With New Student Orientation at Nyack College Manhattan Campus just around the corner (August 28), my mind began to wander back to September 2010, back to my own New Student Orientation in New York City.
The Fearful Freshman
I don’t believe there was a single moment of that day that my palms weren’t sweating or my heart wasn’t racing. It had nothing to do with the summer heat; I was terrified of college. I had spent most of my life as a terrible student (check my very first blog for more on that)—I was lazy, irresponsible, a procrastinator, and one who didn’t take life seriously. Having barely made it through high school and making a last minute decision to go to college, it had hit me that I needed to change some habits if I was going to survive these next few years. College was the real deal; I couldn’t afford to slack off the way I used to. I needed to trash an entire slacker student lifestyle and take on a new, responsible role in a matter of weeks. Needless to say, I was nervous.
Although the uneasy feeling in my chest never fully went away, it eased up a bit as the day went on. We learned about the school, heard real life stories from current students, and (everyone’s favorite part) went to the South Street Seaport for a great lunch and beautiful view. I got the chance to meet other incoming freshmen, who were (to my relief) just as terrified as I was. We talked and got to know each other, and I realized that many of them were like me: attempting to turn over a new leaf through college. I figured that if they could do it, I could do it too.
The Turning Point
As we neared the end of the New Student Orientation, Pastor Charles Hammond (Dean of Student Life at the Nyack College Manhattan Campus) came up to give a few final thoughts and new advice for us freshmen: “Your life at Nyack will be tough,” he started. “You will have to work hard, and your professors will push you.”
Just like that all the anxiety of college came crashing back, and my heart felt ready to jump out my body and run for cover. I was seriously contemplating dropping out of college before I could flunk out when he continued: “But you need to remember something: God is with you every step of the way. He won’t leave you, and if you trust in Him, you will succeed.”
I never forgot those words. Although I’d heard them a thousand times, for some reason the truth of God being with me through this college process resonated with me, and I felt a peace flow through me. Right then I noticed for the first time the banner that had been hanging in the front of the room the entire day. It quoted Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It was like fresh air to my soul, and suddenly I could breathe easier. I knew then that I would be alright.
Four years later, I think I’m doing pretty good.
Moral of the Story
If you’re an incoming student to Nyack College you might be feeling some of the anxiety I felt four years ago. It’s nerve-wracking to come into a new place and begin a new life. Don’t feel bad; your sweaty palms and racing heart are perfectly normal. Just remember that you’re not alone in your new journey: the all-loving, all-powerful God is walking right beside you, leading you toward success. You’ll find people who have the same hopes and fears as you to walk through this adventure called college with (like Vincent Golston, who I met at New Student Orientation and who is still my best friend to this day) You’ll have professors and mentors who will guide you and help you become the person God has called you to be. They will stretch you, and it will hurt sometimes, but in the end know that it will all be for your benefit. You will emerge from this more mature, wiser, and responsible than you thought you could be. This is just the beginning of your adventure, but an amazing adventure it will be. Trust me, I’ve been through it.