restricted access Decreasing Authority Dependence During the First Year of College

Annual interviews with 228 students at 6 diverse campuses in the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education reveal 123 students’ developmental growth away from authority dependence between the beginning of the first and second years of college. In the first year of college, 86% of participants relied solely on external authorities to define their beliefs, identity, and relationships. At the start of their second year, 57% relied solely on external authorities. We used students’ narratives about the effect of their academic, cocurricular, and personal learning experiences to map the nature of their journeys out of authority dependence and toward self-authorship.