Aug 16, 2019 08:00am
Ten Ways to Survive & Thrive in College

by Yalanda Merrell

Thinking back to my college years, I’m reminded of . . . 

long nights staying up late studying for a test

trying to get the mattress out of the dorm room to slide down the stairs before our RA or Ma and Pa Ellis caught us, 

the fear of walking into class only to realize I had forgotten an assignment. 

College is stressful, fun, overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. So how do you . . . 

keep it all together and not get behind

not lose sight of what truly matters

and still graduate on time? 

Here are ten things you can do to stay on the right track through college: 

#1 Go to church. 

I know, I know, I sound like your mom. But seriously, church offers so much and college is stressful. You need a small group, discipleship, worship, family, etc. 

No matter how busy your schedule is, the things you think you might miss out on, or the extra sleep you can get… get up, put your clothes on and go to church. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

#2 Meet with your advisor. 

First off, do you even know who your advisor is? I work with students day in and day out and that’s the first question I raise to them. You need someone who is in the “know”. They know the ropes, they know what it will take for you to accomplish your goals, and they get paid to make sure you are on the right track. Set up a meeting and go see them. 

#3 Seek good friends. 

Not popular friends. 

Not friends with tons of money. 

Not friends with connections, but friends that will encourage you and correct you. 

Where do you find them? Let’s go back to #1… go to church. 

A small group is a great way to connect with people that will be true friends. Proverbs 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

 #4 Don’t try to do it all. 

One of my greatest weaknesses is saying no. I’m a people pleaser, so obviously, it’s hard for me to say no when they ask me to do something with them or for them. You will be approached by every organization and club about joining and while they will all seem exciting and fun, you can’t join them all. 

You’ll be pulled every which way while trying to juggle school, clubs, friends, family, and your time with the Lord, and eventually, something will have to give.

So, as you start the new year, review your options and choose one or two groups/clubs/organizations to devote your time to that will be beneficial to your resume and your future career, as well as your overall well-being. 

#5 Take care of yourself. 

Within the first few weeks, you’ll be sleep deprived, eating pizza late at night with a study group and too exhausted to work out. Your physical health is important to your mental health. 

I meet with young ladies several times a week and they frequently tell me how tired and overwhelmed they are. 

I ask them if they are eating healthy, scheduled meals? 

Are you going to the gym? 

Are you getting good sleep? 

You can guess what their answers always are. Put on your oxygen mask before helping to put on someone else’s. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us that your body is the temple of God and we are to take care of it for God’s glory. You are in control of your own physical, mental and spiritual health.

#6 Keep a planner.

Seriously. How do people even cope without a calendar? I have one on my phone, one on my email, one on the wall above my desk and a daily to-do list. And it’s color coded. Yes, I’m that person. My son on the other hand . . . 

Maybe this is the first time you are living on your own. You’ve always had someone reminding you of upcoming assignments, projects, etc. But now, it’s all up to you. Your success is determined by your preparation and implementation. You can do this, without a doubt, but you have to be organized. 

A professor is not going to remind you of upcoming work, it’s on the syllabus. So, get the planner. 

But before you start putting in all of your school stuff and sorority or fraternity meetings, schedule in your time with the Lord. For me, every morning the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. 

I CHOOSE to grab my cup of coffee and open my Bible and study. 

I CHOOSE to spend time in reflection. 

I CHOOSE to take time to respond in prayer and share. 

It’s not an item just to check off the list, or a task that HAS to be done, it’s a choice to spend time with my first love. Remember him? Yeah, God’s the best. Don’t forsake your time with him. 

#7 Have a go-to stress reliever.

Maybe you are a runner, a musician, an artist, great with your hands, a gardener, a dancer… the list could go on and on. You need something that, without a doubt, helps you relieve stress. 

I love to get out in nature. 

I go for a walk

a run 

kayak down the river 

grab my dog and play Frisbee 

anything that takes me out and gets my brain focused on something else. 

But my favorite is to grab my Bible, turn on a podcast or a sermon from Dr. David Jeremiah and dive into God’s Word. It’s exactly what I need, and I can promise you, it will never be a waste of time. 

Take some time and read through Psalm 119. Verse 10 says, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” And in verse 16, “I will delight myself in thy statutes, I will not forget thy word.”

#Guard your heart. 

It’s been long said that many girls go to college for their MRS degree. While I think it’s totally possible for you to meet Mr. Right or Mrs. Right, don’t let that be your focus while you are in school. You’ll meet lots of new people and there is nothing wrong with being friends and enjoying your time together. Hopefully, you already have a list made up of qualities in a man or woman that are musts for dating them. 

No? I can help with that too 😉 

But ultimately, be smart. Follow God’s Word, not just what you think your heart wants. Proverbs 4:23 warns us that everything we do flows from our heart, so we should guard it above all else. Our “hearts” can be deceiving. 

#9 Know WHY you will say no.

This one seems to go right along with #8. There will be tons of offers and invitations to get-togethers, parties, study groups, dates, etc. and of course some of those will be OK to say yes to. 

But here you are in this new place, all of your friends are going somewhere sketchy and you don’t want to miss out on the “fun”. I’ve heard it before, been there, have the T-shirt. BUT, take five seconds and ask yourself, is this going to glorify the Lord? 

Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, 

whatsoever things are true, 

whatsoever things are honest, 

whatsoever things are just, 

whatsoever things are pure, 

whatsoever things are lovely, 

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” 

The questions will come and hopefully, you will say no. But why? It’s imperative to have a reason. 

Know how you will respond when offered something. 

Know how you will respond when you are tempted. 

Know how you will refuse and why. 

Know before you go.

#10 Have integrity.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With great freedom comes responsibility.” 

As a young adult, this might be your first time away from home. Curfew, supervision and authority seem to be limited and almost non-existent in your mind. However, integrity is what you do when no one is watching. 

Will you still choose to do the right thing? 

We all answer to a higher power and God is still on the throne, even if you feel you are now your own king of the castle. In a world where access to unlimited information and sources are right at our fingertips in the privacy of our own homes or dorms, we are called to live holy. God is always with us. 

Psalm 139:7-10 “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: 

if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” 

Live with integrity. 

My friends, enjoy your college experience. Keep these things in mind as you set out on this exciting time and allow God to use you to share his glory through every encounter and opportunity!