September 22nd, 2011

Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last

Let’s be clear: the famous words of Martin Luther King about the freedom experienced by former slaves can in no way be considered equal to the independence and lack of restrictions that you will experience when you go away to college. Nevertheless, being away from your home and from your parents’ rules and curfews, you will likely experience a really exciting new lifestyle where you are almost in complete control of what you do, where you do it, and when you do it. Much of what you learn at college takes place outside the classroom, in particular the ability to decide how to spend your time and what is most important to you. Here are some points for you to keep in mind when making decisions about how to organize your time and your new life:

  • Make sure you get enough rest so that you can get up and go to your classes. Someone — perhaps yourself — has paid a lot of money for you to go to school, and the least you can do is take advantage of a great opportunity.
  • Even if your friends are in your classes, don’t be rude and spend your time talking and laughing with them. Professors notice, even in a big lecture hall. I was called out from the stage by the professor when I was blabbing with my best friends. Pretty humiliating. It was reminiscent of second grade, when the teacher sent a note home saying, “Cathy is in such a hurry to finish her work, that she talks to her neighbors unnecessarily and distracts them.” You don’t want that kind of reprimand on a college level.
  • There’s plenty of time during the evenings and on weekends to hang out with your friends.  College can be so intense that the relationships you form feel like they’ve lasted for a lifetime instead of simply a week or two.
  • Since there’s no one to nag you about finishing your work, keeping your room clean, and taking care of your other responsibilities, you are going to need to develop the self-discipline to do these things on your own. It can help to be surrounded by some friends who have that sort of self-control as well. There’s no one around to threaten to ground you or withhold your allowance; you’re going to have to do this yourself.
  • Resist the temptation to stay up all night on a regular basis, hanging out with your friends and sending out for pizza.  This may not be realistic for you when you first get to school, but it’s important to develop some semblance of a routine that will allow you to get done what you have to, and then treat yourself to some fun time as a reward for meeting your obligations. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you are able to complete your responsibilities without someone forcing you to do them.

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