Our time in education makes up a very important part of our lives. We learn so many new skills and develop our talents, but perhaps the things that can’t be taught in the classroom have the biggest impact on our hearts. Here are the top five things I’ve learned from being at college.
(Side note: I live in England, and so college for me is the two years before university, but I am pretty sure these 5 points apply to American college too!)
1. Not everyone is going to like you
For the first term of my college life, I was far too worried about people liking me. I went from a secondary school of about 600 students to a swarming college full of roughly 1,500; no wonder I felt like everyone was looking at me and judging me. The truth is, they were. And they still are. It’s a fact that people will make judgments on you, good or bad - it’s a trait of human nature.
No matter how much I tried to convince myself that I could get everyone to like me, I was essentially lying to myself. Not everyone is going to like you. And the sooner I realized that, the sooner I became so much more relaxed, happy, and content, and I grew in my walk with Jesus the most during this time.
When you no longer care about what people think and realize that you can’t please everyone, nothing is impossible and doors are opened. For example, I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting my Bible out in a coffee shop to do a morning reading for fear of being looked at as weird. Now, I can’t wait. Now, if anyone approached me about it, I’d say, “This is the living word of God! Jesus is speaking directly to me! Why should I be unashamed of what He’s doing in my life? Life with Him is the most freeing thing I’ve ever experienced! Here, look at what He’s saying!”
And at the end of the day, people can take it or leave it. But I would much rather people not like me because of Jesus than adore me for being fake.
2. You can do anything you want
College is when most people experience ‘freedom’ for the first time. Drink, drugs, sex - you name it, and you can probably get it. The saying that is at the bottom of most college students’ hearts is “I can do what I want,” and this is pretty much true. You’re an adult now - go wild!
But...the ‘freedom’ that we think we find at college isn’t true freedom. In fact, it just binds you up more and more into dissatisfaction as you search for and indulge in the things that will never fill the void that only Jesus can heal. I’ve been in that place - I knew that Jesus was the only one who could satisfy, but I still searched for a release in things that would essentially only bring me to a place of even further discontent.
So it’s true: you can do anything you want to in college. But this doesn’t just mean drugs, sex, and alcohol. It means you also have the freedom to stand up for Christ.
You can become more and more unashamed of your faith. If people tell you to sit down, be quiet, and to stop taking Him so seriously, you can say, “But you’re allowed to take your lifestyle seriously, so why can’t I?” You can do anything you want. Make the most of it, and use it to your advantage.
3. People will talk about you
Leading on from point number one, it’s another fact of college life that people are going to talk about you. Whether it’s good or bad, you just don’t know. But one of my favorite sayings to remember is:
‘Be so good that they can’t ignore you.’
Be so good that people can’t help but talk about you. And I’m not just talking about being a “good little Christian student” (because in all honesty, I think Christianity is so much more than just being on your best behavior).
Pray that God would fan into flame the embers He has ignited in your soul. Pray that He will cause a light to shine so brightly from within you that people can’t ignore it. Pray for opportunities to talk about Jesus. Pray that people will ask you questions and that He’d give you the words to answer them. Pray that people will whisper, ‘Why is she so obsessed with Jesus?!’ Pray that your passion and boldness and life that come from Him won’t be able to be ignored. People will talk about you - make it worth their while.
4. You will meet lifelong friends there
Most of the people who I would now call my best friends are people that I met at college. It seems crazy to me that I have made lifelong friends in the space of only two years. I have laughed, cried, and spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours with these people, and they have seen me at my best and at my worst.
College is a time when you can meet like minded people - whether that be through the subjects you’re studying, societies, or Christian Unions - and it’s no wonder that these people will almost certainly stay in your ‘best friends list’ for life. You will meet lifelong friends at college, so if you haven’t started college yet then be excited, and if you have finished college then be grateful and cherish those around you.
5. You realize what really matters
During your time at college, you will grow an appreciation for what really matters in life. I’ve realized that it’s not about the amount of followers I gained on social media, it’s not about how many people knew my name, and it’s not about how many parties I attended. It’s about the time I spent with my friends laughing until I cried, the times when I worked for hours on end to achieve the grade that I so desperately wanted, the times catching up over coffee with someone I hadn’t spoken to for a while.
It’s about the memories I made and not the followers I gained, the hearts I touched instead of the attention I got.
It’s not about the things that will fade with time but the things that will last for eternity - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
You realize what really matters - and, perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these things are found in Jesus Christ.
Alice is 18 and from England. She gave her life to Jesus about 5 years ago, and was baptized in July 2015. She feels that she is called to creative evangelism after receiving many prophecies from various people. She's a keen musician, photographer, writer, and speaker, and she hopes to involve all of these passions when sharing the love of Jesus to the world. She looks forward to moving to a city to attend university, engrossing herself in youth culture and wider communities.