As a senior, here are my five best tips


As I review the last four years of college, some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned didn’t come in a classroom. They were life lessons that came because of the college setting. For those coming behind me, here are a few of my top recommendations for a successful and rewarding time in college.

Sample a lot, then focus in

As a freshman, I signed up for all sorts of organizations and activities. I got involved in Missions Advance, the University Investment Association, University Business Association, University Marketing Association, Public Policy Organization and society sports. I helped with my church’s kids’ ministry and preached several times at my church. I could afford to get heavily involved because I was a freshman and my classes were mainly introductory at that point.

In the following years, I became a GL, writer and photographer for The Collegian, Pathways peer leader, ministry mentor and society officer. I sang in the choir several semesters, dressed up for Living Gallery and died as a Philistine in Samson et Dalila.

Naturally, I wasn’t able to keep up my involvement with all of those organizations as my class loads got heavier. However, I’m glad I made the most of the opportunities while I could. While I am not heavily involved with all those organizations anymore, I found a few of them deeply rewarding, especially Missions Advance and the UMA. (And of course, The Collegian.)

Value depth

I must confess that I got involved in several organizations simply to beef up my resume. However, by the time I became a senior, my resume included so many involvements that I couldn’t fit them all into the usual one page resume format. Half the things I got involved in just so I could put them on my resume didn’t even fit on my resume. Doing something just for credit is kind of pointless when you don’t even get the credit.

Additionally, as a freshman, I would see people that were heavily involved in lots of different activities and organizations, and assume that meant they were successful. I equated busyness with success. This is a dangerous mindset. Busyness is not as rewarding as we might hope.

How do you square my last piece of advice with this one? Sample everything at first, and then narrow your focus to the activities that you find most beneficial. You’ll have to drop several activities as you progress through college, but doing so should leave you more time to focus on the ones you enjoy the most.

Seek a learning mindset

While there have been many assignments for which I did only the minimum requirements, the most memorable and enjoyable school projects for me have been the ones for which I went beyond the basic requirements:

  • When my paper was three times beyond the minimum word count because I really enjoyed learning about the topic.
  • When I read an entire book to prepare for a speech.
  • When I looked up and watched a performance of the entire play for En 103.

If you can try to become interested in the learning material, you’ll find you enjoy schoolwork much more. You got to pick what major to study, so you already should have at least some interest in the material. Make the most of that interest and you’ll turn out projects that you both enjoy and remember.

Prioritize ministry

No matter what career you plan to pursue, God intends for you to be involved in ministry after you graduate. But you shouldn’t wait until you graduate to get involved. Even though your time in college seems very busy, you won’t necessarily become less busy once you graduate and begin working a full-time job and begin a family. Make the most of the freedom and ministry opportunities that you have as a student that you may never have again.

  • Adults with a full time job can’t often drop everything and go on a two-month mission trip.
  • Medical professionals who need to work on Sunday may not be able to teach a Sunday school class.
  • Parents with young children can’t simply leave for a summer to work at a camp.

No matter your major, talents or existing skills, God intends for you to learn more than just career necessities while you’re in college. He wants you to grow you as an effective servant for His Kingdom.

Avoid complaining

Don’t complain about things that cannot be changed. Pointing out how cold it is won’t make you feel warmer.

Don’t complain about things when you can change them. If you know a problem can be fixed by simply having a little bit of courage and talking to the right person, do it. Complaining about something when a solution is available is like complaining about the dark when you’re standing by the light switch.

Don’t complain about the consequences of your own choices. You chose to come to college. You chose which classes to take each semester. You chose, or could have chosen, your roommates.

We have so many gifts that other people don’t enjoy and that we did nothing to deserve. Learning to embrace gratitude will help displace a complaining spirit.

Enjoy your time at college. Make the most of this season of life. It will end eventually. But don’t miss the experiences along the way in your eagerness to finish.