This advice was submitted by Rabbi Tzvi and Tali Wohlgelernter, OU-JLIC Educators at Rutgers University.
Setting Boundaries at College from the Outset
The college campus is a place where a student is given an unprecedented amount of freedom. This is a novel experience for a student who has spent the last 12 years in a Jewish day school where they had many obligations, a rigorously structured schedule as well as many boundaries set for them by either their parents or their teachers.
For the first time students now have to establish boundaries and limits for themselves. Every student has to ask him or herself “what is my comfort level, where do I draw the line”. Honestly, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Before entering university, a student should sit down and really give this serious thought. The Torah establishes boundaries for us and as committed, halachic Jews we follow these guidelines.
While a student may be able to see clearly where the Torah lines are, the concern comes when the lines are less obvious. This is where the student needs to “make a fence” for themselves. This is something that can be discussed with a parent, a teacher or a rabbi who knows the person well. However, a person knows him or herself better than anyone else and therefore only he or she can ultimately know where they need to set their boundaries, what inspires them, what motivates them and what is better to stay away from. The best time to set these boundaries is before facing a situation which may be difficult, so that a student’s immediate reaction is always one which they will feel confident about. It is important to be aware that these lines may change from time to time, and a student should make sure to reevaluate where his comfort zone is and whether or not his actions fit within the guidelines he has set for himself.