Posts Tagged First Weeks of College

Check out Duylam and Jesse in the news!

CSOlogo-85The Wellesley (Ma.) Townsman recently interviewed Duylam and Jesse about obstacles they overcame to become first in their family to go to college and their involvement with the Opportunity Scholars blog. Read the article here.

Time Management 101

khadijah-85So, I’m at Harvard University. I have perfect time management skills, I’m some super-genius, and I got a 2600 on the SAT. Extra points for being awesome, of course. In my spare time, I rescue starving children in Africa. I wrote my first paper and got a A+ on it. I read Shakespeare in my sleep and spout rhetoric wisdom over lunch. I’m surrounded by super geniuses and us Hahvahd students, noses pointing towards the sky, relish in our superiority with the rest of the world. The lightbulb joke about Harvard sums it up: How many Harvard students does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One. One to hold the bulb and the world to revolve around it. 
If this were true, my life would be sooo much easier. 

So yeah, the truth is, I stayed up all night writing my comparative politics paper (I’ve subscribed to the college student’s words of wisdom- sleep no longer exists in college). I, of course, can never keep up with the thousands (ok exaggeration, but close) of pages of reading doled out every day. Time management is, to put it lightly, a bit of an issue for me (I can survive on 4-5 hours of sleep everyday, no problem)

So I’m freaking out, you would guess. Actually, I’m not. Ok, I am. That’s normal. But it’s not the end of the world. Because college isn’t just about things such as grades and tests and such. That’s part of it. You have all that, or you wouldn’t be reading this. What college is for us is the fact that we recognize that we don’t have perfect lives, or perfect SAT scores, but that we’ve put up with so much adversity and yet continue to thrive and succeed. That says more about your potential than a perfect SAT score ever will.

WHAT? College time already?


That was one of my first impressions of college. College has been something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and now that I’m here, I love it. I’m also very proud to be here since I’m the first one in my family to ever attend college.

I’ve had mainly good experiences at college and was able to get over one of my biggest worries, which was trying to meet people. I was worried that since I don’t live on campus that I was going to have a hard time making friends but I was wrong. Everyone here at Augsburg is very friendly.

Another thing that helped me meet people was that my school had what they call “Auggie Days” which are the 4 days before school starts and are packed with activities for the 1st year students so we can try to get to know each other in a fun environment. I made sure to attend everyday because I thought that that would be a great way to meet people. I made a lot of friends before school had even started. Those events really helped me meet people.

Besides meeting people I was also worried about time management. I knew that college was going to be a lot of work but I was prepared. I attended a “Time management” workshop so that I could learn how to use and plan my time wisely. I thought it was very beneficial.

There is also a great tutoring program and at anytime I can sign up to get tutored for free which I’m very glad to know that there will always be help if I need it.

My college experience so far has been great and I’m looking forward to see what the rest of this year brings!

Officially Chirping

seanna-85Glancing at the familiar faces in the dining hall, a peaceful emotion settled in my heart.  This was becoming my home, and I was okay with that.  More than okay really…I was thankful to be here.  Each day, realization hits me that I am in college, successfully participating.  For weeks, the idea of being the first in my family to attend college terrified me.  What if I was not as smart as everyone thought?  What if my writing made the literature teacher cringe, and what if I was unable to find derivatives in calculus?  I remember panicking during move-in day.  Stepping on the campus seemed surreal.  I felt that at any second, someone would tap me on my shoulder and tell me that I was in the wrong place, confirming my deepest fear.  However, this never happened, and soon, I was zipping from place to place, collecting keys, finding my room, and moving belongings into the dorm.  On the down side, the room was covered in ants, a persistent pest problem that still wakes me up every so often.  But on the plus side, my roommate was great, and our easy-going sarcasm broke the ice in minutes.  Hours later, with clothes neatly arranged in the closet and posters adorning every conceivable inch, our dorm looked more like home rather than four white walls and a ceiling.  Every day since has been filled with a new adventure, even if it’s as simple as waking up and heading to Advanced Problem Solving-my only class on Fridays.  I am growing confident that my college experience will help mold my influence within society.  After starting school this year, I believe that you mustn’t fear that you are unready for the impact of college, but instead, believe that college is not ready for what you’re destined to achieve!

100 Miles & Runnin

duylam-85I tried to think of what to say to the readers of this blog at first I was going to be specific and target the seniors, but after a draft I figured my message can be applied to everyone.

I remember October senior year, and now it’s a year later and I’m in college chasing these dreams of mine. It all seems so long ago, but when I look back it wasn’t, it just moved so fast – so fast it slipped out of my hands. Looking back on my high school career and much of my life, I honestly mean it when I say I regret some of it. As I step and move further away from my past, I understand what people mean when they say youth is wasted on the young. I don’t mean to make myself sound any wiser than I am, but the grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass you’re standing is pretty much Kelly green. The problem is we never notice. We enjoy the things around us, but we don’t appreciate it.

You might read this now and think I’m completely bonkers, but you’ll know what I mean one day. So, my friend, stop yourself as you step forward to create wealth and success within your family. Don’t forget how sweet it is to be with your family or how fun it is to just kick it with your friends. As much as you want to be 18 or 21, you can only travel through time in one direction – forward – and with one speed – normal. Why not enjoy it?

Something Different…Life

dalonn-85Fresh air, a new environment, and the future awaited me. I arrived at school several days before classes actually started.  The adjustment wasn’t too hard. Everything was just how I imagined. The people were friendly, full of activities, and most of all I fit in. This is the life I said. Arriving early to school had many advantages. I was able to learn the buildings and areas around class. Also I had time to scope out the scenery. When I first arrived I worked a week for the event management staff and got involved in the flag football organization. My time was limited and everything seemed rush. I had too much going on at one time. Both my father and I thought it would be best for me to not work until second semester. I didn’t want to rush my studies. Football was good because it not only allowed me to stay in shape but also gave me a break from studies and relaxed me. Within a few days before school started, I already formed a group of friends. We played basketball, football, we walked the city, and we all were welcoming.

My roommates moved in and it was exciting. I live in a suite so there were many faces to get accustomed to. In my room I have two roomies, Nate and Steve. All together there are eight guys living in the suite. Most of them are from the New York and New Jersey area. My closest relationship was with Justin. He is a student manager of the basketball team. We had an instant connection. Already he felt like a brother to me.  On weekends we went to Brooklyn, his home town, many times. He showed me around the city and introduced me to the family. Already, I had a family away from home.

Classes started and it was pretty laid back. I take Philosophy, Theology- Intro to Christianity, Geo-Science, Western History, and Discover New York, which is my favorite class. We are required to do six hours of community service. The objective of the class is to learn the history of New York and to explore it. The hard part was getting all my books. Some of my books weren’t in our school bookstore so it required me to travel outside of school to get them. However, that only helped me explore my surroundings.

TIPS to Success

  • Remember to always keep the syllabus your professor gives you.
  • Sit up front and introduce yourself.
  • Be early.
  • Bring all necessary materials.
  • Ask questions even if you think it’s silly, no question is too silly.
  • Remember this is your education. Get the most out of it.
  • Email your professors.
  • If possible read more than assigned, therefore you are a step ahead of the game.

Hello Reality…Goodbye Fantasy

ashley-85All the packing and shopping had paid off; it was move-in day. I was officially a college student! I had everything packed strategically in the car. My brother asked, “Is this all going to fit?” I replied with a shrug of my shoulders. Being the first in my family to attend college, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was eager to learn. Here are some things I wish I knew:

* Don’t take everything you own. There is not a lot of room.
You can always return for more.

* Take classes in high school similar to those you need or plan
to take in college. I didn’t take anatomy my senior year,
and I am regretting it now.

* When it comes to studying. Study a little every night.
Don’t think you can study for an exam a few hours the
night before. You will be up til 4 in the morning,
and most likely you will not pass the exam.

* Learn from others mistakes. You will have plenty of time
to make your own. And you will make your own.

Please know that college is not what you see on T.V. or in the movies. It simply will not be what you are expecting. And you will have unexpected road bumps along the way. That doesn’t mean it cannot be fun. My favorite memory so far is being up til 11 one Wednesday night baking cupcakes and coloring with my new friends instead of studying. If you listen to one thing I have to say please let it be this: No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can have fun. If the right people are there, you can’t help but have fun. Enjoy everything you do and the people you meet!

Life inside the Purple Bubble

lysa-85“Welcome to the next best four years of your life: College.” I drove 21 hours to finally arrive at the “purple bubble,” one of the smallest, yet best liberal arts colleges in the nation. As I approached my dorm, Williams Hall, my mind was flooded with the reality at hand; I quickly began to question whether or not I had made the right choice.

However was we all know, you should never second guess yourself! First days began with an early program for first generation students (meaning that neither of our parents attended a four year college), where we were the only students allowed to arrive early on campus and move into our dorms. This was the best part, because move in was definitely not as chaotic as it was when everyone arrived two days later.

We were told that out of a class of 542 freshmen, first generation students comprised only 6%! As one admission advisor put it, “we made it into Williams against the odds, with the wind against our chest and not our backs, but the admissions office makes no mistakes, and we deserve to be where we are.” That is something that has kept me motivated thus far in my studies.

It is so easy to feel out of place from time to time in a new setting or situation. College is scary at first. I was terrified for my first class, my first college essay, and my first exam. Yet life is always full of “firsts,” from start to finish. They are a necessity, and get you from where you are to where you’re going.

The orientation program at my college was my “first” glimpse at the life of a college student. This program acquainted me with the campus and even the surrounding area. You should always take advantages of programs that your school offers to get you acquainted with your surroundings and the resources offered to you (and yes, I know most of them seem boring, but you might be surprised).

I was able to participate in a trip called “Where Am I?” In this program, we traveled to the surrounding areas around Williams College, participating in farming activities (since Williamstown is predominantly rural), community service, and engaged ourselves in the surrounding communities.

Since college started, my closest friends have proven to be those people who I live and study with. It is important to build friendships with people quickly, otherwise you are apt to feel very alone quickly on a College campus, and this is not a good way to start the next four years of your life!

I’ve also learned that time management is clearly the only way to survive college! Write everything down: notes, meetings, appointments, even when you plan on eating dinner, you’d be surprised but it’s easy to forget so many things, when you’re juggling so much on your plate freshman year.

I Made It HERE??

jesse-85My mom wasn’t able to finish grade school because she had to help out in the fields of her small rancho in Mexico. She came to America to give her family hope for something better and after everything we have been through together, I just hope to make her proud by graduating from college and getting that degree.

I never thought I would make it to a place like Harvard and everyone didn’t think I would make it either, but I did. College is everything I could ever ask for, and more! I am learning about things I am passionate about and improving my writing and reading skills every day.

One of my favorite classes this semester is called Moctezuma’s Mexico and is all about Aztec and Mayan culture. It feels good to learn the history of my people and get to know what it takes to keep up with the rigor of a college course. Even though college is A LOT of work, I feel that everything I am learning actually has a purpose.

One thing I am definitely learning fast is how to manage time. If you do not know how to manage time and set your priorities, you run the risk of getting VERY far behind. That means no facebook or myspace until AFTER your work is done. Practice these habits early so you are prepared. But seriously, I am having the time of my life and meeting so many people from all over the United States and the world.

The friends that I have made so far, I am already very close to because not only do I get to hang out with them when we have free time, we also study together because of similar classes or coursework. The workload is intimidating but as long as you stay strong and focused, it is manageable. I felt that my writing skills were not as strong as others in my class so I felt discouraged but I found resources on campus to help me with that. We have a writing center and also a place called Bureau of Study Counsel that helps us learn good study habits and methods to do better in school.

As long as you work hard now, believe in yourself, and ignore all the people saying you can’t do it, you WILL make it and you WILL have the best time of your life here at college. Always remember, Shoot for the Stars, so if you fall you land on the clouds!