Handling Your New Independence

You have a right to shape your own identity, but remember: these rights come with responsibility. No matter how your sense of self changes over the years, part of the personal growth is becoming responsible for yourself and communicating clearly with the people who are most important to you. You’re living on your own for the first time in your life. The habits that you develop now will follow you into your later adult years. Your mom isn’t going to make your bed anymore. If you come from the kind of family where your parents made you do homework after dinner, those days are over. You never have to do homework again! Of course, you could fail out of college your first semester if you don’t do your homework; slacking off is an (unwise) option. In other words, success is up to you.

All of your discipline will have to come from within. Ask yourself: what kind of person am I? The type who blows off writing a paper to go to a couple of parties? The type who gossips about friends behind their backs? Not only do you have a responsibility to yourself, you have a responsibility to others and to the community at large.

Family

Whether you’re a town away or ten states apart, your parents are going to see a lot less of you than they’re used to, and they’re probably going to be surprised at how rapidly you’re changing. They only know the you that grew up in your hometown under their roof. Your parents might feel like they’re losing you a little; this is a great time for you, but it will be a little hard on your folks.

Allow your parents to go through the feelings of loss that come with having their child leave for school. Their sadness may come out in weird ways. They may get mad or weepy, or they may call you a know-it-all for arguing every point you learned in your Intro to Sociology course. If you ever feel like your family issues are getting to be a bit much, head to your school’s counseling or mental health center for guidance.

Old Friendships

What about your best high school buddy? Is he truly your best friend because you have a deep emotional bond and lots in common? Or are you so close because you live in the same town, share the same experiences, and gossip about the same people? Remember, unless your friends are going to the same college, they’re not going to know the ins and outs of your daily life anymore. As a result, you might not feel as close to them.

Will your old friends accept the fact that you want to experiment with religion? If they aren’t in college themselves, will they respect that you may be studying for hours at a time and unable to call them back to chat on the phone? If you decide that you’re done with being preppy and it’s time for a blue Mohawk, will they still be your pals? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then you have true friends on your hands, and you should cherish those friendships and keep in touch. But if your high school buddies were merely “friends of convenience,” you’ll find out fast. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to move on.

 
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