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What Every College Freshman Should Know

College Students“Coming to college is kind of like entering a whole new culture,” said Lisa Brennan, English instructor and coordinator of the First-Generation Student Success program at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill.  “It’s a new atmosphere.  There’s a new language.”

To help freshmen translate that new language and make a smooth transition from high school to college, administrators and students from United Methodist-related colleges and universities are offering advice for those hitting campus for the first time.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Lauren Cook, a sophomore at McKendree, said she would tell freshmen not to be intimidated.  The Chicago native admits to being frustrated during the daunting process of applying for financial aid.

“I’m a first-generation student and an only child, and even though my mother was encouraging and really wanted to help me, neither of us really knew what to do,” Cook said.  “I had to learn how to utilize the people at McKendree.  I wish I had known that earlier on to eliminate stress from the beginning.  Hang in there, and ask questions because there are people that want to help you.  You just have to ask.”

Brennan said that’s an especially important reminder for the increased number of students, like Lauren, who are the first in their families to attend college.

Nationally, first-generation students are four times more likely to drop out of college than other students.

“The reason they quit or fail is because they don’t know how to navigate the system or they feel like imposters,” said Brennan.  “They feel like they don’t belong here.”

That’s why most colleges already have resources in place designed to assist with everything from tutoring to counseling.

“The glitch is that students don’t even know that they own a toolbox or perhaps they’re thinking of those tools in terms of high school,” explained Brennan.  “An example is that sometimes when students hear the word ‘tutoring,’ they think that means it’s for students who are behind or are not bright.  At the college-level, virtually every student is tutored — especially in a liberal arts education where you’re expected to study different disciplines.  One or more of those areas might need more attention.  For me, it was math.  I’m bright, but math was difficult for me.”

Familiarize yourself with your ‘toolbox’

United Methodist-related schools, colleges and universities are committed to creating support systems to care for a students’ spiritual and mental well-being in addition to academic success. 

At  Andrew College in Cuthbert, Ga., administrators hold InSpire Days during the summer.  These sessions allow students to meet advisers, tour the campus and get priority registration for classes.

“Leaders at our United Methodist-related institutions make great efforts to give students and parents the tools they need for a successful college experience, “ said Gerald D. Lord, associate general secretary of the division of higher education of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.  “In addition to the programs and events sponsored by United Methodist-related colleges and universities, the division of higher education supports 520 collegiate ministries that facilitate students’ spiritual and social development.”

You are not alone

McKendree University T-shirtThis McKendree University T-shirt raises awareness of service by quoting a question raised by Martin Luther King Jr.

Find comfort in knowing there are others who feel the same way you do.  During the transition, feelings of loneliness are common.

To beat the new-student blues, get involved.  Creating community not only combats loneliness, it also can put you on the path to success.

“Research shows us that students who become engaged on campus are most likely to have a better support system and to complete their programs,” said Sherri Taylor, dean of students at Andrew College.  “I encourage students to read their college newspapers, bulletin boards and social media to keep up with events on campus.  Attending chapel and local church services is another way to meet community students and make friends to establish a support system.”

Consider getting involved in campus ministry for opportunities to meet friends and to grow spiritually through deep discussions, Bible study, community service and yes, even, parties.  Do a quick search at to find a campus ministry or Wesley Foundation at your school.

If there is no campus ministry in your area, check out programs at nearby churches. Go to to locate a church near campus.

Beat stress before it strikes

According to the U.S. Department of Education, for every one hour in class, students should study for two hours outside of class.  This guideline and other time-management skills can help you alleviate stress from the beginning.

Many schools, including Andrew and McKendree, offer counseling or courses in time management.

“Stay organized,” advised Taylor.  “Determine a schedule and stick to it.  Allow yourself more time than what may be needed in the event you run into assignments that take time.  Have fun.  Make time to have a full college experience.  Just keep the fun in balance with the work that you have to do.”

During the stressful, high-stakes seasons of mid-terms and finals, participate in any stress-busting activities that your college might have planned.  For example, at McKendree, students can enjoy visits with therapy dogs during study breaks.

Another way to fight stress is with exercise.  Hit the gym or join a pick-up game of your favorite sport.  While the ‘freshman 15’ is a concern for many, Taylor advises that some weight gain or loss is normal as you adjust to a new environment.

Drink plenty of water and get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.  If you have the opportunity, consider participating in a program like the Wonders of Wellness food co-op at McKendree.  Through this program, participants can order fresh produce and receive the healthy delivery right on campus.

Work hard; be nice

Lauren offers fellow students one final piece of advice: Never underestimate the power of hard work and treating others with respect.

“Professional relationships can help you make connections,” she said. “If you’re nice to professors, they might remember you when a scholarship or job opportunity comes along.  Put yourself out there.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it.  Hard work pays off.  I’m from a single-parent household and I didn’t have money to go to college, but I made it through my first year.  Good things happen when you put in the hard work.”

*Bannon is a public relations specialist at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or

Life at Central

Life at CentralOur “Life at Central” page has been revamped to feature a moving slide show of photos of the folks at Central Church engaged in some of our many activities.

If you have any photos of interest that could be included on our site, please send them along!


Central Church’s United Methodist Women are finalizing arrangements for our largest Rummage and Clothing Sale in our history!

Central - Rummage Sale 4 - 8-14-2013

The Sale will be held from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm on Wednesday, August 14 in Central Church’s Fellowship Hall.

Come and see the staggering variety of quality clothing and other goodies – including some real antiques at bargain prices.

Later that day, our reduced price Bag Sale will be held for Clothing items from 6:00-8:30 pm.  Other items will continue to be available at regular prices.

Don’t miss this 1-Day opportunity to load up on quality clothing and other goodies at bargain prices.  Proceeds will benefit the United Methodist Women organization’s mission outreaches around the world.

Parsonage Rental

Central - Parsonage 1 - 8-2-2013Our former pastor, Mark Ongley, is in the process of purchasing a home on College Hill, and will be leaving Central’s Parsonage by the end of August.

Since our current pastor does not require the use of Central’s Parsonage, we have retained Bovard-Anderson to help us find qualified tenants for the Parsonage beginning on September 1, 2013 when our building will be free.  Proceeds from the rental will support our current operating expenses and community outreaches, especially our free community feeding ministries on Soup Tuesday, the Friday soup kitchen, and the Saturday Breakfast.

If you know anyone who might be interested in renting our Parsonage, or if you are interested yourself, please call Bovard-Anderson at (724) 774-5330 to ask any questions or to schedule a tour of the property.

Parsonage - Bovard-Anderson Listing - 8-10-2013

Holiness Down Here – Let’s Reposition Holiness

Imported CarsQ.  What exactly is repositioning?

A.  In post-World War II America, the words Made in Japan on a product failed to evoke a positive emotional response.  Not many of us wanted to purchase a Datsun.  But businesses purposely “repositioned” their products in the mind of the public to evoke a dramatically different emotional response.

Today, Japanese exports have become highly desirable.  The names Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Lexus, and Infiniti dominate automobile sales.  As Japan’s positioning in the marketplace changed, so did consumer’s purchasing habits.

How does this apply to holiness?

The enemy has orchestrated a long, relentless, strategic campaign to position holiness as something to be avoided at all costs.  The picture most of us have concerning holiness simply isn’t true.  The holy among us aren’t just stern people wearing dark colors.  A life spent pursuing holiness is a wild, daring, robust life that most would envy if they understood the truth.

Could it be that when you meet a person who is genuinely holy, he or she is one of the few who are genuinely happy?

What if I still feel uncomfortable with being holy?

How I feel about holiness exerts dramatic power over my choices.  Holiness has been positioned in most minds as undesirable—and many have paid dearly for the mistake of avoiding it.  We need to reposition holiness in our hearts and minds.

—Bruce Wilkinson founded Walk Thru the Bible Ministries and Global Vision Resources.

Adapted from “Set Apart: Dicovering Personal Victory Through Holiness” (Multnomah, 2003)

Holiness Down Here – All That Jazz

JazzKey Bible Verse: “Those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.”  Romans 8: 5

Bonus Reading:  Romans 8: 1-14

I love jazz.  When I first became a Christian I owned a sizeable record collection.  All my discretionary cash went to enlarging my collection.  If one of my favorite musicians or bands came out with a new release, I was obsessed with getting it.  If I didn’t have the money, I would borrow it.

Slowly the Lord began raising questions in my mind as to whether or not even something enjoyable like music should exercise that much control over my desires and behavior.  Deciding that it shouldn’t, I did the unthinkable.  After pulling out a few favorites, I called a friend and said that the rest were his.

Becoming a Christian didn’t make me hate jazz.  I still love it.  I had simply tasted something I wanted more.

It was time for a new first love in my life, and my compulsiveness in acquiring jazz albums was starting to slow me down in my pursuit of what I recognized to be far more important.  

Anything that dulls our spiritual appetite must be restrained or jettisoned.  Oswald Chambers said, “Jesus Christ has no tenderness whatever toward anything that is ultimately going to ruin a man in the service of God.”  Those hot after righteousness know this.

—David Swartz in “The Magnificent Obsession”


My Response:  A passion of mine that may be competing with my God-passion is …


Thought to Apply:  Holiness is not optional for the Christian.  It is not an elective.  It is your major.

—John White (writer)

Adapted from “The Magnificent Obsession”  (NavPress, 1990)

Parsonage Gutters – Tidying Up

Central - Parsonage - Gutter Cleaning - 8-2-2013While working on a neighbor’s roof today, Conrad noticed that our Parsonage box gutters were completely clogged with leaves and debris from the big maple tree in the back yard, so he hopped over from one roof to another and cleaned out the Parsonage gutters as well, resulting in two large “whooshes” as the accumulated water rushed down the downspouts on both sides of the building.

Also in the gutters – two shingles from the roof over one of the third floor dormers.  He’s renailed them back into place, and we’re good to go for another season!

“Throwing Out the Rules” – New Bible Study

A neGalatiansw Bible study of Galatians by Jack Kuhatschek explores Paul’s letter to the Galatians where you will discover the true source of acceptance—Jesus Christ—and what your acceptance in God’s eyes means for your daily life.

Here’s a sample of what Jack writes:

Several years after I started following Christ, my Christian walk began to feel burdensome.  It seemed that my life had been reduced to a list of rules to follow.

Do spend extra time with other Christians; don’t engage in too many secular activities.
Do plan to share your faith; don’t ever miss an opportunity.
Do listen to Christian music; don’t be caught listening to that other radio station.

So when I read Galatians 5:1—”It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”—God breathed new life into my relationship with him.  While the rules running through my mind weren’t necessarily bad, they bordered on Pharisee-like behavior.  And that’s not how God calls us to live.

Discover more from the Book of Galatians in this 11-session study from IVP.

13th Street Gutters

Central - 13th Street GuttersAs part of our upgrading of the drainage on the 13th Street side of our Church, Conrad and his friends have installed wire screen gutter guards over the four sections of gutters.

Now that the guards are in place, we will no longer have to devote time and effort to cleaning out our downspouts that seem to regularly fill with leaves, seeds, and other debris from our neighborhood trees.

Our thanks to Conrad and our Trustees who are always looking for ways to improve our Church!

Gas Meter

Gas MeterAs part of regular inspections by Columbia Gas, a small gas leak was discovered today on the City’s side of our gas meter.

Although the odor of gas was not detectable, the sophisticated “sniffers” that Columbia Gas uses detected a minute leak at the coupling to the gas meter.  A slight tightening with a very large wrench, and the problem has been eliminated.

Our thanks to Columbia Gas for their vigilance in discovering and correcting a minor leak before it could become a major problem!

Fellowship Hall – Workin’ the Walls

Central - Dining Room WallsOur Trustees are pressing on with their project to give us fresh, new plasterboard walls in our Fellowship Hall.

A new 13′ section on the South wall behind the piano has been framed and covered with plasterboard by Jeff Lokey, Dave Conner, Dick Dotson, and Dick Klugh, and today Conrad began the process of “mudding” and sanding the joints to give us a nice, smooth surface that can be finished off with a fresh coat of paint.

A BIG thanks to Jeff, Dave, Dick, and Dick for their continuing dedication!