Though this can be anxiety-provoking and overwhelming, we can take comfort and trust in our Lord, who is a steady, unchanging Rock.
“For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" (2 Samuel 22:32).
New age group
Moving up to university (generally) signifies a change in age group, transitioning into adulthood in amongst all the other changes that come at this stage in life.
As you begin to experience these changes, some of you will find difficulty adapting and others won't. God in His wisdom gives us all different personalities and strengths; we are the work of His hands (Isaiah 64:8) and He moves to meet our needs, whatever they are and however we encounter them. Whatever your university journey is like, God is always with you (Deuteronomy 31:6,8).
There are new responsibilities that emerge at this stage of life, with you becoming less reliant on your parents or caregivers. From cooking your dinner to directing your church-going habits there are things that may become solely your responsibility, especially if you have moved away for university.
I want to stress, though, that the people who have supported you up until now, whether that be family, friends, or other Christians, do not disappear just because you are “growing up”. These people are still there to help you through the learning curves and difficulties you might experience. Although you will naturally be taking on new responsibilities, the people passing these on still want to help you. Use them, draw from their knowledge and experience. Above all, though, remember that God never changes; He is a constant Rock we can depend on (Psalm 18:2).
New education setting
As you move through this new education setting it's easy to be swept up in the busyness and newness around you. Keep on clinging to that Rock, He will keep you grounded and able to enjoy the newness in a way that is glorifying to Him.
"Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Opportunities will arise and it will be your choice how to respond to them. I let many go by –instead of engaging in conversation with a classmate who was disparaging a Christian involved in a legal battle, I talked to my Christian friend about it afterwards. Other opportunities I used, for example when we were asked to each take something to a seminar that was important to our identity, I took my Bible. Those opportunities I let pass by were, at best, of no benefit to me, and brought no glory to God, but those I did take opened up the potential for blessing and encouragement.
This stage of life also inevitably brings new temptations. As you become less sheltered you are likely to be exposed to the involvement of people around you in things not appropriate for a Christian. Instead of listing all the “don'ts” let me draw your attention to the instruction of Philippians 4:8: "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things”.
There is much you could engage in at university which would be dishonouring to God and harmful to your reputation; however, it also brings new opportunities to grow your relationship with Him. A good test is to look at your actions and activities through the lens of Philippians 4:8. Is what you are doing noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, or praiseworthy.
New ways to spend your time
At university you will have to prioritise in a way you probably never have before. There are new demands on your time with classes, coursework and a social life to maintain. Prioritising has a long-term impact. I didn't do this well to begin with, and learned that conscious, purposeful decisions were needed to ensure I was making time for what was important. Make a habit of prioritising biblical activities; this will only serve to enrich your experience of university, not to detract from it.
"If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy." Elisabeth Elliot
Much of what I've said in this article you'll have likely heard before. It's nothing new, but instead of dismissing it I encourage you to let it re-confirm that which you've already learned from others and from the Bible.
In a previous article about the move to university I encouraged you to foster a deep friendship with the Lord Jesus. I want to emphasise this again; it is through a relationship with Christ that you will be able to successfully navigate through all the newness that university brings.