One of the most consistent aspects of college students, like no other group of people I know, is that their lives are consistently marked by constant change and transition from one thing to another. They leave home and come to college, they drop out and move back, and plan to move out again. They don't work, run out of money, get a job, quit that job, take another, and change their hours at work from week to week. They are convinced they want to be a social work major, but change to elementary education, and maybe turn a corner altogether and go for a nursing degree. They sign up for classes, drop classes, and sign up for others, only to get an incomplete so they can finish it next semester. They meet new friends, their old friends don't get along with their new friends, and they make even more friends and have 832 friends on Facebook. They have new roommates regularly. They move out of the dorm into an apartment, and then move into another apartment the next year. They have boyfriends and girlfriends and might "hook up" with someone they barely know this week only to hook up again with another next week. They may go to church, they may go to a campus ministry, they might attend a dorm bible study, or they might do all of them for a month and then do none of them the next month.
To put it in a college student's language, "I have a lot of stuff going on right now." If this all sounds crazy, flaky, and weird, its because it is. To be honest, some of the reason it is this way is because they themselves can be pretty flaky and weird. However, most of it is simply the nature of being a college student. The years of 18-24 are some of the most unique that a person will ever experience. Transition and change are all part of being in this age group, and students must navigate this college world every day with the ground constantly moving beneath them. Although they may take a lot of this in stride, and seem to be at home with much of it, in reality they are charting new waters in life and are experimenting with life and trying to find their independence and special place in it.
This creates unique challenges, but also extraordinary opportunities for campus ministry and the church:
--We have the opportunity to be a rock of a relationship for a student.
--We have the opportunity to come alongside a student and help him to think through his choices and decisions carefully and critically.
--We have the opportunity for presence in the midst of a student's broken relationships and difficult and changing circumstances.
--We have the opportunity of bringing the Christian resources of prayer and the gospel of grace to bear on the student who needs to make sense of her situation.
--We have the opportunity of providing a community different from the college culture.
What are some other opportunities we have that transitions provide in ministry to college students? How might we build ministry to address these opportunities and the culture of change? What do you think are some directions to take students who are constantly in transition?