Many high school students that I know and love are graduating this year – and as I write on their cards I found myself reflecting on all that God taught me through my college experience. There are so many things I wish I knew beforehand! And surely many tried to tell me- but I can be quite stubborn and as C.S. Lewis put it –
“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
Experience is an incredibly effective teacher, but I don’t think we have to always endure the brutal schooling it offers. I wish that I would have realized the truth of Proverbs 19:20 – “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” I definitely didn’t know it all- in fact at some point in college I remember thinking, “The more I learn, it just seems to become more evident how little I know and how much more I need to learn…” But, at the same time, there were things I did know and college professors sometimes made me feel completely foolish.
So, if I could go back in time to the spring of 2007 when I walked out of the doors of my high school feeling like I’d never have to do homework again… I wish I would have absorbed, chewed on, taken to heart the following 5 things – prior to walking onto my college campus that fall…
Katie’s 5 Tips for Graduating Seniors –
#1 – Be open to new ideas, but stay grounded in God’s timeless truth.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8
I remember walking out of the Gen Ed required course, “Understanding Human Differences,” freshman year – feeling like I was learning so much – while at the same time feeling really terrible and confused as I was hit with subtle, and not so subtle, messages that Christians were intolerant and ignorant. I have to say – sometimes, in some cases, my professors and fellow students were completely right. Christians throughout history have failed to love others well and show the grace that God has shown them. I wish that I would have been more bold many times throughout my college experience, humbly acknowledging my failures as a Christian and the failures of other Christians, but knowing that I could trust God’s Word and sincerely loving those in my classes enough to show them – and even tell them about the God that I know loves them so much.
#2 – There’s no end to learning and studying – you could always do more.
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13
Remember that your grades do not determine your value and worth in the eyes of the One who matters most.
“But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” -Psalm 147:11
#3 – Be prepared to make awesome friends. Love them well and show them Christ.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17
Also, I would totally encourage you to get involved in a church and/or campus ministry where you can continue to learn and grow in relationship with God. My campus ministry involvement was one of the greatest blessings to me! (Awesome ministries include, but are not limited to: Cru, Intervarsity, & Navigators)
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
#4 – Start learning how to budget and faithfully steward your money asap!
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment…” – 1 Timothy 6:6
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” -Proverbs 11:14
“The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” – Proverbs 12:24
The last thing I wanted to think about was money – my mind was too filled with hall council meetings, planning social events, and hanging out with friends…and on top of that I had to find time to fit in studying. Yeah, I definitely did not want to worry about financial planning or savings. This was a mistake. Ask your parents questions, get advice from those who are post college – don’t worry about money, but don’t be in denial that you will soon have to manage bills and other financial commitments. It will sooo pay off in the future.
#5 – College seems long, but goes by fast!
I wasted sooo much time looking forward to the end of one thing and the start of the next. I was always planning what I would do next semester, on every break, and stressing over what I was going to do once I graduated college. Usually I used planning my life post college as a distraction so that I didn’t have to think about my responsibilities at the current time. I would love to chat with my internet searching self that was constantly googling future careers and tell her, “Hey, just a heads up – when you graduate, your life will look nothing like you think and it will be way better than you could imagine. (Keep in mind – I didn’t say easier, I said better.) Now shut your computer, enjoy God’s Word, be faithful where He has you today, and eat as much ice cream as possible with your friends – who you will not be in the same city as very shortly…”
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-27, 33-34
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
Congratulations on graduating class of 2013! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you as you live your life for Him!