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What I Wish I Knew - 7 Tips from Alumni for New High School Graduates

Graduation season is upon us, and with it comes sage advice for this year’s senior class from those who are older and perhaps a bit more experienced. Who better to offer wise words of wisdom for new graduates than those who have gone before? Mount Paran Christian School alumni share their advice for new graduates, from how to survive college to staying true to one’s self.

 

class of 2023 college shirts

 

1. HOW TO SURVIVE COLLEGE

“Freshman year of college will test you. It’s not about being prepared for every single type of situation that comes your way. What’s most important is being firm in your values and asking God to give you the perspective to see the way He sees it.”

“College is what you make of it - make friends, have fun, and get to class on time. If you want to be successful in school, it is important to go to class. No one is going to force you to go to class.”

Be organized and disciplined about your studies because college isn’t cheap. However, don’t forget to embrace a little spontaneity every once in a while.”

“College will have its ups and downs, but you will create memories that will last forever. You are off on your own for the first time, so establishing a good routine is crucial. It is also easy to get distracted, but just remember the reason you are going to college.”

 

Mary Ella studies

 

“Go into every encounter, class, or seminar with an open mind and cultural humility. Without a commitment to that open-mindset, you won’t just miss out on opportunities, you’ll miss out on valuable friendships.”

“Do not be afraid to embrace this new world while still staying true to your values. Always show kindness, not judgment. You would be surprised how you can build a bridge with people and expose them to God’s love when you offer support and kindness!”

“Don't forget to call home. Your parents are always in your corner and want what is best for you.”

 

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2. BE BOLD!

“Don’t be afraid to try new things!” (Joshua 1:9)

“Eschew the easy, the light, the quick, and the transient; do hard things and reap excellent rewards. You are capable it.”

“Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity!”

Do not be afraid to divert from the traditional, or your expected, path. There’s gold in those hills!”

“There’s a lot of anxious feelings during this big life transition. When you feel overwhelmed, remember, ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

 

sr college day friends

 

3. STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF

“Know your ‘why’ and how you will live your life. Establish habits around what you want to steward in 10 years.”

“Don't be afraid to be different. As Christians, we are called to be different. It isn't easy to live that kind of life, but there is no life more fulfilling. The light of Christ within you will stand out like a bright light in our dark world. Let it shine.”

“Be open to new things, places, people, and cultures. Don’t be afraid to change your style, your hair, etc. But, remember where your heart belongs! If you don’t hold onto your faith and stay true to yourself, you will be convinced otherwise.”

“There can be a lot of pressure to fit in. Be careful not to become someone you're not. Find a core group of friends who will keep you accountable.”

 

sydney morgan costuming

 

4. REMEMBER WHOSE YOUR ARE

Pursue the Lord wholeheartedly with good friends surrounding you!”

Find a good church.

“Don't ask the world for guidance. Ask your Bible and your family.”

Pace yourself. You can have drive without burning yourself out.”

“Everyone makes mistakes! Do not be discouraged. Overcome these mistakes and learn from them. Make wise choices, but rest in knowing God can redirect anything. Trust in God’s will, timing, and purpose for your life.”

“There will be days when everyone is telling you what you are or who you will become. Remain steadfast to what God says about you and live your life knowing you are God’s child.” 

“It's easier said than done, but the minute you start to view yourself as ‘worthy’, things shift. Your ranking in sports, your Instagram followers, the shoes you wear, the car you drive - all these things bring us temporary happiness but will never truly fulfill your soul. The way you live your life brings glory to Him.”

“Make it a habit to read scripture daily and find out what identity in Christ really looks like.”

“There will be plenty of times when you just feel lost. It's okay if you do not know exactly what you want to do. College is about learning, and you might find out what you love later in your college career. Just be reminded that you are loved, treasured, admired, and appreciated because you are part of the body of Christ.”

 
Seniors pray
 

5. FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS FOREVER

“Find joy in your friendships. College years are some of the most unique in so many aspects, but having deep meaningful friendships that are rooted in Christ makes a bad day better and a good day just that much brighter.”

Have Christian friends, but not all of your friends have to be Christian.”

“Find your people. Find your community that you connect with on a daily basis. Find the people you would want to just hang out with on a Saturday outside on front campus.”

“Go outside of your comfort zone. Say ‘hi’ and make many new friends! Invest in friends who truly care about your well being and your walk with the Lord.”

“College has times of loneliness and will take some time to adjust to. Just because people are posting happy pictures on Instagram does not mean they are not struggling. Remember that you are never alone!”

“The idea that you become the five people you spend the most time with really is true! Find a genuine community that will encourage you in your walk.”

 college day girls
 

6. LET YOUR LIFE BE YOUR TESTIMONY

Approach life humbly, and God will grant you the wisdom to see things with an eternal perspective.” (Psalm 51)

“Work hard to be the best in everything you do. There is no reason to not do your best.” (Colossians 3:23)

“Train yourself to recognize idols; smash them in your mind and life.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“There will be times when you will encounter trouble. Whether that is a bad grade or a bit of homesickness, we all go through it. Have peace knowing that God has overcome the world and has a plan for you.” (John 16:33)

“God is in control. Life may not always go the way we hope or the way we plan, but God holds our futures in His hands.” (Matthew 6:33)

“College life will present you with lots of doubts and reasons to abandon what you know is right and best for you. Make an investment into a Godly life.” (Luke 7:35)

“You are called to be set apart and different. Do not conform to the world, but give yourself completely to the Lord.” (Romans 12:2)

 
seniors circle hug
 

7. BE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT

“The world will fight to tell you who you should be, so it is important to remember your roots! It’s okay to say ‘No’. Don’t let people pressure you into things that the world deems okay.”

“This is not our home! Our home is eternity with Christ forever. The more you lean into that truth, the easier it becomes to not get hurt over what someone says about you. Those people are people of the world. But, when you allow yourself to let go and trust that, no matter what, God is on your side, you will become a light to others. You will be able to handle the harshness of this world.”

“The world and people you come in contact with are going to question your beliefs and why you choose to follow Jesus. Be prepared and have an answer, but speak with love and compassion.”

“You will be tempted to live your own way and turn against what you know is true. But, remain strong to what you have been taught and strive to live a life that is holy and pleasing to the Lord. As you continue to grow, you will look back and be glad you lived in obedience.”

“Your faith isn’t going to be challenged by an institution; it’s going to be challenged by people you really like. True believers will stand firm on God’s Word, not the words of friends.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 

other colleges

 

“There is a lot of societal pressure to hit certain milestones at specific ages. When you see others achieve something before you, do not be discouraged or resentful. Instead, be inspired and ask questions. And, do not be afraid to take your time to find out what you enjoy and to experience things that will change you.” 

“Take a detailed evaluation of yourself once a year. Consider the ways you have grown, both good and bad. Lean into the good and steer clear from the bad. Examine your relationships, both new and old. Are the new people you are surrounding yourself with a good or bad influence? Should you make more of an effort with old friendships that you have let fall out?”

“The world seeks acceptance and for their ideas to be mainstream. Jesus calls us to be set apart. We often think it’s just easier to go with the flow, but Jesus led by example. He always went against the grain.”

Look with suspicion at every message this current culture sends you, especially on love, intimacy, and romance. God conceived these and knows how they can translate from the momentary to the perpetually nourishing in Him.”

“In all things, place God first. Our society today tends to privilege self-love rather than self-sacrifice, thus engendering values in which our personal preference is our personal truth. We must remember that God alone is sufficient for us.” 

 
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Graduates, you are children of God blessed with incredible talents and skills to offer. Use them to glorify God in this one life you have. God loves you and is with you. As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

 


 

Thank you to the following MPCS alumni for contributing their insight for this article: Paige Armstrong, Mary Grace Burton, Andy Crain, Duncan Evans, Elizabeth Fox, Jamie Gibbs, Jeb Gordon, Amanda Jogie, Ella Jones, Emily Keller, Meredith Perez McConnell, Samantha McCrabb, Matt McKenzie, Jonathan Morrow, Joe Mulvihill, Beau ODell, Devin Phillips, Trey Renno, Emily Roberts, Emmett Taliaferro, and Scotty Valiani.

MPCS Alumni Relations Manager John Braswell and MPCS Communication Content Manager Amber Irizarry compiled the information for this article.

 

For more information about the alumni relations program at MPCS or to hear personal testimonies from former Eagles, click here.

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