The New Freedoms of College Arise From Good Decision Making and Self-Discipline

First-year college students know their life is about to change, but generally have little experience upon which to base expectations for their new life. They crave freedom and differentiation from their parents, which makes sense developmentally as they reach the age of majority, but may not understand what this means on a day-to-day, operational basis. 

We joke about “adulting,” but few first-years have any idea what that means. (Season Two of our podcast College UnBound is themed, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”) Some are shocked to learn that the new freedoms of college mean decision making—fast-paced, high-volume decision making—and self-discipline. Students must take ownership of their decisions regarding their academic goals and performance, but also regarding their social life, and their health and wellness. 

Some students attempt to replicate the patterns they found to be successful in high school, others might not be aware of which practices, behaviors, and approaches generated those successes, still others might not realize the degree to which they have been supported and prompted by well-meaning parents, teachers, and schools. And many of the supports provided in high school did not require students to make their own decisions, some did not even require their involvement. Like bumpers in a bowling alley, the structures and supports of high school kept students rolling along in the right direction. 

The first semester of college removes the bumpers. Students find themselves in a completely novel environment unprepared to meet completely new demands. In the face of such great ambiguity, students must honor their commitment to the university and its structure, tackle institutional red tape with alacrity, manage their time without prompting, make independent choices and accept the consequences of those choices. How can they? 

The famous choreographer, Martha Graham, wrote: “Freedom to a dancer means discipline. That is what technique is for – liberation.” Focus Collegiate equips students with the techniques they need for liberation—decision-making and decision-ownership are primary among these. 

Good decision making is a complicated and often unaddressed process based on bravery, self-trust, and resiliency. Going to college is a brave decision that demands self-trust; reframing a bad decision demands awareness and resiliency. But bravery does not operate without fear; not all students have been taught nor have they had the opportunity to trust themselves; and resiliency is not built by succeeding all the time. 

Good decision making takes practice. Like a muscle, it can be developed and strengthened over time. Learn more about our approach.

Our program is now available Virtually and in the greater Boston area!

Focus Collegiate provides innovative hands-on coaching for college students with learning differences, on campus and Virtually across the country.

College-bound with questions?