To be honest, I’m not independent.
Well yes, I am independent in terms of Greek life, but I am not independent when it comes to real life. Growing up with both parents in higher education, I heard all the stories of crazy students, from using the excuse that their grandma died three times in a semester to begging for an A when they were a “few” percentage points away. We live in a helicopter society where professors, parents and the general population are expected to hold everyone’s hand and guide them along.
When I was growing up, my parents didn’t hold my hand through everything. They let me experience failure. I had friends whose parents did all of their science fair projects and math assignments, but mine were only there if I needed help, not to take over and make it perfect. I recently read an articlethat addressed helicopter parenting and the society it has created. After reading it, I didn’t think much of the idea of a less resilient generation because I’ve always thought of myself as fairly independent. Then I started to think about what independence really means.
That I will be living on my own in two years is what hit me. Yes, I can do my laundry, clean and cook (somewhat), but I don’t know how to file taxes or finance a car or buy a house. Then I started to think about how this applies to my college career specifically, which is happening here and now, not a few years down the road.
Recently, there has been an exponential increase in anxiety and depression among college students. According to the article, requests for emergency counseling from college students have more than doubled in the past five years. Mental health is not something to push aside; in fact, it is something that should be given more attention. However, there’s a difference between actually having anxiety and depression caused by chemical imbalances and the nervousness of seeing a mouse in your apartment and having to call the police to set a mouse trap. I am not saying that everyone who says they’re depressed is lying or that it’s not a problem that needs to be addressed, because it most definitely is, but I am saying that this generation of students is not resilient, independent, self-sufficient–whatever you want to call it–enough to deal with minor day-to-day issues because we have had our hands held for too long.
We have been brought up in a society where we fear failure. When I participated in math competitions in middle school, everyone got a ribbon for participating, but why? What good does this do? I also experienced this the summer before my first year. I attended a collegiate dance competition, and regardless of how badly you did, you received a ribbon of one color or another. Every team was given some award. You may not have won best performance, but here’s a trophy to say we liked your costumes. Maybe at the elementary level this idea was intended to save a few kids some tears, but is this necessary at the collegiate level? I think we can handle ourselves. Everyone should be taught that failure is okay. Humans are far from perfect, and you will interact with people throughout your life who will one-up you, so you shouldn’t let failure stop you.
This need to succeed has also shaped academia. It’s becoming more and more common for professors to lower their standards for fear of low ratings from students. Is that the kind of society in which we want to live? Education is a powerful tool, and we should want to be challenged, not handed an A in exchange for tuition. I think it’s easy to fall into this trap because the idea of a 4.0 is nice, but getting a C will not ruin your life.
I’ve rambled a lot, but I haven’t offered a solution to this problem because, to be honest, I don’t know the solution. I think, for one, we as students should stop expecting our professors to tailor to our needs in order to assure we all pass. Before coming to Jewell, I took many classes at Missouri State University, and my experience there, combined with my time here, has shown me that many people are not independent. They want their professors to hold their hands and remind them of everything that’s on the syllabus, to tell them exactly what is going to be on the test or what to write in their essays. While these are all things that can help any student succeed, they aren’t necessary in our lives.
We have a copy of the syllabus to look at, the test is going to be over what we learned in class and read in the textbook and our papers are going to be over class material and outside research. I’m not saying we should never ask for help, but we should be more mindful before we rant about Dr. So-and-so and how unfair the final was because he or she didn’t give us the questions beforehand. This might not solve my problem of one day living alone and needing to file taxes, but it’s one step closer to accepting failure, figuring out problems on my own without the help of my parents or professors and becoming more independent overall.