Today I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. Walking across the stage, I will be wearing medals, cords, and a sash representing my awards and accomplishments. You could say I learned a lot in college, but the awards I recieved and the academic knowledge I learned is not what stands out the most. Yes, I’m thankful for the academic knowledge I have learned, but I am even more thankful for the 30 life lessons that God has taught me throughout my college experience.
Here are 30 life lessons that I learned during my 3.5 years in college:
- Leave a legacy. College ended before I even realized it started. Use your time to invest in other people around you. I still remember the women who invested in me during college, and now I hope other women will remember me as the one who invested in them. View your time in college as a gift and use it wisely to invest in others. Leave a legacy.
- College can be stressful, but God is bigger than stress. God is in control of everything – even when homework is overwhelming and assignments seem impossible. No test or assignment is bigger than our creator.
- A person can go to church and not be a Christian. I used to believe being a Christian was about going to church and being good. Now I realize it is not about what we do, but about what Christ has done. We can never be “good” enough.
- I can have a personal relationship with Jesus. God is not a distant God living in the sky. He wants to know you deeply and he wants us to know and love him deeply.
- God used my sin and brokenness to lead me to him. In the midst of the pain, I did not understand how God would use poor decisions, abuse, and my hurting heart. Now, I see that God used all of it to bring me to him.
- Authentic Christian community is life changing. It is so important to join a campus ministry and to get involved in a church. I met people who truly followed Jesus because they loved him, not out of obligation. I found people who were real about their struggles. Seek out community and you’ll find a taste of heaven on earth.
- College campuses are filled with broken, hurting students who are all looking for answers. Each student desires to be loved, and most of them are looking for that love in un-fullfilling places. Students are very open to having spiritual conversations. Never be afraid to ask someone what their religious background is and listen to their story. You never know, you might be able to share the gospel in that conversation.
- There are so many opportunities to share your beliefs! This was one of the most surprising lessons I learned. Maybe it is because I am a communications major, but I had countless opportunities to share my faith in my classes – out loud to the whole class. God showed me how to not fear rejection, but instead embrace him and my story. I had to be willing to share what I believed at any moment.
- College is one of the most diverse environments you will be immersed into. My college is filled with students from all over the globe and from all different walks of life. As a believer, there is no better mission field than your college campus. You can reach more people from different countries in college than anywhere else. Your sphere of influence is huge!
- Reach the future leaders. You can reach the next generation leaders on your campus. Imagine if the next leaders were Christians. Our world could look different in only a few years.
- Temptation is very real and very active on college campuses. Because of this, it is very important to know your limits and triggers. What leads you to sin? Avoid putting yourself in those situations. My freshman year, I desired to fit in with my peers and struggled with the temptation of drinking underage. As a newly surrendered Christian, I learned that I could not go to parties that involved underage drinking in order to avoid the temptation.
- There is more to life than college. It is so easy to worry about grades and prioritize school over God. Remind yourself that grades will only bring short time fulfillment, while a relationship with God lasts for eternity.
- Prioritize spending time with God. In college, your schedule will be crazy busy 24/7. Schedule time with God. The only way to get to know God is to spend time with him.
- Discipleship is a game changer. Get discipled by an older women, perhaps from your church or college ministry, and disciple younger women. Intentional “life-doing” and 24/7 transparency is key to constant growth and a life of repentance.
- Everyone has a story. You never know what someone has gone through and what they are currently going through. In one of my classes, I discovered that the girl next to me had been forced to have an abortion only a few years ago. As she sat next to me and shared her story to the class, tears fell from her eyes. We never know what horrible pain our classmates are going through.
- Our stories are powerful. We need to share them with others. God will use our stories for his glory. Take the initiative and share your stories with others through spiritual conversations. We can not be silent and must share the gift we have received.
- You could be the only Bible that your classmates read. Thus, live consciously. You may be the only authentic believer that your classmates, co-workers, and professors ever meet.
- Focus on eternity. Invest in the line, not the dot. What will last for eternity? Our relationships with God and our relationships with others. Invest in eternity.
- Life is not about us. Life is about God. This lesson is huge for people of all ages. Our world tells us that everything should be about us. College in particular proclaims that message. “Do whatever pleases you, whatever makes you happy, or whatever will bring you the most success.”
- Deal with conflict – don’t push it under the rug. Last year my apartment experienced multiple conflicts, but instead of talking about them – we ignored the situations. At the end of the year, some people were no longer friends. Conflict can destroy relationships if not addressed.
- Never give up on anyone. My freshman year I kept inviting at friend to Cru, my campus ministry. She would come every once in a while to a weekly worship night, but never showed complete interest in giving her life to Jesus. To my surprise, my sophomore year she went on our fall retreat and surrendered her life to Jesus. We are all on spiritual journeys, so never give up on someone. God is bigger than our doubts.
- Follow the Holy Spirit. Before college, I listened to my desires over the Holy Spirit. What a mess that got me into! When I had decisions to make, the Holy Spirit would show me the answer, but I rarely listened. Now I desire to obey and follow the Holy Spirit, because I know that God is smarter than my feelings.
- I can have confidence in Jesus Christ. Confidence that God created me in his image, perfectly, for his plan. I can be confident that God will use me however he wants and I need to love the Joy he created.
- College course work is not as scary as high school teachers make it seem. Going into college, I thought it would be impossible. High school teachers always made comments about the challenge of college. I was challenged, but it was not overwhelmingly challenging. College is possible and completable. You can do it!
- Your roommates matter. Live with other believers. Live with people who will encourage you and be there for you. I have loved living with Christians. I’ll never forget the nights where we worship Jesus together in our living room, cry together over our issues, and laugh together as we cook. I have been blessed with some amazing roommates, and I will forever be grateful for their friendships.
- Try things out of your comfort zone. My sophomore year, I went to a Spanish dance class on campus. I wish I would have continued to go, but my lack of confidence kept me away. Try things you never would have imagined trying, and don’t worry what others think.
- We are all sinners. I used to think one person’s sin was worse than another. It’s easy to play the comparison game, but I had to realize that we are all equally sinful.
- God is good when he answers my prayers and just as good when he doesn’t. In the end, God’s plan is sovereign. It is easy to let circumstances dictate my faith, but I need to realize that God’s plan for me is perfect. God is still there even when times are hard or when I think he is distant. I am the one who has moved, because God stays the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- God works in spite of me. There is nothing I can do that will make God love me more or love me less. Even in my sinful moments, God can use me to somehow glorify himself.
- College is a defining time in life. Students make decisions for their careers, friendships, and beliefs – all decisions that could effect the rest of their life. These decisions matter.
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What are some life lessons that you learned in college or your young adult years?