Usually I write about knowing God, but I’m departing a bit today to give you something too good not to share.
My sister-in-law has had this insane job for over a decade –dorm director to over 200 guys every year. Now her own son is a senior and will be heading off to college in a year. I asked her to give us some of her hard-earned wisdom…
To my child, before you leave for college:
- Your family loves you unconditionally. We have raised you with high standards and pray you will keep them, but if you stumble or fall we will still love you. If you can’t come to us, go to one of the other adults in our family –they’ll help you if you need it.
- We are praying for you daily and sometimes hourly. We want you to grow closer to Christ during this year and will be asking God to help you build a deeper relationship with him.
- Find a church right away. It may not be the first one you visit, but don’t skip a Sunday. Church will help you stay grounded and find friends with the same lifestyle.
- Choose your friends carefully. Before you decide this is the person you share all your thoughts with, make sure his lifestyle is like yours. One close friend who lives differently can derail the most intentional Christian.
- You don’t need a girlfriend as a freshman. A relationship is a lot of work and will distract from your real goal –school. At this point dating is no longer just for fun. If you date, it should be to find a mate. If you are going out, go with a large group of friends. Hang out with people who meet whatever standards you want in a mate. Stay with crowds and in well-lit areas, which takes off a lot of the physical pressures.
- If you attend class and don’t understand something or don’t understand the whole class, immediately approach the professor and ask for clarification. If that doesn’t help, ask a tutor to help you (that day if at all possible). Test results are too weighted to risk failing a test.
- If you fail a test, pursue that class and professor until you understand what you didn’t get. Don’t give up on the class because you failed one test. Work hard and pass the class. The cost of a failed class isn’t worth it.
- Make a plan for homework and long-term projects. Break big projects down into weekly expectations that are more manageable. Work on projects early and get them out of the way. You don’t always know what surprises are in your future.
- Don’t start off telling your roommate he can use whatever you have. Take some time and get to know him. You may not want to share after you spend a few days together. It’s easier to set boundaries at the beginning and loosen up later. If it can be used up, don’t offer to share it (like food –the biggest issue for male roommates) and toiletries.
- Know the practical basics: Know how to do laundry –how to sort, what is an appropriate load size, and the right cleaning products to use. (Shampoo and body wash do not get your clothes clean.) Not everything is microwavable. You should not have uncooked meat in your dorm room. If you have a dining plan, use it. Lock your room door and always carry your key with you. If you have cash in your room, do not pull it out of hiding in front of anyone –roommate included. You’re still growing and need your sleep. Too many late nights will leave you vulnerable to illness, poor grades, and poor judgment. No five-hour energy drinks, Monster drinks, etc. –they are addictive and can create additional problems. Even if a professor says he doesn’t have an attendance policy, he probably does –try not to miss class unless you are very ill. Exercise regularly –it is a great stress reliever and will help you sleep better. Don’t post, tweet, or text anything after midnight. Always consider if you would like your mom, grandma, or pastor to see what you are putting out there in social media.
- Couldn’t resist one more. We love you! We are so proud of who you are. Call, text, and email us regularly. You are ready for this. We have seen you mature and handle a lot of difficult things to get to today. Remember to pray for me -it is hard for me to let you go. You are our miracle, and God has been preparing all of us for this next chapter in your life.