Independence crucial for students

illustration by Sophia Lau

illustration by Sophia Lau

Lizzie Garvey, asst. opinions editor

During freshman year, I had no motivation to do anything myself. This included picking which classes I took, making my own money, and even little things like calling the doctor. I was forced to do it anyway, because my parents believe in raising their children to be self-sufficient so they aren’t completely in the dark when it comes to college. Now. two years later, I realized they were right (as per usual) after I started making my own money and, more importantly, my own decisions; although sometimes scary, independence at a young age causes more growth than sitting back and letting the parents do everything.

One thing I’ve noticed among my classmates is how a lot of students don’t have as much freedom when it comes to picking their own classes. I’ve taken electives like foods and broadcasting while my friends have struggled in classes like accounting (nothing against those classes for those who enjoy taking them, but I know that those girls’ personal dreams don’t include working at a bank despite how much their parents push them towards it).

What’s also interesting is the fact that a lot of students have too much privilege. Instead of earning their own money by getting an actual job, some kids have a steady stream of allowance coming in while all they do to earn it is feed the dog every once in awhile.

That’s not saying I don’t find myself in that position every so often: it’s not like I paid for my 2007 Honda Civic (at least it’s not a Jeep, right?). But I’ve become more independent in the past year. I got my own job, make my own decisions regarding my schedule and what I really want to do in the future, and have even been making my own dentist appointments which, honestly, is a pretty big step for me.

Don’t get me wrong, parental help is essential in some cases. What would I do if I didn’t have someone motivating me to do well in class or giving me cash for open lunch every once in awhile? We still need our parents to help us out when it’s tough to do it ourselves.

It is important, however, to actually try a lot of things by yourself. I’ve been told that mistakes make the best lessons, so it’s alright to be hesitant to step out of your comfort zone. Do one thing a day that scares you, right? As motivation to actually leave that comfort zone, just remember that your parents aren’t always going to be there to give you money every time you ask if you can have it for open lunch, so going out for that department store job might be more important than you think.

Escaping the influence of your parents is not always easy. I have parents who encourage me to make my own decisions and choose my own path, but I’m close with quite a few people who don’t really have that luxury.

In order to fulfill this pursuit of independence, parents need to learn when to step back. Forcing your kid to visit the college you’ve always dreamed of them attending or making them take electives they don’t enjoy is not in their best interest. At times, it’s downright restrictive. Worst case, it could lead to a commitment as big as a college that they never had an interest in.

Parents, let your kids make their own decisions, and know that consequences of these decisions may be lessons. And kids, don’t just rely on your parents; decision-making and some self-reliance will only benefit you in college and in life.