There’s been quite a lot said and written recently about the young people leaving the church and one of the key situations that lends itself to this loss is the post Matriculation scenario.

Having graduated from High School is always a major achievement and there is much excitement about the next phase in life. But leaving for campus life also brings with it it’s own dangers when exposed to a plethora of new thinking and philosophies which has the potential of influencing young minds hungry for discovery and adventure.

It is in this context that our young folk are lured away from their roots and christian (Anglican) upbringing .

So, this is a note to all clergy and leaders in the church . Lets do something to hold onto our students:

Firstly, get the matriculants’ cell numbers and email addresses. Maintaining contact, especially into the new year, is vital. Text them often and let them know you are still there for them.  Develop strong links and bonds as if they are still there (in the parish) .

Why should we do this?   Here are my thoughts:

1.  Show a keen interested in their achievements at tertiary study.  They will greatly appreciate it and will in all probability come back to show their gratitude.
2.  Ensure they are coping with stress and continued study pressure. There is approximately a 50% dropout rate after the first year largely due to lack of adaptation and coping mechanisms .  Try to help prevent drop out tendencies. Remedy early.
3.  Prepare the parish to receive them back. Create space for them to get involved in the parish on their return.  Welcoming them back should be the same or grander than the send off to tertiary.
4.  Get feedback from them on a regular basis and publish in pew leaflets and newsletters.
5.  Keep their spirit alive.  Send them as much love and support as possible.
6.  Connect with the local ANSOC (Anglican Students Society) as well as the Chaplain linked to the Campus.  Remember, most, if not all, students encounter financial problems and resort to “extreme measures” to make ends meet.  Be there for them.

Lastly, remember – not all matriculants land up in tertiary study. Pay particular attention to those who find themselves at home with nothing to do and are not really prepared for the job market.  Create internships for them – give opportunity to serve in some way – and give them something to put in their (fairly empty) CV.  Or, even help them to consider a Gap Year programme. To be able to show initiative and be willing to serve in some or other community project, will already put them in good stead for a possible job, if not help them to get back to studying and gaining a meaningful qualification.

Let’s work together in holding onto our Matrics.

And, if you are a Matriculant – HOLD ON!!!!  Take the initiative.  If you are moving away to attend tertiary education, then stay connected with your Parish – in particular with your priest.  Provide occasional feedback on your progress.  Don’t get into stuff you will later regret.

And, if you are not going for tertiary education, find a job.  Better still, create your own job.  Be entrepreneurial.  Volunteer to do something in the community.  Don’t just sit at home and vegetate. Do something with your life.  Go out and get it for yourself.  It’s not going to come to you on a plate.  There are no handouts.

Remember, the sooner you become productive, the sooner you start reaping the rewards.

Make 2015 your life defining year.

Take care.

Tony Lawrence (Provincial Youth Coordinator)