For most students, college represents an exciting independence that allows them the opportunity to make and enforce their own rules unfettered by the involvement of their parents. In other words, students are essentially forced to become self-sufficient; they must shift their mindset away from reliance on parents to make the tough decisions and solve their problems. Students finally have to advocate for their own needs and exercise the power to make their own decisions. In short, college means growing up.
At college most students embrace this independence by choosing their own classes. Students can go out whenever they want, allowing them to create their own college experience. However, while the freedom that comes with college is universal, not every student adapts to this state of independence at the same rate. Believe it or not, some students come to the College not knowing how to do their own laundry, and rather than learn how to do laundry, they get their laundry done by a service. Others even take their laundry home with them on weekends. However, laundry is not the only activity that people refuse to learn to do themselves. For example, what about cooking? Granted, not everyone has their own cooking utensils and the means to get to a store, but some people have no desire to make anything for themselves.
Drastically increased independence is also related to a few other surprising issues. For instance, no one tells you where to go or when. You are just expected to behave like a normal, responsible human being. By this I am obviously referring to grades. I mean, we are all smart, otherwise we would not be going to Williams, but because so many people have singles that they can work in, they also have much more alone time that they are used to. Sadly, I think that too often people do not know how to adequately respond to this solitude. Responses range from turning into an absolute recluse to becoming extremely clingy and needy. I think this is kind of sad because, on the one hand, it is so easy to find company or work together, and, on the other hand, you have to be respectful of other people and allow them to do what they need to. Instead, many people often end up not going to meals or not going to the library, since they have no partner in crime. While I think company is fine, when people refuse to go somewhere just because they will have to eat or walk there alone, there is a bit of a problem.
The process of becoming independent is especially difficult when students aren’t willing to leave their comfort zone. This is a problem that is sometimes exacerbated by the school itself. For example, when I first showed up to the first day of classes, I realized that every class I signed up for had an attendance policy very similar to what I had experienced in high school. Students should be left to independently decide whether to go to class or party the previous night and sleep in through class. To police students like they are still in middle school will prevent them from taking responsibility for their choices.
Williams College also hinders the process of becoming independent by making advising meetings mandatory. For many people, these meetings waste time and are often unhelpful. Advising meetings are not productive unless you are deeply confused, and it isn’t fair to penalize students who can’t set up meetings with their advisors. Since students cannot register for classes until their advisors remove their holds, advisors who are too busy to meet before registration or advisors who do not know how to remove holds may disadvantage or inconvenience students eager to register for classes. Also, some students know what they are taking. Since advising is assigned randomly for the first two years, biology majors might have sports coaches as their advisors – such advisors may have no interest or knowledge in the field. In real life things don’t work this way.
Going to college is not only about studying and having fun. It’s also about growing up and making good use of the transition period between high school and real life, So, do your laundry, cook yourself a meal, and stop calling your mom three times a day. Trust me, you will realize you did yourself a favor once you leave the purple bubble.