It’s that time of year. Senioritis at school and church is kicking in. Students are ready to coast to the finish-line and make their way to the next chapter of their life story. For many graduating seniors (but not all), the “next step” will be college in the fall. According to recent research by the Fuller Youth Institute only 1 in 7 high school seniors report feeling prepared to face the challenges of college life. How can we engage seniors during the last few months of high school so that they are better prepared for the challenges ahead? What follows are three suggested activities to invite students to think more deeply about this crucial transition (each activity takes about an hour and could work well as three consecutive youth group meetings):
First, create space for better conversations about life after high school. Host a panel discussion with college students and have soon-to-be graduates ask them questions about how they can be better prepared. Consider including older members of the community as well. Have them reflect on their own decisions and transitions when they were about to graduate from high school. Ask people 20+ years removed from college this question: If you could do it all over again, what would you have done differently? Conclude the meeting by giving students the article “Conversations for the College Bound: 10 Talks to Have Before Arriving on Campus.” Have the students discuss the article with the group.
What conversation(s) stuck out to you as you read?
Were there any conversation partners listed that you hadn’t considered?
What conversations would you like to pursue over the next few weeks?
Second, have an open and honest conversation about faith after high school. To generate good discussion, watch a Veritas Forum video with college bound students. Veritas Forums are university events that engage students and faculty in discussions about life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life. I highly recommend The Veritas Forum featuring Tim Keller at the University of California, Berkeley.
What stuck out to you as you listened to Dr. Keller presentation?
What do you think were his strongest points?
Did you have any disagreements with Dr. Keller arguments for belief in God and the Christian faith?
How do you think Dr. Keller handled the questions from the audience? What can you learn from him about how to have discussions with people who disagree with your worldview?
If you were given the task of explaining or defending the Christian faith at an event like The Veritas Forum, how would you do it? What would the outline of your talk be? Would you be nervous? Why or why not?
Third, help students connect with Christian community before they arrive on campus. Remind students of the value and necessity of community to Christian faith. As you learn where students will be going to college, take a proactive approach by contacting campus ministries and churches in those areas. Start by asking others in your congregation who might be familiar with the community in which the college is located. Next, browse the college’s Web site to see what is offered on campus. Send e-mails and make phone calls. Get in touch with campus ministers and pastors in the area. Consider using a night at youth group to help college bound students make these important connections months before they arrive on campus. Check out this article for more ideas: “Finding Community in College: 5 Ways to Help Students Connect.”
Do you think it will be easy or difficult to make new friends in college?
Why do you think community is important to Christian faith?
Do you think college relationships will be the same as high school relationships? Why or why not?
Do you think you will attend church while in college? Why or why not?
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