Individualism and College

Sitting on the couch in my dorm room is the greatest feeling ever. Nobody is around to tell me what to do. I can play all the FIFA I want and eat all the candy I desire. My mom is not there to yell at me to read a book or to go do my homework. That’s the best part about college; you become your own person, where you make all the executive decisions on what you want to do that day and what you want to eat. It molds a person into a true individual who acts based on her or her own intuitions.

College student learning Italian because it interests her.
College student learning Italian because it interests her.

While reading John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, I couldn’t help but make an instant connection to college life. Mill states that “individuality is one of the leading essentials of wellbeing”, and that “in proportion to the development of his individuality, each person becomes valuable to himself, and is therefore capable of being more valuable to others”. Mill voraciously believes that individuality is essential in the world, as it leads to innovative ideas and inventions. He believes that people should be free to pursue a wide variety of activities and lifestyles, as long as it is not harmful to others.

Growing up, kids take on the ideologies and religious beliefs of their parents. They conform only because they do not have a mind of their own that can think and make decisions that are beneficial to them. At the age of 15, people begin to shape their own beliefs and identities. Once people get to college, they are able to truly discover who they really and what they really believe. College is a place where people become individuals. For the most part, it is the first time people begin to live on their own. They clean as they wish, do laundry when they feel like it, and go to class when they are up for it.

Students playing video games all day, with nobody telling them what to do.
Students playing video games all day, with nobody telling them what to do.

While all these actions have consequences, they are solely decided by the individual himself. Students also are able to choose from a variety of classes, ranging from Art and Film to Astronomy. They can pursue their interests and discover other unfound subjects that intrigue them, without public influence. In addition, college is known by many as a time where people experiment. Teens try a variety of drugs and drink an unreasonable amount of alcohol. Mill urges people to participate in these actions, as he believes that individuals should pursue a variety of activities, even if it harms them. College shapes individuals’ identity, as it gives them the freedom to pursue various activities they are interested in.


One thought on “Individualism and College

  1. I absolutely agree with you that college is a time in life where we get to experiment new activities and discover who we are. However, I think that individuality starts from a younger age when we get to decide on what clothes we want to wear today and what music we prefer to listen to. In my perspective, college is a place that enhances our individuality through constant exposure to new ideas and people, but not necessary the starting point of creating individuality itself. It’s just my thought but I do agree that at a younger age, we are more likely to conform because we cannot think for ourselves as clearly as we can as we grow older. I believe that in college, we have less of a pressure to conform ourselves to the public norm because there are numerous and various options available for our choosing and that we can simply find what best fit us rather than conforming in order fit in.


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