A college freshman’s advice for parents

Written by Blake Jefferson
Published on July 08, 2022

Hi, my name is Blake Jefferson. I just finished my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin. 

I grew up in a small, Christian private school, so the transition to a large, public, state school has been difficult. However, despite all the time I spent taking Bible classes and attending weekly chapels in high school, I have never grown more in my faith than since I have come to college. 

College is a time where you really no longer are forced to do anything you don’t want to do, so you know that for the most part everyone you see at church, in Bible studies, and in Christian organizations are there because they want to be. 

This encourages and fosters such a genuine community of believers because we are all going through the same college issues, but we all have different perspectives and backgrounds before coming to college. 

I am able to develop authentic relationships with these people I just met because we are all united by the hope that we have in Christ and our need for community to encourage us in the good and lift us up in the bad. Praise God for providing the blessing of community, am I right?

Your kid will be okay!

So, your kid is not always going to be okay and that’s okay. Your student is going to feel lonely, they are going to struggle finding community, and they are going to go through times where they wish they were back in high school with their old friends. 

The best thing you can do is to show them the importance of being in Christian community. Also, don’t pester your students about going to church or attending youth groups, but ask them questions about their experiences. 

Ask them how their church search is going. Questions like “Which churches have you enjoyed so far and why?”, “Are there any Christian organizations on campus you are interested in?”, or even just “Have you met any people on campus that you’ve seen at church or youth group?” can go a long way in figuring out where your student is at in terms of developing community. 

Your student is going to be okay in a fraternity or sorority. I personally am not in one, but almost all of my friends are in a fraternity or sorority. In speaking to them, they have told me about how there is a group of guys or girls that all go to church together on Sundays or hang out together at parties to keep each other accountable. 

I am writing all of this to say that your student is going to be okay. However, your job can no longer be the enforcer like it may have been in high school. 

You may be the only Christian influence your student has for their first few weeks or even months, so just be there for them and encourage them that they are not alone in feeling alone and that just putting themselves out there by trying out various churches or organizations will help so much.

My experiences and tips

The most impactful thing that I did coming into college was signing up for Ignite. Ignite is a Christian camp for incoming freshmen and transfer students coming to the University of Texas—it has similar versions at other schools, including Impact at Texas A&M and Encounter at the University of Oklahoma. 

It is a four day retreat where you attend speaker sessions that talk about things incoming freshmen need to hear, talk in small groups about anything and everything, develop relationships that will last throughout college, and even attend a church and ministry fair. 

I met most of my best friends at Ignite, including all of my future roommates, my study buddies, and my Bible study leader. I even applied to be on staff at Ignite and am serving on leadership staff as a member of the prayer-team next year, so come meet me at camp! 

If your student is going to any of these colleges or is going to a college that has something similar, please encourage them to sign up for it (or this is the one thing you should sign them up for yourself!) 

Even if you don’t end up becoming friends with anyone from the camp, you are introduced to many of the churches and organizations in the area and will at least know a few familiar faces in each. 

My tip for finding and attending a church that has been super impactful on my college experience was finding someone to try out churches and eventually attend church with. If you attend church on your own, you are more likely to skip or stop coming all together. However, if you have someone you go with every single week, it becomes more of a routine and sometimes even more fun because you know you have someone to sit with and get lunch with after!

In closing

I hope this has been helpful and provides a sort of reassurance and maybe even confidence in being a new student at college who is looking for Christian community. There will be times where your kid feels alone in college, and that is okay. It is only okay, however, if they are able to recognize that being alone is a shared occurrence by all students, and it is best combated by intentionally seeking out Christian community. 

Once they understand this concept that took me almost a year to figure out, their time in college will be much better because they know that all everyone really wants is a friend to do life with and someone to grow in their faith with.

Consider a few extra resources:

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Blake Jefferson

Blake Jefferson is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Texas in Austin where he is involved in Ignite, Intramural sports, and serving at Austin Stone Church. He loves spending time with friends, traveling, and attending as many Longhorn sporting events as possible.

Read more about Blake

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