Looking Back: Second Year in College vs First Year in College

My name is Nyree and I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 2009. When I first left off for college I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought it might be tough but I was mostly excited to be going off on my own and getting started on my education. Back in high school I was sort of tired of seeing the same people for four years and I thought as soon as I got to college everything would change. I’d have a bunch of friends, life would be fun, and things would over all be great. I wasn’t entirely wrong.

After starting my first semester I realized college wasn’t so different from high school. The only real difference is that some classes (like in high school) can be more challenging than others, you have to be independent, meaning you must turn your work in on time, get to class on time, remember to look at your syllabus for assignments, and you have more freedom. I also realized that you don’t instantly make friends in college. Just like high school, there are different people all around you and it’s up to you to find people to interact with. Personally, it was difficult for me because I’m a shy person but it has taught me to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Academically, I learned to change my sense of time management and organization, which is one to the most important things you need in college. It’s not too different from what you’ve been doing all of your life, but you have to get it down in a way that works for you in order to manage your classes and your personal life. For instance, in a week you may have to read 20 or more pages for a class discussion. Instead of reading all of the pages at once, I break all of the pages up over a few days so that I don’t overwhelm myself. A few other things I do is buy a 5 subject notebook so that all of my class notes are always together, use a laptop to take notes in class where it’s acceptable because it’s easier and more time efficient to study from, and investing in technology. I own an Amazon Kindle not only for leisure, but because I can buy some of my textbooks cheaper and be able to download my notes to it and study on the go.

Now that I’m in my second year of college I feel more comfortable with myself, my capabilities, and the direction I’m headed. I know my campus pretty well, I know the best ways for me to study, I know where to go for help when I need it, and if I make a mistake I don’t stress myself out over it. In school I’ve always been one of the brightest students in my class so I take any type of failure pretty harshly. Last semester I took a really challenging course and I failed it. At first I was really down about it because I tried so hard. However I realized my failure wasn’t necessarily important. What was important was that after leaving that class at the end of the semester I learned a ton of things that I didn’t know coming in. My mind was challenged in so many ways and I’m appreciative of the things I learned. I also learned that that class subject doesn’t interest me the way I thought it did. That’ s one of the beautiful things about college. This is the time to learn anything and everything and make mistakes so that you can learn and grow.

Most of things I know now about college I had to learn myself. It’s not a bad thing but I do wish somebody would’ve painted me a more realistic picture of what it would be like. I would’ve liked to know exactly how financial aid works, what picking classes would be like, and hearing more about other’s first time in college so I could get a better perspective. Through out school adults always tell you that when you get to college no one is going to hold your hand. That’s true, but there are many people that are wiling to walk beside you. Professors and counselors want to see you succeed but it’s up to you to reach out to them and do what needs to be done. That’s another thing I wished I would’ve learned. That there are people that will help you.

My spring semester will be ending in about three months and for the summer I would like to do something I haven’t done before. I would love to travel somewhere far or even close to home. I just want to see more than my usual surroundings. I also plan on taking a few classes at a community college for leisure and possibly doing community service. Last summer I relaxed the whole time. It was nice having a break but this summer I don’t want to waste it. College is the only time in life you have so much freedom to change and learn, I plan on taking full advantage of it and creating lasting memories.

– Nyree, Sacramento State ’13