First Month Of College In A Nutshell

First Month Of College In A Nutshell

From eight hours a day to an eight hour gap.
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Another month of my life has come and gone, however this one contained quite a few changes. The fact that I am now almost halfway through my first semester as a freshman in college is almost surreal. This experience has opened up my eyes to so many things that I was previously blinded to at my small, rural high school. There are parts that I love very much, and parts that personally, I am not a fan of.

I've learned so much this semester alone, it's incredible. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I have three classes that are all an hour long. Unfortunately, my first class on each of these days is my 8 a.m. calculus class. Yes, you heard that right. Math at eight o'clock in the morning. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to skip that class but in all honesty, it's not worth it. Skipping classes may seem "cool" or like a much better option than rolling out of bed at an ungodly hour, but professors notice more than you think. At a small school like Misericordia, the average class size is approximately 30 students. Professors get to know you. It's not that hard in a class that small. Even if they can't remember your name (which is understandable considering how many people they see in a day) they notice seats that are empty that usually aren't. College isn't only about the education you're paying (a lot!) for, it is about making professional connections. The professors aren't there to get you or to be a glorified babysitter. They aren't like all of the high school teachers tell you. They do care, they do want to know you, and they do make an effort to be more than just someone who spits information at you and then tests you on it. They want to help you and they want to see you succeed. Don't get me wrong, there are professors that are total clichés and do not care, but they are very few and far between.

Eight a.m. classes will forever be the bane of my existence. Getting up that early to go to a class that you really don't want to sit through is not ideal, but you have to do what you have to do. One thing that makes these classes a bit more bearable is the fact that you don't have 8 classes all jam-packed into one day. I'm currently taking 16 credits and the workload is full but not unbearable. However, if I were to have all of these classes in one day, I would be drowning. The fact that in college you're not overloaded each day is a huge help to your productivity. When there's a huge gap in your schedule, there's only so much you can do before you have to be at your next class, so why not just do work? Your friends can wait until all of your classes are over. That's how I've planned my social life for this first month and so far it's been incredibly effective. So for procrastinators like myself, trust me it's a godsend. Also, the fact that I can stay at the school even after my classes end, go to the library, and focus on my work while still on campus provides me with the opportunity to stay on top of my work while surrounded with useful resources if I were to get stuck on something. These gaps in your schedule are lifesavers. (How do you think I write these articles each week?)

Another factor of college that hit me in this first month was that there is so much more freedom here. In high school you were forced to stay in the same building for hours upon hours, with the same kids for hours upon hours. Here in college? After your class ends, you can leave. Like, get in your car and drive somewhere (if you're a commuter or have a car on campus). There's nothing here that's forcing you to stay. If you dorm, you can go take a nap or do homework in the library. There's no hall passes or sign out sheets, they actually treat you like the adult you've become. Enjoy it but show the insititution the same respect that they've given to you.

Overall, college has been a very eye-opening experience for me in this first month. It's difficult, the workload is heavier, but the opportunities they present you with in order for you to succeed takes some of the pressure off. I am so glad and grateful that I took advantage of the opportunity that was provided to me and decided to further my education. I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Go Cougars!

Cover Image Credit: Misericordia University

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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