Making the most of college: The off-campus investment
You may not stay forever, but you're there for a reason.
For most students, college means a new beginning: new friends, new food, new mentors, and a new address. For most students, that new address is located somewhere in an urban area, large or small. Cities grow up around colleges as much as colleges crop up in cities. The interplay between the centre of learning and centres of culture adds value to both the residents of the city and the community at the university. Even students who live at home will find themselves spending concentrated time in a particular geographic area during college.
Christians know that nothing in life is an accident—that God carefully places his people where He needs them at specific times to bless the world. The Bible is full of stories of God's people who are transplanted into new, foreign lands and positions of privilege. Joseph was moved because of betrayal to Egypt where he saved the land from famine and richly blessed the surrounding nations with food. Daniel was exiled to Babylon in captivity and lived the rest of his life there, advising rulers and helping the city to be a centre of renaissance and discovery. Esther was sent into the palace of the King of Persia to save her people from destruction. And Jesus left the glory of Heaven to redeem creation.
"Yes," you say, "but these people were special: officials, royalty, and the all-powerful Son of God. I'm just an eighteen-year-old in a strange place." Remember that Daniel and his friends were likely about seventeen years old when they commanded the king's attention with their intellectual prowess and devotion to their God. But also remember that going to college is a privilege that most people in the world do not enjoy. Joining the "educated class" immediately puts you in a place of power in relation to many other people.
What will you do with the opportunity before you? You could choose to cloister yourself on campus and only venture out for "Wal-Mart runs," or you could spend time investing in relationships in the city where you are living. You may not intend to stay forever, but as a follower of Christ, you know that God needs you there for a reason.