Three Encouraging Truths to Share with Teenagers as They Prepare for College

I did not feel ready for college when I was 18 years old—especially because I’d picked a college that was 10 hours away from home. Honestly, I didn’t know if I would make it through my first semester. But God sustained me through that semester—and seven more! I can now see how he worked in my college experience. He provided family members and friends to support me. He gave me several on-campus and off-campus opportunities that helped me grow as an individual and as a Christian. He also led me to a wonderful church near campus where I was consistently poured into.

Going to college (especially out of state) can be a huge transition, so if your college-bound child is anxious about starting college, consider sharing these three truths with them as the big move approaches.  

It’s Normal to Have Questions and Concerns

Before my freshman year, college felt so unknown. I knew where I was going to attend college and what I was going to study, but the actual college experience was filled with uncertainties. Many of my fears eventually vanished as I became comfortable in my new environment, but a few lingered—or emerged. One part of my college experience that I consistently worried about was doing well in my classes. Most of my classes proved to be very challenging, but God graciously gave me the strength I needed to persevere through each one.

I’d argue that change is uncomfortable for most people, so being nervous about change—the transition from the known to the unknown—is perfectly natural. After all, it takes time for the unknown to become known. But as that process happens, it’s helpful to remember it’s not sinful to have questions and concerns; it’s only sinfulwhen we don’t entrust those fears to God.

One chapter of Scripture that your teenager may find especially encouraging in this transition period is Proverbs 16. As I was preparing for college, I treasured these words in verse 9: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT). 

Even though I succumbed to fear at times, God continued to lead me forward—one day at a time. He’ll do the same for your child.  

The Future Is in God’s Hands, Not Theirs

In addition to my nerves about adjusting to college, I had fears about what my life would look like after college. I started college as a business major—largely because I didn’t have a clear career path in mind, so my parents advised me to major in business. I was content with studying business, but I worried that a business degree wouldn’t be sufficient if I decided to pursue a career in writing one day. I ended up double-majoring in business and communications, and I’m thankful God guided me to that decision. 

Choosing what to study can be difficult and stressful. Teens often feel pressured to pick the “perfect” major and determine the “perfect” career path—before they even start college! But God is sovereign over the future, and his plan is perfect. Remind your child that the future is in his hands, not theirs. No matter what he or she decides to study, his loving plan will prevail. 

It’s Normal to Feel Alone

Even though I’m an introvert who enjoys spending time alone, I also enjoy spending time with other people. One of my biggest fears about college was that I wouldn’t have any friends. I’d been in the same church and homeschool community for most of my life, so the thought of having to make new friends at college terrified me.

God graciously provided friendships for me throughout my four years of college, and some of them have lasted beyond graduation. Yet, I still experienced feelings of loneliness at college: like when I ate by myself in the cafeteria or didn’t have anyone to sit next to during class. Those moments hurt, but feeling alone didn’t mean I was alone. 

These words from Isaiah have encouraged me many times, and they may encourage your child as he or she faces a potentially lonely season of life: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isa. 43:2 NLT).

Because of God’s faithful presence in the lives of believers, they never experience hard things alone—including college. Even when your child feelsalone, the reality is that he or she never is. The one who promises to always be with his children never breaks a promise. 

Preparing for college probably won’t be easy experience for your graduating senior, but it’s a worthwhile experience. As he often does, God will use this time of transition to make them look more like his Son—the one who promises to be with your child every step of the way. 

If you want to learn more about gospel-centered parenting, we hope you’ll consider joining us for our 2024 conference in Dallas, TX, where we’ll take a walk through the book of Daniel. 

Grace McCready is an author, blogger, and speaker who is passionate about encouraging young women through sharing personal stories and scriptural truths. She’s the author of Real Recovery: What Eating Disorder Recovery Actually Looks Like and blogger at Tizzie's Tidbits of Truth. She's also a full-time writer/editor for a Christian ministry. Although she doesn’t enjoy drinking black coffee, running marathons, or reading books, she does enjoy spending time with her family, chatting with her friends, and watching her favorite TV shows.

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