This post is important. It’s important to me because each and every part of the list comes from something I’ve experienced firsthand, and I want to use that to help other current or soon-to-be college students. So, if you’re in that season of life, and you want more tips for remaining pleasing to God, this is for you! If you’re not in college, but still want to make the most of someone else’s experiences, then read away. 🙂
I’m not quite two years out of college, but I can say that what I learned during my college years was and is still valuable. College is a great time for learning on many levels because it’s when you’re thrown out into unfamiliar territory, let loose, and figuratively told to run as fast as you can. There are plenty of awesome tips for surviving college on a secular level, but I’m not here for that.
I’ve always learned best hands-on, through trial and error (a lot of error). I learn well from seeing results from my particular situation, but I’m also hesitant to get started without sound advice. Keep in mind, I moved away from home for college, so this is where my experience comes from, although I believe it can be applied even if you stay home. some of the tips might even prove useful for those not in college — I still use them. While, I don’t claim to know it all or be perfectly wise, I have learned a lot in just the past five years, and I think my experiences can be helpful.
Without further ado, and in no particular order (minus number 1), here are 13 ways you can stay or become more Christ-like while you’re in college.
1 | Remember who God is
“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
‘I have no pleasure in them’:”
God is your Creator and your sustainer. He gives you life and blesses you more than you realize. Remember His goodness and His severity, and submit to Him. You can’t put God on the back-burner and say, “Oh, well I’ll just get through college and then get serious about my life.” No, no. It doesn’t work that way, and it will catch up with you sooner or later. Future-self will thank past-self if you take God seriously during some of the most trying years of your life (especially if you go away from home). Take my word for it!
2 | Remember who you are
1 Peter 2:9-10
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
For as long as I can remember, my dad said this to my brother and I when he dropped us off at school. It didn’t matter how late we were running or what dramatic event went down that morning, he didn’t forget to tell us to remember who we were, even before we really understood what he meant. Shortly after I set up my little apartment bedroom, I wrote this on a piece of paper, stuck it in the frame of my full-length mirror, and it stayed there until I moved. It was the best reminder of both my dad and the fact that I am a child of God, wearing Christ’s name, and I need to act like it. We all need to act like it, which can be hard to remember during those crazy changes you experience in college.
3 | Make solid friends
I’m not sure I can stress how important this is. Of course, you should be making an effort to find solid friends at every stage of your life, but in college, it’s especially crucial. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” Just as much as evil company corrupts good habits, good company encourages good habits. I had awesome friends before I went to college, but after I got there, I found that there are so many more Godly people in the world that I could learn from and serve through being friends with them. In Auburn, I attended worship with the University church of Christ, where there were probably around 100 college students when I got there, most of whom were completely fired up to jump in and serve God. It was refreshing and incredibly encouraging to worship on Sundays and Wednesdays partly because I had good Christian friends who wanted to help me get to heaven.
4 | Go to church
Speaking of church — GO! Make the effort to go every single time your congregation assembles. Go to as many “extracurriculars” as you can without burning out and being worthless (I’ve been there). And genuinely put your heart into it. There are four reasons for this:
1 | God deserves your worship.
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.”
2 | You get to take time out of the most ridiculous schedule you’ve ever had to worship God.
3 | You’ll encourage the other Christians who see that you want to be there among your ridiculous schedule.
4 | You’ll encourage yourself.
God created the church for a reason. We aren’t supposed to be alone in our faith and our journey to heaven — He wants Christians to be able to collectively worship Him and each Christian to be encouraged whenever possible. So, take advantage of the opportunities your local church provides you with to worship, and make sure you know when they’re offering extra Bible studies or gospel meetings/singings (when a group of Christians gets together to study, hear a sermon, or sing praises together — this is what I grew up calling them).
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
5 | Take every opportunity to do good
1 Kings 15:5 says that David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of his life. It’s a good example of a humility and following God no matter what season of life you’re in. This would include doing good for others.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
If you’re in a college town, chances are you have several opportunities to serve in your church and in the community. Even if you’re not in a college town, you should be able to find opportunities, even if they don’t just fall into your lap. Where I went to church, we had opportunities to teach classes, clean the building, and visit elderly and sick people. We had a campus Bible study called Truth Seekers (still going on if you’re in the area and want to check it out here), and we had every opportunity to invite classmates to study with us and learn more about the Word. Take all of these opportunities! Take advantage of the open doors in front of you whether it’s within your local church or on campus. I will say that I didn’t take near as many opportunities as I should have, and I wish I had.
6 | Listen to people who have been there
Hint hint 😉 Just kidding, but seriously. Listen to the people who have been in your shoes — the ones who have just graduated and the ones who graduated 30 years ago. They’ll all have valuable insight, and you won’t regret taking their advice. Find someone you look up to or a mentor and go to them when you need it. Chances are they’re more than willing to encourage you. Pay attention in sermons and Bible studies — the people leading those have most likely studied hard and have experience in the area; they may be able to offer insight that you’ve never noticed or thought of before, and that’s a blessing. As I said above, the church is here for a reason; the Bible gives instructions for older people to teach and encourage the younger, for Christians to admonish one another. On the flip side of that, you have to be willing to take that encouragement, even if it mean you’ll be corrected.
7 | Read the Bible
The Bible is your guide to get through life; it contains everything you need to be and stay Godly during college. I’ve been stressing this constantly in my recent Armor of God series because it’s that important. God gave us the Bible to learn from, be comforted by, examine ourselves through, and obey. Use that to your advantage. College is the prime time to learn how to examine yourself through God’s lens and start making a solid effort to fix heart problems and mend any soul holes you’ve made on your way there. It’s a huge transition time, when you’re likely re-evaluating parts of your life or at least learning to ask questions to make your faith your own. Once you get into the real world (college isn’t quite real yet), you’ll want to be grounded and have yourself in check. Make sure you’re taking time out of your day, not just fitting it in, to read the Bible and read it for profit.
8 | Pray, pray, pray
My parents taught me how to pray and the importance of prayer when I was little. But, when I got to college, and had more responsibility than I thought I could handle, I really learned how to put those prayer lessons into practice. I learned to pray whenever and wherever. If you’re sad, pray. If you’re happy, pray. If you’re angry, pray. Whatever you’re feeling, at whatever time of the day or night, talk to God about it. Sacrificing even more beloved sleep to go to God in prayer is more than worth it. This was one of my first blog posts; I wrote about putting trust in God through actions and prayer because I was learning how beautiful life is when you totally surrender your life for Jesus. (Related post from Blair Blogs here about writing down prayers and keeping track of how they’re answered)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
9 | Talk to your parents and take their advice
Your parents aren’t stupid. Honoring your parents doesn’t stop just because you’ve graduated from high school (see Matthew 15:4). Most of them have been in your shoes, and they want the very best for their children, especially if they’re Christ-minded people. When they give you advice — even if your mom texts you to tell you it’s going to rain that day — just take it. Seriously. Take it, and thank them. And don’t forget to text or call them every so often! It does you as much good as it does them to take some time out to talk to your parents; they’ll likely have encouraging words and advice for you that you hadn’t thought of yourself. College is a great time to develop a solid relationship with your parents and put their teaching into action. Remember that you’ll always need your parents (they’re also gifts from God), and that they helped you get to where you are today.
10 | Listen to hymns
Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
One year, because I was feeling a strange mixture of discouraged and encouraged to be better, I decided that for a set amount of time, I can’t remember if it was a week or a month, but I was only going to listen to hymns/spiritual songs unless I couldn’t control what music was on. Let me tell you something: that was one of the most encouraging weeks/months I’ve had, simply because of the music I was listening to! I don’t think most people, including myself, realize that the music we listen to can have such a big impact on our attitudes and Godliness. All I did was cut out mainstream music for a short time, and I was more uplifted and motivated than I had been in a long time. (Fun fact: that was also the year I started my blog.) Now, I’m not saying that you can’t listen to mainstream music if it’s not ungodly, but just try cutting it out for a period of time and pay attention to the results.
11 | Choose to be content
Happiness is a choice (related post here). Contentment is a choice. And I think they’re tied together. There’s a great peace that comes with being content with joy in Christ. Sometimes they’re both hard choices in college when you think you have to add up to everyone around you (girls, especially). But you don’t! The only person you have to please is God, and if a person or group is purposefully excluding you, chances are you picked the wrong group to hang out with in the first place (see number 3). Don’t let your situation turn you away from focus on God. Take a note from Paul, and choose to be happy in whatever state you’re in. I chose to be unhappy in several situations, and now I know that my life, and others’ lives, would have been a million times easier if I had just made up my mind to get over it and be OK.
1 Timothy 6:6
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:”
12 | Don’t let yourself feel lonely
Related to the previous point, loneliness can lead to bitterness, and bitterness can “make you a crazy person” (Larry Rouse, the preacher at University church of Christ). Do not let yourself get to that point. Sometimes it’s more likely to happen, especially if you move away and feel like nobody knows you, understands you, or wants to make an effort to. To keep yourself from feeling this way, be friendly and make friends; sometimes getting away from loneliness takes effort on your part instead of waiting around for other people to notice. If you start feeling lonely and bitter, talk to someone within the church and let them know that you’re struggling. In my experience, no one actually knew I was having a hard time, and once I spoke up, they jumped on the chance to encourage and befriend me! Sometimes it really just takes some effort to reach out, and being surrounded by faithful Christians makes it that much easier. Keep in mind that you’re new to them, too, and because they don’t know you yet, they won’t always be able to tell that you’re feeling anything other than normal. Besides, you always have God, and you can pray to Him for comfort and guidance — see number 8.
13 | Keep a journal
Not everybody likes to write or a keep journals, but if you do, this one is for you! I’ve off-and-on kept journals for a lot of my life, and I love to take notes. So, when I was in college, I kept a journal of sorts — I used a notebook given to me by a sweet friend, and I basically wrote stream-of-consciousness style most nights right before bed. I struggled with staying positive because change isn’t always exciting for me, so I often wrote about my blessings and Bible verses or portions of hymns that were on my mind, and sometimes I just doodled my feelings away (whether good or bad!). When I wrote out my blessings, I was able to go to sleep a little more at peace and with a better perspective of my life state. This is especially helpful if you deal with worry and anxiety. You could keep a prayer journal, write about your day, write about your fears, whatever it is, but try to keep it faith-focused and see if your perspective becomes more Godly.
// Your time in college can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you make it that way! Make sure you always keep a consciousness of God and act according to His will, and everything else will fall into place (Romans 8:28).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Related post: Home of the Soul
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.