This weekend, two of my favorite nieces, Mattianne Sparks and Song Nicholas will graduate from high school. They have had the best of teachers throughout their primary, middle and high school years: their parents. They are both headed for Freed Hardeman University and both have already received scholarships and have applied for and are hoping to receive additional scholarship funds. They are Christians—faithful followers of our Lord—and they are exemplary in their demeanor. Mattianne’s also a great catcher (and hitter) on her softball team. She has influenced non-Christians to attend services with her when traveling with the team. (She’s unwilling to travel and play at the expense of attending worship faithfully.) She is also a teacher of two-year-olds in a local Christian pre-school. Song’s an asset to her volleyball team, loves to play the mandolin and has been bold in her stand for modest dress and godly entertainment choices, even in situations where that “truth in love” stand was not popular. They’re both going to love college and be successful in whatever paths they take, because they understand the meaning of true success (“living your life and going to heaven”). They don’t need my advice, but they know I’m bossy, so here are a few unsolicited tips for my two favorite FHU 2015 freshmen:
- Be nice to everybody, especially those who seem to have few friends and a hard time “fitting in”. Say “hello” to everybody you meet as you walk around campus. Don’t look down at your phone as you walk to class. Look in the eyes of people you meet and say “hi”. You will miss so much if you’re looking down. You may even miss a relationship that could bring you much joy.
- Go to Gano (the cafeteria) alone sometimes. It’s fun and a temptation to always go with a big group of girls. But you’ll meet more people and, maybe even meet the man of your dreams, if you go alone sometimes (unless, that is, you have already met him). It’s okay to look a little lonely every now and then. You’ll be surprised at some of the new people and conversations that will come your way. Oh, and take different path from your dorm to Brown-Kopel or the Gardner Center every now and then. There’s lots of different ways to go, so mix it up. Remember, the adventure is in the “mix-up”.
- Sit in the front of your classes, when you get to choose. It’s harder to get distracted and your teacher will engage you more and remember you better. It helps the GPA.
- Take a light load the first semester. Lots of changes and challenges are coming your way. It’s better to wade into college life than to dive into the deep end.
- Wait till after the first semester to pick a major. You will have more information and find out a lot about yourself between August and January. You can get a lot of those general education classes that are required for all majors out of the way. Take care to not miss the great Bible teachers while you are there. I know several that you’ll be very blessed by choosing.
- Try hard to NOT stay up till two or three or four a.m. every night. All your friends will be doing it, but, you can really get into a routine of sleeping in class when you get into that habit. Bad for the GPA.
- Remember the sacrifices of your parents and donors who are making your schooling possible. There’s a debt you owe—a responsibility to give your best effort.
- Show gratitude. Always write thank-you notes to those people who show you kindness. Write a thank you note to each professor at the end of each term. It’s very Biblical, it’s very thoughtful and it will also help you to develop good relationships with people with whom you will do well to be friends. Write a thank you note to every foundation or organization each time you are awarded a scholarship, no matter how small. And write letters home to thank your mom and dad every now and then. Write Piedaddy a short letter every semester or so, too…and your other grandparents. They are all so proud of you.
- Make the most of chapel. You will have this amazing chance to worship God for a short time every day with hundreds of young Christians. How many college students get to do that?! Worship him every day in spirit and truth. There will be some around you who are uninterested. Don’t let them embarrass or discourage you. Give Him your best. He gave you Calvary!
- Don’t let anyone take away your allegiance to simple New Testament Christianity—your determination to be a part of the one true church, to worship the way the church of the New Testament worshiped and to cling to truth. So many students come from homes and congregations in which truth has been “watered down” in relativism and denominationalism has been accepted. Beware of those who may be critical of the restoration plea and critical of those who believe we can know and obey truth. Choose and place your membership in a church where truth is taught plainly and sound elders are committed to feeding the flock. Then ask those elders what you can do to stay involved. Teach a class, be a part of a visitation team. Learn to love elderly people in that church. And, whenever you see Dr. Gardner, engage him in conversation. He will bless your college experience.
Song and Matti, I know that I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know. I know you already have plans to be the best you can be, because you already love Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. He’s been making your decisions for you for a long time. So just keep doing what you’ve been doing all along: seeking first the kingdom and giving Him the glory. I daresay you will have classmates who are helped along to heaven for having known you.
Your uncle Glenn and I love you both very, very much!