Why college is a time for self-reliance

Izzy Abraham

Over the past several months, one thing has re-sparked my interest in Facebook.

It’s not a group posting pictures of lacy prom dresses, it’s not an environmental activism page — it’s the closed Parents and Family of UVM Students group.

I’ve heard some leaks from this page regarding what parents of Catamounts are furious about, or more often, what their children are wondering about campus life and sights in Burlington.

This took me by surprise. Cats, we go to school so we can grow up, sharpen our claws and earn diplomas, not rely on mommy and daddy.

The page contains hundreds of posts like, “Where can my student take their bike to get fixed?” “What are good dining halls for my vegan student to eat at?” and “When are club sports tryouts?”

To be frank, there are plenty of online resources, including  UVM’s home page and UVM Program Board, that can answer those questions.

A great deal of students are fortunate to have parents who are invested in their college careers.

But this is an important time to parent ourselves, too.

While Cats should heed their parents’ advice and wishes, this is a crucial time to inch ourselves closer to the real, adult world.

We don’t need to ask our parents where the best self storage in Burlington is or what types of volunteer opportunities are available for their now-grown child.

The best thing students can take away from college is independence, second even to a diploma.

By failing to be self-advocates, we are depriving ourselves of one of the most important lessons a university experience can give us.

Sophomore Katherine Peck agrees that even though it’s sometimes difficult to let go of the people who raised us, it’s important to not rely on them for everyday problems once we’re in college.

“College students should be less dependent on their parents because they’re learning to live on their own,” she said. “It can be a rocky transition, but the majority of people could benefit from a little more space from their families.”

College is the perfect setting to learn who you truly are as you navigate decisions that don’t need your parents’ seal of approval, Peck said.

It’s also important to be aware that students can find support for themselves even in their parents’ absence at school.

Without our parents’ affirmations and supervision, we can excel to be who we really are.

“Living away from home is new for most students and it allows them the room to grow and see who they are outside the context of their home,” Peck said.

By balancing the love of my parents with my own quest for independence, I’ve deleted unnecessary stress and become much happier.

When it came time for me to search for a place to live off-campus, I didn’t ask my parents to post in a Facebook group for suggestions. I teamed up with my friends to research apartments in Burlington. A few weeks later, we had a place to live.

I want to open your eyes not only to how important it is to be independent, but how much simpler and straightforward college life can be if we just take things upon ourselves — and tell our parents after things are said and done.