One of the final indicators of adulthood is gaining independence from your parents. It typically begins from the teen years and can go on for several years into early adulthood. Teenagers must frequently demonstrate to their parents their ability to make good decisions. College-aged adults must balance between self-governance and financial dependency on parents. This process can be painstakingly slow, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Check out these six tips on how to become more independent from parents during college:
1. Move into a Student Apartment
Moving into a student apartment can transition you into an independent adult, responsible for managing your time to meet study and work goals. When choosing an apartment, choose one located near your college. This has the advantage of eliminating commuting stress, especially if the campus is within walking distance. Student apartments with a short commute works well for both work and class. It helps you access campus amenities and to work on-campus without stress.
Renting an apartment close to campus means that most of your neighbours are likely to be your peers. It gives you the feel of a dorm and provides you with autonomy. For an easy transition, wherever possible in your first year of college, start with a dorm residency before moving into a student apartment. Getting your own living space is an excellent way to gain independence from your parents.
2. Cut Back on Parental Support
Cutting back on parental supports is one of the best tips on how to become more independent from parents during college. Naturally, parents tend to intervene and sometimes interfere in their children’s lives, especially where their kids have not demonstrated good decision-making skills thus far. A display of respectful behaviour, careful driving and excelling in school go a long way in instilling confidence in parents. This, in turn, earns you freedom and trust.
Foster open, respectful communication lines with your parents on independence matters and refrain from yelling and name-calling whenever rules are issued. Establish a privacy zone, and do not overly inform parents about the nitty-gritty of your life. Reduce emotional dependency on parents while fostering tighter bonds with your friends. Display good choices without having to be supervised.
3. Stop Parental Interference/Receiving Support
Show gratitude to your parents, and respectfully highlight your need for greater independence and privacy. If you are self-reliant, you have no obligation to report every single matter or abide by your parents’ rules.
Have clearly defined boundaries, and do not sabotage yourself by behaving in a manner that invites parental interference. It’s to your advantage to take action, such as taking back the spare key from your parents. Also, ask them to notify you in advance before paying you a visit. Wherever possible, have a different billing address from your parents’, among other things.
4. Social Independence
Parents should not be your first port-of-call whenever you need help. Although they have provided you with critical social support in the past, you must develop your own social support network independent of their influence. Avoid approaching them with help requests, questions and pleas for financial assistance. Change your communication mode and pattern by becoming more irregular in your correspondence with them. For example, email more and reduce phone calls to once or twice weekly. Politely decline parental visits if they live nearby by feigning busyness.
5. Make Your Own Money
Generating your own income is a necessary step towards independence. As a college student, you can have multiple sources of income by taking part-time jobs. Seek scholarships to further your education and, hopefully, do away with parental dependency. Draw a budget you can afford and strictly adhere to it. Monitor your expenses and cut back where necessary.
To be financially independent, determine what you can afford without depending on your parents. Factor in your food, rent, clothing, entertainment and transport costs. In short, live within your means. While your living standards may dip at first, stay the course until you achieve financial independence.
Apply for jobs where you can choose a conducive schedule. Preferably, get one that complements your college major. By working, you improve your time management skills. Try taking early morning shifts. If relevant part-time jobs are unavailable, apply for “warm-body” jobs with wiggle room for doing your homework while at work. Examples of these include working at an athletic centre or at the library desk. You can also improve your communication skills by taking summer orientation jobs to help incoming students settle in.
6. Shop for Your Own Groceries
Take charge of your nutrition by shopping for groceries yourself. As you keep doing this, you will develop smart nutrition decisions and routines. You will also develop a habit of shopping for nutritious foods instead of just piling your shopping cart with junk foods. You don’t want to suffer the consequences of bad eating and hunger pangs during and in-between class sessions.
As you shop for groceries, bear in mind the fact that you have to clean after yourself, such as washing your own dishes and cooking your own meals.
Gaining independence in college after 18 years of living at home has its pros and cons. The transition into a functioning adult requires determination and the ability to make basic decisions. You must also be determined to stay afloat no matter what.