Posted by: Justin Wallace | January 10, 2011

Who are they?

I’ve been working with college students for 7 years now and I’m still learning something new every day. This people group is ever changing and it is nearly impossible to capture them in a box. This does not keep me from trying my best to understand this group of people that I work with every single day. I’m a student of people…especially college students. I observe them and do my best to understand why they do what they do when they do it. To this end I have done my best to describe each class of college students in a few words. Please know that I fully understand that not every freshman, sophomore, junior or senior will fit into the following descriptions but, I do think that a vast majority of them show the following tendencies. I would love to hear your thoughts, disagreements and/or descriptions from your experience.

Freshman :: Naive Explorers

They have no idea what they’re getting themselves in to. College is completely different then they expect. They also want to try everything. I would describe them as novice spelunkers at best.

Sophomore :: Want Control

They made it through a year and now they think they can conquer a mountain top. They want leadership. They want to be in charge. And too often we succumb to their desire for leadership…we give them a title…and this quickly goes to their heads. This usually ends in pride, an elitest mentality and finally burn out.

Junior :: Out of Control

The junior year seems to be the heaviest. Their class load is tough. The expectations are high from every front. All of this leads them to feeling completely out of control. It feels like their life is going to fly off into a deep abyss. They end up not knowing how to deal with the whole thing and this leads to isolation. Rather than dealing with it…they just pull away. They decide that the only way they’re able to do the school thing is if they quit everything else. They have to say no to something…and usually that something is God and community.

Senior :: plan for the future, afraid of transition into “real world”…leads to check out

The future is a scary thing. It means having to grow up, get a job, pay bills, etc. It becomes so over-whelming that they decide to just cut all ties and check out. Rather than allowing life to just come to them, taking it one day at a time…they rush the transition.

As I was writing these descriptions out I realized that they all sound a bit negative. Each class has amazing potential and a lot of positives but I find that these negatives have a way of out-weighing the positives.

The question is…How will we help our students walk through these different seasons of life?

We can’t ignore them…we must recognize they exist and jump right in with them.

What do you think?



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