8 Ways to Ruin Your Life in College

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College signals a new season. For many, it is a return to normalcy. For some, it is a step closer to a degree. A step closer to “real life.” Whatever that means. For others, it is the beginning of life without the presence of mom and dad. College is a great time to learn, find yourself, build relationships, or any number of other things.

But here is a reality many in college fail to grasp…your time will end. You can’t stay in college forever. Whether you want to accept this reality or not, the reality remains.


College is not THE stop on the road of life…it is A stop.


With this reality in mind, it is important…no, it is vital…to understand your decisions and actions in college will directly affect the trajectory of your life. Many of us like to think we can be wild and free in college without any changes to the direction of our life. This would be great, but it’s not reality. Life doesn’t work this way. Wasting your time in college can have catastrophic effects on the course of your life. Nobody wants that. I understand. But it happens. So, how is it possible to ruin your life in college? There are many ways…I am giving you eight. Here they are.


This is where we must begin. If your goal is to ruin your life in college, go ahead and neglect your relationship with God. Most of your peers will do it. Just follow the crowd. Put everything before God. School. Friends. Intramurals. I get it. You have a lot on your plate. Put God on the back burner for the next 4-5 years. You can pick Him up when you graduate. This is a great way to make faith in God very difficult after college. This is also a great to ensure your time in college will involve regret. Your college years are the most formative years of your life. Many of your ideals and values will be shaped during this time. Don’t care to make God a huge value? Go ahead and spend time doing anything else. There are so many things competing for your morals and values. Doesn’t matter if you are at a Christian university or a secular university. If you want to find it, you do not have to look far. You get what you are looking for. Are you looking for God?


Frankly, I hate using these terms. What does it even mean to be “popular”? It implies a select group of people have fit the criteria needed to be determined “popular” by an ever-changing culture. Might change tomorrow, but today you are good. Kind of ridiculous really. I understand, however, that the need to be accepted is real. I also understand it drives many, many people to compromise values and morals. So, if you want to ensure you ruin your life in college, listen to the lies of the culture. Believe acceptance is more important than integrity. Believe status is more important than morals. Put yourself in compromising situations. And surround yourself with people who believe like you do. The culture makes you believe nothing is more important than being known by your peers. True, you might be considered “popular” by some. But your status lasts five years…max. The morals you must compromise to achieve your status might leave side effects that last a lifetime. Here is a good rule of thumb…

Never throw away something you control to gain something that can easily be taken from you.


Popularity can be snatched from you before you realize it. Your morals and values…no one can take those from you. You must give them up. Stand firm on your relationship with God. He is truth. His ways are pure and perfect. Stay close to Him. Never trade in something you control to gain something that can be taken from you. That’s a bad deal.


This is a great way to ruin your life in college. Just live for the moment. Don’t think about the consequences of your actions. Don’t think about the future. Shoot, don’t even think about tomorrow. Just do whatever feels good now. Living for the moment is like a drug. It skews your perspective and it blinds your perception. Living for the moment doesn’t allow you to look into the future. It promises you satisfaction and pleasure right now…and it might be correct. Getting drunk…and driving. Having sex. Cheating on a test. Maybe you are able to relieve some stress. Have some temporary pleasure. Get a grade you desperately need. But living for the moment is dangerous. Why? Because it is a moment. Once it passes, the rest of your life is in front of you. “Living for the moment” doesn’t give you a way to clean up the mess it often leaves behind. It is like that friend who always stirs up the fight but never hangs around to participate. You know the friend. Usually the smallest one in your posse. But he (or she) has the loudest mouth. This is what living for the moment does. Stirs you up to do something, but never hangs around to see how it plays out. And it certainly never shows to clean the mess. Ditch that friend now.


I needed to hear this when I was in college…learning is a gift from God. The primary goal of attending college is not to earn a degree…it is to learn. If your goal is to gain a piece of paper, you are wasting your time in college. College is a time to grow and prepare for the life ahead. Take advantage of the gift you have to learn. God has given you the opportunity. Discover your gifts and talents. Strive for excellence in everything. Don’t cheat. Don’t rely on others to do the work for you. Don’t take the easy way out. The world is full of those people. They don’t leave much of an impact on the world. Start now building good disciplines. Learn. Grow. Prepare. This season of life is a gift from God. How are you stewarding this gift?


Nothing makes life more meaningless than living it for yourself. The culture is filled with people who use every waking moment to satisfy their own selfish desires. Don’t be one of those. Here is a comforting truth…life is not about you. Don’t try to “get yours.” Try to give to others. Want to make sure you leave no impact on the world? Live for yourself. Only have friends that feed your ego. Soak up everything for yourself. Believe life is all about you. Want to leave a mark on this world? Let God has rightful place in your life. Give Him the spotlight. Point others to Him. Leave an impression on others by serving them. You are in a position right now to impact a lot of lives. Maybe more than any other season of your life. You have an opportunity in front of you. Push back against the temptation to live for yourself.


Want to build some bad habits that are sure to follow you into a future career, marriage, etc.? Spend all of your free time doing stuff that has no value beyond the present. Watch every season of every show on Netflix…twice. Play every video game ever created. Have meaningless conversations that last hours…and make sure you spend spend the time talking about other people. Refresh your social media platforms every 30 seconds. Sleep 15 hours a day. These habits will make a future job, marriage, and family difficult to navigate. I am not against movies, video games, and the occasional meaningless conversation. It is problematic, however, when your primary accomplishment is watching every season of Breaking Bad…five times. Instead, spend more time reading. Spend time with God. Go outside. Put down your phone. Spend time doing homework. Who knows, you might have the time to get plugged in to a community of Christians. Because most college students do not have hoards of money at their disposal, the most obvious way to determine what is important to you is to look at how you spend your time. So, what is most important?


Many of you will find this ridiculous. Sounds kind of crazy to me too. But in the culture where I find myself, this is a reality. Many people go to college to find a spouse. For some, it is the only reason they go. Here is what gets me about this. Much of the pressure to find a spouse is put on them by whom? Can you guess it…their parents and the people around them. So, many people ship off to college to find a spouse, not a degree. But what happens when you get to your senior year and no real prospects are in sight? Uh oh…panic mode. Just pick Joe or Bonny. Yeah, you might be lowering your standards, but you must find a spouse before you leave. Right? Does this not sound a bit absurd? Listen, I am not against finding a spouse in college. By all means, go right ahead. But don’t let the pursuit of a spouse consume your life. And, my goodness, please don’t let your only purpose for going to college be to find a spouse.


Students I am going to be real with you. Colleges aren’t going to fill you in on the ways to cut down on your costs. They want your money. But as a minister, I feel I must tell several of you something important…you are setting yourself up for failure. Tens of thousands of dollars in student loans plus a B. A. in Basket Making equals a mountain you can’t climb. I know so many people who are making a house payment every month in student loans. They went to a school that was insanely expensive with no plan to pay for it. Then they amplified the situation by majoring in something that did not allow them to pay off the loans they took out. This issue hits close to home because many of these people are my friends and family. I love them, and I have witnessed their struggle. The massive mountain of debt is hurting their marriage. It is crippling their quality of life. If you are a student, you have a responsibility to think about your future. Every dollar you take out, you will have to pay back…with interest. Make a smart, educated (nice pun, right?) choice. This decision will impact the rest of your life. Choose wisely. Remember, college is not the stop on the road of life…it is stop. Don’t allow four years of college to create a mountain you will spend the rest of your life trying to climb. That’s exhausting. ________________________________________________ I have so much love for those in college. I think you are going to change the world. But don’t allow the potential pitfalls to alter the course of your life. College is a formative time. Enjoy it. Take it seriously. Learn. Build relationships. Serve others. Protect your morals and faith. Make wise decisions. Have fun. Seek God. What did I miss? Comment below and join the conversation. I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!

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Devoted follower of Christ, college/young adult minister, husband to @tiffanipowell, dad to Noah and Micah, avid blogger/writer, sports fan. You can follow him on twitter here and read more blogs here!