College Life: Applying Transcendentalism's Five Tenets

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 732 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Words: 732|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 8, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Transcendentalism
  2. Self-Reliance
  3. Individualism
  4. Non-Conformity
  5. Optimism
  6. Intuition
  7. Conclusion

It is natural to be inundated with academic obligations, social expectations, and numerous life decisions that can be overwhelming. During these times of chaos and confusion, it can be helpful to take a step back and reflect on the guiding principles that shape our worldview and help us navigate these challenges. One such philosophy that offers profound insights into human nature, spirituality, and personal growth is Transcendentalism.

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Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that emerged in the United States in the 19th century and is centered around the idea that individuals can transcend their limitations and connect with nature, spirituality, and their higher selves. The following essay will explore the five tenets of Transcendentalism and argue how they can be applied to the life of a college student. These tenets are self-reliance, individualism, non-conformity, optimism, and intuition.


Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the prominent figures of Transcendentalism, famously promoted the idea of self-reliance as a means of achieving personal freedom and independence. According to this philosophy, individuals should trust their own instincts, think for themselves, and not conform to societal expectations. For college students, this can mean taking ownership of their education, pursuing their passions, and not being swayed by external pressures. Furthermore, self-reliance can help college students build resilience and cope with the challenges of college life, such as academic stress, financial insecurity, and social isolation. By cultivating a sense of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, students can be better equipped to handle these obstacles and emerge stronger from them.


Another key tenet of Transcendentalism is individualism. This concept emphasizes the unique value of each person and their ability to chart their own path in life. It discourages conformity to societal norms and promotes the cultivation of one's own talents and interests. For college students, individualism can mean exploring their own strengths and weaknesses, discovering their personal values and beliefs, and pursuing their own goals rather than following a predetermined path or conforming to peer pressure. By embracing their individuality, students can develop a stronger sense of identity and purpose that can guide them through their college and into their future careers.


A closely related concept to individualism is non-conformity. Transcendentalism posits that individuals should strive to be true to themselves and not conform to external pressures or social norms. This includes rejecting societal expectations of success, wealth, and status in favor of pursuing one's own unique path. Non-conformity can mean resisting the urge to follow the standard path of getting good grades, attending prestigious universities, and pursuing high-paying jobs. Instead, they can explore alternative avenues of personal growth, such as travel, volunteer work, or entrepreneurship. By breaking free from the constraints of societal expectations, students can find their own unique path of self-discovery and personal fulfillment.


Transcendentalism also emphasizes the importance of optimism and positivity in one's worldview. This philosophy sees the world as inherently good and believes that individuals have the power to transform themselves and their surroundings for the better. Optimism, in this sense, is not blind faith, but a conscious choice to see the world in a positive light and work towards a better future. Optimism can mean seeing setbacks as opportunities for growth, maintaining a positive outlook despite academic challenges, and cultivating hope for a better future. By adopting an optimistic mindset, students can become more resilient, motivated, and inspired to make a positive impact in the world.


Finally, Transcendentalism values intuition as a way of connecting with one's inner self and the larger spiritual universe. Intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. This concept encourages individuals to trust their own instincts and inner wisdom rather than relying solely on external sources of knowledge. Intuition can mean listening to their gut feelings, following their passions, and connecting with the natural world. By nurturing their intuitive side, students can tap into their inner strength and creativity, and achieve a deeper sense of self-awareness and spiritual fulfillment.

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In conclusion, the five tenets of Transcendentalism can provide powerful guiding principles for college students seeking to discover their unique path and fulfill their highest potential. Self-reliance, individualism, non-conformity, optimism, and intuition can help students cultivate a deeper sense of identity, resilience, and purpose that can guide them through the challenges of college and into a meaningful and fulfilling future. By incorporating these tenets into their lives, college students can become true Transcendentalists and achieve a newfound sense of personal freedom, creativity, and self-discovery.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

College Life: Applying Transcendentalism’s Five Tenets. (2024, March 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“College Life: Applying Transcendentalism’s Five Tenets.” GradesFixer, 07 Mar. 2024,
College Life: Applying Transcendentalism’s Five Tenets. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
College Life: Applying Transcendentalism’s Five Tenets [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 07 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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