Keeping the faith: College grad offers advice to graduating high school students

There are many different opportunities for someone who is just starting college. You can start a new life and become whoever you want to be. Your parents aren’t over your shoulder guiding every decision you make. Everything is up to you. 

By Austin Fournier

So, what do you want to do when you go off to college? Getting your degree is hopefully at the top of your list, but what else? Make lifelong friends? Party? How about establishing your faith on your own? 

The last question is easy for people to walk away from when they reach college. It’s very simple to give up on your faith when you get to college: Your parents aren’t there to nag you to go to church on Sunday, pray before your meal or do any faith-like things. Your faith life is entirely up to you. 

When you get to college, many people are there to join the party crowd. This crowd was not for me, I had no desire to go out and party. I wanted to find people who shared common beliefs and values as I did. 

The biggest challenge for someone going to college is taking the initiative yourself and deciding you want to make your faith your own and make it grow.

So, I joined a Christian group on campus and met some amazing people. Every freshman’s biggest fear is making friends. But if you can find friends who share the same beliefs and values as you do, those will be the friends who become your lifelong friends. Two of my closest friends, whom I met at that Christian group, have been my roommates for almost three years. I couldn’t have asked for better roommates and friends. When it comes to college and keeping your faith, it depends on who you surround yourself with. I surrounded myself with men who strive to push their faith and learn more, as well as push my faith. 

The biggest challenge for someone going to college is taking the initiative yourself and deciding you want to make your faith your own and make it grow. You might be the only person out of the people you met during orientation who wants to go to church Sunday. You might have to go to church by yourself, or a faith-based meeting by yourself, but those students at church are more than willing to take you in and help you grow in your personal faith and life. They have all been where you are and want you to feel welcomed and wanted there. 

The last thing you need to do when you meet these fellow college students at church, or the faith-based group, is to get connected. Ask them, “Can you let me know when you guys are doing other activities?” Take the initiative to get plugged in about upcoming activities. Also, get someone’s phone number, so you can have a way of contacting them about events. 

So, to maintain and grow in your faith at college, there a few simple things you can do. First, take the initiative, step outside of your comfort zone and find a Catholic/ Christian group. You might have to go by yourself, but from my experience it is completely worth it. Once you do that, you need to get in contact with someone about upcoming events. After you start going to events, you will meet new friends who will become your best lifelong friends, because they will help you grow as a person and in faith. 

Austin Fournier is originally from Annandale, Minnesota. He is in his final semester at St. Cloud State University, where he studies biomedical science and chemistry. During his free time, he likes to play sports, spend time outdoors, go to Newman Center events and hang out with friends and family. 

(Photo:Getty images/nirat)

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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