Summer is over and students are pouring back onto campus. As the semester gets started, it’s sometimes hard to stay focused on the things that are most important. Here are a few things that are really helpful for me to think about as I begin each new semester of college.

Spend Time Alone with God

This is absolutely the most important thing you will do this semester. Take time every single day to stop whatever you are doing and develop your relationship with God through prayer and scripture. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It’s important to start out the semester right by developing good habits.

It’s not always easy to carve out time in your schedule, and it takes discipline to develop a regular routine. If you need some structure to help you focus, try using a devotional book or a scripture reading plan. Resist the temptation to replace your quiet time with attending church or campus ministry events.

These are good things to be a part of, but they can never satisfy your need to be intimately connected to the God who made you. Let your prayer time guide your day and continue in an attitude of prayer as you go to class, do your homework, and fulfill your other responsibilities.

Re-evaluate Your Time Commitments

This is one of the most difficult things you will do each semester. It’s easy to fill up your schedule, and before you realize it, you will have no time left in your week. One important thing to learn is how to say NO. Ephesians 5:15-17 says “Be very careful then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

You will have many people asking for your time: friends, professors, student organizations, campus ministry leaders. Don’t over-commit yourself! There are tons of activities you could be involved in that are good and beneficial, but it is important to seek out God’s will and find the few things He is calling you to focus on. This takes a lot of prayer and trust in God. You may need to be less committed to some activities so you can focus more on others.

One thing to think about is which people group on your campus God is calling you to reach out to (your dorm, major, student organization, etc). You should aim to spend most of your time among that community, and leave free time in your schedule so you can hang out with other students there and share your faith with them.

Work Hard in School

Finally, remember that God has called you to college to be a student! Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” This includes studying. It’s important to attend and pay attention in class, get your homework done, and study for tests.

This may seem obvious, but often college students prioritize friends, student organizations, or campus ministry events before their schoolwork. This could be a result of overcommitment, procrastination, or distraction. Don’t allow your grades to become an idol, but be diligent and timely in your studies, even when deadlines aren’t looming over you.

This will help you to set an example for other students, and when you are on top of your studies you will have time freed up to be obedient to God’s calling in other areas of your life.