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Posts Tagged grades

The Struggle of Sophomore Year

lysa-85My second year in college truly hit me about a month ago, when I realized that I had taken on way too many extracurricular activities, more science laboratory classes than I could handle, and that maybe a science major on a pre-med course track was not working out.

Many students start college out thinking that they will go through college and go on to become a doctor or a lawyer. Most pre-med students also assume that since they “love” science they will of course become a biology or chemistry major. I entered Williams College my freshman year, and thought I had it all figured out. I would complete all of the pre-med courses and major in biology. Afterall, I loved biology in high school. Then, I started college and biology no longer seemed to interest me. I found myself dreading each class and the four hour lab sessions I had to get through each week. But I kept on track for med school and I kept taking chemistry and biology together each semester up until I finished classes last week. However, one thing did change for me. I realized that while I may want to be a doctor in the future, I definitely do not want to major in science!

I used to think it was unacceptable to apply to medical school without a science major, but it’s not! Medical schools are looking for all different kinds of people with different backgrounds and majors! I have officially declared a major in psychology and couldn’t be happier. Child Development and Psychology studies are truly where my passion lies and now I can put all my energy into something I love, while still working towards medical school. I am also currently pursuing a double major in Women,Gender, & Sexuality Studies, which I never expected to interest me before coming to Williams! Therefore, I urge all of you as you decide on what classes you want to take next semester, to try out a class that you’ve always thought sounded cool, or maybe you know nothing about! Sometimes those classes are the ones that surprise you and truly make you realize what path you want to take.

Another important lesson I learned as a sophomore is that you simply can’t do it all. Sometimes we think we can take on the world on our shoulders and never stumble while trying to make it all work. I realized this past year that I just had way too much on my plate. I was on my college’s hip hop dance team, president of the Student Health Club and a member of student government.

I realized a semester too late that I really just needed to put all of my concentration into my studies and take a break from trying to juggle multiple extracurricular activities. It got to a point where I was dancing 10 hours a week, having to work my job 10 hours a week to make ends meet financially, and spending 10 hours a week in lab. Plus, I was still planning events through student government on the weekends! I finally realized that I didn’t have time to please other people through my dance performances or event planning if I didn’t even have time to make myself happy. I was slowly running myself into the ground and dragging my academic performance along with me. My grades slowly dropped and I didn’t know what to do. But I knew that I didn’t come to Williams to dance. I came to college to make a better life for myself and my family. If I could put only half the time I spent dancing into my school work or job, I would be able to help my family more financially and improve my grades.

Sometimes, even though you love to do something and it’s truly hard to give it up, you have to move on and place importance on what truly matters. I can dance for the rest of my life. I realized that I didn’t need a dance team to prove my abilities. But, you only get a chance at college ONCE. College is truly not easy. I have had many days where I’ve wondered, why me? What am I doing here? I have sat and cried in my room many times and tried desperately to find myself through all of the stress that college has placed on my life. But, I know that it will all be worth it in the end. I know what it’s like to feel alone in college. I’ve definitely felt that way often. But it’s important to realize that you are where you are for a reason. Someone chose you over 4 to 8 other students, because they had confidence in your ability to succeed.

Although, some days I may have felt alone, like I had the weight of my family back home depending on me to make something out of myself, that is truly what I also want for myself, and that makes even the worst days manageable! Stay strong and positive. At times sophomore year can be more trying than freshman year, because few people are there to hold your hand and there are much higher expectations set for you during your second year of college. But, just sit back and take a deep breath! You are almost half way through your college career!

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.)

One Semester Down, Seven More to Go

sophia-85It’s almost time for school to start up again and I have to admit, I’m excited. Being back in Whittier during the break made me realize I love being home, but I feel productive when I’m back at school.

It’s tough, but you get a sense of accomplishment when attending various meetings or simply turning in a paper.

So, now that I’m going back, I’m looking forward to the new classes, professors, and time I’m going to spend with friends.

During the break, I met with Matt Rubinoff, who is the executive director of Center for Student Opportunity. We had lunch and he asked me a question that seemed simple, but it took me a surprisingly long time to actually come up with my answer.

He asked me, “What do you plan to do differently for your second semester?”

Easy question, right? Not so much.

After going back home, I thought about how exactly I want to change my time at Chico State and what I can do to make that happen.

I realized that there were various things I can do, but the main change I stuck on is planning to organize myself more. There are so many different activities going on and I plan on prioritizing the things I need to do.

The reason I chose to go to college was to get an education so I can accomplish my goal of becoming a sports journalist; however, I’ve realized it is extremely easy to get caught up in college life.

I’ve seen a majority of my friends stressed about their grades for first semester because their social life took a toll on their academics, and that is a scary idea.

But if you plan your time out, it’s simple to have a fun time in school and outside of school. Just remember what you’re in school for and take fun pit stops along the way.

Thanks for reading!

Dreaming with Open Eyes

abigail-8555-41. That was the Senate’s final vote on the DREAM Act.

Thousands of undocumented students received a huge blow when these long-anticipated results came in. The DREAM Act, in essence, provides hard-working students, who have lived the majority of their lives in the United States, the opportunity to become citizens. There are a other requirements for students to be eligible under the DREAM Act but the main ones are these: students would have to complete the curriculum for a college degree or fulfill two years of service in the armed forces in order to receive citizenship.

I am deeply saddened and frustrated that dedicated and determined students who have long pledged allegiance to this great nation are going to have to wait for another chance to become a recognized part of the American mosaic. These individuals are CHOOSING to be American and WANT to contribute to the only country many of them know and call home. But in spite of what many consider a “lost DREAM”, these same students are not giving up much less giving in to naysayers.

The persistence and resilience of the students and groups who have supported the DREAM and will continue to support it, have inspired me to not let my first term grades (all B’s) convince me that I’m inadequate or incapable of success. I’m not saying that I expected a 4.0 but once I saw my grades, a smidge of self-doubt continued to nag me until I realized that this is only the beginning. I may not have started my college career with a bang but it’s a start and in the words of my mother, “You are only a failure if you don’t learn from it.”

I’m taking the next three weeks to figure out what is working, what isn’t, and how I can improve as a student. I’m ready and excited for the winter term and my classes!

Everything in college is a learning experience if you CHOOSE to make it so.

Don’t cry about it, brush yourself off, reflect, and keep moving forward.

Expectations Pt. 3

irvin-85Expectations Pt. 3

As I sit in a now deserted library, my self-made calculus study guide being my only companion, feeling the pressure of midterms, my thoughts begin to wander. I think about the people having fun tonight, those who are going out and ignoring the fact that they have midterms next week. Their life seems so easy, so carefree. I am going to be honest and say that there are times where I wonder why I do the things I do. Why do I worry about classes as much as I do? Why do I choose to do work after I go out Friday nights? Why am I awake at this hour doing triple derivatives and finding volumes under spheres and cones? As you can see, my mind goes to many places and questions many things. Yet, the answer to all these questions is one that I know quite well.

I do what I do because that is what I am here to do. Simple as that but yet, there is complexity behind this. What is it that I am here to do? Well, there is no simple answer to this. I am here for a variety of reasons.  Beyond the personal reasons of why I am here (better future, become a learned intellectual), I am here representing my race, my family, my community, and my high school. All of this ties in to the third type of expectations; those of your family and those of your community.

When you are sent off to college, whether said or not, there is an expectation for you to do well. You, your family and your high school have worked for years for you to reach this stage and it is expected for you to not throw this chance away. This being said, these expectations are at times heavy and create the fear of disappointing the people that have helped you get here. I can attest to this personally. I feel that I have to put forth my best in order to make my parents proud, make my community proud and show that my high school does have talent within its walls. Anything that does not show my best effort is, in a way, letting everyone down. It sounds harsh right?

It is and in the first few weeks here, this mentality set added more stress to an already stressful first term. As I’ve come to learn, behind every hardship here, there is a lesson. From this, I have learned to not be so harsh on myself. In college, I have learned that it is all right to fall down a couple times for this is just a natural part of the college process. As long as you are putting your best effort forward, you are not disappointing anyone. No one expects you to get perfect grades during your first term since you are faced with such an abrupt transition both academically and socially. If there is something that I could tell you about college is that it is ok to break down. You are not letting anyone down if you do not get the perfect grades. Actually, breaking down gives you a chance to rebuild and reconsider things which lead to a better strategy at approaching things.

Do not let expectations weigh you down and remember that at the end of the day, home will always have its arms open, ready to embrace you and welcome you, no matter what your grades are first semester.

Beware of All-Nighters!!

darius-85Wow, it’s hard to believe that two months have gone by so quickly! Before I got here, all I could think about was how hard college was going to be. I had it made up in my mind that I was going to be pulling all nighters and that all my classes would be super hard… well, I was half right. The past week I’ve been staying up all night studying for midterms. I’ve had on average about 4 hours of sleep a night, I haven’t been eating all too well, and I’ve been feeling down about the recent loss of an old friend. All of this caused my body to shut down last night and I was rushed to the hospital. I think I’ve learned my lesson:

All nighters + No food = no bueno

I guess I was afraid of not fitting in. All of my friends here are really smart, and got the best grades in high-school. I’m not like that. I have to work extra hard to keep with everyone around me, and my grades in high school weren’t all that great. I probably should have spoken to a school psychologist about my friend, but I was so busy studying.

Don’t follow my example. College should be fun! Don’t let your fears get the best of you. I’ve realized that I fit in just fine, and that I didn’t need to over-work myself. If you have a problem, even a small one, go talk to someone. Most schools have on-campus counseling for students, and if yours doesn’t, talk to a friend. Sleep and food are important, without them you can’t function properly.

So what have we learned? 1) All nighters are NOT worth the stress. 2) Food is good. 3) Depression is serious, TALK to someone. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

until next time guyz!!

No bueno!!

No bueno!!

Expectations Pt.1

irvin-85 This is the first part of a three part blog. It would be a really long blog if put all together and so, in order to not bore anyone, I have divided it into three parts.

Last night, tired of double integrals and finding volumes under surfaces, I decided that the best way to relax would be to watch soccer highlights for a few minutes. I have learned to pace myself and that for every two hours of hard work, ten minutes of distractions are more than deserved. While watching the highlights of the games of the week, a string of words from the narrator stood out. “Such high expectations can either motivate or weigh a team down.”

As I reflected upon that quote, I realized how true it was. Being in an institution of higher learning, you are faced with expectations coming from all angles. First, there are your own personal expectations, what you want to achieve.

During the past four weeks here, I have learned that I have to be reasonable with the expectations I set for myself. High expectations in high school are completely different from expectations at college. In high school, grades were a reflection of how smart or intelligent you were. Therefore, there was more effort put into the pursuit of a letter grade rather than learning and understanding the material. As I have mentioned before, college is no longer high school.

The game and the players have changed, therefore the expectations need to change. Here, after four weeks, I have realized that a letter grade is nothing more than a numerical assessment that tries to encapsulate your understanding of the material. That’s it. It does not reflect how smart you are but rather how well you understand the material at hand. Here, instead of chasing a letter grade, you are pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself. Grades take secondary role and are not the most important thing. I know that for most of us, this is a hard concept to understand. We are used to seeing a non changing pattern of letter grades and to think that that might change is a scary thought. Believe me, it took a lot of introspect in order for me to understand that I am at Dartmouth to learn, not to get grades.

My expectations have changed dramatically. The perfect GPA is no longer my first priority nor my second. Learning, understanding and being able to apply the concepts I learn are. My second priority is to be involved in campus and be part of this community as much as I am able to. Third, if it is possible to obtain that 4.0, it will come if I work hard, yet, I am happy to say that whatever grades I get, are the product of my effort and understanding of the subject. If those grades happen to be all A’s or a mixture of A’s and B’s, it does not matter as long as I know learned as much as I could along the way.

If there is something that I want the reader to obtain from this is the fact that grades and knowledge are not the same thing. Learn to love knowledge, it is the greatest thing someone can give you, well, besides life but that’s another issue. Life is not about grades, life is about what you know and what you do with that knowledge to make this a better world. Keep that in mind.

College Acceptances, Visits, and Impact!

jesse-85You finally found out if you got in or not!! This is such an exciting time for you, your family, and your friends- Here’s a video with some tips on what to do now that you know where you got in!

R.A.T.

seanna-85While I hope no one followed my example, my actual college application process was hectic.  I had everything in order theoretically…great grades…pretty test scores…more extracurricular and community service hours than I could list…I was in tip-top shape—ready for anything!  My I’s were dotted, and my T’s were crossed.  Only one more thing to do.  Apply.  As you’re reading this, you might be thinking that this was me around mid-November, early December at the latest.

Well…you’re wrong.  This was me on December 26th.  Regular decision deadlines for most schools in the country were January 1st.  Did I mention that my application process was hectic?  For four days, I thoroughly researched the 25-ish schools on my list and started finalizing details.  A mentor had to sit me down and say, “Pick 10 from this list, and send in the materials—you have to make your decisions…NOW!”  Obviously, I did make the decisions, and I did post-mark my apps by the deadline…however, it was still unnecessary stress that could have been avoided had I stopped procrastinating on FINALLY choosing my top schools.  By now your applications are in, so let’s discuss what I felt like afterwards.

Three words: relieved, anxious, and tired.

I was relieved that the formal process was done.  Now, all I could do was wait for the colleges to decide if I was a prospectively good fit for their school environment.  I’d passed the tests, made the grades, gave back to the community… now I could breathe a little.

IMPORTANT: THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU STOP EARNING GOOD GRADES OR WORKING HARD IN SCHOOL.  COLLEGES WILL LOOK AT YOUR LAST SEMESTER GRADES.  THEY CAN REVOKE SCHOLARSHIP MONEY, AND ACCEPTANCE DECISIONS.  BEWARE.

Now that I’ve given that piece of advice, back to my second feeling.  I felt anxious about getting the responses in the mail.  I liked something (or many things) about each school, and non-acceptance letters would feel like a personal rejection of me.  I was worried that I could have done better on the essays, and perhaps I didn’t “sell myself” correctly.

Tired because I’d been striving for perfection for six months…in and out of class.  Senior year can seem like a whirlwind of activities…I’d be lost in the next set of things to do without realizing that I’d finished the last ones.  Hopefully, your year hasn’t been like that too much.  However, I was tired, and I still had to find energy and enthusiasm to finish out the school year.

So, after waiting for a few months, I started receiving the college decisions in the mail.  My first acceptance letter was amazing…I can’t quite describe the feeling.  I was wanted…on a 4-year college campus.  For someone from a family who doesn’t pump out college graduates, this was something new…a goal apart from everything else I’d worked for.  All of the work…the stress…the time management…the effort…the tears and the struggling…it was all worth it.

So hat’s off to you for completing the applications.  Now…sit back…relax…you’ve got amazing things coming your way!