Enjoying freedom

Tracey Gowing | Jan 5th, 2013

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably made it. Made it to uni, that is. You’ve successfully passed high school and you’re taking the first concrete steps to being what you’ve always wanted to be when you grew up. But although you’ve walked through the uni gates with confidence, you’re feeling a little anxious on the inside. You’re experiencing something you haven’t experienced before: independence.

The uni life is all about being independent; about being free. There’s no one holding your hand or telling you what to wear. Depending on your degree, there’ll probably be a great deal of time when you aren’t in lectures or tutorials and there’s no one telling you how to use that time. You may get to choose what subjects you do and when you do them, but often no one cares if you don’t show up. What do you do with your newfound freedom?

Freedom and responsibility

At uni, freedom is given to help you learn responsibility. It becomes your responsibility to figure out how you will use your time. It’s your responsibility to hand your assignments in on time and to achieve a passing grade. It’s your responsibility to seek help when you don’t understand something and to work out how you learn best. It’s your responsibility to work out when you will go to lectures, when you will go to the beach, when you will lie on the grass and what clubs you will get involved in.

It’s those who don’t work out how to handle this freedom that fail. No one ever fails because they are not smart enough—if you weren’t smart enough you wouldn’t be at uni! If you attend your lectures, tutorials, lab sessions and regularly study throughout the year you will probably be all right.

So, why do people fail at uni? People fail because they can’t organise and motivate themselves to do the required work; they fail because they can’t handle the freedom. Instead of studying, they pursue the things that seem more freeing at the time: sleeping in instead of attending their 8am lecture; heading to the beach on a nice day rather than working on an assignment; picking up extra hours at a part-time job instead of studying.

But even if you pass all of your subjects, you can still fail to gain the most from your time at uni. Uni isn’t the time to insulate yourself with the same friendsthat you started your course with. Nor is it the timeto lock your self away in the library just to pass exams.By doing both of these things you’ll miss out on theopportunity to learn and engage with new ideas andpeople.

Enjoying true freedom

Uni is an exciting time where you are free to determine how you will make decisions. You can enjoy the freedom and independence that uni offers in so many ways. But do not be deceived. The lazy life of not studying, of chasing after the ‘great’ pleasures of life, of being out of control in all aspects of life, of experimenting with things suggests true freedom but it does not deliver. The pressure from peers or hoped for friends is not necessarily freedom but slavery to sin, slavery to being popular.

True freedom is found by looking to the one who made us and by living as he determined. Jesus says, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). True freedom from sin comes through the Son. It comes as we recognise that we are enslaved to our selfish, self-centred ways and are in rebellion to the one who truly loves us. True freedom comes when we accept Jesus.

Deciding how to use freedom at uni

Uni gives you the opportunity to live out your freedom from sin as you make your own decisions. But this isn’t always easy. To give you a helping hand, here are a few questions to ask yourself when faced with a decision:

  • Will it strengthen me as a Christian?
  • Will it be loving to those around me—strangers I don’t know yet, my lecturers, my old friends?
  • Have I prayed and asked God for wisdom and thanked him for this new season in life?
  • How will I work during semester? How can I use my uni holidays to know God better and serve others?