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Dear Athena: I don’t know how to be independent because of my helicopter parents.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Dear Athena is Her Campus Oswego’s Advice Column. Click here to submit (it’s completely anonymous)!

Dear Athena,

“So, I’m a freshman. My family before I went to college was extremely strict, I had a minute-by-minute schedule for every day. I was happy to be finally free, but now I’m worried it’s too much freedom. I’m so stressed out everyday trying to balance school/social/chores and it seems like everyone else has aced it by now. I’m seriously considering dropping out. What do I do?”

— Helicopter Parents

Dear Helicopter Parents,

I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling so badly. As you may understand by now, your parents came from a place of extreme love and care for you, but unfortunately hindered your ability to transition into independent adult life. It is not your fault that you’re having difficulty with this, and despite what you may believe, everyone else has not “aced it” by now — not even myself, and I’m a Senior who lives at home and commutes to school!

I think right now is a good time to take a personal inventory: how many classes am I taking right now? How many on-campus organizations/sports teams am I involved in? What chores do I have to take care of each week? What friends do I have on campus? 

After taking that personal inventory and seeing how much time you’re devoting to certain activities, I believe it would be best if you could try at some level to recreate the type of schedule your parents had for you with a planner. Consider if you can combine some chores into others — while you’re vacuuming, can you also put your dirty clothes into the hamper and then take them to do laundry after? If you are taking five or more classes this semester (15+ credits), it may be better to scale back to four (12 credits), schedule out the best times for you to do homework each day, and see if the burden is relieved somewhat. If you signed up for 15 different organizations at the Involvement Fair, it may be best to choose one that you are really vibing with and save the rest for another semester when you’re in a more comfortable place. This should also give you more time to devote to the friends you’ve made, who perhaps could help you with some of this. Friends are supposed to be there for you, and if you can relay how you’re struggling to them, they can support you however they (reasonably) are able to. I would also reach out to your RA and ask them if they can help in any way, as well as talking to someone at the Counseling Center. 

Once you get into your own daily schedule, you may not need the planner anymore. Your parents were clearly focused on organizing, but that doesn’t mean gaining freedom is about dropping all of that. 

Dear Athena,

“How do I find an on-campus job? I’ve heard they’re usually better than off-campus jobs because they care more about your classwork.”

— Nine to Five

Dear Nine to Five,

On-campus jobs are great! I currently work in Archives & Special Collections at Penfield Library where I digitize old cassette tapes or newspaper clippings about school-related news (shoutout Zackary, Kathryn, and Lorraine!). It is indeed true that my supervisors at work are very concerned about making sure that school comes first — when I interviewed, they told me that if I had a big test to study for or group project to work on, that I didn’t have to come into work that day (but of course, that means I lose out on money for that day). 

SUNY Oswego utilizes Handshake to post most on-campus jobs, which is where I found my current position. The best part about Handshake is you don’t even need to make an account — just use your Oswego account details! Typically, right now is the time that many on-campus positions begin to plan for next semester. Check Handshake, dust off that resume, and begin applying. Good luck!

Shannon Sutorius is an award winning 23-year-old English major, over 40-time-published author, editor, and former Teaching Assistant currently attending SUNY Oswego who graduates in December of 2021. Shannon is one of the current Campus Correspondents for Her Campus Oswego, previously Senior Editor, and currently writes the Advice Column, "Dear Athena." Shannon has worked with and been published in Great Lake Review, Medium, and Subnivean. Shannon's awards include the Edward Austin Sheldon Award, Pride Alliance's Defender of LGBT+ Rights in Journalism Award, and the Dr. Richard Wheeler Memorial Scholarship. As well, Shannon is an active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She currently lives in Oswego and has a dog named Nugget.
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