June, 2010

Dusty Roads and Rain Drops: Summer Is Here!

joseph-85Well, summer is here and it has been more than a month since finals.  I probably say this in every blog post, but again, time has surprised me!   When in school, summer seems to be this far-off abstraction of freedom, sunshine, and fun.  While that is generally the case, summer is an amazing opportunity to make a schedule and stick to it.  I’ve concerned myself mainly with a cause very important to me to occupy most of my days: voter registration.  In town, I am assigned to gas stations who sell more cigarettes and chips than gas.  The customers who roll up to make these purchases insist that either they have no time or that they’re felons.  I’m lucky if I get more than two an hour, but its worth it to know I’m enfranchising populations that don’t have the time nor the money to afford as loud a political voice as others.   To make money though, I’ve been revisiting all the yards I took care of in high school and have one project that required a lot of clean up.  Results are fun, but the sun isn’t.

Especially with a job though, summer is a great time to practice what works with your body and your mind when it comes to sleep, fun, and family, while you don’t have to worry about keeping with a syllabus or preparing for tests.  For me, I’ve tried to readjust to a normal person’s sleeping schedule, something more resembling what Ben Franklin recommended in Poor Richards Almanac “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  Especially for outside, it’s best to do it earlier before the sun scars the arid high plains here along the Arkansas valley where temperatures can climb to more than 100 degrees this time.

Dorm life, as a I mentioned in an earlier post, follows no such advice.  Neither do my friends, many of whom weren’t in school at all over the last year.  This makes me think that staying up late might be built into our DNA at this age!  Maybe this is just a cop out though, as increasingly in my college-kid discussions about human nature and the like our genetics are cited much more often than not with the debit of our guilt.  It is a phenomenon that I am uncomfortable with, but perhaps its true.  Either way, I’ve been trying to figure humans out a great deal this summer with little success.  This brings me to the last point that I have to make about summer:  Use Your Mind!

I have been reading, participating in those college-kid discussions (about human nature and the like), but as the lazy river of summer leisurely passes by, hanging out with friends during my spare time becomes much more appealing than reading Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” and its also a whole lot more encouraging.  Regardless, keep yourself occupied with at least a few tasks that make your brain work.  Someone once likened it to a muscle that needs to be exercised every once in a while!!

Finally Finished Freshman Year!

jesse-85I can’t believe I did it! I never even thought I would go to college at all and I am now enjoying summer with family and friends sharing all the stories I have from my first year at Harvard. Trust me, if I can be the first in my family to go to college, you can too!

To see some highlights and thoughts from my first year at Harvard check out this video!

Looking Back

lysa-85It’s amazing how time flies. Looking back on this past year, I remember how homesick I was at first, until I was truly able to find my place at Williams. This year has been full of discovering not only life as a college student, but who I truly am as an individual.

Although leaving Williams has been bittersweet, I’m excited for summer. I will be interning at two pediatric offices throughout the summer, and working for a local business. I am excited to return to Williams as a sophomore in the fall, and I’m ready start my second year off right, knowing what I know now about college. As this year comes to an end, I’ve reminisced about my own experiences and what truly made my freshman year unforgettable. I’d like to share my top 5 pieces of advice that have truly helped me along during my first year:

  1. Get to know your roommate and others in your residence hall. The people you live with, most of whom are going through similar experiences and emotions, are your main safety net — not only this year, but for all your years. You may change roommates after the first semester or you may stay roommates for all four years — just take the time to get to know your fellow first-year students. I didn’t do this at first, and it made adjusting that much harder for me.
  2. Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or someone where no one can find you in the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work actually done. It is important to avoid all potential distractions, such as rooms with televisions in them, your roommates, and anywhere facebook and email can be accessed (from my own experiences).
  3. Get Organized. In high school, the teachers tend to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments (often for the entire semester) and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, a PDA, a big wall calendar — whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due. I distinctly remember two occasions when I was running across campus to turn in an assignment that was late, which was not a good experience. You cannot procrastinate in college, because eventually you will just have too much work and reading to catch up on that you will have to sacrifice certain assignments for others, which is not a good option!
  4. Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but sleeping in and skipping that 8 am class will be tempting at times. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc. I even had a professor give me extra credit once for those who attended class; go figure!
  5. Get involved on campus. A big problem for a lot of new students is a combination of homesickness and a feeling of not quite belonging. To avoid this, consider joining some groups, but be careful not to go overboard. You’ll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school in the long run!

MOST IMPORTANTLY, make sure that you are truly in the right place. Some colleges just aren’t for everyone. Maybe you didn’t realize it before, but you do now. That’s okay! Don’t spend four years of your life miserable because you’re too nervous to do anything about it! It’s your life!