College. It’s the time that you’ve been waiting for… independence, the freedom to choose when you go to class, parties, new friends, late night munchies and all those memories that you’ll never forget. They say it’s the best time of your life. You’re so excited to leave behind the drama of high school, the control of your parents and the predetermined schedule of classes that you believe won’t really teach you anything… but, what else are you leaving behind? You’re leaving your friends, your family, the comfort and security of your home… but what about your faith?
If you’re anything like me, you had a strong faith base in high school. Maybe you had a family that supported you in your faith. Maybe you were involved in a youth group at your home parish. Whatever it was, you love your faith… and it’s about to be tested in ways that you will have never expected.
After the ups and downs of my freshman year in college, I’d like to share what really helped me keep my faith, and even grow in it.
1. Get a faith buddy.
In college, your faith will be challenged in so many ways. It will be so important for you to have someone to go to when you have those challenges. Having someone who can relate with your faith will help support you and legitimate your beliefs. This will be invaluable.
2. Take a Philosophy class.
This may sound counterproductive, but it’s not. Taking a basic Philosophy class on the existence of God and creation theories is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Understanding why you believe what you do is more important than anything. Getting a well-rounded perspective of the world will actually strengthen your faith and bring you to a stronger confidence in your faith.
3. Find a new church.
I’m not saying that you need to forget your ‘home’ church. I love the church I grew up in, and I love going back there. However, it is so important to explore. Get involved and make some new friends. Check out a new church- after all, you never know what will really be home to you.
4. Make a schedule.
It’s going to feel like you have no time for prayer. It may already be happening to you. With all of the excitement of college, it will be easy to slack on your prayer life… so make a schedule. Set times when you can sit down for 20, 10, even 5 minutes to give to the big man upstairs. Find a quiet, personal space. Pray the rosary, write in a journal, pray to the Saints, or my personal favorite: play some ‘Jesus music’!
5. Be open.
God works in fantastic and mysterious ways. Pay attention to the new experiences you will have... You never know what kinds of lessons God has for you, and the ways he will work through the people you meet along the way.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take risks. Live life, meet people, and have a good time… just don’t lose sight of who you are and what you really stand for.