Each year, in every community, teenagers fill out FAFSA forms, take or re-take SAT and ACT tests, and open their own checking account. These teens are America's college-bound youth and future leaders. As a high school teacher, I have written countless recommendation letters and offered counsel to many nervous seniors. These students are as different as the schools and occupations they are choosing, but I have discovered that their jitters are the same. I have yet to meet a graduating senior that does not have some anxiety about where they are going or how they are going to pay for it. Teens talk. When an adult chooses to listen, their needs can be clearly heard.
What I have learned by listening is that these pre-flight fledglings need:
- Encouragement and support
- Money or necessary supplies
This month, provide a college-bound high school senior with a basket full of love and security. Choose a teen from your church's youth group, neighborhood, or the child or grandchild of a group member. Discuss this particular teen's personality, needs, and wants. Decide what items need to be purchased or made, and divide the responsibilities.
Some items to consider:
- A Bible
- A journal
- A gift certificate for a massage
- Mints and/or gum
- Pens and/or pencils
- Music download gift certificate
- Purpose Driven Life
by Rick Warren
- Coffee gift certificates
- Framed picture
- Sweatshirt or T-shirt from his or her hometown
- Desktop supplies
- Humorous cards
- A coffee mug
- Emergency cash (an empty matchbox with a dollar inside)
- Non-perishable food
As a group, brainstorm a list of things you wish you had known before you went to college. These things can be humorous or serious. Creatively compile the list, and make it the centerpiece of the basket. Deliver the basket to the student with a promise to pray throughout his or her first year of college. As soon as possible, obtain the teen's address and email, and follow up your commitment to pray with cards and emails throughout the year.
Small group leaders, encourage your group members to:
- Give a coffee drinker a chic new spring coffee mug.
- Take a pre-driving teen shopping.
- Order your favorite book and have it delivered to a friend or neighbor.