I swear I can remember orientation week like it was yesterday; how in the world can finals be only one week away??
Within the course of just four months my first semester away from home has taught me hard lessons about responsibility, the value of friendship, the importance of good professors, the necessity of careful time management, and the ability to cope with disappointments.
I came into college thinking I could just breeze through my classes like in high school, but Whitman’s rigorous academic system quickly proved me wrong. I was surprised to find that some of my section mates had homework due even before the first day of classes. However, this did not put me off— I was much too excited to finally start my classes and begin my college journey.
As the semester moved along, I began to realize just how smart my fellow Whitties are—well spoken in class discussions, speedily able to learn hard concepts, and so amazingly quick-witted. As somebody who is fairly shy and quiet, I admit I was highly intimidated, and it definitely sunk my own confidence levels. I mean, how could I possibly compare? I had to repeat my sentences at least two or three times in my head before speaking, and I was not good at all under pressure. I was lucky enough to have professors who were understanding to my plight; they gently nudged me to participate in discussions without making me feel forced to do so, leading me to feel very comfortable in their classes.
In the social sense, I started college feeling very deficient in that respect. From the start of orientation hordes of students were clinging to each other, hanging out and forming bonds, and I felt like the odd one out. Of course, I forgot that creating quality friendships takes time; eventually, I did become close with a few other people, which made me feel a lot less alone in the college environment. It also made me value my friends back home even more, and the first few weeks I made sure to call them almost every day in order to keep in touch.
As somebody just transitioning from high school, the college scheduling system threw me off. I only had classes every other day, so every Tuesday and Thursday I had almost the full day to myself and I spent much of that time procrastinating. Bad idea.
Homework piles up much too quickly, especially when you have to cram three or four classes worth of work into a single night. After regularly continuing this pattern for the first week or so (and regretting it every single time) I decided I needed to learn how to manage my time more carefully. I started writing everything down into my planner and would begin my homework much earlier on my days off, learning– through lots of trial-and-error– how to juggle school with work and extracurricular activities.
From my experience so far, college can be both wonderful and terrifying, and there are moments when you need to pull yourself out of pits of disappointment– like when you study all day for an exam and still make a bad grade– but I am glad to say that I am both learning and growing as student and as a person. Of course, it’s only been one semester; I’ve still got a long way to go.