What’s the best thing to give a student entering university or college?
Extra kitchenware? Office furniture? Advice?
More than anything else, relational connections can help a young adult continue in a faith community, especially as they transition into post-secondary education. The Renegotiating Faith study explores the critical nature of these relationships.
So how can you as a youth leader help? Here are some ideas:
Offer to be a mentor now, and through the change
Relational continuity between life stages can be hard to find, yet so valuable.
Renegotiating Faith found that “mentors seem to have their most positive impact on religious persistence when they continue to walk with young adults into and through emerging adulthood.”
Fortunately, mentoring is not rocket science. It’s largely about being available for intentional conversations.
Check out this mentoring resource specifically designed to facilitate conversations in the year leading up to college or university.
Explore solutions to relational roadblocks
Help your youth think ahead to what challenges they may face when it comes to friendships beyond high school. And then brainstorm some solutions together.
To get you started, here are five blog articles related to navigating relationships.
5 encouragements for when best friends drift apart: Relational changes can be painful and opportunities for growth.
How to choose long-term friends: High school grads can benefit from this university grad’s hard-won wisdom.
Making friends at university as an introvert: One self-described extreme introvert shares what he learned about choosing to be social on campus.
Dear Social Anxiety: About 1 in 3 young adults experience social anxiety. Here’s a look into one student’s journey towards trusting God anyway.
Find a local church this year: Advice for getting connected to a new community.
Connect them to Christians in their new setting
Personal introductions go a long way. Even if you don’t know anyone already on campus, the process of looking together for possible Christian communities is still valuable.
As Renegotiating Faith discovered:
“Young adults going on to postsecondary studies are four times more likely to connect with a Christian campus group or chaplaincy if someone from their home church tries to make a connection for them.”
Encourage applications to the NEXT Steps Scholarship
The NEXT Steps Scholarship is unique. Not only does it help students by offering financial aid (43 awards totalling up to $30,000), the application process itself invites reflection.
The reference requirement creates an opportunity for spiritual leaders and mentors (like you!) to affirm the individual’s giftings and identity. Renegotiating Faith found that this affirmation is a part of helping young adults continue to call themselves a Christian.
Further, the application questions ask about how a student will connect to a new faith community in their first year. Which might be easy for them, if you’ve already searched for options together.
This year, scholarship applications are open until May 10th, 2022, so be sure to invite your graduating youth to apply soon at http://p2c.sh/nextsteps.
There are lots of creative ways to help a youth stay relationally connected through change. But helping does not have to be confusing. The gift of your friendship across life stages is in itself valuable.
How will you invite your graduating youth to continue in Christian relationships?
If you need more ideas, check 9 Student resources to help prepare for post-secondary and Life after youth group: 8 ways to help with change
Or sign up for email updates from the NEXT initiative of P2C-Students. We are passionate about helping students take their next step towards Jesus, especially through the transition from high school to college or university.
You can also access to our on-demand webinar all about helping students carry on their faith after graduation. More tools, ideas, giveaways, and Q&A are provided. Find it here.