Advice for first-year students is easy. But what about advice for young Christian students?
The other day a recent high school grad asked me for some advice as she begins her first year of university at my alma mater. But it’s been 20 years since I graduated from university! Can I summon up any memories that are even remotely relevant?
Well, thanks to Gen Z I’ve noticed my university wardrobe is back in fashion! Yeah, I finished high school in 1998, right on the brink of the Y2K craze. How I’ve missed baggy pants and baby tees. But dial-up internet, not so much.
I remember my very first week of school—bank reps were on campus and they were giving out free “York University” bucket hats if you signed up for a credit card! I wore mine proudly! Thankfully I was careful (paid off the balance in full each month)—the same advice shared by Maynard in Faith Speaks, by the way.
I enjoyed almost everything about university. The anonymity. The freedom. New environment. New peers. New teachers. New challenges.
It was a lot to navigate. But I was welcomed by so many different groups and resources. I could meet with counselors to help me register for courses or bursaries and financial aid. And I could sign up for extra help from professors and teaching assistants. I was also welcome to join different student groups—such as the Asian student association, the Jamaican student association, the Greek student association—it didn’t matter where I was from, all were welcome.
So, what didn’t I like about university? Advice for first-year students was easy to find, but it wasn’t always helpful, it wasn’t always Christian.
If I was feeling overwhelmed or anxious, were my friends at the Asian student association reminding me to turn to God? Was my young down-to-earth prof advising me to pray?
Student life today…
I have no idea what it’s like to navigate university today, consume content, and engage in social media on 10 gigabit ethernet. But I do know what it’s like to feel that “fitting in” means denying the true Gospel. Throughout university, I faced a steady stream of ideas that contradicted what I, as a member of the Church Of Christ, know is right.
The best thing I learned as a university student? It wasn’t learned at university. Sure, I was welcome to join a wide variety of student groups and sign up for tutoring and counseling. But God’s office hours are 24/7. The warmest welcome was into the help only He can provide. And He’s always providing us with ways we can receive the right advice: Christian advice.
So, I tried to stay grounded by making sure I continued in my duties as a choir member, and I’d try to spend some extra time at the chapel to pray.
These days, it’s even easier to hear Christian advice from ministers of the gospel in the Church Of Christ. Not only are there more and more congregations of the Church Of Christ, but there is also a lot of helpful content on incmedia.org.
Here are their favorite lessons:
Laura Bridgette Ibanez, 20, Montreal, Quebec
Program: Major in Accounting, Minor in Communication Studies
“I love all the VOTWs (Verse of the Week). They’re like pocket-size counseling.
Be Content With What You Have is the most applicable to where I am right now. Before I ventured into the world of business studies, I’d always felt uncomfortable with (and a little upset by) the concept of business. I felt like it was centered around the desire for more—for taking and not giving—all the time. As I’m studying it now (I’m majoring in Accounting), I do come across that profit-driven mindset in my environment a lot with my classmates, my teachers, and our learning material.
This particular Verse of the Week helps me be more courageous with my education. Yes, I’m studying business, but I don’t have to share the majority’s mindset on it. Because I’m not super caught up in the race for riches, I can focus on making a model of my own, with goals like empowering others and values like integrity. It reminds me that I don’t have to worry about my material needs…God will take care of them.”
I just found it super reassuring, because God knows what that ‘enough’ is for you. He knows our own unique limits and will cater His blessings to us individually. He gives me what is right for me.”
Camille Deu, 26, Windsor, Ontario
School: University of Windsor
“Law made me question a lot of things. I [felt] like my future looked a bit unclear, I felt a bit of imposter syndrome. But hearing this Verse of the Week, I have hope. Because I do think God intended this path for me but if not, He has something good in store.
It’s helped ground me a bit—I have a tendency to worry or panic, especially whenever I think about my future. It’s also sometimes embarrassing to ask professors or peers for help or guidance on how to better progress in my studies/career. It’s like there’s an assumption that you have to know what you’re doing from the very start. And everyone seems to know what they’re doing whereas I sometimes ask myself if I’m pursuing the right path.
So with prayer, I feel relief and I don’t have the pressure of knowing the answers (or if I’m taking the right path) because I believe that with each step I take, He’s guiding me through it. With Him, I don’t need to know what lies ahead. Instead, I have the hope that I’ll be okay and [that] what He has planned for me is good and I’ll be happy. All I have to do is keep on enduring school, performing my duties, and keep being a good girl. Basically, just keep on keeping on.”
Aldus Manalo, 28, Toronto, Ontario
School: Humber College
Program: Advertising and Graphic Design
Aldus Manalo moved to Toronto, Ontario, from the Philippines to study at Humber College as an international student. He admitted that he’s not the type of person that likes to leave his comfort zone. So moving over 8,000 miles away to a new country during the pandemic is something he considers “a truly big leap of faith for me.”
“But what I always keep in mind is that, as long as I uphold my membership in the Church Of Christ, especially my duty, and actively perform them, I’ll be fine.
Through technology and social media, I have kept my communication with my family. But the brethren, and my fellow officers in CWS (Children’s Worship Service) and choir, eased my separation anxiety from my family.
It’s really difficult for me because I’m doing part-time work, and multiple online freelance jobs, so I somehow [make] ends meet. I have goals and aspirations in life that don’t go as planned. But I believe that it is God who has better plans than mine.”
Kyleen Urtola, Washington, DC
Program: General Studies
“Anyone who listens to this Verse of the Week can think about how they might need rescuing.
When did I need rescuing? Although I want to study Architecture, I’m starting with General Studies at a community college. So I sometimes lack motivation and need inspiration. I try to tell myself that my current studies will eventually help me in the long run. I just need to put in the work and be patient for long-term results.
But, sometimes I find myself testing God’s goodness. I haven’t always had good self-discipline. I [attend] school online, and I have a hard time trying to turn things in. I was reminded through this Verse of the Week to trust that God will rescue me if my faith comes with works.”
McGill Onate, 19, Toronto, Ontario
School: Toronto Film School
Program: Video Game Design & Animation
These stood out to me because these are the ones I’ve seen already, and they were very timely for me. We know how God works: we’ll have a problem in our life and He shows us the way how to overcome it.
During the time that these Verse of the Weeks [were] released, I fell short on these things: being a true friend, and keeping calm. I felt very emotional at this time and acted foolish which caused me to lose friends. After watching these Verse of the Weeks I learned I shouldn’t make big decisions when I’m hot-tempered, and I should be a true friend to those I love.”
Make your own playlist
If you follow @Bible.verses.inc on Instagram, you might find yourself saving your favorite posts including Verse of the Week videos. Take it a step further and make your own Verse Of The Week playlist on Youtube!