Brokenhearted Theology, Future, Ramblings

top three lies told about college students

In the world of college ministry (and these are probably somewhat universal to any life stage), there are several lies that are spread around like wildfire.   I attest to these, not only as someone that works in college ministry, but also as someone who recently graduated from college, and am still in the throws of collegiate life (I live on campus, I have 4 student roommates, I work on campus 3 days a week, I am taking a class, etc.). 

I think that the word lies is appropriate, but I’ve been thinking that an equally good term could be excuses.  If I had a nickel for every time one of these was used…or even every time that I used one of them, I would be a rich man. 

       1.  College students do not have money.

I think everyone has heard this one.  College students are poor.  We don’t have money to spend.  When we are not studying, we are digging through couches to try and find an extra dime or quarter to do our laundry or to be able to afford a few more packs of Ramen so we can eat at least one meal every couple of days or so. 

Yeah, right.

Although it is a common misconception about us, we have money.  Two thirds of us have jobs while we’re in school, and that money does not all go to pay for school supplies.  On the contrary, we spend billions of dollars each year.  And not just a few billion.  A few years ago, a survey determined that college students spend on average $53.9 billion a year in discretionary spending.  That means that we are eating out.  We go to Starbucks on a daily basis.  We will buy stuff that entertains us.  iPod’s.  CD’s.  DVD’s.  Video Games.  Computers.  We will spend the money to throw good parties.  We will give money to causes. 

College students have money.  Lots of it.

       2.  College students do not have cars.

Everyone has heard this one too.  And it may be true.  Many of us do not own a car.  I didn’t have one through four years of college.

But, get us excited about something that we need to drive to, and rest assured knowing that we will be there.  We will drive for hours to get to concerts.  We will convince our friends with cars that we need to drive to the mall, or the movie theater – and they will drive us there.  You will see us at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Summerfest, or the New Orleans Jazz Festival.  We may not all have cars, but we know how to get them from our friends, parents, or complete strangers.  More than 400,000 of us will drive to Panama City Beach each year for spring break.

We may not own cars, but we certainly have access to cars. 

       3.  College students do not have time.

I love this one.  Everyone knows that college students do not have time.  We are all studying in the library, and cannot be asked to give up time to do other things.

Whatever.  We will make time for whatever we want.  Yes, we do spend time studying and writing papers.  But we will also make sure that we can check Facebook on the hour.  We will instant message our friends at other schools, or at the very least check their away messages.  We will play Halo every night with the guys from down the hall.  We will find time to get to the best parties on the weekends.  We will wait in line for hours to get the best tickets to the football games.

Oh, and I forgot to mention.  We will also run your political campaign, and convince our friends to go door to door for you.  We will sleep outside in the middle of rain for kids in Uganda.  We will volunteer in your children’s ministry.  We will volunteer in your soup kitchen, and spend hours licking envelopes to send out mailings.

Trust me, college students have time.

I hear these three lies excuses all the time.  I use these excuses all the time.

Trust me on this.  College students will make time, find transportation, and spend money for things that are worthwhile

The issue is NOT time, transportation, or money.  The issue is worth

So, if you are involved in college ministry, are you inviting students to something that is worthwhile?  Students will not turn out for Event X or Gathering Y if it isn’t worth their time.  Thinking about having an event off campus?  That’s fine, but make it worthwhile.  Are people simply being invited to a place, or are you inviting them into a cause that can have global repercussions?

But this goes beyond a simple college ministry application.  I believe that college students are waiting.  Waiting to be challenged.  Challenged to change the world.

Change the world?  It sounds cliché, but I believe that there is such truth in that statement.  We are more aware than any previous generation of the events happening daily in our world.  We know that there is an entire continent ravaged by disease.  Our hearts break when we hear about the Invisible Children of Uganda.  We empathize with those in Nepal fighting for political autonomy.  We feel connected to those who suffer in the third world.  We want to help fight the famine in Nigeria. 

I don’t know….maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong…maybe I’m missing something.  What are your thoughts?

Inspirations and References


4 thoughts on “top three lies told about college students

  1. I certainly agree with the three “lies” you discussed. As far as the waiting to be challenged to change the world, yes, but for many this is in a deep recess of their souls that has been choked by their desire for fun, convenience, and entertainment. I do think it is there. For some it is very close to the surface. For many it is under a heap of worldliness that has to be cleared away.


  2. great post! i too agree with the need to present college students particularly with things that are worthwhile. thanks for putting it into words.

    i guess the hard part now more me is how do I frame the things that truly are important, as being worthwhile? i think my problem as i plan things for collegiates is that i\’m not a very good communicator of the importance. i need to learn how to cast the vision that God has given me better. i\’m encouraged to do that though!


  3. You are dead on. Busy college students? Maybe busy playing PS2 and taking naps – among other things – but you are dead on. Thanks for your thoughts.



  4. Jake, thanks for the thoughts. When I was writing this yesterday, I felt like it might have been ending on too much of a “college students are ready to go, why aren’t you asking them?” push…but couldn’t put my finger on what was needed to balance that idea out with the other aspects that need to be addressed. I think you’re right with the reality that so many college students “desire for fun, convenience, and entertainment.” And that doesn’t mean making a college ministry with lots of Xbox 360s and plasma screens. Instead, college ministries should, as you put it, seek to rescue the ‘deep recess of souls’ for the talent and abilities that are for sure down there. Maybe easier said than done.

    And Tiffany, I totally agree…I’m not always great at communicating the intentions or worthiness of stuff going on. It’s a daunting task to cast a vision to students to change the world. I think so often I forgot how contagious it was for me to just see someone else point to Christ through the way they lived their life. Instead of getting lost in the confusions of how best to cast a vision, or what words to use, I think I need to just talk about my excitement for Christ. Again, sometimes easier said than done!

    Good thoughts, made me think. thanks guys!


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