Growing up with a mindset of superiority above everyone really proved to have severe repercussions. Not long ago in high school, me and my fellow Liberal Arts Academy students - known as "the academy kids" by the underlings - were rewarded with our medallion, signifying we had completed the accelerated program. In our general school district, I guess you could consider us top tier, or maybe even elite. But, once we got to college, a whole new world unfolded.
The harsh reality of this transition is that no matter who you are, we all start on equal ground. Your high school GPA, ACT score, extracurricular activities, all those things brought you to this point and the university you're attending, which means they no longer have any significance. Everyone has a blank slate. What this means is none of us are "advanced" or at a higher caliber than one another. This is a huge pill to swallow for us gifted and talented students. Growing up, we were so used to being above the rest of the students. We were smarter, therefore we studied much less … because we didn't need to. In college, no matter who you are, you're going to have to pull your weight in order to succeed. There isn't going to be a parent there telling you when you should or shouldn't be studying.
While the literal transition can be tough, you won't even begin to swallow the pill until you receive that first unexpected exam score. For me, this was the hardest part. In high school, I was so used to pulling A's and B's without any second effort. When I saw my score on one of those biology exams, I vividly remember saying to myself "Oh, so that's how this is gonna be." I realized that an A wasn't just going to be handed to me and that the grade I received was a reflection of how much effort I was putting in. Not only that, but one thing I realized was I didn't know how to study. Breezing through high school with a little skimming of notes here and there did not prepare me for college in the slightest. When studying for exams, I had no idea where to start. There are tons of roadblocks we students have to face just because we aren't accustomed to how we should act as students.I'm currently at the University of Kentucky, which (during the college application process) I considered my safety school. It gets even worse for those at top schools who are also surrounded by students that are elite. I can't imagine how my best friend feels at Vanderbilt University, being one amongst thousands of the nation's smartest students. One of my inspirations, actually, was a TED talk given by a Harvard graduate, where he described the harsh transition at an Ivy League school. While all this may seem very overwhelming, there's still good news. In the beginning, we all start with a clean slate. We've got room to slip up a few times here and there, but as long as we have an idea of what we want, we can paint a damn good picture.