Every human being has got his own view on his identity. According to psychologists, many people think that they are the ones who understand themselves better. This is not always so because people who live around us will learn behavior better than anybody else (Astin, 1985). This is because they are able to observe the behavior better in different settings and deduce information that helps them in analyzing the behavior. People tend to behave differently in different settings. A college student will be different in a social place and be different in a church setup. This is because there are different behavioral expectations from the people in those places (Baumeister, 1984). In the following essay, I am going to observe a college setting. Do students portray different patterns of behavior in different college settings? Is a student’s personality shaped by the college environment that he is living and interacting with most of the time? Is it true to say that college environment influences a student’s ideas of whom he is?
When many students get enrolled to college, there is a lot that seems new to them. They find themselves surrounded by unfamiliar social stratifications including; norms, values and a new culture all together. This is because they lived in a different environment. In their earlier stages of education, there are rules and regulations that strictly govern their behavior. This does not mean that there are no rules and regulations, but, there is a difference of freedom. There is nobody to dictate how one uses his time. There are rare colleges where there are roll calls, unlike the lower schooling grades. Some colleges condemn absenteeism, but, few colleges bother with how registers. This, therefore, makes many students behave differently when they go to colleges (Block, 1981).
When many students get enrolled in colleges, they usually are exceedingly naive. They come with one intention of acquiring academic success. When they get to college, they find a totally different environment that requires discipline for survival. Different character traits emerge as a result of different interactions that a student encounters. There are various things that contribute to identity formation of different students. These include the organizational structure of the college, its physical setting and the demography of the student.
The Incoming Students
During the first few months in college, a student is not able to form any relationship that is can be counted on. As days pass by, students start to form a relationship through peer pressure demands. These demands affect their social life, intellectual thinking and their academic performances. A college student wakes up in the morning. The previous night’s events cause his lateness for classes. This makes him skip the first two classes as he rolls in bed deliberating whether to wake up or not. The day before was a talent’ show day where different gifting came out. Peer pressure starts to take its course. To the student, this is no cause for worry since this is part of being part of the college. This student finds others outside their lecture hall. He asks for the lecture notes and sits down to copy. It is hard to copy from other student’s book and, this makes the student end up making many mistakes. These mistakes often distort the intended information and, this student ends up not getting the lesson intended.
In most cases, relationships formed during the first years of college life survive to be lasting friendships (Tinto, (1975). These relationships find a firm base since they come after a long observation of the other party. All the first year students are usually afraid of each other. This is because they do not know others around them and, they are afraid of befriending wrong persons. Many feel so lonely in an area where there are so many people. Eventually, those who live to their close proximity to the residential areas, those whom they sit next to in lecture halls, and the ones they find in their eating joints, become their friends.
Many college students spend much time in their social engagements than they do in lecture halls. People are different even in the simple beliefs that they uphold. A student who believes that academic success is not the only indispensable but also exploiting the areas that one feels talented in like performing arts, talents’ show is crucial. For any student to fit in a college environment; there is a demand to be all round (Bem, 1975). A student who comes from an unusually strict background finds it being hard to fit in college. This is because; there is much peer influence in things that happens. To such students there are rules that govern their behavior and one should be independent minded and strong willed in any basic decision making. These students always believe in their own potential and, they grab any opportunity that arises to exploit their potential rightfully.
Why many students believe in their peers
These students have grown up in a family that has instilled many things in their minds. Family is the first agent of socialization and, many live to uphold what they have learnt from their families than anything else. Many believe in what their parents and siblings confess they are. When they get to college, however, they find people of their age and, there is much influence amongst such. Demand to fit in certain social classes in college makes many students start deviating from what they have long upheld. They start to follow what their fellow college mates do. Some things could be wrong, but, the demand to feel that one belongs always overcomes. Some even develop some deviant behavior in such for identity (Carver, & Scheier, (1981).
Every student looks for identity. There craving association with something that is particular to someone only. In the search for identity, many students get at loggerheads with the college administration. Many get expelled when found guilty of some vices like leading in strikes, bullying others etc.
Social transition in many students goes through till graduation. There are always new students joining the college every year. The old students want to establish their name to them and, these calls for development of a new behavior every year (Davis, & Murrell, 1993). There some those students who live an indelible name in college. Those who come later remember them and, what they did could be legacy or destructive by many thereafter. This could be either right or wrong. It could be that student brought fame to his institution by winning the most coveted trophy in the performing arts. Others, they live to be referred to as people of harmful influence who bullied the first year students always caused havoc in the institution. They led their fellow students in the most destructive demonstration that left a student dead or so. This all happens in the search for identity. It makes a student feel complete and as one who has earned a name amongst his fellow college mates. Many do not care whether they get a decent name or not, provided they are heroes to other students who come after (Davis, & Murrell, 1993).
A softly spoken student from a humble background may become rowdy and deviant. This may be contributed by the reception that he gets in college. In an environment, where there is harassment, there is a need to become resistant and, this calls for even the soft to become tough for their survival. Many behavioral patterns that students develop are supposedly temporal in order for them to live through college. They, however, develop into part of their character traits and become their identity.
In conclusion, people’s environment influences behavior of the actor at any times. Behavior will form patterns that form one’s identity. A college student as earlier discussed changes his behavior in order to fit into a social class. This is because; there are different kinds of demand in different social classes. A case of a female student admitted to college in her late teenage years helps us look into the influence by the environment. She has grown up in a rather remote area and has not been exposed to some modes of dressing. She joins college in the middle of a city. She is extremely notable at the beginning form her mode of dressing. As time goes by, the student is on top of fashion and, the parents are most likely going to feel the effect. They dig deeper in order to maintain the fashion need of their daughter. As they proceed to their final year, they will have an identity associated to their mode of dressing and, this to them is a magnificent achievement. To others, it is just a mode of getting themselves noticed and, earning themselves a name. This may have an adverse effect to the parents who have to accommodate the new living style of their daughter.
It is, therefore, an individual’s role to let the environment they are in shape their life positively and, in morally accepted ways (Pascarella, 1985). One should look forward to be who they are irrespective of the space they find themselves. College students should strive to form natural relationships rather than compromising their moral to fit into certain social classes. Instead of spending all the time in dancing places and they forget to complete the assignment, they should set their priorities right. There is satisfaction when one carries himself out as an individual than when influenced by others blindly. One should always ask why he does what he does. Ask whether if the others were not there whether he would do what he does (Moos, 1979).