One of the best ways to close the gap between what students expect and the reality they often face is to let them hear from those who have gone before them. Host an alumni panel! If you’re looking to move your efforts from mediocre to awesome, here’s a step-by-step guide.
Download this free PDF to avoid mistakes, remove the guess work, and learn my pro-tips on how-to host an awesome alumni panel!
If you’ve hosted an alumni panel in the past or you’re gearing up for one, I’d love to hear about it! Leave comment below.
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In my last post, I promised some exciting, FREE stuff would be coming your way! These weeks are prime time for helping college seniors anticipate the transition ahead, and I want to help you maximize your efforts.
In this short video, I describe an easy-to-replicate equipping exercise that you can try with your students as soon as this week.
Click here for instant access to the PDF files I describe in the video.
This is a key time to pursue college seniors for one-on-one conversations — to help them reflect upon their college experience as well as anticipate what’s ahead. Check out this short video for one practical tip you can use right away in your one-on-one meetings with students.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below. Can’t wait to hear from you!
Believe it or not, graduation is almost upon us! Let’s make these weeks count, especially with our graduating seniors. Here’s an article (from the archives) to get us thinking about how to best serve seniors in their last stretch. Don’t forgot to pop back to the blog here to share about one way you plan to honor the college seniors on your campus!
I’m so excited to have this guest post from author and young adults pastor, Austin Gohn. His book, A Restless Age, releases today! Austin does a fabulous job of bringing this ancient saint into our present cultural moment, and his book is one every person who works with twenty-somethings should pick up! See my endorsement below, grab your copy today, and enjoy Austin’s post!
I graduated from college, moved, got married,
and started my first full-time job all in the same summer.
I had a degree in intercultural studies, but I
moved right back to my hometown. It looked the same as when I left but
everything felt different. I was a
young adults pastor, but I felt like I was the one who needed a young adults
pastor. (I was barely 23-years-old!) I was trying to navigate multiple
transitions without much guidance on how to make sense of so much change at
once. And, on top of it all, I couldn’t even figure out how to get WiFi in our
I needed someone to guide me, someone to let
me know what I was feeling was normal, someone who had been where I was—and
survived. And, from seven years of experience working with young adults, I have
met many young adult who feel exactly the same way.
The Patron Saint of Young Adulthood
A few years into young adults ministry I read
Augustine’s Confessions for the
second time. It’s one-part memoir, one-part devotional, and one-part
theological treatise. And most of the book covers the span of time from his
late teens through his early thirties.
This time, as I read, I saw the book in a
different light. It was no longer just required reading for one of my freshman
courses. It felt like the most relevant book on the young adult years I had
In Augustine’s story, as told in his Confessions, we see what it’s like to be
a twenty-something—but from the inside. We see what it’s like to wrestle with
doubt, to try to break the habits we hate, to try to find where we belong, to
ride the rollercoaster of romance, and to nearly burnout only a few years into
the career we’ve prepared our whole lives to do. While much of the young adult
experience has changed since the fourth century, even more has remained the
Reading this book not only helped me
understand the young adults God had entrusted to my care, it helped me
understand myself. Augustine might be the patron saint of brewers, theologians,
vermin, sore eyes and printers, but he ought to be the patron saint of young
A Restless Age
That’s why I wrote A Restless Age: How Saint Augustine Helps You Make Sense of Your
Twenties. I wanted young adults to see how an ancient saint is more
relevant to their lives than many of the books out there geared toward young
adults. I believe that many of the young adults who take the time to wade
through Augustine’s Confessions will
come out saying, That’s exactly what I’m
experiencing. If this book leads more young adults to engage with
Augustine, it’s done its job.
Restless Age, I look for parallels between Augustine’s twenties—what psychologist
Meg Jay calls “the defining decade”—and the experience of twenty-somethings
today. In particular, I organize the book around what I call the five
open-ended searches of young adulthood:
The Search for Answers
The Search for Habits
The Search for Belonging
The Search for Love
The Search for Work
Augustine experienced the same five searches
in his twenties, even if they looked a bit different. He tried out cults,
churches, and total unbelief. He tried to quit habitual lust before it wrecked
his life. He lost friends and made new friends. He was in a long-term
relationship that ended with a devastating breakup. And, he moved multiple
times because of multiple career changes—all before his thirty-second birthday.
If you didn’t know I was describing a fourth-century theologian, you might
think I was talking about any number of young adults today.
I read Augustine’s Confessions for the first time when I was 19-years-old, but I
skimmed it and didn’t see what it had to do with my life. I needed a book that
could help me see Augustine the broken young adult, not just Augustine the
saint. I wrote A Restless Age to do
just that. Augustine might not provide much wisdom for how to get WiFi in your
tiny apartment, but he can help you make sense of your twenties—and possibly
even the rest of your life.
I’m curious, how have you seen “restlessness” manifest itself in the lives of the college students and recent graduates you work with? In what practical ways are you helping twenty-somethings in the “searches” Austin mentions above? Leave a comment below!
In light of my last post on pirates and child-like play, I thought this article (from the archives) would be the perfect follow-up. Can you guess what top quality makes college seniors successful in their transition and employers eager to hire?
While playing an imaginary game with my four-year-old son, I slipped onto to my computer to check what felt like a very time-sensitive email at the time. He quickly caught me and chided me with these words, “Pirates don’t use computers!” He wanted us to play, have an adventure, and find the lost treasure! My screen was both anachronistic and annoying in his pirate world.
So true. Though this was just moment with my child on an ordinary
Tuesday, it made me think not only about how we use technology wisely but also
about how well I play. With my son.
And with my students.
Not long after this incident, my son’s preschool teacher loaned me a short book called Play Like a Pirate by Quinn Rollins. Our little parent-teacher conference led to a conversation on pedagogy, and before you think we were taking ourselves way too seriously for a meeting about four-year-olds, I should say that our discussion was all about play!
I cruised through the book, and even though Play Like a Pirate is geared towards K-12 teachers, I took away a renewed commitment to make learning as fun as possible. If we’re not having a good time, our students won’t either; if we’re bored, they’ll be bored too. Whether we’re opening the Scriptures, training our RAs, or teaching student development theory, we should be having a blast. So much so that it’s obvious and contagious.
I probably won’t bring action figures or Barbie dolls to class as
Rollins suggests, but I’m considering the ways that play fits into our work
with college students. On a practical level, I just may bring some play-doh the
next time I teach counseling theory and I have some thoughts on how I may
incorporate comic strips/graphic novels in a module on diversity.
The book also made me think about the time I brought a pogo stick to Senior EXIT. It was in the middle of the semester when the PA winter and the stress of classes had gotten the best of the students, and we all needed to release some tension. There’s nothing like a pogo stick to lighten the mood and let us have some fun before jumping into a serious topic.
Interestingly enough, my kids and I found that pogo stick in a trash pile in front of our neighbor’s house. I usually discourage my children from picking through junk piles during bulk trash week (I promise, they’ve never come home with a used mattress or anything like that). But this was a shiny thing of beauty with its 1990s decals still clinging to the metal. They don’t make ‘em like the used to. We snagged that treasure.
It may not be play-doh and pogo sticks for you, but how do you bring passion and play into your work with students? Teaching and learning with college students is an amazing privilege. I want my love for them and what I teach to shine through at each turn. This is not to say we won’t have bad days or times when we slog through or need to address tough stuff, but overall, our students should see us leading the way in our love for what we do. Because when we do, there’s all sorts of treasure to be found!
I’m curious, in what practical ways do you bring passion and play into your work with students? What makes it challenging for you to do so? Leave a comment below. I want to hear from you!
I’m a sit-down-and-let’s-talk-over-tea-in-my-living-room kind of person. I don’t have social media on my phone, and I often shut off my cell on Saturdays and on vacation. I don’t have perfect relationship with technology (far from it), but as my students are trying to figure out healthy rhythms with their devices, I’m often trying to figure out how to “tithe my time” to social media. Because I believe it matters. If we want students to show up at our events, and if we want to best use technology to reach them, we need to use and understand the platforms they’re on.
A recent New York Times Article on The iGen Shift quotes Corey Tressler, associate director of learning at programs at Ohio State University, who says that when it comes to students’ phones and devices, “It’s not really technology to them.” Social media is the air they breathe; they haven’t known a different way, “digital natives” as they are. So, how do we – as those who work with students – cut through the thick fog of the posts they scroll and offer a breath of fresh air? How do we best use social media to reach GenZers?
My cards are on the table. I may not be the most qualified
voice on how to best use social media to reach GenZers, but this question came
up in the Living Training Course, and I’d love to share some things I’m
learning as well as hear what’s working for you.
As I was preparing to launch After College Transition, I learned from people like Jeff Walker, Pat Flynn and Donald Miller – these guys teach marketing principles, but their practices can be applied to the human experience in any sector, including the next generation of college students (iGens or GenZers). Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about.
Start a conversation. No one enjoys the noise of “Come to my thing!” but people often want to share what’s on their mind, especially if it’s related to a topic they care about. I had a team member who took on the lion’s share of social media posting for our events, and he often created posts that asked questions, invited a vote, or started a conversation. Let’s say we’re planning to host a workshop about preparing for that first job out of college. Instead of repeat posts about the details of the event, we could start with a question like, “What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and why?” Or, we can post a short quiz, invite people to fill it out on social media, and then share the results. Inviting top 5 lists are also a fun way to start a conversation.
Deliver real value. If people are going to spend time and money on something we’re offering, they need to know we’re going to deliver value. We can use social media to deliver pieces of value in advance of the event, such as an article or PDF related to event we’re trying to market. A short video would be even better. In many ways, the online world is shifting from blog to vlog, and GenZers prefer interactive video to static print.* We can work to create to a crumb trail of value that leads students to right to the event we hope they’ll attend.
Share a story. We are wired for story. We don’t need to share an epic, but we can and should share short testimonies of changed lives. Stories inspire and also offer social proof. If we’re promoting an event and want our students to show up, let’s encourage them with stories of others who have gone before them. On our live video call last night, one participant talked about sharing part of a story…and then wrapping it up later. Cliff-hangers are a great way to keep people engaged. If you’re just getting started, make sure you capture stories from your current students. And some videos too!
According to the article, GenZers respond to specialized apps and highly customized options; however, they’re also interested in the person behind the social media posts. They want people who are real. Human. Authentic. We should use social media to engage our students, but let’s never stop there. The number one reason students show up at anything we have to offer is because a real person they trust invited them to be there. Social media can’t replace personal invites.
I’m curious, what’s worked for you or what’s failed? Leave a comment below about how you’re using social media to engage GenZers and what you’re learning.
If you viewed the last video, then you know I have something super exciting I want to share with you!
It’s a special, limited-time opportunity that I can’t wait to tell you about: a live training course for practitioners (student affairs professionals, college ministers and church leaders) who want to equip students to thrive after college.
Are you ready to take your efforts to the next level? Check out this page and act quickly. The course begins next week! There are only a limited number of seats and this offer is only good until this Friday at 11:59pm ET.
In this video I share a little bit about how the Life After College program got started at Hope College. One of the key things we talked about as it was getting off the ground was the importance of space and place.
At the end of the video I mention a special, limited-time opportunity I have for you. It’s rolling out super soon, so keep your eyes on your inbox! If you don’t already receive updates, you can subscribe here to be sure you don’t miss it.
PS Don’t forget to leave a comment below the video about one thing that stood out to you or one question you have – I want to hear from you!