Did you know that around the country, there are different terminologies for college freshmen? While many of us are used to calling these newbies “Fish,” that’s not the norm for everybody. Others will call that same bunch, “Frosh.” Any others you know of?
But the question is, what are you doing this summer to help transition those incoming frosh… er… fish to their new college life? (And this isn’t just for church-based ministries, but for ministers in campus-based or Christian college settings, too!)
As I wrote last week in the “Orientation” post, we really need to remember what a major watershed moment that first semester in college is. (If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to take a look.)
In light of that approaching life-brink, I present this week’s Fridea: help with freshman transitions this summer!
[A full list of Frideas is linked on the first Fridea post.]
I’m a big proponent of taking advantage of the pre-college summer months to prepare students for the life ahead. Some reasons why include…
- It’s our best last chance to impact before they head to college
- They really do need preparation for college life
- Prep programs can be a pretty easy sell; outgoing seniors have a felt need for college prep (or they at least like thinking about the road ahead)
- There is often time a’plenty to work short-term training in to the lazy days of summer
- It’s a very simple way to make a huge difference
So, here are various ways you could accomplish this Fridea – again, many are applicable to college ministers of all kinds – not just church-based folks.
Short-term training / Bible study. Whether you’re actually serving in a church or elsewhere, I bet there are outgoing high school seniors at your church this summer. Why not pour your college wisdom into them for 6 weeks or so? Or you can even open this up beyond your own church, connecting with other local ministers or ministries to offer prep to HS grads citywide.
(One basic outline you could use is at this post.)
A one-time something-or-other. If you can’t get students together for 4-6 weeks, you can probably at least hold a lunch, a party, or a retreat. While there, cover the basics – and prepare them to be great at those basics when they hit the campus.
I’ve also done this school-specifically! You can get upperclassmen together with new freshmen from the same school to hash out experiencing life and Jesus at their new home. (This sure prepares them for solid mentoring from these upperclassmen in the semesters to come, too…)
Disciplemaking! Want an even more “strategic strike” approach? Why not disciple a new “fish” or two this summer? Believe it or not, working one-on-one or one-on-a-few with some students could radically impact their lives – and there’s no better time for that than during the Big Transition.
Map ’em like missionaries. Create some visible reminder of these new missionaries your church and town are sending out to college campuses. For example, you could put their names, faces, and schools on a giant map – just like you’ll see in old-school churches for the missionaries you support. Make sure the students see this map before they leave; it will be a visible reminder of the love they’ve got back home.
Write something or provide something. You might want to provide recent HS grads (and parents) – at your church, at New Student Orientation, citywide, etc. – a “Transitions Packet” you’ve created, which can be as basic as a letter/article with survival tips! Or, provide some wisdom to students and parents that somebody else has already written… Sometimes those are called books…
Commission them. Work with your church or other churches to “commission” their new “frosh” before they head off to school. This can be a powerful moment at the end of the summer that goes far beyond the typical “Senior Sunday” experience – and you can either hold it at a church or with lots of churches together.
Go all out, with prayers and parents and gifts and anything else that truly fits your purposes; even if some “cool-guys” think it’s a little cheesy now, they will probably remember it quite fondly in a few months. And the churches will get a really visible reminder of the giant nature of this transition.
Line up ongoing impact NOW. Before they’ve started school locally or away, think of ways you can prepare for ongoing Christian impact for these just-grads. Have you helped them start researching churches at their new school? What about ministries? Do ministries on the receiving end have their names, at least to give them their info? Do you have adults in town (even besides their own parents) who are lined up to pray for and otherwise love on these students once they start school? What else can you do?
And lastly, do you have their contact info – before they leave?
Those are some of my thoughts, and that’s this week’s Fridea. Other suggestions? Please put ’em in the Comments!