By Trey Faull
College is a big change. Growing up in one town, attending one high school, and growing up in one church for 18 years was a lot of familiarity to leave behind as I traveled to Cincinnati to begin studying at Cincinnati Christian University (CCU). However, I didn’t prepare for this big transition to college all by myself. My parents and mentors played an integral role in preparing me to fly the nest.
Those Who Prepared Me
My parents were monumental in the things they did to get me ready for college. I attended the same university as my dad (he went a long time ago!), and he was constantly telling me stories of his “glory days.” He created in me a longing and desire to have the college experience that he once had and still holds so dear.
My mother is a wonderful woman (Dad married way out of his league), and she was my steady rock through all of this. She kept my feet on the ground. She pushed me toward the details—look for scholarships, stay up on applications, and do not be afraid to ask anyone anything. It is a new experience; you should have those questions. Those questions will save your life.
The two of them balanced well. My dad created the appeal and draw of college while my mom held me accountable to taking the steps necessary to experience that joy. They didn’t talk about being far away or missing me to the point that it discouraged me. It was a healthy balance of excitement and reality.
My mentors also helped get me ready for the real world. They made me work hard, challenged me, and showed me how to think through unexpected issues. By trusting me with these responsibilities, it prepared me for the transition to be on my own without Mom and Dad.
My mentors filled out references, told me stories, answered questions, and helped get me excited for the transition. One specific mentor even told me of all the different organizations that awarded him scholarships and encouraged me to pursue them as well (some of the best information I’ve ever received). My mentors set me up for success because they had already blazed the college trail.
How You Can Prepare Others
Seeing as I’ve never intentionally helped a student transition from high school to college, I can only speak to what I observed others doing for me. If you have students in your life, my perspective is this:
Parents, create a sense of positivity and expectation about college. Hold your students accountable to reach that wonder by staying on top of applications, asking questions, and encouraging them in their endeavors. Mentors, give your students responsibility, be truthful with them, and show them how you personally prepared for college.
The day my parents dropped me off at CCU, I remember feeling a strange, terrified, and excited sense of reality as I walked to my first freshman activity. That night I received an email from my dad with his personal 10 commandments that he thought I should keep in mind as I tried to navigate the college experience. I won’t write them all, but his tenth commandment said, “Remember who you are—and whose you are.”
At the end of the day, it was so important that I knew that God, my parents, and my family loved me. It was important that I knew that I was a child of God and that no matter where I went or what I did, my identity and purpose was found in him. As a student going off to the unknown of college, knowing who you are is vitally important. Let your students know they are capable of many things—but more importantly, do not let them forget whose they are.
Trey Faull is a recent graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and will be doing ministry in Quincy, Massachusetts.