The following is a post written by Bonnie Duncan. She is currently finishing up her Campus-Missionary-in-Training Program and will be serving on staff next year with Chi Alpha at Georgetown University.

So I have this friend. His name is Geoffrey. Geoffrey the Giraffe to be more specific. You can follow him on Twitter here. He would never tell you this (partially because he’s humble, but mainly because he’s a giraffe and can't talk), but he is kind of a big deal.

He officially belongs to my friend Haydee, but we have a shared custody agreement. Now I could give you my 5 biggest tips for college freshman, but I’ve sort of developed a reputation for being that girl who never did the reading in class. But Geoffrey always did his reading, and is kind of just an all-around perfect giraffe so I’ll just let you in on a few of his secrets.

Create great memories, not just a great resume.  

To everything there is a season. A time to do homework. And a time to create memories. Finding that balance is important. Be intentional about spending time with the people you care about. Even if that means making sacrifices in other places. Like good old Mark Twain says, 20 years from now you will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.

Don’t be that person. Carpe Diem.

Find opportunities to serve others and love well

I know what you’re thinking. Geoffrey never said that. That I put him up to it because I’m an intern and it’s my job to tell people that. But you would be wrong.

Everybody comes to college searching for something. And so do you. Maybe you are looking for that one person who would drop everything to help you. Or that person you could call at all hours and they would be there for you. Or that person that simply encourages you with a note or remembers your favorite snack on exam day.

Don’t just search for that person. Be that person for others. Reflect the love of Jesus on campus in practical, but unexpected ways.

That’s Geoffrey. He showed up early to help us set up for our Alpha Course. Cause he wants to be more like Jesus.

Embrace whimsy

Some of you make be thinking. Geoffrey’s not real. Why is he giving us advice? To which I respond you need to back off (in Christian love).  

But really, college and this time of transition creates enough serious moments for all of us. Learn to master the art of embracing whimsy. Sometimes it’s exactly what people need.

Live. Laugh. Smile.

All the time. Or at least most of the time.

Figure out who Jesus is to you

There’s a part in the New Testament where Jesus asks his friend Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” To which Peter responded…

Yeah, I’m not gonna tell you what Peter said. Because it’s easy to base our opinion of Jesus on what other people say (even with our best intentions). We build our faith around great things like joining small groups and going to Church and Chi Alpha, but what would you say if Jesus asked you that question?

It’s okay if you don’t know the answer yet. But chew on it a lot these next four years when you have a spiritual family who can help you figure that out.

Your time in college is limited

Yes, that’s not exactly a tip and more a depressing statement. And yup. That’s a minute glass Geoffrey is holding. He really knows how to go for the jugular (in the most friendly way because giraffes would never hurt anybody).

It’s sad, but true. In 4 years you will be gone. And 4 years after that, all the students who knew you here will be gone as well. Which has the potential to be an extremely depressing thought. But you are given a great opportunity. And it starts with this question: are you here to make a difference or are you here to make a name?

The latter ends when you leave. But the former lives on in the lives that you touch. When I was a freshman, I had two small group leaders: Anna and Rob. If you’re a Georgetown student reading this, then you’ve probably never heard of them. But they inspired me to be a small group leader for others. And the cycle continues. And through Jesus, the outward reflection of what God has done in you creates a legacy that is bigger than yourself.

Be someone’s Rob and Anna.

AuthorBlane Young

The first time a student asked me for advice I was terrified. Sitting at that park bench in the hot Florida sun I began to sweat more than usual. I'd been approved as a Campus Missionary in Training just a few weeks before, but in that moment my words failed and my title seemed irrelevant. Of course I'd talked through problems with friends before, but never with someone who sought me out as a minister. To this day I can't remember what I told them to do, but their life didn't enter a downward spiral so I suppose it couldn't have been that bad. 

Written by Jon Rice

Written by Jon Rice

Now after 11 years of full time college ministry the advice they seek seems less daunting and more familiar. I also found some of the advice transcends the question and gets repeated in multiple contexts. Of all the things I've said to students, the thing I find myself repeating more often than not is simply that they are not alone. It's been articulated hundreds of different ways, but it means the same thing every time; you aren't alone in what you face. It's the greatest fear we have and the one thing Jesus guaranteed the disciples and all of us just before he slipped through the clouds.

Whether facing the darkest night of our soul or the best day of our life, we don't want to be alone. The knowledge that Jesus is with us in our extremes and still walks with us through our daily routine has a liberating effect. It helps remind us that it's not all up to us, we don't have to have all the answers or be perfect, and someone's with us who knows better than we do how we feel. It's comforting to think back to that moment on the bench and realize even then, in the midst of my fear, I was never alone. 

AuthorBlane Young