With Skill and Kindness

Helping Students Transition to College

As the page turns to a new year on the calendar, you may have noticed that there are many families feeling the pressures of looming high school graduation, navigating the college choice and preparing for the transition to life beyond high school. You, as their pastor, have the blessing of ministering to these families.


What do you share with these families that seek your counsel? Perhaps you can relate to this advice given by a college graduate just a few years out:

I would tell them to prepare, to plan ahead. When you go away to college, you don′t say "I′m going to leave, I want to go here," and just pack your bag and go. You learn about it, you find out what the environment is going to be like, if you′re going to need to prepare for the weather. If you′re going to do that amount of preparing for moving, your faith needs the same kind of preparation. Look into what the college environment is doing to provide for you positively, and maybe expose you to negatively, and prepare for all of that. Know your faith and be willing and strong enough to let it be challenged. - Luke (Clark, Chap and Kara Powell. Sticky Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011)

Dr. Mike Loomis, Geneva′s Dean of Students, writes,

When Geneva uses the phrase accept the challenge, we are calling students into an intentional Christian learning community that offers a wide range of opportunities to learn and grow. Thriving at Geneva can be accomplished through a series of intentional decision and commitments, including, but not limited to:

  • Fully engaging one′s classes and professors, as well as the many learning opportunities out of the classroom
  • Getting involved on campus: in the residence hall, Bible studies, mentoring groups, an athletic team, a music group, intramural sports, academic and/or social clubs, leadership positions, service opportunities, and the like
  • Putting yourself in a position that will push and challenge you, which would certainly include the things listed above, but might also include: academic internships, summer jobs/internships, tutoring, spending a semester studying abroad, short-term missions trips, leadership conferences, spiritual conferences and retreats, and any of the co-curricular programs offered throughout the year

(To read Dr. Loomis′ article "Encourage Your Students: Don′t Just Survive Your College Years, Thrive!" in its entirety, click here.)

As your church considers ways to support your high school and college students, as well as Christian higher education, please consider this testimony from Pastor Mark Brown:

Our congregation, Westminster OPC of Hollidaysburg, PA, supports Geneva in four ways. First, we pray for the Lord God to bless Geneva with godly faculty and serious Christian students. Second, we encourage our young people to consider Geneva as one of their options for higher education. Third, we participate in the Church Matching Scholarship program through our Deacons′ Scholarship Fund. This is a wonderful way to expand your benevolence giving by helping both your student and Geneva at the same time.

Geneva College′s mission is student-focused, emphasizing Christ, comprehensive education, and service to God and neighbor. Please contact me if you would like to learn more about Geneva College or share stories of ways that you have helped to impact students transitioning to college.

Becky Phillips Becky (Carson ′85) Phillips
Associate Director of Church and Parent Relations

December 2013

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