As a recent college graduate, it's been almost 4 years since my parents dropped me off at college. I had been counting down the days to move-in day for months. My roommate and I had planned our room in coordinating colors. All my belongings were packed and my books were bought. I was ready for college.
I didn't realize it at the time, but my parents had been setting me up for more than just academic success in college. From the time I was a child, they were preparing me to take a new ownership of my faith when they dropped me off at college and I would no longer be living in their home. According to a survey done by Barna, approximately 59% of professing Christian teens will denounce their faith by the time they graduate college. In college, I experienced challenges in my faith. But I faced those challenges and they strengthened my resolve in Christ.
Looking back, here are some simple steps my parents took to encourage me.
- We went to church together during move-in weekend. Find a church, whether it's on-campus or near campus, that your child can attend regularly during the semester and go there together. The first time going to a new church can be intimidating; you can circumnavigate this by attending together.
- They introduced themselves, and me, to my campus minister. I will never forget how embarrassed I was when my parents marched up to the campus minister and introduced me to him. But this was very beneficial to me; it's good to have someone in ministry who can call you by name.
- They gave me a new devotional. You may have already gotten all your child's textbooks, but you can also set your child up to have a good prayer life in college. Talk about how busy they'll get and ways to make prayer a priority in college.
- They helped me incorporate faith in my dorm decor. My roommate and I may have gone overboard in this (if that's possible), but all of our decor served as a daily reminder of Christ's love for us and our love for Him.
- They encouraged me to get involved. They encouraged me to sign up to serve my church in some way. This helped me get to know my peers and my leaders in addition to serving God in His Church.
- They called on Sunday. While it is important for parents to give their kids some space when they move to college, it is still great to receive a call from home. My mom said she would always try to talk to her kids on Sunday evenings so she could ask how church was without being overbearing.
My parents still maintain that the most important thing they did to help me grow in my faith in college is prayer. My parents prayed for me every day, and my mom made sure that I knew I could call or text with any need or prayer request, large or small. And you can bet those prayers were deeply appreciated by the time my first midterms rolled around.
For more guidance on sending your kids to college, check out Axis' College Prep Guide.