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Christian Life

10 Tips for Transitioning from High School to College

Every week, I go through the “Girl Talk” section of Project Inspired and look for those seeking advice and counsel. I want to help answer some questions you may have about living out your Christian life and walk of faith! We want PI to be a safe place where you can ask questions.

Two PI Girls  recently asked for advice about going to college, and how to deal with worry:

“I am 16, going to be 17 in May. I have really bad anxiety and I am very shy (and fearful). I am graduating probably this year so a lot of things are going to be happening, like college. I do not have my permit or license, but this year I am going to try to do a lot of big things to get myself ready for ‘adulthood’… I have plans on getting my G.E.D, my permit, and license and then preparing myself for college next year …” (Click to read full post and to join the Girl Talk Chat.)

 Another girl writes:

“I know. Worrying is wrong. I should trust God wholeheartedly. But one of the biggest things I struggle with is worry. It’s been particularly difficult lately. I waited a year to start college which I will do this upcoming fall. I’ve been accepted to the college I wanted to go to and I have the money to pay the first fee to secure a spot. Even with financial aid, though, I will not be able to pay for everything else. It’s very expensive. I’ve searched for jobs and continue to but I haven’t found anything. Not only does that make me stress but I struggle every day…Sometimes I feel like I want to start college and other days I can’t imagine leaving home. It’s only 2 hours away but still. I know I need to pray but I hope I don’t feel this way all the time. It’s exhausting. Any tips on how to not over-think it all?” (Click here for the full post.)

Remember PI readers, you are NOT alone! God loves you so much and wants you to know this is a community for love, faith and encouragement. That is why we exist, to help you! Please comment, ask questions and we will try to help as much as possible.

Transitioning to college from high school, where you have been for four years of your life, can feel scary and big. It can be overwhelming to think about. The reality is that everyone is excited, nervous and most likely feels the SAME way you do! So don’t fear, worry or think you are alone! That is why schools have honor societies, clubs, sororities and other places for people to meet others and to get plugged in. I totally understand what you are going through and pray God gives you peace about it because it can be very intimidating at first.

To help calm you and encourage you, I want to remind you of the transition you had from middle school to high school. Granted, you probably transitioned with many of the same people and friends, but God was right there with you, wasn’t He? Sometimes we think of change as so scary, but let’s face it: we all get afraid and are uncertain at some point. Once we step out in faith and see what God has to offer, we realize that life is exciting and that God planned GOOD THINGS long ago before you were even born! (Jeremiah 29:11) God loves you so much and reminds us to not be afraid.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” –Jeremiah 1:5

Jesus says in Matthew 6 to not worry because if you observe and look around, the birds of the air are even fed! There is, of course, a level of responsibility and accountability that results in some concern, but what God is saying is He doesn’t want to consume our lives with worry and fear because God knows your needs. God just wants us to trust Him, and to ASK! Sometimes instead of praying we worry! The Bible says,

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“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. … And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” –Matthew 6:25,27

10 Tips on Preparing for College:

1. Pray: Give God your worries, your fears, your hopes and your dreams. God knows what you need. He wants to bless you but He first wants the relationship and communion (communication) with you. That is step one. Then you will see God move when we believe in faith.

(Note: Even when it seems impossible–too expensive, too hard, and all the other things we “FEEL”–when we TRULY TRUST HIM and let go of the situation into His loving hands, He moves mountains for us. I am an eyewitness of this.)

2. Prepare: Make sure you take all of the necessary steps, such as forwarding transcripts, calling the admissions office, securing your enrollment, setting up FAFSA and financial aid, keeping your paperwork and other legal and important documentation in a nice folder so you know where it is at all times, and looking ahead at class availability and sign ups.

Make sure you have a checklist for your parking pass, supplies, books and any extra things you may need for the semester. God WILL provide. Also, if you are in need, ask for help! Call the office at the school and set up an appointment with a school counselor. Do all of these things BEFORE the semester starts, possibly even a semester beforehand–as things move closer to the start date, it gets harder to make appointments and ask the proper questions.

3. Make Plans for Financial Assistance: Make sure you inquire about scholarships and other options outside of government assistance and other student loans. You can avoid big costs by seeking out the proper aid. This may take some effort, but there are many scholarships for students that you can be eligible for through athletics, family situations and other factors. You need to call the school you are attending and ask them for their financial aid department, and also look up the school website to find out more about grants, scholarships and other awards.

4. Go to God’s Word: If you are unsure about what school to go to, where to live or if you should sacrifice one thing or another to make a way for college to happen, go to the Bible. God’s Word is a light to our path and Jesus cares about our hearts, our decisions and even every detail of our lives. We can find life in the Word of God, strength when we feel weary, replenished when we feel spiritually dry, and can gain discernment when we feel lost. No, there may not be big letters that spell out what we should do verbatim, but it will breathe hope into our worlds and will shine a light on what we need to know for each day. Trust God at His Word; it will NEVER fail you. We need the Word–it is our source, our spiritual food and our lifeline…without it, we can do nothing.

 5. Talk to Parents or Role Models: Do you have leaders in your life who have already experienced college and who can lend some advice to you? It can be a fun conversation starter at dinner with your parents or even your best friend’s older sibling about where they went, how they moved into that season of life and so forth. Seek out people who are successful and knowledgeable. I am certain they will not only appreciate you asking, but it will be most likely a fun and interesting conversation!

6. Look Up Clubs on Campus: I would recommend finding a Christian club or sorority so you can get to know other like-minded believers on campus. Maybe there is a prayer group or Bible study where you can meet other friends who are in the same place as you. Ask God to bring you those kindred relationships, and don’t forget to step out in faith!

7. Volunteer: Before you start college, it might be a good idea to continue to volunteer and serve in your local community. When applying for colleges, you can share your experiences and how you are a leader, and how you have served whether in your church or through your hometown.

8. Seek Out Visiting Programs and Visit Schools: Don’t forget to actually visit the college you’re interested in before accepting an offer of admission! Also, keep in mind that there are many different transfer opportunities through different schools, even junior colleges. Ask questions at your local JC or call your potential school for more information.

9. Start Saving: If you are just starting high school, maybe you will want to consider getting a job and start saving now for an apartment or for school funds. College can be expensive, but there are many financial options out there. If you feel inspired, start a college fund through your local bank and start building your savings. Even if you don’t need it for college, it is smart to think about your future.

10. Think of Transportation: Are you keeping your car? Purchasing a new one? Will you be flying in and out of state? Are you going to commute or possibly carpool? Thinking of ways to get to and from school can really help make your transition smoother. If you are not using a car at school, or have no need for one, you may want to consider selling your car and using the money for books or tuition fees. Make your transportation plans beforehand so you don’t feel overwhelmed or nervous about getting to class on time! “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin

 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.”- Psalm 37:23

PI readers, I am praying for all of you students who are in the season of preparation for the big move into college. This is not only a huge adjustment that takes faith, but also is a very exciting time in your life! Enjoy, be present, prepare, pray and remember, God has special plans for your life!

Are you considering college? Are you already a college student? What tips helped you transition smoothly from high school to college?

Image: Purestock | ThinkStock

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