Let Go, Lean In, and Hold On: Tips for the First Week of College
I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were as I walked into my first week of college. I do remember sitting in my house filled with anticipation and excitement as I applied to colleges. Acceptance letter after acceptance letter came rolling in until I found myself at a crossroads… where will I go?
Eventually, after much prayer and deliberation, the decision was made. I was going to Grace College and Theological Seminary in beautiful Winona Lake, Indiana. In that moment of clarity and decision, I was equally struck with reality. I was leaving my current life. I was leaving my home state. And I was embarking on a new, and unknown journey. The first week of college — brimming with hope, but also some doubt — was just on the horizon, and I wasn’t sure how to prepare.
Although I do not know you or your story, I can assume that in one way or another you are feeling the weight of this new season of your life in a similar manner. New seasons can be a kind of fun that is wrapped in a blanket of nerves and unfamiliarity. I even walked into my first year with a few friends from home. But in the midst of it, I was nervous.
My biggest advice to my first-year friends as they begin their first week of college is to let go, lean in, and hold on.
Let go of your expectations of what you think college will be like. Once you do this, you will open yourself up to trying new things, making new friends, and challenging yourself by thinking differently. You will be better at taking things as they come, and in turn, you will gain the richest college experience possible. Grace College provides a unique environment for you to do this in many different ways. You will be surrounded by people from all over the country and all over the world. Some of whom may become your best friends and challenge you in ways you never expected. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Secondly, I encourage you to lean into this first week of college and all of your years at Grace. I speak from experience when I say these next few years will fly by before you even realize it. If you blink too long, you’ll miss it.
Here’s my advice; find a church home, go to that hall event, and get lunch with that person on campus you’ve never met. This time in your life is so precious, and every moment is a memory you will look back on. The best memories I had at Grace College were times when I was deeply involved in the community and participated in events on campus. Take advantage of sunsets at the lake, chicken nugget day in Alpha Dining, and simply living in the same space as your friends. Your college experience is what you make of it, and you have an incredible opportunity over the next few years. Learn everything you can in your academic classes, but also be sure to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Finally, hold on! You are about to embark on quite a ride! Manage your time wisely, take care of yourself (mentally, physically, and spiritually), and do not forget to have fun. You will experience many twists and turns the next few years, but I have no doubt you will leave college a different person because of it. Hold on to the community that surrounds you as you navigate your way through college life. (One of the greatest gifts God has given us is each other!)
But most importantly, I encourage you to enjoy the ride. I deeply believe college can be one of the best seasons of your life. I made some of my closest friends throughout my college years. Although I had some stressful times in college, without hesitation I would go back and live it all again!
If you’re a first-year student, we encourage you to take Chloe’s tips for the first week of college: let go, lean in, and hold on for a big year ahead. Also, get familiar with our first-year experience so that you can get excited about things to come!