might be? Ask for help and try some out. To get an idea of what each translation is all about, check out this list. Or use an online Bible tool like biblegateway.com to look up a passage and then read it in the different translations.
Compact v. Study Anticipate your Bible riding around in a backpack a lot? Look for a compact or slimline model. But if you’re looking for something that will have a good dictionary, lots of cross-references, and notes at the bottom of the page to help you understand what you read, you will be wanting a study Bible. These will be a little bigger and harder to transport.
Don’t Forget Digital There are lots of great apps out there that have multiple Bible translations for free, keep track of your highlights and notes, and offer reading plans (with reminder notifications!) to keep you in the Word. YouVersion is a great choice.
Bonus: Print out this list of go-to Bible verses and keep it tucked into whichever Bible you end up taking with you!
A “Cloud” Who are the adults in your life (besides your parents) that you can go to in an emergency or for perspective or with tough questions? Who are adults that you would like to get to know or who has a faith that inspires your own? Keep those adults close as you make the transition to life after high school and let them know you’d like to be able to call or text every once in a while. Why? Research shows that young people who are connected with their elders have a much greater probability of staying engaged with their faith. There isn’t anyone in the world who would turn down the opportunity to walk with you into what’s next so ask directly and make room for those relationships going forward.
A Community Whether you are headed to campus or a job, we need a community of peers and leaders to worship and fellowship with. This time of transition is a great opportunity to see what churches and fellowships exist and try them out, especially if you have never really ventured out of your home community before. Regardless of what’s there, you are much more likely to check them out if you know a little bit about them in advance. The internet is a great tool here: check out your college’s clubs page or just pull up Google Maps and search “church.” Whatever tools you use, here are some great questions to answer:
- Where do they meet?
- When do they meet?
- What do they offer college students?
Have more questions? Email someone from the organization. As you wrap up your investigation, go ahead and rank them in the order that you’d like to visit.
A Plan This one is specifically for those of you heading out on their own with unprecedented freedom and a lot to learn about managing daily life. Researchers have actually taken a look at the first couple weeks of a college student’s and found come to some critical conclusions:
Gardner(1986) highlighted the importance of programs that focus on the first few weeks of college when many students make the decision to drop-out. During this period students feel increased personal independence and form the habits and relationships they will carry throughout their college careers.Gardner(2001) (Source, emphasis added)
If the first few weeks are important enough to carry echoes through the rest of a student’s college career, it makes sense to approach them with intentionality and strategy. That means a plan.
A plan starts with goals: what do you hope to accomplish in those first few weeks? What are the healthy patterns you want to set that you will live in for the next four years? Healthy goals in terms of academics, relationships, health, and spiritual life will have something in common: they are specific. That means they go past the due date (when) and include a who (someone to follow, someone to take with you) and a where. Adding these details significantly increases the odds of us working towards and completing them.
Once you have your goals, sketch out your first two weeks on a piece of paper. Add your classes, add club day and all the fun first year events, add meetings or services for those ministries and churches, and add your goals. When you arrive on campus and new opportunities present themselves, wisely add or subtract as necessary. Just go in with a plan!
A Stamp Once you get to school, pick up a postcard from the campus book store and send it to us (don’t forget the stamp!) with your new address. We’ll add your address to our database and, in return, you can expect cards and care packages throughout the year! Plus we will stick your postcard somewhere in the youth lounge and use it as a reminder to keep you in prayer.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)