College is a scary place, and parents have every right to be concerned about their children. For many of them, it is the first time being on their own away from the friends and family who they grew up with. The urgency to find community is there, but finding a good one can be rather difficult. On a campus filled with so many students, it’s easy to feel alone.
The people who you hang out with ultimately have a greater impact on you than you would like to admit. They affect how you react when going through one of life’s many hard trials; they affect what you like to do and how you think. The community of people that you place yourself in is who is going to surround you and hold you up on those days where you can’t do it yourself. They are the ones who will rejoice with you when you are on those mountains and mourn with you in those valleys.
I didn’t understand this until I found myself at Louisiana State University with zero friends. Teens navigating their freshman year of high school may also find themselves in this position of uncertainty. I was alone on a campus that boasted about having the biggest incoming freshman class in recent history. I could have gone down different roads that first night.
Road one would lead to me taking full advantage of this newfound freedom that I had from my helicopter parents. This would lead to a college experience highlighted by parties. Every week would become just waiting for the weekend. I would spend the rest of my college career surrounded by acquaintances and accept that diploma with obscured memories.
Road two would lead to me channeling my inner hermit crab. With no social skills, I stay away from any contact with others. I would spend the rest of my college career alone and accept that diploma with zero memories made from what was supposed to be the best years of my life.
By the end of that first night though, God had chosen another road for me. Someone came running up to me, extending an invitation to an event being held by a group on campus. That person would go on to become such an important person in my life. At the event, I met my future small group leader who, to this day, helps guide me in my walk with Christ. I unknowingly met so many people who would go on to be there for me through the most difficult parts of my college career. I would go on to spend the rest of my college career surrounded by family.
By being a part of this community, always surrounded by believers, I found myself growing in my faith daily. College can be some of the best years of your life, but it could also be the hardest and most challenging. I’ve gone through many of these instances, and I found that the times where I tried to rely solely on myself were the times that I struggled the most. Whenever they saw me struggling, they lifted me up. They affirmed me and helped to fix my eyes on God in the midst of a storm.
That is why campus and student ministries are so important. You can have good friends, but a true biblical community is so vital. Without it, there isn’t the constant push to pursue growth and a relationship with God. There is no push to actually take responsibility for your faith. These communities help guide you while you’re on the journey of life.