Our Recruitment Teams are sharing their best ideas on navigating college life and making the most of your college experience. Check back for more blog posts every week!
How do you want to be remembered? The answer to this question after you die and after your college career may have a surprisingly similar answer. I asked a good friend this question and he said, “I want to be remembered as someone who was intense and intentional in all he did.” He added the way he loves Jesus, the resilience in his studies and work, the way he serves the brethren and then he threw in even the way he will love a woman one day. When the question is presented: “How to be a Christian in College,” how do you answer? This is somewhat organic in nature, since you are responsible for your faith with Jesus Christ; there is no question about that. It is intense! Relationship building, love interests, career planning, internships, the ever-pressing homework load… I mean really! When college is that intense, how do we maintain intentionality in our relationship with God?
How do we find peace when the setting is so exciting? Freshmen, I would say you are the ones who are the most excited by this experience. That first year is incredible. Everything is new, you are liberated by the fact that you do not live at home and, quite frankly, you now have responsibilities to manage as a young adult taking on the world. But are you alone? College will challenge you to form your own opinion on things like social issues, theological issues, and morality. The biggest challenge is seeing who you really are outside of everything that you had before college. God is bigger than college and bigger than your feelings, and His all-surpassing love wants to intentionally surround you as you navigate this next chapter in your life. Meet Him there. Peace comes from the presence of the Lord; therefore, we must facilitate and dwell in that place to feel any differently. Do not treat the Bible like a textbook. I hear this a lot. That idea means that you need to fit God into your schedule, even if it means you skip a meal and feed on the Word of God. Jesus Himself went off to pray in the early morning (Mark 1:35).
There are three imperatives to living in relationship with God while in college.
Fast (Mt. 6:16-18): We are called to this. Although I do not want to make dull this word, fast, I must say it anyway. Fast from social media, fast from one meal, fast from TV; these can all be intentional ways to bring yourself before God. He values this effort, and it is not as easy as it sounds. We all have the time to make for Jesus. When we fast, we are intentionally choosing to focus on Him rather than the world around us.
Pray: Are you a pillow social media-ist? This term I have coined for the one who lies in bed and stays on social media for an hour before they sleep. Get in the habit of plugging in your phone away from you, on the other side of the room. Be intentional about ending the night in prayer. Pray with your roommate. This action will prevent you from hitting snooze too many times and missing that 7:35 am class.
Presence: Dwell in the presence of the Lord; tell your friend who wants to go to Cruze Farm, the local ice cream shop, that you are busy. Get used to FOMO so that you can gain an ear for the voice of the Lord. Spend time with your first love, spend time with the one who desires to help you in college. Spend time with the one who will lead you to that internship. Granted, He will do what He wants; He is sovereign, but the truth is, being a Christian in college is mostly about begging God of this: “Father, whatever you are doing in this world, do not do it without me, lead me there to that purposeful place. Do not let me get caught up in the intensity of college, but rather hold me as I intentionally and intensely love you through it all.” When you make God your first priority, you will experience the naturally occurring peace as He is the one who sustains you.
Today, Johnson University exists to “educate students for Christian ministries and other strategic vocations framed by the Great Commission in order to extend the kingdom of God among all nations.” Johnson established itself with its strong roots in the Bible college tradition. Today, Johnson is a “Third-Way University,” a higher education institution that seeks to combine the rigorous biblical foundation of a traditional Bible college with the variety of educational opportunities of the more common liberal arts colleges scattered throughout America. With this religious basis to higher-level education comes a lot of benefits for young Christians.
Because most who attend Johnson have similar religious convictions, perhaps the greatest benefit of attending is the sense of community you feel when you are on campus. Our faculty, staff, and students love to brag about our “uncommon community”—a special sense of belonging you will undoubtedly experience as soon as you pull on to campus. Though we don’t have “Greek life,” the relationships that you are able to make at Johnson are, in my experience, far greater than any of the other friendships I’ve ever had! With this uncommon community comes a sense of unity, support, and belonging that I’ve yet to experience anywhere else in the world; it truly is spectacular.
Another awesome benefit of attending a Third-Way university is that they tend to be much smaller than most liberal arts schools. Some of you may think this might present a detriment to your college experience (just like I did when I was in high school), but it allows for so many blessings that aren’t as common at bigger schools. For example, I just finished taking my first year of Greek, a class in which I only had 12 other classmates. Because the class was quite small and the professor loved to hang out with us and to celebrate our accomplishments, we had not one, but TWO “pie nights” over the course of the year. Dr. Heather Gorman invited us to her house on campus, and we just baked a bunch of pies for the fun of hanging out with one another. It is opportunities like this (and so many more that I don’t have the space to write about) that you would experience at Johnson but would seldom experience at other schools.
The final, and most basic, benefit of attending a Christian college is that your academic studies are grounded in biblical teaching. For example, if you’re studying business or marketing, not only do you get to learn all the tips and tricks of how to be successful in the workforce, but your professors will also show you how your specific calling relates to God’s greater plan for his creation. Being able to apply your faith to your studies and vice versa is such a blessing and really works to cultivate an appreciation for whatever career field you hope to enter.
Are there benefits to going to a huge state school, a community college, or a more common liberal arts college? Absolutely. However, I firmly believe that the community, opportunities, and academics at Johnson and other schools like it truly focus on your development as a holistic individual, rather than just on your performance in the classroom. Furthermore, I want to be clear that I know not everyone who reads this may end up at a Christian college, and that is perfectly fine, but I hope that if you’re reading this, you would at least consider what attending a Third-Way university may look like for you and your future.
We’re washing our hands, wearing masks, social distancing, standing six feet apart, sanitizing everything. Yet no matter how this crazy season looks for you, time is not stopping. It is still time for you to pick a college. But how have your specifications changed? Are there new priorities you had not thought about when choosing a college? Or do you just stick with the list you’ve been making all year, maybe even your whole life?
Although I chose to go to Johnson University before this time of COVID-19, I have twin sisters who chose their colleges in this current climate. Everything around us seems to be changing, but one’s priorities when it comes to searching for which college to attend should not.
Academic programs and the campus community itself should be some of the first things a prospective student investigates. Additionally, how does a particular institute of higher learning place importance on the ideals it says it values? These are crucial details to consider.
First, make sure the school has a successful program for the field you would like to enter. This includes checking regional accreditation as well as the professors’ experience and qualifications. I would also recommend looking at employment rates of programs post-graduation if available. This tells you what percentage of people get a job relatively soon after graduating from the program and the value that potential employers place on the program at a particular university.
I am a psychology major here at Johnson. When I was looking at possible college opportunities, Johnson’s psychology program definitely stood out to me. The program itself and the hire rates were super impressive, but what really drew me in were the professors. They are all super personable and do their best to help you succeed. This is one of my favorite things about Johnson—your professors care about you for you. This dynamic was actually enhanced by COVID—my professors were emailing me about mental health and asking if I needed prayer or anything else on a weekly basis. This support system helped me as a student in college during COVID-19. Knowing these interactions with professors exist can help one choose a college even during a pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused the campus experience and community to look different. If you still get to tour the campus personally, the campus may feel deserted because there are not many, if any, students around. When I visited Johnson, students were always around to help me figure out where to go or answer any questions I had. COVID has lessened that possibility considerably. Some schools are finding ways to do virtual tours or do Zoom calls to help prospective students learn about the school and still receive the opportunity to ask questions. Johnson has made those opportunities as well as limited on-campus tours available. Virtual tours limit experiencing a school’s atmosphere, but they still give someone a good opportunity to see the beauty of the college campus. Even if neither of these options is available to you, you can still find ways to connect with current students and learn everything you need to know about the campus community. Our Admissions Office and Recruitment Team members are eager to connect with you.
Your campus community should feel like home to you, especially if you are planning to live on campus. Be sure to look for a place with professors dedicated to you and passionate about what they teach. Your community of fellow students is also important to explore. These will be the people you are with most often. If you are a sports person, investigate the athletic programs. If you have a certain hobby or are passionate about a specific subject, look for existing clubs or ask about the policy the school has for creating a new club. These steps will tell you information about the student body and will help you form connections and determine if the university is the right fit for you.
Forming connections was one of the most intimidating things for me as a shy, introverted high schooler looking for a college. I wanted the assurance that there were people who enjoyed the same things as I did, that I would have the opportunity to “fit in” in the community. When I was looking into communities, it was important for me to see if there were opportunities where I could write for fun but also where I could support my potential friends. I am not an athletic person, but I love cheering for sports teams. I loved this last Super Bowl because GO CHIEFS! Because of this, I wanted a college with sports teams and games where I could go be my crazy sports-fan self. I also knew I wanted a religious community to help build me up in my faith, so I specifically asked questions to ensure the campus community offered spiritual growth. Johnson definitely does that!
When looking at colleges, one also should research the values of the school. Look in the handbook and see if you agree with the way their system runs. If you want to go to a Christian or religiously affiliated school such as Johnson, then investigate the religious basis of the school. Do they hold the same beliefs as you? Any organization you are investing your time or money into should be one that you agree with and support. These are important aspects to check into when making a college decision.
There is one main difference when searching for a college in our COVID-19 world—a prospective student should check any safety and action plans the university has put in place. Students’ health and safety should always be a priority, so it is important to research how a university is taking those steps. Is a school requiring masks? Going solely online or online for half of the semester or another hybrid? Is a university reducing class sizes? There are many questions related to health that one should consider. Johnson has a 30-page document outlining the regulations and plans for the upcoming semester. Other universities have similar documents. Any prospective student should check the precautions a school is taking to ensure they will be as healthy and safe as possible during the school year.
COVID-19 has caused us to live in a world that looks different than the one we were familiar with. This does not change the most important aspects of exploring your college options. So do not let the pandemic discourage you in your pursuit of continuing education. Even as current students, we can fall into the trap of discouragement because of how the world looks different. Sometimes I even catch myself feeling robbed in a sense because I will not have a “normal” last semester at Johnson. However, I am trying to take the advice of Dr. Jon Weatherly and embrace the difference. This is the first time we are living in such a time as these. We should make the most of it and find the beauty in it. This semester at Johnson I am looking forward to being creative in how to hang out with my friends. Though I am very much a physical touch person and I love hugs, this semester will be a great opportunity to show my friends love and support in new ways. I encourage you to do the same: Find new ways to make this time better. Do not be discouraged because it is different, but embrace both the similarities and differences.
Hello everyone! I am here to give you some pointers about choosing a college roommate, which is an important part of college life. Luckily, my college life is so much better since I have the best. My roommate Kameron and I have a lot in common. One of our favorite pizza restaurants is CiCi’s Pizza, we both enjoy making late-night Taco Bell runs (not too late because we are like old men), and we even enjoy the same TV shows such as “All American” (we watched all of season one in one day). With the advice I am about to give you, I hope you can also find a roommate as awesome as mine, who is a friend for life!
Choosing your roommate can be a stressful situation, especially if you are changing roommates from the previous semester. Before your first fall semester you will be assigned a roommate, unless you requested to room with a friend who is also coming to Johnson. But towards the end of the semester you will be handed a blue slip, or you will complete an online form, to select your room and roommate for the next semester. Choosing a roommate can be difficult, especially if it is hard to get out of your comfort zone to make friends. What helped me choose my roommate was the common interests we both shared, whether it be sports, video games, our degree program, food, energy level, etc. The roommate I have now has been my roommate since spring semester my freshman year and I would not change the decision in any way because we have become best friends over the past two years.
Throughout the semester pay close attention to who you can really vibe with and spend a lot of time with throughout the day. Look at the friends who are on the same page as you for motivation and determination to achieve goals and who show passion like yours. Look at the friends with whom you like to spend long hours talking or with whom you can be silent. It might be silly, but pay attention to TV shows your friends watch throughout the year because you and your roommate spend a lot of time together and a great way to bond is over a good show. When considering all of these things, it can be overwhelming at times, so I advise you to sit and think about the future roommate in-depth and really pray about who you are about to live with for at least the next coming semester.
When it comes to deciding on who you are going to room with, also consider these thoughts: “Can we get along for a whole semester while living together?” “Are we on the same page for room neatness?” “Will they respect my sleep schedule and not be too noisy when I need quiet time for homework or just to relax?” These are just a few thoughts to put into perspective, but I can honestly say it is amazing getting to choose who you want to live with the next semester if you and your current roommate do not click in the way you wished.
As I stated before, my roommate and I are best friends now, and I view him as a friend I will keep in touch with after my time at Johnson University. You will also have a friend/roommate that will be like the relationship Kameron and I have because the majority of students on campus who are roommates are really close friends. As for choosing a roommate, think of it more as choosing a close friend who you can count on for the rest of your college career and possibly the rest of your life.
One of the things that drew me to Johnson was the numerous things to do right near campus. Being from Florida, I am used to water activities and theme parks…so this was a chance for me to experience something new. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have countless things to offer, from scenic hikes to tourist attractions and adventure spots.
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to explore and, lucky for me, Johnson’s location is perfect for this. One of the first hikes I went on in Tennessee was with the JU hiking club at Andrews Bald. The hiking club is a group of faculty, staff, and students who get together twice a semester for different hikes. This is actually where I got to connect with my current roommate and talk to some of my favorite professors. At only four miles roundtrip, it was one of the more accessible and moderate hikes in the Smokies and the view is absolutely unbeatable.
If you aren’t super into hiking but want some of the same views, Cade’s Cove is the perfect place for you. Cade’s Cove is an eleven-mile scenic route through the Smokies. Along the path, there are places to stop and get out and walk along some of the paths, visit historic buildings, and take pictures! You may even spot whitetail deer, coyotes, or black bears.
This hike is not in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge…in fact, it is not in Tennessee at all. However, it is a true Johnson staple that NEEDS to be encountered at least once in your time here. Max Patch, North Carolina, is just two hours from campus and is best experienced at either sunrise or sunset. This may mean waking up at 4:00 a.m. or staying up all night but, trust me, it is WORTH it [and nothing bonds people more than waking up before the sun for a mini road-trip]. Getting to the top is just a short 1/4-mile from the parking lot, where you will be met with a breathtaking view of the mountains.
The Gatlinburg Skybridge
In May of 2019, Gatlinburg got a brand-new landmark attraction that I have been dying to visit! The brand-new Skybridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America. With glass-floor panels, the bridge stretches between the beautiful Smoky Mountains, giving us access to some killer views!! [That’s something you can’t see just anywhere.]
If you’re looking for a “night out on the town,” one of my go-to spots is the Island at Pigeon Forge. Here you will find amazing restaurants, some fun stores, and great places for pictures. If you’re anything like me and my friends, we love taking pictures. The Island is a simple place to get off campus and have a bit of fun.
Next to Heaven Ranch
While driving through the mountains, my two friends and I stumbled upon this ranch. We pulled in to check it out and found that they had horseback riding and ziplining. Of course we jumped at the chance to ride horses through the mountains and we were NOT disappointed. At the very top was an amazing overlook of the Smokies, where the owner met up with us to take our picture and see how we were doing. Now this experience costs a bit more than the average college budget would allow, but it is something that should be done at least once.
Conversations over a game of dominoes, joyful laughter that brings you a little breathlessness, and some really buttery popcorn with a Diet Coke are three of my favorite things—three things that I have grown to appreciate so much more when I have shared them with the girls in Johnson Hall. Picturing dorm life can be intimidating, especially before beginning college. I remember wondering constantly what it would be like, and now that I have had a taste of it, I have learned that Johnson Hall dorm life is one of the sweetest things I have experienced. There is much to love about it.
The dorm rooms themselves are spacious and comfortable. Friends and family are always a bit jealous when I tell them that I only share a bathroom with my one roommate. It is so nice not to have to carry my items across a hall and attempt to strategically schedule my showers. There is a laundry room on two floors, a kitchenette on two floors, and large lobbies on all three. It is not uncommon for there to be baking nights, dance parties, and massive study sessions in these shared spaces, where relationships can’t help but grow.
An important relationship in the environment of Johnson Hall is your roommate. Sharing a space is an experience that can really impact you and your time at Johnson. My freshman year I opted to have a random roommate assigned to me based on a questionnaire and can honestly attest that this may be one of the best decisions I have made. Lauren, my first roommate and I, have become the best of friends. The halls of this dorm are just a special place, fostering deep and honest conversations, spiritual growth, and love.
I am a resident assistant in the dorms. This is a role that I love, and I am grateful for the “RAs” I had my freshman year at Johnson. I will never forget when I walked on to my hall for the first time and was greeted by name and assured that I had been prayed for throughout the summer. To feel welcomed before even really setting foot on campus is an experience like no other. Resident assistants help to foster community in the dorms in a few ways, but one of the most prominent is in hosting community groups on each hall. Community groups are one of my personal favorite parts of each week. The girls on the hall all gather once a week and spend some quality time together. It is a chance to process what is going on in our lives, study scripture together, and build relationships with the people we live with. Intentionally setting aside time (often with snacks and cozy blankets) to rest with one another can be reorienting and rejuvenating.
With everything from cramming homework in at the last minute to dance parties and late-night ice cream runs to long, sometimes difficult, conversations, Johnson Hall fosters real relationships that inspire growth, truth, and light. The best way I can describe my experience in Johnson Hall is warm. Not physically, in an “I gotta take off my crewneck” kind of way, but in an inviting and inclusive kind of way. Think sunshine, a nice coffee, a bonfire, and that one blanket that is just so comforting, and you don’t know why. I’m aware that probably doesn’t make very much sense, and I think that can be attributed to what is termed “uncommon community” that thrives on campus. People living in the same space, loving one another intentionally, and seeking to serve Christ together is a part of Johnson that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Starting college can be scary. One of the things I was most scared about when going to college was dorm life. I was worried how that would look, and I was scared that I would not be able to fit in or make any friends. However, upon arriving and moving into the dorms my view on dorm life quickly changed. I soon realized that dorm life would be one of the most rewarding things that Johnson University has to offer.
Johnson embodies the idea of an “uncommon community.” Our uncommon community means that we are more intentional with the people around us. In my opinion, there is no better place to see this than in the dorms. The dorms thrive on community. You live on a hall with twenty-plus people and you have to do life together. What does this look like? From my own personal experiences, it looks like: being awakened at 3 a.m. from a knock at the door when your neighbor is stressed and missing home, then the uncommon hall community waking up and comforting that person who is hurting. It looks like your whole hall coming together to pray over someone who has family issues at home. It looks like a community that puts each other first.
The dorms offer a lot of space to be yourself. You get paired with another person and have a wide range of how you can customize your space. One of the best things about our dorms is that each room has its own bathroom! I cannot stress to you enough how amazing it is only having to share a bathroom with one other person. The dorms also offer a lot of fun activities. Once a week each hall has devotion time. Here you gather as a hall and you are led through scripture by your RAs (resident assistants). Another cool thing that Johnson does is an event known as “Open Dorms.” Every Friday one of the dorm buildings opens up and the guys and girls get to hang out and see one another’s living space. Here you can watch movies, play games, or just hang out with each other.
I asked a few students here at Johnson what they like so much about dorm life. Patrick Meador had this to say: “Dorm life at Johnson University is hyper conducive to establishing a community of love and acceptance. I find it easy to be myself around others because I trust that the love God pours out on me through them is greater than my humanity.” Recent graduate Cal Kinman had this to say about dorm life: “Dorm life was transformative for my spiritual, relational, and emotional wellbeing while attending Johnson. Being an RA and living out uncommon community on a daily basis has shown me what true fellowship is because of dorm life.” And Sawyer Alford said, “I like living in the dorms at Johnson. They are really nice and if you have an awesome roommate, it makes it so much more fun.” Here at Johnson University, we strive to make people feel welcome. In Brown Hall specifically, you can expect to make lifelong friends and be accepted into a community that will help you and support you as you go through this crazy journey called life.
It’s scary for some, fun for a few, but nerve-wracking for everybody. You got it—I’m talking about college tours. No matter how you feel about them, the purpose of a good college tour is to provide prospective students with a snapshot of what they’ll be able to experience if they decide to attend that institution. With that said, it’s important that the students take it upon themselves to lean in, ask questions, and make an effort to learn everything they might need as they prepare for the next chapter in their education. But, as a student who frequently gives tours of Johnson because of his work-study position in the admissions office, I know that many students find themselves at a loss for words when asked about any questions they might have. That’s why I’ve decided to give you a few things to ask or to look for on your college tour.
A school’s facilities and grounds are the first thing you’ll see when you pull up to any college campus—the buildings, the recreational facilities (fields, courts, pools, etc.), and even how nicely the grass is kept. Sometimes, especially at bigger institutions, it can feel like you’re gonna get lost on campus no matter how many maps you have. However, you have to shelve this fear for now, take note of how well-maintained the campus seems to be, and then head on over to meet your tour coordinator (this is often an admissions counselor or an enrolled student who has been chosen to show you around on behalf of the school).
Once you finally get the chance to meet some people and actually begin your tour, you’ll want to take note of how easy or difficult it seems to actually navigate the campus—this can grow into a pain if it proves to be difficult for you at that institution. Secondly, you’ll want to pay special attention to the amenities that the school provides for you; this can be anything from your meal plan options, to what dorm life looks like, to sports (collegiate and intramural), to community life. You’ll also want to be aware of any special rules or traditions that the campus employs, such as curfews, required classes/organizations, or even parking your car on campus.
When the tour ends and you are given the opportunity to ask questions, make sure to ask anything and everything you want to know. Of course, your admissions counselor is able to provide you with information year-round, but it’s best to go ahead and speak up whenever you find yourself on campus. This is the time to ask anything about academic requirements, extracurricular opportunities, campus life, faculty and staff, or to simply get to know your tour guide a bit better! It is at this time that I would begin to ask about the things that are important to me—what is the average class size? Is on-campus transportation provided by the school (shuttles, buses, etc.)? Are there events outside of the classroom for current students to make relationships with one another? What makes my program at this school better than the program at that school?
It is questions like these that allow prospective students to make the best decision about furthering their education. I know that some students may be scared or unsure of voicing their concerns to their tour guide/counselor, but I promise you that it is better to be sure of your decision before showing up for freshman orientation than to begin the school year at a place you didn’t even really want to go to in the first place! With that said, I hope you lean in, ask a whole lot of questions, and truly seek to attend where you feel will best prepare you for life beyond college!
7:35 a.m. classes—some people love them, some people hate them, and most of us love to hate them. But how does one survive them? Well, I have struggled through two of them in the past two years and I have picked up a few tricks along the way. Whether you are a morning person or an every-fiber-of-your-being-hates-mornings-with-a-burning passion, a time will come during the semester that you will lie in bed at 7:30 with only one skip left in the class before you fail out and you start seriously asking yourself why you needed to take this class in the first place. No matter how hard it gets, you can survive it and the tricks can be broken down into three categories: 1) prepping the night before, 2) waking up and getting to class on time, 3) and staying awake during class.
The first step for surviving your 7:35 does not start the morning of but instead the night before. DO NOT. I repeat DO NOT try to pull an all-nighter. The only time this is acceptable is if you struggle with insomnia; otherwise you will find yourself passed out on your dorm floor at 5:30 a.m. only to sleep through all your alarms not just for your 7:35 but every other class you have that day. (Not that I am speaking from personal experience or anything…) Instead make sure to get in a sleep routine and pack your backpack the night before and keep it by your door and include your wallet, a full water bottle, your homework, books, and breakfast snacks. In extreme situations I suggest sleeping in your clothes for the next day, to whatever extent is most comfortable to you, and preparing your coffee the night before.
After your evening prep, the rush is on, today is the day. Make sure to have plenty of alarms at irregular times and with a sound loud enough to make your soul leave your body before you are even jolted out of REM. (For optimum soul-jarring effects, invest in a Bluetooth speaker to link your alarm to and set it to the loudest setting.) Become friends with other students who have 7:35s, specifically those in your class. You will find this buddy system works well, but if you want people looking out for you and calling when you are late, you need to be prepared to do the same for them. If you are a commuter, leave enough time in your morning routine to stop and get breakfast or coffee on the way. It will make your whole day that much better.
You made it to class, now the important part is staying awake. No matter how interesting the subject, there will be mornings you fight yourself to stay awake. This is when you pull out that snack or ask to go to the bathroom if you feel yourself dozing off. Fight the urge to sit in the back of the class, but sit in the middle so you have enough motivation to stay awake without being front and center. Even if you are not a note taker, just have a pen and paper with you in class and attempt to take notes or draw to keep yourself awake. There will be hard mornings, but you will learn so much, make more friends, and have more life-long memories from those 7:35s than you ever thought possible.