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Posts Tagged classes

Nobody’s Perfect: Set Your Own Personal Limits

lysa-85As president of my college’s Peer Health organization, we decided to center our final campaign of the year around the myth of effortless perfection and how while college students might seem like they have it all together all the time…WE REALLY DON’T. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EFFORTLESS PERFECTION!

While this may seem obvious, it’s often not as crystal clear as it appears to be. I even catch myself sometimes, believing that I must be the ONLY PERSON on campus who can’t manage an A in my super difficult class or can’t seem to finish a paper or reading on time. Even though I know it’s not true, it’s easy while in college to believe that you must be the only person experiencing what you are feeling and that everyone else must be having a perfect time like they should be. After all, college should be fun, right? All those all-nighters are expected, right? Don’t we all have it together all the time? The truth is WE DON’T, AND WE’RE NOT PERFECT…BUT THAT’S OKAY! This might be the most important lesson I have learned during my two years in college.

A friend of mine wrote an op-ed in our school’s newspaper which discussed this very topic. Surprisingly, most people feel the same way but just do not speak up about it. Our campaign allowed students to anonymously submit ways in which they are not perfect on slips of paper to our club. We then collected all responses and created a picture campaign of students around campus. We anonymously matched up the photos ( covering each person’s face with a picture of our school mascot, the purple cow) with the ways in which Williams College students are imperfect and put all posters on display around campus.

Some valuable things I realized from speaking with multiple students during this campaign include the following:

We all know the image of the ideal college student. Some students closely resemble this image of the well-rounded student, a double major, taking as many classes as possible, while playing a varsity sport, and maintaining a leadership role on campus and planning to study abroad. But this is CLEARLY NOT ALL OF US! We are all pretty much sleep deprived at some point or other during our college career and we can’t all juggle more classes than the ones we have to take. It’s nearly impossible to find time to merely exercise and maintain all coursework required for each class, yet alone play a varsity sport each semester.

MOST IMPORTANTLY… FOR THOSE OF YOU INCOMING FRESHMEN YOUR COLLEGE TOUR WILL PROBABLY ELUDE TO THE ABOVE STUDENT IMAGE, WHILE NOT ALLOWING YOU TO GET A GLIMPSE OF THE TRUE MAJORITY OF THE COLLEGE STUDENT BODY…
A tour won’t tell you about nights spent crying, or the stress that classes pile on. They won’t let you in on how some students go as far as taking caffeine pills and harming their body just to stay awake a few more hours of the day to get their work done. Nobody wants to admit their drowning in their school work. But, honestly, that is where I found myself this year.

I was sleep deprived, stressed beyond what I could manage, and overall, compromising my health for a shot at a higher grade in a class. But as college students we must truly ask ourselves: when is enough, just enough? When is your health more important than your education? What is your own personal limit? I did not know my limit until this year, when I clearly passed it and could no longer handle college. I encourage you all to find your own limit before you get to this point. Figure out how much sleep, meal time, and even down time that you need to stay focused, healthy, and do well in college. But, do not compromise your own health or sanity for school. I found myself doing that very thing and it honestly did not get me far. Staying up late every night, just made me moody, depressed, and unable to focus in classes. I was upset that my grades weren’t improving from all the extra time I was putting into my classes, but rather getting worse! Probably, because I was sleep deprived and would catch myself falling asleep in class and during tests! Staying up all night should never be an option. I myself am going to come up with a new plan for next year, because I was only harming myself and my health by doing so. The symptoms of effortless perfection are pervasive on a college campus.

As hard working college students, we often try to convince ourselves that we can balance our sleep, study and socializing time, but the truth is, usually we can’t. Sleep is the weakest link, and all-nighters often become an accepted part of your college life. When you work towards perfection everyday… failure is not an option. That was my own worst fear: Failing a class or not being able to handle college and disappointing my family as a result. But, Fear of failure keeps us from trying new things, whether that means courses, activities or friendships. And it makes us stick with things that we think we should do, even if they make us unhappy. It’s as though we’re so worried about our future at times, that we can’t enjoy the present. For those of you who already in college and have felt many of the same feelings I have described in this post, know that you’re not alone and next time somebody says: “Hey, how are you?” don’t just say okay, good, or fine, if you truly don’t feel that way. Be honest to not only others, but most importantly, yourself. Sometimes things aren’t Fine. Everyone thinks they’re the only person who can’t handle it, but you’re not alone. My friend Eliza once told me: “Everyone struggles with stress to varying degrees. The way to be happy is through effortful imperfection – throw your energy into what you love, even if it means failing sometimes.” Nobody is perfect and the truth is that sometimes Failure can be much healthier than trying to be perfect all the time.

Oh The Difference It Makes

irvin-85“Don’t do what you like, do what you love.”

Those were the words of a wise senior whose name I do not remember since I heard him speak during the first hours I was here at Dartmouth. During that time of confusion, uncertainty and excitement, I did not allow the words to sink in and for my mind to discern the meaning of that phrase. The fact that I did not truly grasp the meaning of this phrase might explain why my plans of being an engineer made a back-door exit, following close by went my back up option of being a math major. Back in fall term, which to be honest seems like centuries ago, I was bursting with excitement of finally taking classes that I liked such as higher level calculus. I did not let a bad final exam grade deter me from what I thought I wanted to be since that is what I liked to do, doing math for fun. Maybe physics will be better, I thought as a way of justifying my decision to continue on the engineering track despite my bad experience with math. Physics was a mess. After hours of silent contemplation and asking myself why I was frustrated with subjects that I liked, the words of that senior came to mind. He was so right. I was doing what I liked, not what I loved. When I spoke about math, I did not say “I love math!” Rather, what I would say would be “I like math, it’s fun.”

When I was asked about how my classes were going during winter term, I would say that I hated, hated deeply my physics class but I loved my completely-overwhelming-engaging-hard writing class with a passion. Boom. Right there. It clicked. The reason behind my frustration with math and physics was because I liked those classes, I did not love them. Yet, with my writing class, it was different. Despite being time consuming and being the hardest class I have ever taken, I was not frustrated with the workload. Rather, I enjoyed it. I could honestly say that loving my writing class made all the work seem bearable and enjoyable. My hate for physics did not help at all with my frustration towards it.

The reason why I bring this up on this blog is because some of you might be choosing classes for your first semester/term of college. Think about these classes very, very carefully. Although it is true that you want to explore, make sure that you pick classes that you are truly interested in. It will make an enormous difference when it comes to studying for that class. Had a horrible experience with chemistry in high school? If so, maybe a higher level chemistry class during your first term of college might not be the best idea. Do you dislike writing papers? If so, maybe a study of Plato and Socrates might not be the road you want to take. Be careful of the choices you make because they will determine how your semester/term will go. I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with dropping a class or dropping a major all together. I did. And now I am as happy as I could be since I get to take classes that I love.

I wish there was an equation that would tell you what your passion is. Any chemistry majors out there? Maybe you guys can help!

P.S.

Those who are on summer break already, enjoy. I still have 15 days of classes, but hey, these are classes that I love so I kind of don’t want the term to end haha.

Tadpoles in the Sea

seanna-85I got my first camera when I was around twelve, but I’d been fascinated with photography and “capturing life” long before unwrapping that Kodak Easy Share.  My mom threatened to stop making Walgreens’ trips to develop the photos if I didn’t stop snapping shots of trees, dirt, spiders, and the left side of her nose.  I loved taking the ordinary and flip-flopping it every which way until it couldn’t be recognized.   Change interested me.  Variation caught my eye.  Transformations were absolutely captivating.

Sophomore year flashed by.  There was actually very little that remained similar to my first year, besides the best friend.  Classes and professors were different (obviously), the friend circle widened and fluctuated, the clubs & organizations that I was involved in narrowed and solidified.  This was my Round 2, and because I’d managed to firmly plant my feet during Round 1, I was able to look beyond myself and take more notice of the Pomona community.  I started critically thinking about campus climate & diversity, problems that impede residential life, and adjustments that might help facilitate improvements for future years.  But back to the idea of transformations.  Butterflies seem too cliché, so let’s assume that I’m in the process of becoming a frog.  Last year, I was a larvae.  I managed to overcome the dangers of bigger fish, sickness, and weather catastrophes (also known as bad grades, homesickness, and earthquakes), and I made it to tadpole stage. 

As a tadpole, I helped mentor larvae throughout the year, serving as a resource during confusion or hard times.  I learned more about our environment (lake or Pomona…wherever you’d like to go with this analogy) in order to answer questions and help avoid disasters.  I monitored my behaviors, while still being myself, to help set a positive and thriving example.  As junior year approaches, I’m moving into the awkward pre-frog, huge-tadpole phase.  I’m one of the Head Sponsors for the Pomona College Sponsor Program (first-year academic & mentor support program), and I’ll have an entire group of larvae & tadpoles in my building.   Together, we’ll set a tone and establish a smaller residential community that will aim towards having an exciting, safe, and productive year.  Looking back, this year has helped me realize how much college is truly about new experiences & change.  Every year, a group of frogs leave & a horde of larvae arrive.  Each class has its own personality just as each academic year is drastically unique, and yet, the four years will accrue into “MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE”.  Whether you end up a butterfly, frog, newt, or crustacean, this metamorphosis is life-altering.  Pay attention to the details and appreciate the people and opportunities that happen your way. 

I can drive myself to Walgreens now, and I’ve moved on to a Nikon Digital Camera, but nature still astounds me and I still prefer a little switching up every now and then.  And just to keep the tradition, I send Mama images of snails and lizards through picture messages. 

Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”—Unknown

If Time is Money, I’m SO Broke

jenny-85Time just seems to run away from me. There are never enough hours in a day to do the things I want to do. Can’t take a nap. Can’t go to the movies. Can’t go read a book for leisure because I’ll definitely end up reading it instead of the books I need for class. And then I can’t do the things that I need to do. Like study for that exam that’s coming up. Finish my homework. Can’t finish the insane amount of reading I have for my writing class. Time-management? Not my forte. It’s harder than I thought it’d be.

You’d think that you would have more time in college. Classes don’t start till nine or ten. Some classes don’t meet every day. You probably thought, “YES! Freedom!” Nope. Not at all. Between classes, lunch lines, laundry, coursework, clubs and sleep, me-time is cut down severely.

One thing I do is keep a planner. In this age, phones seem to have this application too, so no excuses. I first list the things that are due. For example, papers for writing class or problem sets for my science courses. Then I split them up into parts I can take on day by day. Do these things by Tuesday and then move on to the next part on Wednesday. Don’t take on everything on one day. Trust me. Papers don’t turn out too well when you’re writing while sleep-deprived.

Once things pile up, they can start to affect your grades. So, you may have to drop something, whether it be reading manga, watching Glee or gelling your hair Super-Saiyan style. Yes, all of these things are very important. But grades are more so. I, for one, realized that Korean dramas took up A LOT of my time. I would wait for them to air and then check if anyone put in subtitles. Then I would procrastinate too often to watch the shows. I understand how hard it is to quit cold turkey. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

You don’t come to college to socialize or play, so if it really comes down to it, you can be a hermit in your room for a few days and study or catch-up with classes. Your friends will understand. The disappearing act is only for a while. If they don’t, they might have a few attachment issues. (Ahaha.)

Phantom Limb

seanna-85Imagine sitting at the kitchen table every night, head bent over bills, trying to make pennies stretch into places where dollar bills are necessary…

…Working fifty hours a week behind a desk, then returning to work five more hours each night, cooking…cleaning…ironing…reviewing eighth grade Math, English & Science…

…Walking in circles for a few hours…lost & disoriented…unsure of where you are, where you were going, and where you are now supposed to be…

…Your hand being unable to open that ketchup bottle…water bottle…jar of jelly…too weak to twist off that “easy-open” cap…

…Inserting shots into your stomach every two weeks to maintain consciousness, trying to find a spot that isn’t too sore from the last shot & isn’t too tough from the 60+ shots that came before…

 

You’re imagining my mom.

 

Imagine running from the bus to your house, running from bullies who grab you right before you make it to the door, throw down your bag and jump you…

…Sitting in class every day, frustrated by the endless numbers and words that jump out from the lifeless pages of your textbook, your uncertainty developing into embarrassment…

…Waiting for hours for your father to show up with that game he promised, only to find out that he wasn’t able to stretch his check that far…maybe next month…

…Burning inside with energy and anger that you can’t explain, can’t contain, and can’t shake…emotions that need to find their way out, but remain trapped inside…

…Struggling with teenage thoughts, hormones, & doubts…trying to find your way in a world where kids are cruel, teachers don’t listen, and Mom is on her own & stressed…

 

You’re imagining my little brother.

 

Imagine loving the opportunities that are presented at your college, embracing the friends, classes, teachers & new activities…

…Waking up each day with your own agenda, going to sleep at night with a list of things “To-Do” the next day…all seeming as urgent & important as yesterday’s…

…Being thankful that you’ve been blessed with so much, financial aid, Office of Black Student Affairs, mentors…knowledge…

…Picking up the phone to hear about how hectic your mom’s day has been…why your brother got suspended yet again, and how the car broke down on the interstate…AGAIN…

…Knowing that you can’t be there to beat up those bullies, iron his shirt, or open that ketchup bottle…

…Imagine 1,794 miles…

 

Now, you’re imagining me.

 

Growing up, I was my mom’s right hand.  I helped her before she realized she needed assistance.  I played with my brother, relishing in my role as his sister.  The six years between us made me more like a second mother than a big sister.  When I decided to go to school so far away from home, leaving family behind was the hardest decision.  I was still only a phone call away, but I was also $600 and at least 7 hours from home. 

My advice to those of you who are considering college out-of-state: GO FOR IT.  Weigh your options carefully, but the next four years of your life will be a time of growth, change, and adjustment.  Although I did get homesick my first year, and I hate hearing about the problems my brother & mom go through, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Pomona for anywhere else.  Learning to balance my life away from home with the one I had before & will have after graduation has helped me learn how to stay in contact with those that I care about & vice versa. 

You don’t lose your family or close friends by moving outside state lines.  In fact, those who are most important will remain with you, even if the communication style changes.  It also helps that my mom and brother are fully supportive of my decision, and that other students at school, including my best friend, traveled far from home, as well.  There will be up’s and down’s, but I know that looking back, I will appreciate the risk I took & the sacrifices that everyone dear to me made for these four years.  

I text my mom every morning & tell her good night, every evening…so even though I am not there physically, I’m still her right hand…and I’m still willing to go above and beyond as her daughter & as Thurm’s big sister…

“The distance is nothing…it is only the first step that is difficult…” (Madame Marie du Deffand)

I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way

irvin-85College is, in a few words, is a mixture of emotions, conflicts, successes, self-realizations, ever-increasing responsibility and many falls; these very same reasons are why I love college. As I have mentioned before, college is a continuous humbling experience, always teaching you a lesson with every instance that occurs. The second quarter that I have spent in college has been the most academically challenging time period of my life. Three classes at a time might not seem as much but believe me, at the pace that these classes go, you are gasping for fresh air every Wednesday and feel a huge relief once Friday comes around. Since everything is so fast paced, you cannot waste any time, specially if you are taking a science or math course. Physics in college is very, very different from physics in high school and I have come to realize that the hard way. Never had I felt so overwhelmed by the material of  class until I sat in a physics lecture which covered an entire chapter in less than an hour and a half. My other two classes added even more stress to the already stressful term and not to mention that the harsh New England temperatures did not help my situation. Yet,  despite the stress and the cold, snowy nights, I have to say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the intellectual, and at times, even physical challenge that college poses. College tests what you are really made of and I love that. Yes, I could do without the stress and without the pressure that grows greater as the term goes on, but I believe that this is preparation of what is to come. I’d rather be challenged out of my comfort zone and grow than simply remain comfortable and not develop as an individual. I had to make hard decisions, such as deciding to withdraw from my physics course, thus changing my intended major from engineering to totally undecided. Yet, all of this is experience from which I can draw from in the future. All of what I am going through is experience for what will be the real world, stress, hard decisions, work, but at the same time, there is also great relationships that are formed along the way. I will talk more about that in the next post, but until then, seniors, stay strong! And juniors, start studying for the ACT!

Gunned down by Cupid

seanna-85This is a love story.  The happy ending hasn’t occurred yet, but we’re in the middle of the honeymoon stage.  A few fights have occurred, but we’ve managed to overcome the issues & have positive expectations for the future.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to express my adoration for Pomona College in a paragraphed poem…before you start reading…let me warn you.  This love declaration does not rhyme. 

Choices—College is an overabundance of choices.  Oftentimes, students may find themselves in trouble for the types of choices they make.  Although you have to attend school or receive education until you’re 18 or graduate from 12th grade, college isn’t mandated by law.  You choose to succeed.  Every class you attend, every assignment you turn in, every party, event, or club that you’re involved in…will primarily be your choice.  I’d tell you to make only the best choices, but then I might set you up for later guilt…a few mistakes won’t jeopardize your experience…just make sure you choose the “right” ones to make…

Classes—Hopefully, you’ll attend a school with classes that spark your creativity, challenge your thinking, and provide healthy frustration.  Pomona boasts great classes and faculty with PhD’s and vast student involvement with research, but I didn’t understand the significance of having such great professors & course material until I was attending as a student.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I have classes that make me groan and I’ve taken a few that I was overjoyed to be done with…but the GREAT definitely outweighs the bad.  College is about academic growth…classes are an integral component of that academic facilitation.  So even if you took Basket Weaving in high school to earn that “A”, step outside that comfort zone in college…

Involvement—As mentioned before, college is full of choices.  You can get involved in a variety of activities…or…you can opt out of campus or service-related involvement.  Personally, I love to remain active, often, overwhelmingly so.  One great thing about my college is that there are so many options available that allow me to get involved in exactly the ways that I’d like.  I’m interested in educational improvement & success.  There are so many mentoring and tutoring programs at the school that I’ve had to limit my scope…but that’s an AMAZING thing to be able to say.  This also applies to student-run organizations and other activities around campus.  With every event that I choose to attend…there’s something else that I’m missing…

My Bed—With all that running around, between choices and classes and extracurricular involvement, I’m often exhausted by the end of the week.  Scratch that, I’m tired every night by the time I make it back to my room.  This has developed into a new love for my bed.  If you get to college & have the urge to go and go and go (similar to the Energizer Bunny), make sure that you allocate time to recharge your batteries.  Running on an empty tank is dangerous for your health, as well as your outlook on your experience.  Between you and me, sometimes I even hug my bed (we’re just that close).

 

Changing majors

seanna-85CSO Opportunity Scholarship blogger and Pomona College sophomore Seanna Leath discusses how changing majors in college is normal.

Check out her video here!

A New Semester, New Sisters!

shaun-85Hello, everyone! I have not posted anything very recently because last week was very chaotic and eventful for most of us here at Washington and Lee. W&L is well known for its strong Greek Life, and over 80% of students join a fraternity or sorority during their time here. Although I was skeptical at first, being from the north where few university students rush and those who do fit into a neat stereotype, I could not be happier! Because so many students participate in Greek Life here, everyone can find a sorority that fits them. I have recently accepted a bid from Pi Beta Phi sorority and am looking forward to learning more about the sorority and getting closer to all of my new Pi Phi sisters! If any of you have the opportunity to rush in college, I would highly recommend doing so. It’s a great way to meet new people who share your interests and provide a wonderful support system.

Other than celebrating the end of rush week, I have been focused on my new classes, which include Macroeconomics, Art History (Renaissance to Present), Natural Disasters, and Introduction to Hispanic Literature. Though I was reluctant to take a science course (I am much more of a “humanities and languages” person), I needed to fulfill my requirement and I thought that it would be interesting to study geology and learn about natural hazards that affect people on an almost daily basis. So far, I have enjoyed my first few classes! One of the advantages of attending a liberal arts university is that I have the opportunity to take a few classes in subjects that do not go towards my major. You never know—you may decide to change your mind on your major based on a class you took to get rid of a requirement! It’s important to keep an open mind.

On that note, to all of you seniors who are anxiously awaiting acceptance letters, try and take a deep breath. If you applied to a wide range of schools, then you are definitely going to get into one, and of those that you applied to, the ones that accept you will be the best fit for you. It’s never a good idea to set your heart on one school—whether because of its location or ranking or if it is because people you know are going there—because college is MEANT to be an adventure. You will do wonderfully and lead a great four years wherever you are, so keep your chin up!

Good luck!