High Point University

Why independence is the most important lesson to learn in college

By Ann Shelley// Opinion Editor

Independence is what I’ve learned most over my four years at High Point University. Freshman year is the most exciting year for most individuals, the start of their college career. And it is usually senior year when you expect to have everything figured out. College is when most students live away from home for the first time. Going to live somewhere new and having to meet all different kinds of people in a completely strange surrounding is exhilarating. However, if you can get through the four years and all the crazy transitions you go through during your college career, you can do anything.

    If I were to have a conversation with the girl I was starting freshman year, I wouldn’t recognize myself. I was a terrified 19-year-old who didn’t know who she was or what she wanted. I was comfortable in my hometown with my family always around and my friends not far away if I ever needed help. We have to learn how to do this thing called life without relying on everyone around us. Isn’t this why we go away in the first place? 

Everyone always emphasizes how our college careers are the four most important years of our lives. When I first arrived at HPU, I thought you were supposed to know right away what you wanted to be when you graduate. All my hometown friends had known what college they wanted and what career path they wanted to pursue since they were in middle school. I was the only one who didn’t know where I wanted to go to college; however, I was set on being a doctor with no intention of ever changing my path. I had wanted to be a physician assistant since I first stepped foot in my high school halls. I soon learned this wasn’t in the cards for me.

    I had never failed at anything in my life. I was a 4.0 student in high school and always studied until I knew the material like the back of my hand. My PA career slipped through my fingertips right away first semester freshman year. I was beginning to fail anatomy. Every test I would get back was a worse grade than the first. So I researched and finally figured out I would love to be an electronic media production major. I took this failure as a learning experience and made it into a career I would be passionate about. Although I was not talented at all in the sciences, I found my fit in communications. This soon sparked my love for screenwriting, creating amazing edited videos, graphic design and advertising.

    I had been in love with photography and making videos since I was 13-years-old. However, I never actually considered a career doing this full time. My mom and dad always encouraged me to do communications. However, I thought it would be too easy, and it wouldn’t challenge me.  I found something I am challenged by constantly and am always learning new ways to edit.

All my friends joined sororities and asked me to take pictures at their formals. This was the moment my photography business began. I started to do more portfolio work and began to pick up more jobs. I started to take pictures of different formals and even did some family shoots. I had never been more excited about anything in my life. I felt like I was good at something and all those failures before this were meant to happen. Since the summer of 2017, I started to be hired for various video shoots and photoshoots to help my portfolio grow even more throughout the past four years.  I have begun to realize that I can do anything I set my mind to, without anyone else’s help but my own.

Independence is about knowing how to take time just for yourself. We all always want to be with others in college and not miss out on anything going on. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real guys. So most nights we choose to go out and hang with friends, instead of maybe staying in and doing a homework assignment. You need to realize that part of independence is not afraid to put yourself first. If there’s something you need to do, do it for yourself. We are living in a whole new world now of electronics and social media. On Instagram and Snapchat you continuously feel the need to keep up with everyone’s lives. We always are looking at celebrities living these luxurious lives and aren’t focusing enough time on bettering ourselves.

You should know how to do your laundry by now, cook your food and handle your own money. If you can’t or won’t, are you independent? College is where you are supposed to make mistakes and learn from them. It is supposed to be where you have some wild nights out and some peaceful nights in. You meet some of your best friends and have a support system. You maybe even fall in love a couple of times and realize what you want in a guy. All of the high points and low points of college is all that the experience is supposed to be. If you never fail in life, how are you supposed to learn?

Independence is what I believe my most significant lesson in college is supposed to be. Trust me, I have learned so many experiences as a college student. Most of them won’t matter in five years, but sometimes particular ones do. For example, when failure happens, there’s bound to be something even more amazing that’s about to occur in your life. Failures are a way to change our life path and make it better than we ever expected. Also, college is a lot about growing up and figuring out what type of person you want to be. I have learned that life is all about a mindset; what you focus on is where your energy flows. Trust me when I say spend time and focus on yourself because independence is the best gift college has given me.


The gain with independence is love and acceptence for yourself. When you are completely yourself your confidence will never fail to suprirse you. Opinion Editor Ann Shelley now has a a photography website where she has made a business taking portraits and event photos. She started her path in photography her freshman year as a staff photographer for the Campus Chronicle. The photos above are from one of Shelley’s recent shoots. Photos by Ann Shelley