An Open Letter for Incoming College Freshmen
Written by Kayla Mulkey
This one is for all of the upcoming college freshmen. First of all, I want to say congratulations on graduating high school! You made it through more than a whole decade of spending eight hours, every day for five days a week in school. Being a college graduate and looking back, I can honestly say you should be greatly congratulated for that accomplishment. Now comes freedom. You’ll get to make your own decisions, pick your own curfew, choose the people you surround yourself with, and the list goes on and on.
I know there are so many things you could be feeling right now. Possibly excited, slightly anxious, and maybe even a little fed up with your hometown/the people you grew up with. At least that’s how I felt. You’re going to have free rein to choose whatever path you want to follow. Having that freedom is empowering and it’s easy to jump at any one of the multitude of opportunities that come your way. You won’t have anyone telling you which events you should attend or which events you should stay away from. You’ll get to do what YOU feel is the right thing to do. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Well, have you ever heard the saying “with great power comes great responsibility”? I know, what a cliché...but you will feel like your future is completely in your hands. In fact, there will be so many advisors, teachers, and peers that will tell you as much.
My biggest advice to you is to not put that kind of responsibility on yourself. It is going to be so important for you to focus on your relationship with God and to be in tune with His plan for you. So, start strengthening that relationship now. Here are a few ways you can do that:
I know. This sounds like a given, right? Well for me, one of the biggest game changers in my faith was understanding prayer as a conversation with God. Prayer isn’t just for when we don’t know where else to turn to, or when we need something. It’s for those moments, sure, but it’s also for when we need a friend, when we feel grateful for all of our blessings, or for when we want to grow closer to God. There are so many reasons to pray and I encourage you to make daily prayer a habit right now. While you’re enjoying your last summer before college, prioritize those conversations with God.
Yes. Question everything. Your professors will challenge you. Other students will challenge you. Know what you believe and why you believe it so that you can remain confident in your answers when others ask their questions. Be prepared to reply to those who question you with love and understanding. Beyond that, do not be afraid to ask the questions “who am I?” or “what is my purpose?” Be sure you are seeking after God and relying on Him for the answers.
This is where you are going to get a lot of the answers to the questions you begin to ask. Practice studying and make Bible study a priority. The Bible is our road map, but we’ll never know where we’re going if we don’t read the directions laid out for us. God already has so many answers written out for us to apply to our everyday situations.
What I mean by this is to be aware of the environment you are going into. Once you see the environment, you will easily see the opportunity that has been laid out in front of you. As followers of Christ, we are all apostles. In Greek, the word apóstolos means “one who is sent off.” Each one of us has opportunity after opportunity to share the love of Jesus with those we come in contact with. Going to college, you are in a unique situation where you are in such a secular community. Be bold, be brave, and be steadfast in the Lord. Be a light unto others, but don’t let others dim your light. Know that not everyone will be accepting of the love you try to share with them, but love them just as Jesus would anyway.
I know it sounds great to be in control of your own future, but that becomes extremely overwhelming very quickly. I’m not saying that we have zero control over our own future. We do make our own decisions because God granted us free will. However, God never intended for you to tackle the next couple of years all alone. I encourage you to prioritize your relationship with God starting now. If you wait until you get to college, you’ll be faced with many more things that you could easily put in front of your personal relationship with Him.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite promises from God I leaned on whenever I became discouraged in college.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Turn towards Him, always. Trust Him over your gut or some warm, tingling feeling you feel in your bones. Stay rooted in prayer, find the courage to question, be confident with your Bible study, and seek to love and be aware of your brand new environment.
I truly believe that where God guides us, He will provide. Our futures belong to Him and He has already given us the victory. No matter what you face, hold true to His promises. Be bold and courageous and go shine the light He's given you all over your campus!
This article was written by Adoration Writing Team Member, Kayla Mulkey. Kayla is a Southwest Virginia native with a passion for youth ministry. She graduated from East Tennessee State University in December of 2019, where she served as the President of Delight Ministries.