As a teenager, the summer before my freshman year of college marked my first flirtation with increased independence. By that fall I thought I was ready to experience the new and exciting freedom of college. I quickly realized, however, that freedom was less of an adventure and more of a skill: one that I had to master in order to achieve success both academically and socially. After my first year, I came away with insights on how to better structure the rest of my time in school:
Independence is a balance
Before you even step into your first class, assess your priorities. Why are you going to college and what is your long term goal? By identifying and remembering your purpose in receiving a higher education you can better balance the temptations to party, skip class, and shun schoolwork. Use your long term plans as motivators for attending study sessions, using a planner, and seeking out extra help.
Independence allows for exploration
Pursue what you want to learn and challenge what you already believe. College is one of the only times you will have daily opportunities to explore new ideas, both intellectually and socially. Take advantage of the array of classes you can register for and pick a few that pique your curiosity. Check out the different clubs and societies on campus to find one that matches your interests.
Independence does not mean unaccountability
Remember that your actions matter and have the power to impact others positively or negatively. Help keep your friends accountable in their academics and keep in mind that others are invested in your future, either financially, emotionally, or both. With that in mind, make decisions that will honor their investment in you. Go to class, keep in touch, and don’t order in pizza every night on a credit card!
Do you have a “mastering freedom” experience of your own to add? Please use the comment box below to let us know.