To The Teacher Who Is The Reason I Write

To The Teacher Who Is The Reason I Write

You have given me the confidence to do what I love and be confident in who I am.
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Where do I even begin?

I remember the first time I met you. I was extremely intimidated by you. You radiated intelligence and my high school freshmen self didn't know what to do. I already knew you would be a trying teacher that challenged her students before I even had the chance to have you as a teacher myself.

The first time I had you as a somewhat teacher was my sophomore year of high school. I joined yearbook with my best friend at the time, but sadly we were put into different periods for yearbook. I was so intimidated that entire year - you have NO idea.

At this point in my life, I was really discovering my love for writing. I was realizing how easy and natural it came to me. I was excelling in everything that had to do with English and writing. Yearbook gave me a whole new way of looking at writing - in a more journalistic point of view.

I didn't know it yet but yearbook, and most importantly you, would be what led me to where I am today at Syracuse University.

I made it through sophomore year fine. I warmed up to you a bit more, but it wasn't until the following year, my junior year of high school, that I would really start to form a relationship with you.

I really started to focus on my writing and trying to create the best stories I could. I kept getting positive feedback from the editors that year and yourself. You were giving me articles to do on the side because you had confidence in my writing abilities. My confidence went from 0 to 100 real quick that year.

Then came the end of junior year. You designated me and the girl I began this yearbook journey with as the 2016-2017 editors for our senior year. I was so extremely happy and excited to be doing something I loved.

That year, my senior year, I had the privilege of having you as an English teacher as well. Not only was I receiving your guidance in a journalistic writing way, but also a more academic and creative way. I was getting the best of both worlds.

My senior year I continued to grow as a writer in all ways because of you. I craved your guidance and your feedback. I didn't just want positive feedback either. I wanted you to criticize me. I wanted to be the best I could be and you helped me do just that.

When college decision time came, the support I had had from you drove me to accept the challenge of the most prestigious communications school in America. I felt confident enough in my abilities to continue my writing and academic career there.

I knew I wasn't perfect and that I had miles to go yet, but I knew I was prepared for the hard work ahead because of you and all you had done for me.

I remember one moment during yearbook when I had to write a story for a spread and I cranked it out in one class period. You said that that was the fastest and most effective turn around you had seen by any of your editors. I am pretty sure I couldn't stop smiling the rest of that day.

The day I graduated and the last day I came in during the summer to finish the final touches of the yearbook were two of the saddest days of my life. I was saying goodbye not only to a mentor and teacher but someone who had become a friend and a huge part of my life.

When I left for college I took on new writing classes and new professors, but I still carried your teachings and your support with me. I wrote each paper confidently and with all the tips and tricks I had learned while having you as a teacher.

I joined The Odyssey because of the confidence you gave me, and you are a huge reason as to why I even started my own blog.

To conclude, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being a constant support system in my life. Thank you for caring, not only for me but all your students. You have made impacts in many people's lives.

You are exactly what a teacher should be. You push your students, you form relationships with your students, and you only want them to succeed and chase their dreams. You prepare them not only for college but for life.

Every student should have the opportunity to have a teacher like you.

Thank you for everything you continue to do for me even though I am no longer your student. You have made an impact on me that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you,

Caitlin Johnston

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Johnston

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What Nobody Is Going To Tell You About Freshman Year

What no one will tell you about your first step to adulthood.
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Attending college for the first time is a time filled with high expectations, excitement, nerves, and a lot of hope for the future.

If you were anything like me, you were lucky enough to get accepted into your dream school with a lot of high hopes about the upcoming year. I couldn't wait to move into my freshman dorm, no matter how little or crappy it might have been, I was undoubtedly excited. The year was fresh (literally) and I couldn't wait to start living a college lifestyle and meet the people I was going to be friends with for the next four years of my life and hopefully even longer. I had never been so excited about going back-to-school shoppingand started packing and preparing for the move weeks in advance.

I had this image in my head of what freshman year was going to be like and it looked a lot like something you would see on an ABC Family or MTV show rather than what the reality of freshman year really was. I would be sitting here lying to you if I told you my freshman year was the best year of my life and to expect to have a year full of parties and fun with no responsibilities. The fact of the matter is, freshman year is your first real step into adulthood. It is your first unsheltered, uncensored, version of the real world that your parents (for the most part) have no control over. While this truly is an exciting thing, if you're not prepared for it freshman year can be a lot more stressful than expected.

I wish someone told me that the people I met the first week of school weren't going to be my best friends the whole year and not to take it to heart when they stop talking to you. You meet SO many people your first few weeks of school and you want to be friends with literally all of them. But in college, unlike high school, you probably won't see those same people every day so maintaining relationships takes a lot more work than before. To be honest, you may forget what it was like to actually make a new friend, especially if you were friends with the same people all through high school.

I wish someone told me that my study habits in high school absolutely will not hold up in college. When you were told to “read the text" in high school for homework, you wrote “no homework" in your planner for that day. Reading your text book in high school was actually laughed at in most situations and if you didn't have an end of the year freak out about where your text books were, you were doing it wrong.R ead your textbooks, every page, every chapter. Write everything down, from notes to homework, it's all important.

I wish someone told me the “freshman 15" was absolutely not a myth. Despite the fact that I spent countless nights in our campus gym, the freshman 15 was still gained and stayed. I couldn't tell you why or how this happens, but expect to gain a few pounds your first year of college. Whether it's from all of the campus cookies you couldn't have passed your final without or from all the delicious new food options, expect to be a few pounds heavier when returning home for Thanksgiving. And most importantly, know that you don't look any different despite how you feel, and know that this will most likely happen to everyone.

I wish someone told me that it's OK to say no to people. After you get to know your hall mates and become closer with the people you've met your first few weeks of college, you quickly learn that there is always something going on. Learn that you don't have to agree to attend everything someone invites you to. If you need to stay home and study, speak up. Don't just say yes to please someone or because you feel like you will lose that person as a friend if you say no. Learn to put you and your needs first, and if someone judges you because you decided to study rather than go out, so be it. You're here to learn not to socialize. It's OK to decline peoples offers.

I wish someone told me to go to class no matter how tired I was. Fun fact about college: you don't technically have to go to class if you don't want to. But for the sake of your grades, please go to class. You only get the chance to learn the material once, and you will be tested on the lecture material whether you were there or not. One tired day may cost you a good grade in the class, no joke. Go to every class you can and take detailed notes. (Tip: you can usually take pictures of the slides/diagrams as well, it helps a lot.)

I wish someone told me that only my true friends from high school will remain my friends in college. Losing contact with high school friends is a given in college. Even the people you swore were your closest friends may forget about you in the craziness of freshman year. The good news is you are at a school with thousands of people looking to make new friends and they will fill the empty spaces that old ones left.

I wish someone told me to be careful at parties. Although it is very rare something bad happens, it is true that parties aren't the safest place. Especially for the freshmen, it's easy to just go to the party that everyone else is going to without knowing anything about the place or who is going to be there. Look out for your friends and stay together. Navigating a college town at night is scary and can be dangerous. Know where you are going beforehand and always have a way home. Don't always trust people you have just met and never leave a cup unattended.

I wish someone told me my grades aren't going to be as great in college as they were in high school. Expect your GPA to drop at least half a point, usually. You're going to have a lot of distractions in college and a lot less structure in your schedule. Keeping a balance truly is a difficult task and your grades aren't going to always be what you want them to be. You will learn the perfect combination to keep your grades and yourself happy. Give it some time and don't beat yourself up if you get a C in a class or two. You have three years to make up for it.

I wish someone told me that getting homesick is completely normal. The first few spells of homesickness I had scared me to death. I was afraid that if I was homesick it meant that I didn't like the school I was at or that something was wrong or missing. This is usually not the case even though it may feel that way at times. You're going to miss home no matter how much you wished your way out of it from day one. Home is what is familiar to you and what you know and it's easy to crave that when you're somewhere completely different. Don't let it get the best of you and just know that a call home will fix anything and everything. Don't be afraid to call your parents and friends from home. They miss you, too.

I wish someone told me that you only get one freshman year at the college of your dreams so live it up and learn your lessons. Have the time of your life, make all of the friends you can, join clubs and organizations you're passionate about, get involved on your campus and in your community, and take nothing for granted. You only get to do college once (if all goes well) and you're paying to be here and get an education. Make the most of every situation and learn about yourself and the people around you. There is so much to be done and so much to learn in your four years here but especially the first. Make the most of it and don't forget your morals or who you are!

Cover Image Credit: Cailin Austin

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Why It Is Okay To Withdraw From A Course You Are Doing Bad In

Not every class is easy.

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College is not meant to be hard and there will be classes that you know nothing about. The goal of a course is for you to learn. If you simply can not grasp the topic that is being discussed in class, you can ALWAYS get help. Campuses offer a lot of help like tutoring or even going to the professor for help on assignments.

There may come a point where even help can not even help you learn what the course is about. At that point, your best bet would be to withdraw from the course. A lot of students struggle with coming to the concept that they may have to do this. To help myself, I made a list that consisted of pros and cons.

The list of cons, although very short, consisted of: having to take another course that would make up for the missing credits, and the people in my class knowing that I quit.

I eliminated that last con with my list of pros: having more time on my hand to focus on my other classes, I would still be a full time student, an online class may be easier for me to learn in, it is better to have a W on my transcript instead of an F, and failing could seriously drop my GPA.

Now that I have withdrawn from the course that was taking so much of my time, I finally feel free and am doing better in my other courses. To conclude, it is never wrong to withdraw from a course and there are many reasons why it is not wrong. If you feel as though you are struggling, do what you need to do for yourself.

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