(Originally published on LifeTeen.com)
'Whoa. Did those last four years just happen? How did they go by so fast?!?'
If you're a recently graduated senior currently transforming into a college freshmen, you've probably thought something like this in the past month or two. As you look back, hopefully there are more things you're happy to remember than hoping to forget. Hopefully you can look back and smile, thankful for all the memories and the friends you made.
But no matter what your high school experience was like, one thing is certain . . . things are about to change!
Starting college is kind of a big deal.
For most people, it means a new house, a new city, new friends, and new challenges. Hopefully while you were in high school you learned everything you could possibly need to know to begin your new adventure, but if you're like me and you didn't, here's a list of pointers to help you out.
1. Go to Mass
Your youth minister, awesome Core members, or best friends may not be able to come with you. There may not be a fun, social church event for you every week. The music may not be as good as you're used to at home. But there WILL be a Catholic Church somewhere near you, and that means there will be Mass. If nothing else, you have that. And guess what? It just happens to be the most important thing to have.
'I believe the earth could exist more easily without the sun than it could without the Mass.' -Padre Pio
2. Spend Wisely
Groceries are expensive and your parents will not be there waiting at the register. However, Ramen noodles are delicious!
3. Change is Okay
The friends you made in high school are all going through the same transition you are. Try to stay in touch but don't be heartbroken if you grow apart from some of them. God has so many new, awesome friends for you to meet along the way.
'There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.' – C.S. Lewis
4. Be Christ
The people you live with may not always share your beliefs. Don't be afraid to live your faith boldly. While loving them where they are, be a positive example and show them Christ. Your joy will be contagious.
'Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason: there is nobody to make them Christians.' – St. Francis Xavier
5. Visit Home
You'll soon be willing to travel on planes, trains, and boats across the globe to have your mom do your laundry. Don't fight it. Visit home when you can. (And bring some dirty clothes.) Your pesky little siblings may have driven you crazy . . . but they're still the cutest kids you know. Put pictures of them up in your room, pray for them, and call them often to tell them you love them.
6. Who Will You Be?
With all that free time, you'll have a lot more decision making to do. You can decide you who want to be and how you want to live, even when no one's watching. Keep faith and studies as high priorities. Get accountability partners. Get involved in Catholic campus ministry. Let your less rigid schedule be a blessing and not a curse.
'Watch and pray that you may not fall into temptation, for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.' Matthew 26:41
7. Don’t Be That Kid
. . . The who brings leftover Chinese food into the classroom and stinks up the place. Just don't. Or the one that says 'president' after hearing your name when your teacher takes roll. It's for the best.
No one is going to be holding your hand or babysitting you through this. Don't wait for the bell to ring and don't expect anyone to nag you about turning in an assignment. Keep a planner and stick to your commitments. You'll grow in virtue and responsibility. Plus, crunch time will be a little less stressful for you.
'Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.' -St. Augustine
You'll be introduced to many new ideas and be given (or forced to purchase) many new books. That's all fine and good, but you know what Book you should keep closest to you.
'As a trusty door, Scripture shuts out heretics, keeping us from error.' -St. John Chrysostom
10. Seriously though . . .
11. Don’t Go Crazy
You know those really strict rules your mom and dad had? Well, it turns out they were for good reasons. They love you, and yes, sometimes they do actually know what's best. Respect them with your decisions even though they're far away.
'Honor your father and mother' (Exodus 20:12).
12. Be You
Have fun! Be your awesome self and embrace all the ways God wants to stretch you and help you grow. Don't hesitate to take your passion for the Lord into this new setting! The world is out there waiting for you. Stay rooted in prayer and rock on.
'If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!' -St. Catherine of Sienna
Oh yeah, and next summer . . . pray about being on summer staff at a Life Teen camp!
Know that we're praying for you. Stay in touch.