For a lot of grade 12 students, this month begins the turning of the page towards the next chapter in their lives. Many are submitting their applications for admission to colleges and universities. They’re anticipating their high school graduation and whatever adventures they’ll be stepping into in September. What can you as a faith community do to support them in this transition? Here are some suggestions.
A Grad Mentor
For many students, the next 10 months will be a roller coaster of emotions, with highs, lows and a pinch of anxiety (maybe more than a pinch). While mentoring is important for any stage in a person’s faith journey, having a mentor during this critical life stage will deeply influence that student’s faith formation.
Does your student have at least one person who will proactively walk with him or her during this time? This could be a university student or someone who’s retired. While the mentor isn’t there to spoon feed the soon-to-be-grad, they are there to at least ensure the student is supported. Our grad mentoring kit (add url) is one platform for those conversations.
Connecting to a New Community
For those who are moving to another city, helping them connect to another faith community is a key step. This doesn’t mean you need to hold them by the hand and nag them to go to church every week. But many times, students aren’t sure where to even start looking. Providing students with a contact name at a church you trust in that area is helpful. If they’re going to college or university, connect them to a local campus group. (The purpose of our Transition 101 event on May 28 is focused on doing that.) That first contact is key to establishing themselves in another faith community, which sustains their own faith formation.
For those who are not going away, whether for to school or for work, must also find ways to shift into their next stage–and they also need support to continue to grow in faith instead of regressing to their “high school” selves. For these young people, support may mean encouraging different ministry opportunities outside of what they experienced within the youth ministry. Maybe you can do a young-adult exchange with another church so they can experience a different ministry context. Any encouragement lets them know they are relevant in and to the faith community at this new stage of life.
As your grade 12 grads reach this new milestone, celebrate and praise God with them. Whether as a commissioning service or a special prayer time, let this be for them (and you) a time to remember where God has brought them and where he will continue to take them.
What other ways do you help grade 12 grads transition into post-secondary life?