This advice was submitted by Rabbi Josh and Margot Botwinick, OU-JLIC Educators at IDC Herzliya.

How do I set myself up for Jewish growth and spirituality in college, and not get distracted by classes, work, social media, and life?

Step 1: Keep Judaism at your fingertips 

Someone recently asked me what accessories he should buy for his new guitar, as a beginner. I told him he needs a pick, a tuner and a capo. Then I added, and make sure you get a stand to put it on. “Why?” he asked. “I was just going to keep it in a case under my bed.” “If it’s in the case under your bed,” I responded, “you’ll take it out maybe once a week, when you have an hour to practice. If it’s sitting right there on a stand, you’ll pick it up for five minutes every day.”

If you want to learn more, keep sefarim that interest you on your desk, or somewhere else prominent. Yes, you can access almost anything on Sefaria, the Bar-Ilan project or some local library. But knowing that you can access something is no more helpful than having a guitar in a case under your bed.

Your dorm room, your computer desktop, your phone home screen, are all yours to set up. Have your tefillin easily accessible, an Asher Yatzar sign by the bathroom, a washing cup in every sink, a spot for your Shabbat candles, a list of tefilla times and keilim mikva locations hanging on the fridge.The same goes for chessed. Save the number of a local senior citizen in your phone, and you might call her every so often. The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to encourage having a tzedaka box sitting somewhere public so you’ll see it and use it. However you want to grow spiritually – set yourself up for success.

Step 2: Location, location, location. Find your “makom.”

G-d told the Jews in the dessert to designate a space where His presence could reside. This wasn’t just a magical formula. When the Jews made space for G-d, the shechina could be felt in the entire camp. When you set up a space the right way, spirituality can become more accessible. 

Where do you daven? Where in your apartment do you learn on Shabbat afternoons? Where in the library or Beit Midrash do you have chavrutot? Having a place to do these things with both increase the amount of time you do them, and the quality and focus you’re able to achieve when you do. G-d is available wherever you make space for Him.

Step 3: Find role models.
You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.

They say you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So choose carefully. Spend time with people who you want to be like. Reach out to educators you respect, surround yourself with students who share the values you have. If you’re friends with the Mincha crowd, you’ll go with them. A chavruta isn’t just someone to learn with, it’s someone to hold you accountable and motivate you to keep pushing ahead.

You’re on the right path because you’re reading this in the first place. So if you make sure you can do and feel comfortable doing all of the above at the college you choose, then you got this!