Thoughts From A Second Semester Freshman

Thoughts From A Second Semester Freshman

More than halfway through my first year of college, here are a few things that I've learned.

As a second semester freshman, I guess I can finally start saying that I’m “acclimated” to the college lifestyle. And I’m not just talking about ordering Domino’s at 1 a.m. and getting dangerously close to majoring in coffee consumption.

No, I’m talking about what it’s like to be living in a brand new city with a bunch of new people: and juggling a workload that’s a bit more advanced than anything I’ve ever experienced before.

These past few months, I’ve learned a lot — not just about myself, but my work ethic. Studying in college is vastly different from studying in high school: and this is something that I had to learn the hard way by practically living out of the library. But in the end, it really paid off.

Another big change for me was having so much free time when I got to college. For me, high school was all about structure: sitting at a desk and having back to back class for six hours straight. With the loose schedule I have now, a lot of the pressure to get things done has lessened, and I find it easier to get all my work done on time.

But having all this spare time definitely opens up the way for distraction. Some of the things that I’ve learned? Apparently, binge-watching "Law and Order" does not help you study for American Government: no matter how much you wished it did.

One of the things that brought me the most stress last semester were my grades. Countless times, I’ve heard that "you get out of college what you put into it," and if you work for it, then you’ll get an A. But another thing that I learned is that isn’t necessarily true.

Professors are here to teach you how to think on your own, and rely on your own strengths to solve problems. And sometimes, you’ll work your ass off just to get a B. And that sucks. But sometimes, a hard-earned B is better than an A that you got by cutting corners.

On a lighter note, college is a great place to meet new people. I’m only one semester in, and I already know that some of these people that I’ve met are going to be my friends for life. College is full of awesome people and experiences. So my advice to anyone who is reading this: this is the time to make mistakes. College is about finding yourself, and if you can achieve this through trial and error, then go for it.

Don’t like your major? Change your mind. And then change it again. For the first time in our young adult lives, we have the power to decide what we want to do. So take every opportunity you can to find out what you’re passionate about, and run with it.

Cover Image Credit: The University of Scranton

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Learning How To Study In College

Yes, I am a second-semester college student. Yep, I'm just now learning how to study.

I never had to study, so I never had to learn how.

Apparently, my seventh grade teacher taught all of his homeroom classes how to study except for mine. I remember seeing different study methods, stapled to one of those metal-framed cork boards that teachers would cover in brightly colored tissue paper and put graphics on relating to the subject of the class, and thinking that studying would be something fun to learn how to do.

It never happened to me. I remember him teaching us to indent our paragraphs—I already was doing that. I remember him telling us that we had to read books once a week, at least—I was already doing that. I remember him lecturing us about doing our homework, but never once mentioning the fact that we would have to study outside of that, too.

This story always seems to go the same way—a gifted and talented child in middle school with excelling grades suddenly plateaus or even falls off a cliff when high school hits. I remember being in absolute despair at the end of every quarter, and I mean every quarter, trying to make sure I didn't fail a class so I could go to Florida with the show choir. I felt like I was overwhelmed my freshman year, but everybody around me told me that "it was just the transition, I'd get used to it soon, next month/quarter/year will be better." It was the same every single year.

When I entered my pre-collegiate program, the ton of bricks that hit me freshman year and again sophomore year at least doubled. I was paying for these classes, paying to learn, paying for the credits that would some day help me get a step ahead in the future college of my choice, and I didn't know how to keep up. The other kids in the program made fun of me because I never did my homework. They made fun of me because I excelled on standardized tests, but I couldn't apply a physics concept to save my life. Of course, adults still told me it was the transition.

This program was built to help with the transition to college, and yet here I am, beginning my second semester of college, and still not knowing quite how to study. This may sound like a long, drabbling backstory to you, but if you're someone like me, you get it.

I scraped by in high school. Lots of make up work and friendly teachers, who felt for me and knew I had the intelligence, saved me each and every quarter. They made sure that my sinking boat never fully capsized.

I failed the first test I took in college. I thought being in lectures and typing notes was enough. If I can teach you anything, it's not usually enough. It's embarrassing to me to say "I failed a test." It's mortifying to say "I don't know how to study." People never get it when I say I never had to. It's the truth.

I'm in my second semester of college, and I'm reteaching myself how to learn. I'm teaching myself to use the words that appear in my head when I hear and think to my advantage and apply them so that I understand what I'm being taught.

I think teachers will often overlook students who do well and decide they don't need to be taught certain things because hey, they're doing well already, right? I think that this is a fatal flaw in my early education. Students like me didn't need it then, but we will in the future. If teachers had taught people like me how to study, even though we didn't need it, we might not have so much plateauing or cliff diving in high school. We might not have peaked in 8th grade. We might not have stumbled our first semester of college.

I am not the only one telling this story. I know many of my peers around me are struggling with the transition to the harsh reality of college—you're on your own, and the professors aren't here to save you, they're here to teach you.

If those who had been there to teach us before had taught us this, maybe we wouldn't need saving.

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Having Two Homes In College Is Harder Than I Thought

Coming back from break I thought my life was falling apart.

When my first semester came to an end, I was dreading leaving Texas Tech for five whole weeks. I loved it here. l was completely content with my classes, my friends, my cozy little dorm (aka shoebox), and the fact that there was always something to do. I felt like Lubbock was my home.

But then... winter break happened. And as quickly as it went by, the amount of things that changed in that five weeks was insane.

Over the break, I became more aware of what I have always had, but had never fully appreciated. I started out my break going from one place to another, trying to stay busy with friends, work, anything... I was barely ever home. Then came my one-week winter conference, and God revealed to me what I have been missing out on while constantly trying to stay busy.

I realized that I had been taking my family for granted. I used to constantly go out and see friends whenever I could but never made quality time for my family. So as I grew in my faith over break, I grew closer with my mom, my dad, and my sisters, and I can honestly say that we have become so much closer in just those few weeks.

I also held a higher appreciation for my friends, given that It was more about the quality of time rather than the quantity. I was able to deepen my relationship with my closest friends and cherish our memories and all the amazing people in my life who care about me.

I learned so much about myself over winter break and in those short few weeks, and was able to grow tremendously. I cherished my loved ones, and everything God has given me to a new extent. And as break was ending, I realized I wasn't ready to go back to college.

That last day came, and I said goodbye and left to move back to my little shoebox that I call home. But you see, right when I got there, it didn't feel like home anymore.

Everything felt weird. It felt off. I missed my family, my friends back at home, and the comfort I had felt in knowing that everything was okay and going to be okay. Here, I felt lost, and scared, like I had no idea where life was taking me.

My first few days consisted of me running around saying hi to everyone, going out, and trying to pull everything together to start the semester. If you've lived in freshmen dorms, you may or may not have had to experience the 90 degrees heating system they so nicely gave us. So... because of the conditions, I didn't really spend much time in my dorm, and if I did, it just made me irritated and overheated.

A few days into being back, when I was finally able to be alone with my thoughts and process everything around me, I realized I was not okay, and it hit hard. I couldn't stop crying, and I felt so alone. I just wanted to go back home, well... my other home.

Sitting with my thoughts helped me get everything out into the open and realize that yes, I miss being home, but it will probably just take some time to get used to everything.

I went grocery shopping with my friends that night. They could tell something was off and were trying to be there for me as much as they could. We sang and danced to throwbacks in the car, and pushed each other around in the grocery carts while shopping (yes, I am still 5 years old).

That night, when I got back, I felt a little more okay, a little more stable, and everything started to make more sense. Day by day, through my friends, the memories I'm making, and the newly found comfort of my dorm (once they turned my heat off and I finally unpacked), everything started to feel a little homier.

Going back and forth between two lives isn't easy. I would never have thought I would be wanting to stay home at the beginning of break, but I think that coming back to my hometown from college gave me a new appreciation for everything that I have there, and I realized I'd rather have something worth missing than nothing at all.

I still miss my family, friends, and hometown life crazy, but they will be there when I get back, and for now, I will continue my journey here, and appreciate everything God has given me in sweet ol' Lubbock Texas.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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