Using critical thinking skills to become more independent in college

ICritical thinking skills are crucial to your success in college and beyond.mage can sometimes be an important factor in many people’s decision-making processes. That is especially true in college where, surrounded by your peers, it is easier to get wrapped up in the clothes they wear, the cars they drive and the parties they attend.

However, in order to make your experience pursuing a career as a medical administrative assistant, certified dental assistant, pharmacy technician or any other discipline as successful as possible, it’s important to focus on the things in your own life that you can control.

Becoming more independent

Being part of student culture, from the elementary level through college, naturally encourages young people to look to their peers for guidance and direction. While that can be beneficial in many ways – you can learn more about the subjects you’re studying, social norms and cultural developments – it can also get in the way of focusing on your education and the lifestyle you need to live in order to be as successful as possible in the classroom.1

Once you’ve made it to college, you’ve probably matured to the point that you have a clearer idea of who you are as a person. You can also make better decisions on your own, without relying on others to direct you as much as you have in the past. So the first step in becoming more independent is simply learning to trust your own judgment.

Applying critical thinking skills

Once you get to the point that you have more confidence in your abilities, it’s time to start using critical thinking skills to sift through the enormous amount of information that is constantly being flung at you from your peers and the media.

Obviously, you can’t take all of that information at face value. Much of it is intended to sell you products, whether that effort is made in an explicit or implicit manner.2 Applying a dose of skepticism to many of the decisions you make is one way to avoid letting outside factors have an undue influence on your thinking.

Consider the source of your information: Is it a friend whose opinion you’ve learned to trust over the years? A professor whose lectures might contain some personal bias? A slickly produced documentary that was funded by a group with an agenda?

As you mature and make your way through college, developing your critical thinking skills is as important as anything you’ll learn. Spending your time in school practicing them is one of the best ways to prepare for life after college.3

1 Weaver, Rheyanne, “Understanding Peer Pressure in College: Why Fitting in Can Sometimes Hurt,” Empowher.com. http://www.empowher.com/mental-health/content/understanding-peer-pressure-college-why-fitting-can-sometimes-hurt
2 Thompson, Scott, “The Message Components of Implicit Advertising Vs. Explicit Advertising,” azcentral.com. http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/message-components-implicit-advertising-vs-explicit-advertising-21067.html
3 Press Release, “Employers More Interested in Critical Thinking and Problem Solving than College Major,” Association of American Colleges and Universities,” April 10, 2013. http://www.aacu.org/press_room/press_releases/2013/leapcompactandemployersurvey.cfm

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