A Letter to Students: The Importance of Finding Independence During Your University Career

Everyone enters first year with different expectations and different goals for their upcoming four years at university. First year can especially be a time of growth and change; however, your time at university as a whole can really mould you. Finding your independence while at university can be one of the most important developments during your time here. 

Personally, looking back all the partying, late night study sessions and everything in between, all aspects of university life have greatly shaped me to be who I am today. The process of finding out who I am as a woman is one of my biggest takeaways from university. The development and strengthening of my independence over the past four years have been part of my meaningful university experience. 

But why is it important to strengthen and grow your independence? 

By the time of graduation, society expects students to be ready for the real world in all ways possible. However, a lot of academic programs are centred toward strengthening students’ academic skills, not actually helping students grow as adults. So be intentional with your time at university and use your time here to cultivate your confidence and independence. 

Finding your independence while at university does not happen overnight. However, the decisions you make while here all impact your experience and who you become. Whether it be deciding who you are going to live with, what clubs to get involved in or what professors to approach after class, every moment is an opportunity to grow. 

University is not simply an academic environment: it is a place where you can challenge yourself. Take that course that interests you, go volunteer for that club or association, apply for the job that seems out of reach. Even small challenges are big steps toward personal growth. Utilizing everything that university has to offer in your own unique way will impact you greatly. 

Use your time at university to challenge yourself. By the end of your university career, you will realize how much you have progressed from your first-year self. The university environment is structured to support you. Mental health resources, leadership opportunities and other living resources are all at your fingertips. Do not simply coast by: challenge yourself during this new season in your life. 

In the past four years, I have had the joy of watching my own friends grow into the independent people that they are today because they challenged themselves. You may even see upper-year students who seem like they have everything together, but I can personally tell you that most feel like they do not. Everyone grows at different paces. 

Your parents may expect you to have your life together by the end of your undergraduate degree. But trust me, the university experience is about having confidence in yourself and recognizing your own growth and independence. 

So, whether you’re in first year, not even at post-secondary — or maybe in fourth year like me — take a moment to realize how far you have come. I have seen many first years buckle under the pressure to be successfully independent as soon as possible, but independence is not something that one gains overnight. 

Slow down, take a deep breath and trust yourself.