About Impact

Friday, May 04, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year - Youth Minister Edition


Dear Youth Minister,

I’m well aware your role is to disciple middle school and high school students and build programming in your church that serves them. So I’m sure you are probably thinking, “Why is this campus minister writing me about college freshmen coming home for the summer?” I know it seems a little strange but please just try to keep an open mind.

·      You have influence – One of the first things a campus minister hears about from an incoming freshman is their youth group and their youth minister. I know there are many days you ministered to your students and thought you weren’t making a difference, but you have had an influence. When students think of spiritual mentors “back home”, they think of you. Just because a student has been away at college for a year doesn’t mean that suddenly changes.
·      Follow up – Not every church has ministry specifically focused on college students. Life at home always involved your student ministry and now they may be returning to little or no community life. Imagine communal dorm living to nothing. I’m not asking you to spend your entire summer with the college students who came through your student ministry. Since you have influence in that student’s life, a simple e-mail, a phone call, text message or greeting at church can mean the world to a student who is unsure of the transition of being home.
·      Follow through – I have had way too many students tell me they were blown off, ignored, or stood up by a youth minister. These students love you and still need your mentoring and guidance. If you tell a former student you are going to meet them for coffee or want to hang out with them, DO IT! If you don’t really mean it, don’t say it. Good intentions only hurt students who want a relationship with you!
·      Be a bridge – I know summer can be a very busy season in youth ministry and it can be a struggle to find time to hang out with your current students. The reality is, these returning freshmen do not need to be hanging out with the youth group. They need to build community with a group of peers or people who are closer to their stage of life. Help them find others in your church or community who are in the same place. It is a teaching opportunity for you and a healthy step for them.
·      Encourage them – I’m guessing you may remember what your summer after freshman year was like. It isn’t always easy. Be an encouraging voice.

As a campus minister, we are jealous you get to spend the summer with these students. Sure, everyone likes a break, but campus sure does get boring in the summer. Enjoy the summer with our students. We miss them already.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year - Parent Edition


Dear Parents of a College Freshman,

Congratulations! Your child has survived their first year of college, even if it was just barely. Now they are packing up their dorm rooms, saying goodbye to friends, and selling textbooks for gas money to come home. While you are probably ecstatic to have your baby back home, your baby is probably facing some anxiety about summer break. There is no way in the world I will ever claim to know anything about parenting, however, I do want to share some thoughts you may or may not find helpful as you adjust to your child being back home.

·      Your student is tired – I realize they need a job, sleep until noon, and eat everything in your house AND they’ve done it three days in a row. You’re right, they probably are being lazy, but try to remember they just finished a week of finals. This probably meant at least one or two all night cramming and paper writing sessions, drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much junk food. Then they had to pack up their entire home they’ve known for the school year and cram it in their little car. Give them a little space to rest and then kindly tell them to get a job.
·      Point out the positive – Some students go home convinced that their summer is going to be miserable because their parents are going to tell them what to do at every waking moment. They’ve automatically tuned their ears in to only hear the negative.  Catch them off guard with some positive reinforcement and encouragement. Thank them when they’ve helped around the house or praise them when you can actually see a part of their bedroom floor. It may take some time but eventually their ears won’t be listening for just the negative.
·      Communicate expectations – Your child has spent the entire school year making their own decisions about how to spend their time and resources. They may not have always been the best choices, but they aren’t use to having to tell someone where they are going all the time and what they are doing. Clearly communicate to them from the beginning of the summer what you expect them to do around the house and if they need your permission to go places.
·      Remember they are watching you – You are more aware than anyone else that your child is still learning and developing independence.  Be a good model of relationships, wise choices, and communications. They notice how you respond in situations and looking to you to understand how to practice their independence well. Be patient when they fall short. It is going to happen.

I know you love your child very much. Enjoy the time you have with them this summer. It always goes faster than you think it should.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year - Student Edition


Dear College Freshman,

Congratulations! You finished your first year of college, which most likely means you are now actually a sophomore. I’m sure you are glad to be done with early morning classes, writing papers, and taking finals, but I’m guessing you are also sad you will be leaving your new friends. It might even be safe to say you are experiencing some anxiety or nerves about returning home to live with you parents.  Now I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but I’ve been there. So, I thought I would give you some advice that might come in handy this summer.

·      Obey the house rules – Yes, I know you aren’t a child, but it is still their house.  It might be inconvenient and mostly annoying. You will probably feel at times like you are 12 years old again. It is only a few months and sets a great example for your younger siblings. Yes that means you can’t whine about it then!
·      Help around the house – It doesn’t matter if you had chores or not before you went to college. Simply lending a hand around the house can speak volumes to your parents. They may never say anything to you, but I bet they notice.
·      Communicate! – I’m well aware while you were at college you got to decide what you would do and when you would do it. My guess is it won’t take long before you decide to do something and your parents get upset because you didn’t ask them first. There are a few “tricks” that can help in this area. Instead of saying “I’m going to go…” try “I was thinking about…” or “I want to…does that work with your schedule?” If you start your summer this way, by the end of the summer your parents MAY even tell you there isn’t any need to ask as long as they know where you are.
·      Remember this is hard for them too – Your parents have spent the entire school year with you out of the house and worrying about how you are doing at college. Now their baby is back home and they can breathe a sigh of relief that they know what you are doing.  Just as you are learning to navigate your own life, they are learning how to let you grow up. The bottom line is they love and care for you. Give them a break.
·      Honor your father and mother – Come on! It is one of the Ten Commandments. Remember the choices you make this summer will affect your parents and the amount of tension you will have to live with while you are home. Love them. Honor them.

Enjoy your summer break and the time you have with your family. The books will be calling your name before you know it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year Blog Series


College freshman often find themselves with mixed emotions at this time of the school year. They have survived their first year of college and are getting ready to head back home to spend the next few months with their parents. That first summer can be an incredibly challenging time for both students and parents. This week I'm wanted to share a few thoughts for students, parents and youth ministers that might help the challenges the summer months bring.

Feel free to join the conversation this week. Share your "summer after freshman year" stories or things you learned about those college summer months.