The start of the new school year is approaching. Students everywhere are packing up their things and getting ready to move back into dorms or campus houses. For those of you just starting college, the switch from high school to college is quite exhilarating. From your newfound freedom to a heavier workload, everything is shiny and new. Here are a few tips to keep your head on straight and your faith close to your heart.
1. It’s crazy important to find your Catholic squad, early
These are the people that are going to hold you accountable to your faith in the midst of your transition into adulthood. You and your friends will influence each other more than you can imagine, especially as you’re working through the changes of going to college. Help build each other up into the amazing Catholics you all have the potential to be.
Ladies, find your female friends. Gentlemen, find your male friends. These same-gendered people will have a deeper understanding of who you are and what you’re going through in life. Mixed-gender friendships are a beautiful thing, but there are aspects of femininity and masculinity that the opposite gender simply can’t understand. Having someone who understands the unique features of your gender is incredibly valuable.
2. Life never stops
There will always be something going on on campus. That’s just how college is. For you extroverts out there, be sure to take time away from the insanity to breathe and focus on your interior life. For the introverts, make sure you step outside of your bubble and go to an event here and there.
3. Call your mother!
And the rest of your family. They’ll want to know what’s happening in your new life. Do you like your classes? Are you eating enough? Are you making friends? All these questions just show how much your family loves you. Be sure that you don’t neglect these relationships in the midst of your busy life.
4. Make it to Mass
Sunday Mass is a requirement of the Catholic Church. The best way to ensure you make it to Mass is to pick a local Mass time and make sure you always go. Plan your Sunday (or Saturday evening) schedule around going to that Mass. If you’re able to, signing up to be an altar server is a great way to hold yourself accountable. In addition to Sunday Mass, make it to daily Mass as often as you can. Regular prayer is important, but receiving the Eucharist is even more so.
5. Learn how you learn
Figure how you learn best. Do you prefer to write in pen or pencil while you take notes? Do you like a quiet study atmosphere, or do you prefer background noise? Learning how to work with how you work best will optimize your study time and set you up to absorb even more information.
6. Make prayer your priority
As busy as you’ll be as a college student, nothing is more important than time with God. Morning prayer is a great way to focus your day around your faith. Prayers before meals are also important to keep up with. If you have access to an adoration chapel, sign up for a weekly Holy Hour. If not, find a place away from distractions where you can go for regular prayer. Be sure you are sharing your heart with God. He wants to hear about your day to day joys and sufferings. And, of course, don’t forget to ask Him for help with your struggles.
7. Get to know your professors
Your professors are the people who are going to give you your education. Make sure you introduce yourself to them as soon as you can. Talk with them before or after class. Drop by office hours. Make sure they know you you are and that they like you. It might be the difference between getting an extension on that super stressful paper or not. Professors will also help you when you’re struggling with a topic, or connect you to that life-changing internship you’re after.
8. Go to Confession regularly
Unfortunately, no matter what college you go to, there are going to be a plethora of new temptations surrounding you. If you do happen to stumble, be sure you seek out the sacrament of Confession. Remember, if you’re in a state of moral sin, you’re not allowed to receive the Eucharist. Even if you take to college without faltering, it is generally recommended to receive Confession at least once a month.
9. Give up on sleep
Okay, not really. Be sure you get enough sleep to function. It’s important to stay sharp, especially as you’re going through the emotional rollercoaster of being away from home and meeting so many new people. However, be prepared to constantly be exhausted your first few weeks. There’s so much to do and see and learn when you first move in, so your sleep will probably take a hit.
10. New school, improved you
Maybe you want to start going by a new nickname. Maybe you’re eager to get away from what you were known as in high school. Well, now is your chance. College is a time to become more of yourself than you were before. It’s a clean slate. There are going to be people who challenge your every belief, for better or worse. Be sure that you root yourself in good soil so that you can grow into the person that God created you to be.