Advice for a New LDS College Student

Our oldest is leaving for college soon and the following is one of the final Family Home Evening lessons we had with her with parting advice from me and my wife. The points are directed primarily to our recently graduated high school student heading off to college, but the principles are applicable to our whole family. If they are of interest to you or your family, please use the lesson and share it with others.

1. Take Your Studies Seriously

The Lord commanded us to learn “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; …things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations; …and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—That ye may be prepared in all things.” (D&C 88: 79-80)

  • College classes will take more effort than high school
  • A week into my freshman year, I wrote this is my journal: “All my classes are going well. I don’t foresee any of them being too difficult.” I got the worst grades of my college career that semester. I thought I could make as good of grades as I did in high school with the same effort. I was wrong.
  • Attend class. Be on time. Do your homework.
  • Admit when you’re having trouble. Go to study groups and/or get a tutor if necessary.

2. Participate Actively in Your Student Ward

“They did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.” (4 Nephi 1:12)

  • Attend your Sunday meetings
  • Go to ward activities, firesides, and devotionals
  • Magnify your callings
  • Attend your Family Home Evening group

3. Serve Those Around You

“Ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Gal 5:13)

  • I like this scripture because at college, you will have newfound liberty and freedom over your life. Don’t just use that liberty to serve yourself. Serve others.
  • We go to college to be better prepared to serve in our communities and throughout the world but don’t wait until graduation to start
  • Take opportunities to get involved in service organizations: clubs, student government, mentoring, service projects, etc.
  • Often just reaching out and being a friend to others is one of the greatest acts of service

4. Take Advantage of the Unique Things Offered in the Community

“The earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, … witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” (Alma 30:44)
“Praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” (D&C 136:28)

  • If there is a temple nearby, visit it often and enter for ordinance work when you can
  • See the natural beauty of the state / areas around you: Mountains, lakes, hikes, rivers, canyons, national parks, etc.
  • Take in cultural events from the community around you: The symphony, plays, museums, improv shows, concerts, etc.
  • Use college athletic facilities for exercise & comradery: Sports facilities, swimming, racquetball, weightlifting, track and field, etc.

5. Be a Good Roommate

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:” (Matt 7:12)
“As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)
“Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” (1 Pet 3:8)

  • Clean up after yourself. Don’t steal your roommates’ food 😉
  • Don’t be inappropriately loud or disruptive
  • Befriend a roommate who might be shy. Include everyone you can in activities.
  • Be a good example to your roommates.
  • Create a good environment in your apartment: Music, Television and Movies, Decorations, etc.

6. Stand Up for Your Integrity, But Be Humble About It

“For I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.” (About Hyrum Smith in D&C 124:15)
“Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.” (D&C 112:10)

  • Stand up for what is right and good.
  • Don’t ever be afraid to speak the truth, in class or other circumstances
  • Don’t ever compromise your integrity for a grade
  • Only date people with the highest standards
  • Be confident, yet humble

7. Establish Good, Healthy Habits

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God. …Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:119,124)

  • Develop plans (“systems” per Scott Adams) to achieve goals
  • A goal without a plan to achieve is only wishful thinking
  • Set goals and plans for: academics, physical health, making friends, preparing for a mission, etc.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up early
  • Pray morning and night, and study words of the prophets daily
  • Go church on Sunday and keep the Sabbath Day holy
  • Find a healthy balance of spiritual, academic, and social life

8. Be Careful of Burnout: Mental, Physical, and Emotional

“And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” (Mosiah 4:27)

  • Be diligent and hard working, but try not to bite off more than you can chew
  • College students often don’t have much experience dealing with frustration, loneliness, or disappointment
  • Be mindful and recognize if you are over doing it or getting too stressed
  • Develop coping skills: Calling a friend (or mom!), exercising, writing in a journal, or engaging in a hobby are strategies that help regulate emotions in a healthy way

9. Prioritize Eternal Things and Follow the Spirit of God

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (3 Nephi 13:33)
“For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:5)

  • Make a priority of things with eternal significance
  • Seek and follow the Spirit of God: More important than my advice is to follow the Spirit of God
  • Always do what it takes to have the Spirit of God as your guide: Keep your covenants, follow the prophets, daily scripture study and prayer, temple attendance as you can, etc.

10. Know Who You Are and Whose You Are

“We are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17)
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” (John 15:16)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

  • Know that you are loved by your earthly and Heavenly parents
  • Know that we trust you and have confidence in you
  • Stay in touch. We are just a phone call away (or text or email or social media post)
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