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  • Staff Writer

Learning Independence and Responsibility in College

Going to college means stepping out of your parent's house. This means that while for the last 18 years you have been cared for, you will now be caring for your own needs. While every college student leaves home with a different set of skills, you will need to learn and grow to become independent in college.

It can be intimidating to be living on your own. However, as you learn new tools and responsibilities, it gets easier. The skills and habits you learn in college will help you thrive while there, and will set you up for success as an adult.

Transitioning to College

Moving out of your parent's house and from high school education to college is a big transition. Your workload, expectations, and schedule will be different and new, along with changes in your living situation. As a result of these changes, this is often a challenging time in your life. Many students struggle with the transition to college and, if you are having a hard time, that's ok. Learning to live independently and take responsibility for yourself in college can help you to feel more in control and capable of being successful, and allows you to enjoy your college experience.

Independence and Responsibility in College

There are many skills required when learning independence and responsibility in college. To take care of yourself, you will need to learn basic life skills, time management, and communication. It will also help you to learn how to regulate yourself, which means keeping yourself on a schedule and managing yourself.

Life Skills

The term life skills refer to the many skills you will need to be successful in life. Life skills include financial management, cooking, and personal hygiene. While many of these things were likely taken care of while in high school, in college these are skills you will need to learn. If you do not know how to, it's ok. Researchers have found that adolescents can learn life skills and, in doing so, can improve self-esteem.

There are many ways to learn life skills, and getting help from a coach or a family member can help. Many colleges also offer classes or programs to help you to learn to manage money or take care of your health. Remember, these are new skills for you, and learning them takes time. When in doubt, choose one to work on, giving yourself time to get used to it before moving on to another.

Time Management

Managing your time in college is very important; like life skills, it takes some practice. Time management means scheduling your classes, work, social outings, and study time. It is the process of organizing and dividing your time into different categories.

How you manage your time will be unique to your needs. However, it helps to learn how to schedule and adjust your schedule as needed. The first step is prioritizing your time. Do you have projects or homework due at certain times? If so, these need to be scheduled so they are completed in time. The next step is readjusting your schedule as needed. Looking at it part way through the week and on weekends can help you to make adjustments to make sure you haven't missed anything.


An important skill that helps you to be independent and take responsibility is to learn how to self-regulate. This means that when you have an impulse to do something, you pause and think for a moment. Let's say it is Sunday night and you have a project due on Monday that you aren't finished with. While you may be tempted to go hang out with some friends, self-regulation is the ability to stick with your schedule and complete the project.

Self-regulation can feel like a bummer, but it is important. In college, you are responsible for yourself. You do not have someone else telling you to complete your work and study or to wake you up for class. Try incentivizing yourself; finish this project, then go hang out with friends. It can help you to complete the things you need to, and be rewarded by doing something you enjoy!

Communication Skills

Being an adult means communicating about many topics that can be challenging. This may look like working on a project with a student you do not get along with or talking through issues that you are having with your roommate. Improving your communication skills takes time. However, it helps you to be independent as you can work through problems without someone else stepping in. Try to practice communicating directly and honestly, addressing any issue that arises, and listening to others when they bring up their concerns.

Value of Independence and Responsibility in College

For many, college is the first time where you are fully independent. Learning the skills necessary for independence and responsibility in college is very valuable. Research shows that independence can help you to have better friendships and romantic relationships in your life. It is also linked to improved well-being, both in college and beyond.

Transitioning from high school to college is a challenging time. There are many skills that you need to learn in order to live independently, including managing finances, communicating, and doing laundry. While it can be daunting, you can learn how to be independent. At Northwest College Support, we can help you learn the skills needed to meet your goals. As you continue to mature into adulthood, these skills will be a foundation for your life. If you are struggling to feel confident in your independence at college, we can help. Call us at (877) 485-2776 today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you succeed in college.

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