The Words of the Nakai Family
Laurel's Top 10, Advice for College BC's
Koichi and Laurel Nakai
On March 14th I had the honor to speak at a parent's meeting held by the New Jersey community on the topic of "Spiritual Health in College and Matching and Blessing Prep." About 30 parents attended the meeting to hear from recent graduates, like myself, and others still in school or members of the community who work with college age students. In hearing the other testimonies and in talking with parents afterwards, I realize that this is an important topic that needs to be addressed as the number of Blessed children graduating from high school continues to increase. Reflecting on my own college experience and recognizing the need for education and guidance on this issue, I put together a list of things that got me through my four years, as well as those that I wish I would have known to start with.
Laurel's Top 10 Advice for a College BC
1. Be yourself. Be upfront about your faith, values, etc. For some people lucky enough to live in an area with a large church community, it may be the first time that you are the only BC in your school. It is important that you feel like you are being true to who you are as well as experience that acceptance from others.
2. Read HDH/DP. Anything that keeps you centered. There is a lot of free time in college, and in a time where things are turned upside down and you are dealing with stress, doubt, and all of the emotions you face it's good to have something stable. Go back to the basics. Carry around a DP or HDH, read in between classes or when waiting for the bus.
3. Set goals/conditions for yourself. Same idea as reading HDH, keeps you centered and focused. Knowing how to set goals helps in staying organized and on track with all of your school work as well.
4. Be pro-active. Seek out your own support system. If there is a church center around you get connected to it, offer to teach Sunday school or at least make it to Sunday service. Find out if there are any BC's, blessed families in the area and connect with them. Be a leader, if there are no programs for you, create one!
5. Talk to your parents. Your parents are the best support system you have. Talk to them about what is going on at school, share your feelings, your fears, any struggles that you are going through. If nothing else it's always good to have someone to talk to who will listen with unconditional love and understanding, and to know that they are praying for you and supporting you.
6. Surround yourself with positive people. These are the people that will keep you accountable and who will allow you to be yourself. If you are clear about who you are and what you believe then good people will naturally gravitate towards you.
7. Get involved in activities/clubs. This is a great place to meet new people, fill up some of your free time, and invest in and serve your school.
8. Know what you want. If you know what you want you can figure out what you need to do to get there. Ask yourself the hard questions, (i.e., "do I want to go to the blessing?", "what will I do after college that will benefit God's providence?") and discuss issues with your parents or people that you trust. These things will give you a purpose and keep you going.
9. Plan for the Future. College is a time where you can try new things, figure out what you want to do in the future and what kind of person you want to be. It is a unique time when you can completely focus on yourself. Take advantage of that time to invest spiritually as well as intellectually.
10. Enjoy It! If you think of college as an opportunity, to discover new things about yourself, to strengthen your faith, and to build a strong foundation for you to go out into the world then it can be a wonderful chapter in your life. Take every challenge as an opportunity to grow.
I'm often asked my opinion on STF versus College. While I went the college route, and certainly experienced the ups and downs it has to offer, I struggled with the decision up until the end of my sophomore year. The conclusion I came to, and the answer I give to this question, is that it does not matter which option you choose, the important part is taking responsibility and ownership over your choice. Knowing the challenges that come along with our decision can help us to overcome those struggles and to grow from the experience in a positive way.
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