An Open Letter to New College Students



By Narcie Jeter, Executive Director and Campus Pastor at Gator Wesley Foundation

I know that some of you have already started the mass exodus as one by one you and your friends leave for college.  Can you believe it’s here?  I know whether you've already started school or not, it carries with it a wide-range of feelings and emotions.  Excitement, apprehension, curiosity, freedom, change, joy, fear, nostalgia, adventure….what will this be like?  My hope is that no matter where you find yourself on the sometimes crazy roller coaster of university life, you will find a community, and hold tight to it. 

My campus minister used to say, “The only way to live life is in community,” and he exemplified that by how he lived his life.  I know you’ll think I’m biased but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to root yourself in your new adopted home.  Get involved on campus.  Explore.

Enjoy every minute that you can of this new step.  I’m sure you've heard the advice “get out of your comfort zone” so many times you want to scream, but I’ll simply say be brave.  Don’t be afraid to take chances.  Don’t be afraid to get your nose out of your cell phone and start a conversation.  During those sometimes awkward or uncomfortable times when you’re not with the people that know your story, the people from back home – take a deep breath and know that it takes time.  Take a risk.  Try churches for a second time or a third time, not only to let your parents know that “you gave it a shot.”  Real community takes time.  It’s not going to be easy. When you share your lives with people it’s messy.  Let your guard down.  Don’t be afraid to show people all of who you are with the cracks and vulnerabilities. 

Find a ministry that’s going to challenge you, nurture you, and love you.

Know that you have people out there that care about you and know you and love you.  Both those that you treasure at home and those that you will meet in the coming days.  Know that you have people to support you throughout this and don’t be afraid to reach out.

Blessings on your journey – may this be a time in your life when you are able to question and search and wrestle, but may it also be a time when you begin to discover the things that make you come alive!  In the midst of academic rigor and residence hall life – may you feel the love and presence of God. 

A song I’ve been jamming to while writing this blog is Sara Bareilles’ “Brave." Watch it below.

More than 700 schools, colleges, and universities around the world share a commitment to the Wesleyan tradition of education. These institutions help students become principled leaders who are equipped to address challenges – whether as a leader of a transnational corporation, the global church, or a local community. These institutions offer a wide variety of challenging academic programs, fun and purposeful co-curricular experiences, and supportive campus communities.

Find out about our affiliated educational institutions, learn how to apply for United Methodist loans and scholarships, and read about our exceptional students here.

We support learning opportunities that change lives. And always have. That's Church.


Students and seminary dean at Seattle Pacific Seminary, a United Methodist University Senate approved school, gather for conversation.


Photo: United Methodist Church Archives - GCAH

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