One year is up. Two semesters, down. And what have I learned?
Now that I have gone through a whole year in a university, I would say that I have experienced the college life. The goods, the bads, the ups and downs, the papers, the research, the work load and the professors, the rules, the freedoms, the friends and the associates…and all of the above.
Coming out, I would say that I have seen both sides. And really, adjusting wasn’t as bad as some would have you think. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all entirely easy, but you learn to look for little breaks, like that one professor who you can really appreciate because they grade basically just based on participation… This semester (Spring 2011) was much better than last semester (Fall 2010).
When you think about going to school, there are some factors aside from where, how much does it cost and who do I know that you gotta consider. Like for instance: How do you balance 9 classes, an equal amount of different professors and still try to remember that you have a mandatory dorm meeting at 10pm? …. It can be a little confusing. But not too much. Of course certain times of the year are more demanding than others, like midterms and finals, but for the most part, the college experience and the campus living can definitely be memorable for the good if you think smart and make wise decisions.
What I take back with me are several things. Out of the 8 or 9 months I was here (feels more like 6 or 7 for all the breaks we had), I remember the most 2 three things and now I fully understand (though there’s many) 1 more.
1: Scholastically- The work doesn’t get any easier. But you get much more time. Time management is a key tool that anyone in school or going to school needs to know how to use, because it will determine not how well you do an assignment, but if that Grade A++ assignment gets turned in on time. But even beyond time management, my advice to students would be: Be familiar with your professors; make sure they know [YOU] not just your name on some roster that says if you were in class the past three weeks or not. Whether you prefer that professor’s teaching style, or that class or not, you have that professor for a reason. I especially know that you take major-specific classes, it’s more than likely that professor will cross paths with you somewhere later on down the road. But another thing, PROFESSOR HAVE OFFICE HOURS. Nobody made better use of those hours than I did. And sure, you might have to stay on top of some because they won’t email you back or they’re never there when you stop by, but if you’re enrolled in any school system, and you pay ANY sort of money for ANYTHING, doesn’t matter if you put in $4 for a student ID card, teachers are here for students. It may seem like a couple here and there are there for the paycheck, but without you the student, there is no check to make.
Professors aren’t big bad wolves, though sometimes their workload is crucial… O_O They offer more than just a course syllabus too though. I recommend talking to professors whether you struggle with their class, another class or not, because they can give you advice. Not to say that other students and peers can’t, but how much more does the average roommate know than you do? Especially if you’re both classified at the same academic level.
From one professor, Dr. Bryan, I learned that you never give up. Even when you think you probably should. He has Parkinson’s and everyday is a struggle for him, but last semester he was at every class period. He may have been a little late, but he still made it. Unfortunately, he was out due to hospitalization this semester, so my class was “GRACIOUSLY” given Dr. Coker as a substitute. BY NO MEANS, is Coker my favorite professor AT ALL. I dreaded going to class for the first part of this semester and he drove me stark mad (!) with his inability to speak English at a freshman’s level! He is very strict and he doesn’t always explain the material. The whole 80-minute lecture period was presented as if we were PhD students. He only drove me to seek help from another professor I had, Ms. Elmore. Ms. Elmore couldn’t have been any sweeter. But how was I able to communicate with her?? OFFICE HOURS. It was always only a hour here, an hour there, but it truly did help. Ms. Elmore is the one who saw me on the verge of breaking down. Coker was getting to be too much, the light at the end of the tunnel was fading and it seemed like all of a sudden, every other class wanted 9-page papers due the next day. And when I sat down in her chair, my eyes brimming up with tears, she simply said, “You’ll be alright. I failed chemistry twice before I got it. I KNOW how hard it is.” She didn’t simply say what alot of everyone says out of courtsey, “You can do it.” or “You’ll get it.” or what some peers even say, “It’s not that bad. Stop stressing!” Ms. Elmore backed that up with some personal experience! She was so determined to overcome Gen Chem that she took it AGAIN. and AGAIN. and then MAJORED in it. AND THEN GOT HER DEGREE IN IT! AND NOW SHE TEACHES IT! to students like me, who have a tough time chewing it.
Like I said, professors are there for the student. And you don’t always have to want something or need something to go speak to a professor. Wanna get out of the room? Go talk to your favorite professor. As much as sometimes we students need breaks from working and studying, professors need breaks too. Part of my freshman experience includes the day when I went by my English professors office, Ms. Jefferds. Just to talk. It was nice outside and due to the fact that she had OFFICE HOURS, she was cooped up inside a building, unable to enjoy the warm weather and the birds singing and all that good stuff.
So….I stopped by. We just talked and I told her about my other classes and what I liked about Campbell….yada yada yada. It doesn’t have to be much. It doesn’t have to be big. Just a little break for both parites. It’s good to establish and build those relationships too, because professors can give excellent recommendations when needed. And you can get a better recommendation if the teacher can actually say they KNOW you.
2: Peers- Same as with anywhere, peers and friends matter. But what I learned about that, is people come and go. Even good friends can’t be around all the time, but the bond is still there. When you first step out there, it’s a bit rocky.But it gets better. I found that some of the best people I met came from everywhere! The girls that live right next door to me. The group I sit with in several different classes. There’s even one girl, Rebecca, who I never see outside of the three classes we have together and the occassional lunches we share, but she was one of the coolest people on campus. My point is, not everyone is gonna be your best friend. I can’t even say that anyone will be. But for me, to live on campus, a big part of getting out to know people came when I decided to get out of my dorm. The people don’t come to you. Clubs, sporting events, (nephews who want you to meet EVERY basketball star Campbell has so that he can know them when he visits, though he’s only been here twice) and other campus activities are a good way to meet new people. Best peer advice this semester about friends, and I paraphrase: “They’re not that important, and you’ll make new ones. You’re here to get your degree.” (Darryl C., ANOTHER freshman at Campbell, but oh what’s that about the next student not knowing more than you?? I guess I was wrong.) Sounds simple enough, but I’ll never forget that advice. And advice I gave to my own self, the best place to start looking for comrads, is often in your class. Ever notice that you and Jane Doe have 5 out of 7 classes together? This semester AND last? I found that those with the same major, or similiar ones are the best people to associate with and hang with, because you can study the same things together, help each other, and it’s more than likely that you’ll continue to have the same classes together as long as neither transfers. This is what I did. I now know more people within my major than I ever did. And all because one introduced me to their friend (same field) who introduced me to her friend (ALSO with the same general field) who introduced me to three more people. These peers make awesome study buddies (because studying alone gets boring), accountability partners, and overall friends who have all the qualities of being life-long friends.
This is where I have an epiphany and the light bulb goes on. I always knew God would give me the strength I needed to come through any setting I would find myself in, but that has never been more real-er to me than it is now. I honestly would not have made it if it had not been for the several hundred thousand deep sighs of relief I had throughout the year when from out of nowhere I could hear Him saying, “It’s going to be alright. Just keep pushing. It’s all worth it.” You know, sometimes you just wanna give up. Give in. And you can get attacked by all the stress from work, class, people and tiredness that you forget why you’re where you are anyway. When it got to times like that, my mind would just instantly go to one dream that I would really like to see come true. It would always vary,but in the end, I can’t have dreams come true without working for them. And God gave me the wonderful opportunity to come to Campbell so that I CAN work towards those dreams. That gentle nudging to keep pressing on, and the understanding that everything has a purpose just makes you breathe a sigh of relief. *Sigh*
No, it’s not always that easy; as easy as breathing. Sometimes you gotta stay up late, putting in all those hours of study. Sometimes, you gotta cry yourself to sleep, because you just can’t fall asleep. Sometimes, you gotta disable the alarm and get up for that 8am class, even when you know you have 6 allowed absences and you’ve only used 2. But in the end, IT’S ALL GONNA BE WORTH IT! And you don’t even have to look forward to the end, because there’s so much to anticipate in the beginning and in the middle!!
So with a year under my belt, a couple hard lessons learned, and some handy-dandy tips and tricks, as well as my favorite Bible verses, I can eagerly say I look forward to next year, while not forgetting this year. Freshman year was unforgettable and as all my professors said at the end of the last class period, “It has truly been my pleasure this year.” (Everyone that is, except for Dr. Coker) Lol =D
To the KING!!