Every sophomore, junior, and senior at Blue Mountain College realizes what every freshman will soon learn: college is probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Having the resolution to pursue your academic goals to the bitter end is more difficult than any challenge you’ve faced—unless you’ve served in the military, raised a family, served in ministry, or worked a consistent career. So what advice can a BMC junior, with moderate experience, offer to help?

First off, let me establish a pedigree. This is not to blow my own horn, but to prove a point: last semester, I worked 20 hours a week at a job 30 minutes away while also adding in 5 work study hours. I served on the Baptist Student Union and taught a men’s discipleship group, in addition to attending my church and serving in the role God has given me there. I had a social life while taking the three hardest classes I will have as a Biblical studies major.

I don’t want to brag or boast, but I had a great GPA—greater than dozens of people who would not commit to certain things because they “did not have time”. I’m not trying to make myself look good: I want you to know what YOU can do this year.

I am still learning, but here are the three things that I feel like have helped me for two academic years, and I feel like they can help you.

1. Find joy in what you’re doing.

Not “do what you enjoy”. Trying to live your life under that limitation is boring and unhelpful. The truth is, you can find joy in academia. Understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish. On the global scale, you’re privileged. You get to pursue a degree, you get to experience the challenge of learning what you don’t know in order to succeed, sitting through long classes knowing that if the road were easy everyone would drive it, and powering through work by overcoming your own inhibitions. This is not just a battle, it’s an adventure! Do what has to be done, but for your own sake, learn to enjoy it.

2. Manage your time and prioritize the reason you’re attending college.

I failed to mention above that in what was my most successful semester, I never logged onto Netflix or use a video game system. Not that there’s anything wrong with either. Most of us need the relief, but don’t let reliefs become escapes from what’s right in front of you, needing to be done. You can be free to have fun and do enjoyable, “college experience things” because you used a spare hour Wednesday afternoon to complete a project that was due Friday. Hit everything as early as you can, and make sure you’ve budgeted time to complete what you know you have coming up. Simple, right?

3. Be a Christian.

No, not because Jesus will magically grant a perfect semester. No, not because He will make the hard times somehow “not hard.” They will still be objectively difficult. No, be a Christian because Christ is Lord. Be a Christian because He deserves your love and allegiance no matter how you may feel about Him. Be a Christian because God paid an immeasurable cost to save you from His own just anger against your sin. Once you find yourself in realization of those realities, you can get through the semester, and the school year, and life. Because you have a foundation on which to place your life that is much larger than your GPA. Know Him, love Him.

This is one of the most exciting beginnings you'll ever have. Make the most of it