I have always thought of college as some kind of foreign experience that I will go through years from now, but a scary realization recently hit me. Since I just finished my junior year at St. Joseph High School in Conway, I am soon going to be faced with choosing the university where I will spend the next four years of my life while I am preparing for my future career in nursing. With this new lifestyle, there will be additional choices I will have to make.
I know I will not be alone because nearly all new graduates find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, where they will make important decisions that will impact their futures. All of these students will also encounter new people, places and experiences as they begin their collegiate education. We worry that we might not pass a challenging class, fail to make new friends, struggle to graduate from college or find ourselves without a job.
For many of us, these ideas are scary, and I believe that it is wise for us to discuss our concerns and plans with God. This is something that some college students forget about while living their new independent lives, but we all know prayer is just as essential during college as any other time in a person’s life, especially because many of us are living away from our family and friends.
However, I have faith that once we accept our college diplomas, we will understand that the journey was worth it, and we hope to find that we have grown, not only as individuals, but also as Catholics.
The importance of our relationship with Christ and our Catholic faith should not be underestimated. Knowing that we will face difficulties is frightening, but knowing that God is with us and is there to guide us is comforting. We are not going to be alone. It is important for all new graduates to realize that time spent reflecting and meditating can lead to revelations that only God can give us through his insight, which can help to assure us that we are making good choices. We have to rely on our faith and believe that God will direct us to what he wants us to do, if we will only listen. Through prayer, meditation and scripture, he can tell us how to live so that we may become faithful Christ-like people, and use our faith to minister to those we come in contact with, both in college and later in our careers.
I pray for God’s guidance whenever I am faced with something difficult, like what classes I should take to prepare myself for a major in nursing and when trying to decide which university will provide me with the skills I need to be successful in my career. Because of the increased responsibilities and accountability that will come with college, I know that I will have to continue to keep my focus on God by developing a stronger prayer life and relationship with him.
I trust that the Lord will help me through what will be a very challenging and demanding time of my life, and I believe he will help every college student, as long as we pray for him to give us the wisdom and guidance we will need.
I think that for some college students, it is easy to get lost in all of the new excitement and challenges that come with living away from home, and some fail to keep their faith the priority it should be. Freshmen typically face new kinds of teachers, friends and pressures that they have never before experienced, and I am sure that I will be no exception.
If I become afraid or begin to doubt myself, I’m going to remember that Christ is with me everywhere I have been, everywhere I go and everywhere I will go. I believe Christ will be with all of us throughout our senior year, college, careers and our personal lives until we join him in heaven.
Just as we are preparing for college by taking challenging classes in high school, making college visits and meeting with our guidance counselors, I also believe that we should be thinking of ways to make sure our Catholic faith grows by visiting Catholic Campus Ministry programs and finding Catholic churches we can attend if we leave Conway during college. I think developing a support system of people who share our Catholic values will help us immeasurably.
It is both exhilarating and a little terrifying to think that the decisions we are going to make during the course of our senior year will lead us to deciding which college we will call home for the next several years and, ultimately, which career we will choose.
Like my classmates, I am excited to see what the future holds, but when those moments of uncertainty creep in, I will remind myself that I will never be alone because God is there to walk with me every step of the way.
Brent Yrle is a rising senior at St. Joseph High School in Conway. He attends St. Joseph Church.
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