My First Semester in College
High school students just like me preparing for their visit to the campus of their choice anticipating on their transition from a high school education to a college education: leading them to the next phase of their life for success. Like me, probably was one of the most exciting moments of their life. Getting accepted and attending one of the greatest universities in the world. However, my greatest challenge was leaving my family and friends behind as I would have to leave and further my education. But in my little mind I could hardly wait to get to the new place where I would live and be out on my own, finally. I had already set a date and time for my tour of the campus and could hardly wait. I couldn’t sleep the night before so I played video games until fell asleep. Five o’clock a. m. didn’t get here soon enough, I was up and had taken a shower, put on my clothes and ready to go. As my parents and I approached the campus traffic was very heavy as others were trying to get there as well. That day I met people from all parts of the world and of other cultures. That validated The University being my first and last choice for schools to attend as I furthered my education.
I said to my parents, “I think I’m going to like this let’s look no further.” They were excited for me and with me. After touring the campus someone was kind enough to carry us over to the Sports Center so that I could fill out my application to be considered as a walk on after being let down by my high school coach who didn’t get my paperwork in on time. I was a running back for my high school football team and knew that I would somehow be scouted as a part of the football team at the University. Football is something I really did well and wanted to make the team. At this point I was ready for graduation and the summer to be over.
Summer is over now and all of the preparations were completed for me to move on campus to begin the first semester of college. At this point there were no fears about anything. The first week was filled with a lot of fun things that had been prepared by the University and its committees to help make the freshman’s feel at home. The first day I went to class I had a very positive attitude about all my professors and my fellow classmates. My expectations were satisfying at this point. However, I knew that the challenges had not begun yet but I knew that that they would soon come. I knew that I would have to adjust to the way of learning on a higher level and that it would be all on my own. I scheduled my classes so that I would be able to manage my workload and studying. My expectations was that classes and exams would be a piece of cake. But little did I know how the pressure to achieve on exams and through grades would taint my educational experience. My parents made it very clear before I left home that I should take this very serious because they were paying for me to go to school to further my education. They also stressed that I would not be monitored as to whether or not I went to class but that they would know if I failed. The adjustment of being away from family has been overwhelming. Having professors that will work with you makes things a little better. Even though it was one of my greatest fears after realizing that college school work is a bunch harder than what I was used to.
However, it got to the point that I had no other choice but to cry out for help. It’s much harder than I thought and requires more of your time for studying and getting used to all of it. The friendly atmosphere is not so friendly anymore. You are on your own. My first semester of college has been a very difficult transition. Everyone is here now and launching out into their own world probably trying to make necessary adjustments just like me. Exams a whole harder than I could imagine made me realize that there is no place like home. I called my mother and told her that I regret everything I said before leaving and would rather here you fuss at me than all of this. But also, realizing that this will make the greatest difference in my life when it is all behind me. While looking at others who face the same challenges as Kirk Kidwell so clearly put it in his article, “Understanding the College First-year Experience” it reassures me that I am not alone. For ten years he watched thousands of students just like me each fall, launch into the next phase of their academic careers: college. They arrive on campuses across the United States just like me, full hope, optimism, trepidation and anxiety. Feel the eagerness to excel and the fear of failure. We venture into the uncharted territories of college determined to chart our own courses, to shape our own destinies.
Some enter college well-prepared for the academic and social challenges that is before them; while others like myself have to adjust to the challenges of it all. Most that start will survive their first year and perhaps go on to graduate, however, others will drop out after the first year. As for me I am here to accomplish what I came here to do and that is to get a good post-secondary education. For weeks, I was overwhelmed with the activities that was going on around campus. My roommate and I would hang out trying to get a feel of each other’s personalities because we both knew that we would be living with each other. By now, I had located all my classrooms, met all my professors, as well as purchased all the necessary books and materials required for my first semester. Going to class, starting to take tests, passing some and not passing some, and meeting homework deadlines. Then eventually, the turbulence of doubt, uncertainty, and confusion settles and all seems well. “I can do this,” each one invariably thinks, “this isn’t all that different from high school, after all.” I really thought. Then here come my first essay paper, then the second one, and the third one, and now this one. The first two essays ended up with lower grades than I expected. It was then I had to face that giant, and that was meeting with my Professor so that I could get on the right track and make a better grade and I did. One exam after the other in my other classes, some good grades and not so good “Understanding the College First-year Experience.” That’s when the stress stepped in and my workload seemed more than I could handle. I called my mom, bursting in tears and she said, J what’s wrong son? She calmed me down as I went on to tell her how I felt and had been feeling.
Like most moms, she reassured me that nothing worth having was going to be easy and that I had to work harder at it because she knew that I could do it. Whether students realize it or not, they have entered into to the first-year college experience. If he or she can survive the academic hazing, there are two invaluable lessons that will be proved over the tenure of the college experience: (1) College is not high school; one cannot just “coast” through; and (2) The successful college student takes responsibility for his or her education. It’s no longer the passive knowledge given by the teacher but it has become an active participant in constructing knowledge “Understanding the College First-year Experience.” You have got to get for yourself.
I am learning to balance out the workload and study habits so that I will be on the level of my learning potentials at a college level. I have also come to realize that it is important that I do as advised during our orientation. That is to form a good relationship with my professors because they are ready to help and it is yours for the asking. Professors know what it takes to past their exams. When I’m not doing as well as I should with any of my classes I’m learning to set up a meeting immediately.
Kidwell, Kirk S., and Bob Reising. “Understanding The College First-Year Experience.” Clearing House 78.6 (2005): 253-255. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.