You have probably heard this before, but just to reiterate, college is a much larger change than you would have anticipated. It does not matter what your class ranking was in high school, where you graduated from, or even if you have great studying skills. Yes, I’m speaking to you, high school senior Beth.
I came to college knowing I was going to have a tough time. I’m at a university driven towards educating engineers and having a lot of my classes calculus based. Let me just throw out there, I am not an engineer. I never was when I came here. My university also happens to be one of the top business (what I’m studying!) schools in my state, but that title is hardly noticed when such a vast majority of the students come here for the engineer programs.
Before I even came to school to start my education, we had a preview and orientation that we took a math placement exam at. While I was taking my exam, the chancellor spoke to the parents in the room and stated, “You will see some of the lowest grades from kids during their first year of college. Your kids are some of the brightest from the country, otherwise they would not be here. However, many of your kids probably never had to study in high school or did very little. The courses here are very tough no matter what your major and you need to prepare your kids for this”. Upon hearing this, I guess the idea of ‘college’ had yet to sink in.
My first semester went okay. I did not have much trouble in my classes, yet, I did not receive the grades I thought I had deserved in some of my classes. I begun to think the statement the school had made was maybe right. Maybe, I actually had to study a lot more. Maybe I needed to find some new studying skills. As the semester ended and winter break came, I pushed that thought out of my mind and started the second semester thinking I would be okay in all my classes. I would soon find out that I would encounter one of the worst semesters of my life so far.
Here’s some insight to my current semester:
Microeconomics: I should have realized when my teacher said that this class was “Calculus based” I was going to have a bit of a problem. Microeconomics is probably one of the toughest classes I have ever taken. Our book is written by professors from our school and makes just about as much sense as a book written in French. My teacher is so sweet, yet not good at clarifying what she is talking about when I have gone to her office hours.
College Algebra: I thought I was going crazy for thinking that this class was difficult. Upon speaking to other classmates and friends about it I got more insight about the class. Remember what I said about this school being engineering dominant? Welcome to the engineering weed-out class. Evidently they did not think about us non-engineers when they designed the course. You know there is a problem when Calculus 3 students have to help you with your homework and they cannot even do it. Thank goodness for my A on all of my homework otherwise I would not be getting out of that class alive.
These are the two main problem areas. The rest of my classes are going well and keeping me from losing my mind and thinking that I am incompetent in my studies. The take home message from this is that even the easiest of classes are weed-out classes and make you go crazy.
I would say a hard part for me going away for college was adjusting to the environment. First semester I had to learn to live with a roommate and two suite-mates and an entire floor of people I did not know. Just when I got used to that I changed to another environment, one even crazier than the previous: a sorority house. No this is not like you see in the movies, it is not that bad. No where near, but it was still a big enough of a change to throw me off for a little bit. My prediction for next year is that all will be better, environment wise because I will finally be used to it. If anyone tells you changing environments will not mess with you, even slightly, they are wrong.
The stress of college can make you yearn for high school when you truly had no care in the world. With extracurricular activities, class, and other event thrown in, it can be difficult to manage everything, especially if you have not ever had to. I kept the petty clubs off my list and only joined ones I knew would benefit my future. I joined Kappa Delta which will help with networking, leadership skills, learning how to work (and live) well with others, and helps you figure out your values more. I am a member of our Panhellenic Council which is the governing body for the sororities at my school. Through that I have already taken on leadership positions. Which, as a freshman, is a big deal. This is helping me to better my public speaking skills and acting a stepping stone to one day (hopefully) be president of my sorority. The last activity I joined was one I had to interview for was a leadership academy through my school. This is an incredible opportunity that I was given. We have had many guest speakers come in a tell us how to get where we want to go in life. One of out speakers was a CEO of a software company. I emailed him after his presentation asking him for advice because I would like to be a CEO one day myself. He gave me great advice and even mailed me a book he enjoyed. Without the opportunity to join the leadership academy I would not have been able to network myself in this amazing way. Speaking of networking, we had a woman from our career opportunities office speak to us about networking and how we should do it and how to get the most benefit out of your connections after the fact. She also stated that employees are no longer just looking for “student” they want “involved students”. So if that does not just put more onto your already full plate as a college student, I really have no idea what does!
Thankfully I have been able to survive this year. I have one more month left of my year of college. While I have been so stressed out and not known what to do at certain points this semester, I also know that it will not be the end of my college career. This year has certainly been an eye opener. Coming from high school where I never had to study and graduated with honors, college has been a reality check for sure. I know that this year has just barely prepared me for the future in my career. I know that the next three years will do even more for me than I can even imagine. I know that I am definitely not alone in my struggle in classes (as all my super-smart freshman friends have had their own breakdowns of sorts). I know that this will only make me a stronger student in the end of it all.
Wish me luck for this last stretch of school.