For Men

How Freshmen Guys Can Prepare for The First Year of College

Hey Freshman Dude,

Your bags are packed, your dorm room supplies have been purchased and your mom has been crying for almost a week now. That’s right – it’s time to go to college.

And as you leave, you may not  know it yet, but you need me. Well, maybe not me specifically, but you need someone like me. And I know that because I know you. In fact, I used to be you.

I know how hard it is to figure out who you’re going to eat dinner with the first night on campus after your parents leave. I understand how awkward it is to share a bathroom with a bunch of other guys whose names you don’t even know.

I’m aware of what it means to avoid that communal shower in the morning so you can have 15 more minutes of precious sleep because you stayed up until 3 a.m. playing video games with your roommates. I get that most mornings you’ll wake up, throw on a snapback and slog across campus to your morning class without the thought of a shower. I know this because I was once a freshman dude.

Your first year of college can be overwhelming, thrilling and exhausting all at the same time. The experience is weird because your world seems to grow exponentially every day on campus. And while the universe expands, you wonder how high school seemed so big to you only a few months ago.

New opportunities, new friends and new social environments can start to mold you into someone you may not want to become. It can even get to the point that you might look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the semester and wonder, “Who am I?”

Compromise seems to offer itself to you with every red-plastic-cup-laden Friday night and every scantily clad pretty girl catching your eye from across the crowded party. Nearly every environment you’re in from your Psychology 101 lecture to the Student Center lounge seems to have an energy unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It can be super easy to ride that wave of bustling electricity and adrenaline toward Compromise’s doorstep, which is precisely why I told you that you require someone like me.

You need a guy who has trod the path before you. Someone to throw their arm around your shoulders (either figuratively or literally) and walk you through the potential field of landmines that could be your freshman year. It’s important to recognize your need here because the hazards are quite real. Your blind spots are, by nature, blind and you need a guy who’s older than you to help navigate your life through the areas of danger.

I’m not trying to be melodramatic. Just honest. The decisions you make this year will more than likely color the remainder of your college career and set you on a course that defines who you become in the future.

First, you make your choices. Then, your choices make you. It’s imperative you choose wisely.

And because of the constant noise from everything pawing for your attention, choosing Jesus can seem profoundly difficult in an environment like college. You can easily go from worshipping Him to worshipping anything and everything else that appears appealing in the moment.

Sure, the word ‘worship’ implies a distinctly religious connotation. But in reality, every student on your campus is worshipping.

They all bow their knee to someone or something, whether it be God, pleasure, a girlfriend, the right career or a sense of significance.

Everybody worships. And you will too.

Remember you don’t have to fight the battle alone as the university culture continually attempts to squeeze you into the mold of a college dude cliche.

The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. There are men who can offer you a clear voice of reason and act as that oh-so-important person to lean on when the culture squeeze seems unbearable to push against.

You will thrive only in the context of community, so invite someone into your life to keep you focused. It can be an older student from your Cru movement, a Cru staff member, a pastor or even a church member who’s able to offer perspective on walking with Jesus throughout the tempting college years.

Make no mistake about it – you need someone like me.

I know guys typically like to grit their teeth and push through on their own when difficult times come around, but attempts like that in the face of such overwhelming odds will likely end in failure.

As someone who has been in college ministry for 18 years, this is a battle I’ve seen fought many, many times. The men who choose to go it alone and attempt to worship Jesus without the aide of other godly men in their lives usually fail. They just do.

However, the guys who seek out the wisdom of other godly men who have gone before them find themselves with a bond of brotherhood unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. The lasting bonds of Christ-honoring friendship are often born in the common struggle against sin and apathy. And the natural byproduct of that combat is godliness in Christ Jesus.

First, you make your choices. Then, your choices make you. Choose wisely, man, because wisdom is something you’ll never regret, unlike that credit card you signed up for to get a free T-shirt.

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