This post is by Syler Thomas.
I’m wrapping up a series on preparing for college, in light of my new book Game Plan: Practical Wisdom for the College Experience (co-written by Nic Gibson, foreword by Scot McKnight). This is a book nine years in the making, begun when Nic and I were working together in a high school ministry that I still run. The book is filled with just what the subtitle says: practical wisdom, with chapters on dating, temptation (featuring my take on Screwtape as demon to a college student), integrating your faith and your major, and much more. You can find out more about it at www.gameplan4college.com, which also includes a link to a “Senior Retreat” curriculum for youth pastors.
I close today with some advice for parents and students. If you are a parent who is sending a child off to college for the first time, you have a significant role to play. While your kids are spreading their wings, they’re also going to need you. Many parents tell me that they once had this idea that they’d be “done” once their kids left for college. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid being the “helicopter” parent, but the college years are often when you will find yourself growing closer to your kids than ever. Resist the urge to call them every day, but check in when you can. Let them know that you care about their well-being and make sure you’re there when they do want to check in.
If you’re a student, all I can say is that college was when my faith exploded. It breaks my heart to see so many students putting their faith on hold at a time when it could be growing. College is about self-discovery, and can be about extraordinary God-discovery as well. My final year at DePaul (in the Theatre program) I had an assignment for voice class where I was to choose something to perform. I chose Philippians 3:4-14, which is still one of my favorite passages in Scripture. It ends this way:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
That was my intention in college and the years in between haven’t always been easy but by God’s grace, it is still my intention now. May we all keep pressing on.
Do you have any advice to add?