Blog | Topic: Community

5 Things to Communicate to Transitioning Students about Drinking

Drinking_slideshowThe Wall Street Journal reported on new statistics concerning college student drinking. It appears that the abuse of alcohol could be on the decline. According to the article in The Wall Street Journal: “About 37% of  college students engage in binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks in a row during the preceding two weeks, according to 2009 data from a long-term study at the University of Michigan. That is down about 3% from 2008 levels, but still higher than high-school seniors and young adults who don’t attend college.” The colleges that have been able to curtail binge drinking on campus are those that are providing non-drinking, entertaining events for students. More and more students seem to be craving an alternative to “party scene.”

Many students that you know and love are planning to head off to college this fall. Some students may be nervous about the college cultural expectations to “go wild,” and have questions about how to resist the temptations that lie ahead. As you engage in conversations with college-bound students about drinking, here are five things to be sure to communicate…

Download the article (.pdf) here.

Read more articles here.

View comments

Finding Christian Community: 5 Ways to Help Students Connect

Community_slideshowOne of my favorite questions to ask current college students or recently graduated college students is this: what was the best piece of advice you were given before going to college? Here’s a response I received a few weeks ago at a picnic. Between bites of nachos, the student said: “My youth pastor told me to be intentional about finding Christian community. He was so emphatic about it that I remember frantically walking around campus asking everyone I met if they knew about any Christian groups on campus. One of the first people I talked to was a Christian and she’s one of my best friends today. Together we were able to find a group and get connected to a church.” This story reminds us of two things we all need to know about students transitioning to college.

First, the first two weeks of college are critical. Nationally, 25 percent of students do not return to the same school for their sophomore year. On a recent trip to a large Midwestern State University, I learned that this university has been able to reduce that number to 3-4 percent. They’ve found that students transition better and remain at their university longer if the students find good, supportive community quickly. The university leadership recognized that there were only two prominent scenarios for incoming students. Some students would look to the party scene to find friends. While this did provide community, it wasn’t the most beneficial. Other students would fall through the cracks, not really getting involved on campus during the week and going home on the weekends. The university responded by pouring more funding and energy into first-year programs. Helping students find a place to belong has made all the difference in the world in their retention rates.

Second, the opening story reminds us that Christians need to intentionally seek out Christian community on campus. Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute estimates that 40 percent of Christian students do not get connected to Christian community while in college. During the first few weeks of college, students are bombarded with different activities to fill their schedules. Everything is new: people, buildings, class, meal times. Many students are navigating these daily activities on their own for the first time. It’s easy to drop worship and “Bible study” from an already hectic schedule.

What can be done to help students make wise decisions in how they spend their time and who they spend it with? Are there steps that can be taken by youth workers and parents to assist in this transition? What follows are five suggestions to help students connect to Christian community on campus…

Download the full article(.pdf) here.

View comments

Learning from the Tribe: Basketball, Community and Wendell Berry

DHS 1996The response to my article “Learning from the Tribe” in the Lancaster Sunday News has been encouraging and inspiring, to say the least. I’m grateful to hear that people have been genuinely touched by my reflection on the Donegal High School boys’ basketball team’s run toward a state championship. I’m even more thankful for the many emails I’ve received expressing how much this basketball season meant to others in the community. Here’s just a sample:

“Thank you for submitting the article and expressing how many of us felt this season. We have a special school and community.”

“It is so true how sports are a microcosm of life. There is so much to be valued when you are part of something so special.”

“Pride will follow the tears and as you know in years to come the memories of what we all just saw will be forever ingrained in the minds of every member of that team.”

“Our community was reminded that it can still be done the right way… That team reminded me that we can be on the same page about things that are genuinely good.”

“We had not attended a Donegal basketball game since our son and you played and wish we had attended more. We have had a great two months following these young men… Last Tuesday in Reading was the most exciting sporting event I have ever attended. I could ramble on about all the friends, classmates and Donegal alumni this team has brought together.”

“I was in 7th grade when Donegal opened its doors and the community was pulled together by another very good basketball team in the first year of the school’s existence… You captured the essence of what occurs when something good comes along to rally around.”

Readers of this blog may not be aware of two major influences of my life: basketball and the town where I live, Mount Joy, PA. This year I was reminded of how much both basketball and this community means to me. My article was an expression of gratitude.

Another major influence has been the writer Wendell Berry. I refer to his essay “The Work of Local Culture” which is found in a book entitled What Are People For? I highly recommend anything by Wendell Berry, particularly my favorite novels Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter and The Memory of Old Jack. For what it is worth, I think the best book about the significance of Wendell Berry is Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life by my friends J. Matthew Bonzo and Michael Stevens.

View comments