It’s Okay to Cry: Helping Seniors Leave Well

Here’s an article (from the archives) that helps us encourage our students to leave well. It’s easy for students (and even for us) to stuff our emotions. But this isn’t healthy.

It’s okay to call it [the ending of college] what it is. It’s okay for our students to cry. And for us to do the same if we need to!

Check out the article, and then share one thing that you do to help students leave well. Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

P.S. Something you don’t need to cry about, but might if you don’t act soon: 🙂

The LAST day to register for the Live Training Course on Equipping Students for Life After College is Monday, 5/13.  

This 5 week course is for practitioners (college ministers, church leaders, and student affairs professionals) who are looking to start new initiatives or take their current efforts to the next level.

I have a some seats left in the Wednesday Class (12-1pm ET), which begins next week, May 15th. All teaching is live, but participants log-in from the comforts of their office or home.

Here’s the direct link to register. Hope to see you there! 

The Best Graduation Gift You Can Give Your Seniors

Last week, I had the joy of teaching a group of students who are about to graduate from an intensive, 9 month discipleship experience called OneLife. The program director invited me to help these students transition, and one of his hopes was that the students leave with confidence about their next steps (even in the unknown).   

We covered a lot of ground in my few days with them, but the most important thing I offered went beyond tips for transitions or practical advice on money management (crucial as these are).   

If we want to help our students thrive in the transition, they need deep and timely reminders of God’s character and goodness. Dwelling on who God is (the same God yesterday, today and forever) and who we are because of him is what grounds us in life’s transitions.   

This is the most important gift we can give.  

At OneLife, we took time to reflect on the attributes of God as well as on our identity in Christ. I led the students through an activity that invited them to consider how they image God. Without even realizing it, our picture of God may be far from who he describes himself to be and who he reveals himself as in the person of Jesus. 

For many years, I pictured God as a lightning-bold-throwing God, ready to reprimand me if I stepped out of line. I’ve also imaged him as a “carrot-dangling” God — a deity who tantalizes me with good gifts, but then quickly takes them away. I needed a new image.   

I invited the students to select actual images (printed on card stock) that connected with them. I also asked them to reflect, journal and free write, using these two downloadable documents (below) as prompts.   

Feel free to give these “gifts” to your students.   

We cannot remove the chaos of transitional times, but we can offer our students a firm place to plant their feet.  

We can remind them of a constant God for every dynamic time.

Be encouraged today!
Erica   

PS I’m no longer praying to my faulty abstracts of God. Thanks to all of the beautiful I AM statements in John’s gospel, I have new, rich, and right images of him.   


PPS How do you help students grow in their understanding of God’s character and their identity in him? What practical resources do you use? 

 

What Your Seniors Need to Hear Before They Leave

Last week I had the honor of speaking via live video to two different groups of seniors — one in Alabama, one in Arkansas. They were wonderful groups of students, eager to launch into life after college, and they asked great questions at the end!

As I prepared to be with both groups, there was so much I wanted to say to encourage them. I often feel the tension of wanting to “bring the real” (transitions are hard!) while also leaving students with deep hope (God is good, and He has so much good in store!). 

My guess is you too are sharing parting words with your seniors (or will be in the coming days), and you may feel this tension. If you’re managing this tension right now or not sure what to say, here are some thoughts (from the archives) on what our students need to hear before they leave.

I’d love know, what’s one thing you make sure to share with students before they graduate?

Live Training Course!

If you viewed the last video post, 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? I can get you there! Check the video below act quickly. There are only a limited number of seats and best time to lock-in is before 11:59pm ET this Friday, 4/19. 

For more details and to grab your seat, CLICK HERE.

PS One more thing — I’m including a special BONUS this week for those who register by this Friday night at 11:59 PM ET: a FREE Free One-on-One Coaching Session. This is a 50 minute session to discuss your unique context, strategize about next steps, and maximize all you’re learning in the The Live Training Course!

Secure your seat by the end of day on Friday for maximum savings on the course and this free BONUS! 

What are the most important topics to cover with graduating seniors?

If you’re looking to help students prepare for life after college, you may be wondering, are we covering the most important topics? Check out this short video that explains another free PDF you don’t want to miss!

Also, more exciting things coming…keep your eyes on your inbox! If you don’t already subscribe to updates, and you don’t want to miss out, make sure you sign-up today. Can’t wait to share soon about what’s coming!

For your free PDF of the Roadmap of Topics, click here.

To order copies of After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith (InterVarsity Press), click here.

  • What’s your favorite topic to cover with students before they graduate?
  • What topic do you need more help developing?

Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

PS Stay tuned for more exciting things coming your way! If you’ve enjoyed these short videos/PDF giveaways, I encourage you to check out the free teaching series I gave away earlier this semester if you haven’t yet. This is a great time for a binge watch! Here’s the series:

How-to Run an Awesome Alumni Panel

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.

For more free content, check out this recent post and subscribe above so you don’t miss what’s next!

Equipping Exercise & free PDF

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 video clip is from a series of free teaching videos I released earlier this semester. If you missed those, I highly encourage you to check out the first one in the series called “Why Equipping Students for Life After College Matters & How You Can Help.” 

This special video is the first of several videos you don’t want to miss. Leave a comment and stay tuned! If you don’t already receive regular updates, subscribe (to the right) so you don’t miss out.

Rooting for you,

Erica

5 Strategies for Honoring Graduating Seniors

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!

Why Every Young Adult Should Read Augustine’s Confessions

A guest post by Austin Gohn

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 tiny apartment.

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 ever read.

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 same.

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 adulthood.

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.

In A 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:

  1. The Search for Answers
  2. The Search for Habits
  3. The Search for Belonging
  4. The Search for Love
  5. 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.

You can order A Restless Age from Hearts and Minds Books or Amazon.

I had the honor of meeting Austin and his family at CCO’s Jubilee Conference last month.
His adorable son, Levi, steals the shot in this photo!

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!