Before we know it, it will be the end of this semester. Finals will be coming up, along with deadlines, essays, tests, late nights and everything else imaginable. No matter who you are, the end of the year will be stressful and busy for all. Of course, if you’re a sophomore, junior, or  especially a senior, you probably know what to expect when it comes closer to the end of the year. For freshman, we’re just getting started.

If you’re a freshman feeling nervous or overwhelmed about continuing your college career, here are some words of encouragement and advice from our very own professors and upperclassmen at Huntington University .

Here is what Professor Rose from the English department had to say:

“I tell freshmen in my classes that the first semester of college feels a lot like going through the grieving process in that everything feels heavy, difficult and overwhelming. There is a legitimate loss of the familiarity of home: Mom and Dad, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, excess of time, etc. … Those things need to be grieved.  But after the first semester, everything gets easier. The grieving ends, and students have more energy to take on their new lives. Don’t quit. Give it a year. It’s all going to get easier.”

Professor Leblanc from the Ministry department thought back to a Bible verse and advice his father gave to him:

“Any time I would feel overwhelmed when I was either in college or now with the responsibilities of being a husband, dad, professor and worship leader, my dad would always say you “eat an elephant one bite at a time.” If we simply focus on, say, completing an assignment, then before we know it, the class is finished, the semester is finished, the year is finished, and our diploma is in hand. I love the encouragement that I find in Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Justin Coleman, a senior at HU, believes that time is essential when de-stressing:

“Take advantage of free time, whether that is taking a nap, watching Netflix or even working out. Just give yourself time to just be calm. Trust me, college is the easiest thing once you learn to make some time for yourself.”

Professor Griswold from the DMA department shared both a story and Bible verse that he will always remember:

“I heard an interview once with a high school math teacher, and one day a student asked, ‘Are we ever going to use any of this in real life?’ The teacher responded, ‘Honestly, no, you’ll never use any of this. But think about it. Why do people go to the gym and lift weights or do other exercises?’ He paused and then said, ‘You are never going to be walking down the street and suddenly have someone demand to see you do 100 push-ups, right?’  He continued, ‘You lift weights to build strength and gain muscle. You do homework and study algebra for the same reason. You’ll never be asked to do an algebra problem on the street, but the critical thinking skills you use to solve a problem are the same skills you’ll need to solve real-world problems throughout life.’ 

If my teachers would have used that reasoning with me, I probably would have done a lot better in math classes. So, if you are taking a difficult class or wonder why you need to study a particular topic, just remember, the benefit from college comes from developing the ability to think critically and solve problems. You will learn a lot more from your failures than you’ll ever learn from memorizing facts and figures in class.

I often look to Matthew 6 25-34 when things get difficult.  Here’s 25-27:

  ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’”

Bailey Testerman, a junior here at HU, remembered back when she was a freshman:

“During freshman year, ironically, I think I was sad knowing I only had three years left. At the time, college was so thrilling, I couldn’t imagine a life outside of it. Over time, though, I’ve gotten more glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel and life outside the bubble college can sometimes feel like. Now, as a second semester junior, I can honestly say I’m excited to graduate next year, but I’m sure I will miss my time here at HU as these last few years have been the most formative of my life thus far.”

College can be difficult, no matter what year you are, but it’s important to keep in mind why you’re here. We all want to learn more and challenge ourselves within our intended major and career path. If you are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or anything else, school related or not, always remember that you are loved, and that there are people who support you and want to see you succeed. Stay strong and don’t give up.