September is almost done and summer is almost out. School is back in session so I thought I’d dedicate an article to students. There are a couple of people I know that are either in the senior year of high school or starting out college. I have a feeling that they don’t have a strong direction of what they want to do. I was in the same position too. You may know some people in this season of life. Disclaimer: this is not individual advice. These are my 7 advice to my younger self as I start out college.
1) Pray then Plan
The next few years may determine the next few decades. Pray and ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8). He already knows the present and your future. There’s a certain peace that comes from knowing that you brought your thoughts to God before springing into action. Staying a Christian in college is great because God is the ultimate college counselor.
2) Do something with dinner party morals
Whatever you are going to do in life, try to avoid the morally gray zone. However you make your living, be comfortable enough discussing it at a dinner party. I don’t want to even play in the gray area and dishonest scales (Proverbs 11:1).
Marijuana legalization just passed this year in California. It’s technically a legal business and fair game, but I just would not want to enter that industry. Another example of this are the Holy Rollers. They are a group of Christians trained to count cards. It’s legal because they are just using their mind. The documentary showed their inner struggle with the task at hand. When losing, is God punishing them? When winning, is it right to count cards?
3) College gives you an “at bat”, but it is not for everyone.
This article is going to have some Dave Ramsey references. I don’t fully agree with everything he teaches, but I like that he gives advice from a Christian lens. One of his sayings is “live like nobody else, so in the future you can live like nobody else.” Getting a four year degree puts a lot of boundaries between you and the next person who wants to do what you do. If your chosen profession requires a degree, there are people that need to go through 4+ years of schooling to even get to the starting line. Note that a college degree does not guarantee a good job, but it helps get your foot in the door.
With the changing economy, there are more opportunities for those who feel college is not for them. See number 5.
4) Try to get an Internship
I started applying for engineering internships at the depth of the Great Recession. Quite possibly the worst time in history. Job fairs were more like tents with brochures. By the grace of God, I eventually got one!
Try to get internships earlier in your college career to get a feel for how the chosen profession would be. This may pull you deeper into the profession or push you out of it. I’m in charge of showing engineering interns the ropes so I try to give them something cool to do right away. I try to give them a “day in the life” of an engineer types of tasks and hopefully pull them in ;)
5) Do something on the side
If college is not for you, try something on the side. College has a 4+ year lagging feedback loop, whereas doing something on the side gives you immediate feedback. It may not work, but you can acquire skills. For example, if selling Christian jewelry did not work, I would still learn how to build a website, edit pictures, get better at writing, etc. Dave Ramsey said that your job is not the most important, it’s your skill to bring home the bacon. I like to call this Skill and Sharpen. Acquiring Skills and Sharpening your abilities. Dip your toes in Youtube, Instagram, Uber, etc a lot of side hustles now can be done with minimal risk.
I would still do these trials on the side because even though college is not for everyone, it's still a great path for a lot of people. If your side gig takes off, then that's even better.
6) Hard to Commoditize Hard careers (HCHC)
Some career paths are hard to automate / turn into a software / less in danger of being obsolete. If you like and are relatively good at a more difficult / complex subject, you may be on to something. Figure out your SHAPE.
Spiritual Gifts / Heart / Abilities / Personality Style / Experience. If you want more information, just search for Rick Warren SHAPE.
This depends on your personality, but I personally like to run towards complexity.
7) Is the ministry calling?
I have friends that took time off traditional college to try out Bible college. Some went full time into the ministry and some went back to traditional schooling. If you feel God is calling you into the ministry, this may the time to try it out. Ask for the Spirit’s guidance, he will intercede for you with words you can’t even utter (Romans 8:26). Whatever business, profession, or job you are in is your ministry, so do your best (Proverbs 22:29). Late teens to early twenties may be the last time in your life when you have the least responsibility. Whether or not you are called in the ministry; enjoy this season of life because it’s a lot of fun! Time is only going to get more scarce in the future, you’ll have a career and/or business, family, kids, and a shorter summer vacation😉