I knew this day would come…
So, years ago when my friend Pastor Ben Cachiaras posted a blog sharing what he told his daughter when he dropped her off at college, I filed it away for when I had to do the same.
This past week Lorrie and I left our oldest at college and I took some time to share some of these words.
Hopefully this will help you when you have to do the same.
What I Told My Daughter When Dropping Her Off at College
1 • You got this (and it’s okay to feel like you don’t, sometimes).
You’re ready for this. God has prepared you. As much as we hate it, it’s time. When you become overwhelmed, receive it as a time of growth and an opportunity to rely on the Lord Jesus for strength and help in a time of need. (Psalm 46:1)
2 • Don’t be afraid (but be wise). Some kids are so fearful of new experiences, people, and ideas. Don’t be. But also be sure to filter experiences, people, and ideas with the brain you have. All of it goes into the hopper that God will use to make you into the new version of you in these formative years.
3 • Study hard and make it your goal to actually learn stuff (and if you get good grades in the process, great). Your primary calling in this season of your life is to be a student. Serve the Lord by fulfilling that calling honorably and with all diligence. (Colossians 3:17) Some students forget why they are at college, overcome by the distractions and new freedom. They have regrets later. Don’t be one of them.
4 • Schedule your time according to priorities (and leave some margin for rest, play and socializing). You will have to budget your time carefully. Put the big rocks in first. Try your best to live by a schedule rather than what you feel like doing at the time. You will benefit from the structure of study time, class time, practice, games, and play time.
5 • Take the time to stay organized (but forgive yourself if things get sloppy sometimes). Especially the first few weeks, take the time to set up the folders you need on your computer and get the right files or notebooks established so you can stay on top of each class and your schedule. Study your syllabi carefully and record all the dates of tests and papers, and then backdate your calendar with reminders prior to those dates, e.g. “book review due in 1 week!” If it worked to stay one day ahead in high school, it won’t work anymore. Keeping yourself organized will relieve a huge stressor from your head.
6 • Eat and sleep (and if one gets cut short for a bit, make sure you’re doing the other). Remember how much better you feel and how much easier it is to learn and be kind when you get lots of sleep. And tending to feeding time is your fuel for success.
7 • Say “NO” as often as you can (to make room for the best YESes). You have a big heart, a big appetite for many activities, and you’re a joiner. So remember there will be more opportunities and friends and trips out to eat than you can say yes to. Every NO you utter makes room for a greater, better YES. Try to fulfill your purpose rather than everyone else’s – so that rather than always being acted upon you can order your days by the priorities the Lord places in your mind during your clearest moments.
8 • Keep your room neat (well, at least try not to be a total slob). Putting stuff away will give you a sense of accomplishment. Set a time each week when you will take a few minutes to straighten up.
9 • Go slow on serious relationships (because if it’s truly good, it will work better that way anyway). Some kids will glom onto you because you’re awesome and they want you to be their bestie. Be cautious about anyone who wants an exclusive relationship with you, or who isn’t kind to others, even if they’re nice to you. Make lots of friends. Avoid cliques. And remember, you may be attracted to a boy other than the one you have now. That’s ok. Ask friends or family what they think first – and listen to what they say even if you’re sure. Remember once you change a friendship to dating there are only a few ways out: one of you breaks up with the other, or you marry them, or somebody gets run over by a truck. Don’t be in a hurry. Getting someone to date you isn’t hard.
10 • Stay in touch (but don’t worry about us). Things will be super busy and some days so packed you won’t have time to think straight. But use your phone to text / call us here and there, even if only for a quick update or hello. It will be good for your soul to reconnect. And we miss you.
11 • Dream big (even when you’re surrounded by people who are acting like small minded thinkers). You are put on this planet to be a world changer. Some kids around you will be self-oriented and the sum of their world will be their friends, classes, religious idealism and dating. Always carry the secret that you know life is about so much more. Let God wreck your heart for a mission so huge you know it will take your entire heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let the precious breath of the Holy Spirit inflate your dreams about what wants to do and how he will use you. Let the hidden ache in you grow and fester toward something productive for this world that you are meant to do.
12 • Have fun (but never at someone else’s expense). You are great at this. You bring the fun! You’re there to study, but add in some spontaneous and planned fun as well. Make some memories, and don’t be afraid to be the one aiming everyone toward simple wholesome activities like picnics, a walk, mini golf or throwing a Frisbee.
13 • Stay close to God (and put spiritual stuff in your schedule every week). Don’t let the Bible become a text book and school become your church. Some kids will sleep in on Sundays. But remember, the church is not perfect, but it is the hope of the world. Choose a church that you can serve in. Don’t skip chapel too often. You will have to choose what’s important to you. Being involved in a worshiping community with Christian people will keep you whole and rounded and sane and broadened and closer to God. This will be a hugely important time of spiritual formation in your life – one way or another.
14 • Look at college as a privilege (it will help you get more out of it). You’ve been around the world and recognize how powerful education is in the trajectory of someone’s life. It’s a rare privilege many aren’t given. Others are paying great costs for you to be there. Keeping that perspective will beat down the ignorance and entitlement that leads some kids to tarnish their college experience.
15 • Never forget where your home is (and it’s always open to you). We love you and are so proud of you. Nothing you could ever do or not do could change that. And whether you come home after one semester or stay through medical school, you will alway have a home where we are.
And lastly, I told her… “God loves you. God is for you. God is walking with you. And he is relentless.”