It’s currently 1:25pm and I just finished my last class of the day: my biology discussion. It was actually a really nice discussion. This may have been the first time I have actually enjoyed a biology discussion. During the class, I couldn’t help but remember how miserable I was in my other bio discussion class during my freshman year. I had no idea what was going on in the class. Everything being said in discussion seemed like a foreign language to me.
For some reason, I really did not like the people in the class. I regarded all of them as pretentious and snobby. Because most of the people in the class were pre-med, I thought that they only cared about themselves and just wanted to display their knowledge to everyone. I was not interested in making friends, because I felt like if I did, it would be a superficial relationship based on trying to outsmart the other and constantly be in each other’s business, whether it be academics or relationships. I also felt like students would sabotage each other just to get the higher grades. I also did not want to appear dumb to my classmates, because I refused to give them a feeling of satisfaction that one less person will be competing for that spot in medical school.
After that semester, I was almost 100% sure that I would be changing my major from biology to something else, and I was really looking into Bioengineering (concentration: Biomedical). Even over winter break, I made a long chart about the classes, the prerequisites for each class, the requirements, and everything else I could possibly need. I even drew out my schedule for the next 7 semesters. I was ready to change based on a fear of failure and my deep-rooted stubbornness that I could do things on my own.
After the first semester in college and barely making it through my first biology class, I have a better idea of who I am as a person and what I want to do and study. I am taking my second intro bio class, and this class is going so much more smoothly than the first. I have a better idea of how college works, and I have learned more about how to study. All throughout high school, I did not have a problem with maintaining good grades. They seemed to effortlessly fall into my hands. I would do the homework, turn it in, get a grade back, and repeat. I never studied more than I needed to, and I rarely opened the textbooks given to us in class. All I did was show up to my classes and listen to the teacher. It was pretty easy.
The first thing I learned when coming to college: life does not work that way. Not. At. All.
This was why I always tell people that my first semester in college was the worst for me. I was not used to living on my own, especially in a part of the country that I have only been to about twice in my life. I did not know where to start with my journey through college. In addition to that, I did not how to handle my work load. I was taking classes that were all interesting to me, but I just did not have a firm grasp as to how to study them. I thought that I could just go to lecture and automatically get it. It worked for me in high school, so why wouldn’t it work for me in college?
Boy, I had never been so wrong in my life. I learned that I needed to read for my classes and go over notes that I had in them. I had to work practice problems on my own, because homework was not a common thing in college. It was also my responsibility to constantly go to the class website and look out for updates. These were things that I never had to do before, so it definitely took me a while to understand all of this. At the end of the semester, the only class that I did well in was my chemistry class. I was completely devastated about it. I had never gotten such low grades in my life. What was I going to tell my parents? They went through so much just to get me into college. How could I let them down now?
So, it has taken me about three semesters (and a half, including summers) to finally get used to all the extra work I needed to do outside of class. I used to think it was just the subjects I was studying, but I quickly learned that it was me who had to change.
I’m now a second semester sophomore, and I think I am finally getting a good handle on things. I have learned to ask more questions, and become a more active student in the class by asking and answering questions. I have also been attending Office Hours, which are extremely helpful! Man, I wish I had started earlier. The professor goes over things that he will talk about in lecture. Then, when lecture comes, you know exactly what he is talking about. It is actually amazing!
I have also made a little schedule for myself during the night. This semester, I have decided that I like to study in my room, because it helps me to keep a nice schedule (plus, it’s freezing outside, and ain’t nobody got time for that). I used to study at the library, but I usually fell asleep, got distracted, felt cold (or sometimes really hot), forgot something at home, or felt even more stressed about the amount of work I had to do. On top of that, I came home really late, like around 2-3am, and I live about 10 minutes away. So the walk was really brutal in the freezing cold. Sometimes it would be snowing or really windy, and my thighs would freeze.
So this semester I am staying in my room, and I realize just how much I prefer that over the library. Everything I could possibly need is in my room, so I do not have to travel far for anything. Many people say that studying in your room can be very distracting, but it depends on the way you study.
- What I like to do is hide my phone away from my line of vision. It helps fight off the urge to go on Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram (3 of my favorite social media sites).
- I like to get comfortable, but not too comfortable or else I will fall asleep. If I am uncomfortable, it will be much harder for me to concentrate on the task ahead. I like to keep the room slightly warm, wear sweatpants, socks, and a hoodie/sweater
- I like to keep my brightness up on my laptop. This keeps me awake for longer. I actually learned about this recently, and I have been trying it out. It works pretty well!
- I NEVER study on my bed. That’s a trap and a recipe for an F. My bed is wayy too comfortable, and the only times that I am in it is when I am going to bed, or if it’s a Friday night and I am hanging out in my room. Usually, I end up falling asleep.
- I also like to keep a bottle of water near me, and I drink it once in a while. It keeps me awake and hydrated.
- I like to have an organized desk and work area. Usually before I start studying, I tidy up the area around me, because I am very nit-picky when it comes to staying organized. I feel like your room mirrors your thoughts and feelings. If you want to keep a clear head, tidy up a little and it should help.
- I like to study in peace. My roommate likes the room quiet and so do I, so our room is usually really quiet. She is usually watching something on her laptop, studying, or sleeping, and I am usually studying. Having a quiet study space allows you to think clearly and organize your thoughts.
After studying, I take a quick shower. This is when I can relax for a little while reflect on the day, and pamper myself for a little bit. Last semester, I would shower in the mornings, but I always ended up late for classes. I also did not have a routine. That was one thing I wanted to change this semester: have a routine and stick with it.
Over winter break, I watched a copious amount of YouTube videos titled “Daily College Routines”, “College Morning and Routines”, “Fitness Routines”, “College Inspirations”, “College DIYs”, “College Organization”, etc. I could endlessly watch those videos. They helped me shape the schedule that I have made for myself and the way that I study. I learned to become a better student.
So while I was sitting in my bio discussion class today, I noticed how much progress I have made from the first semester of college to now. I have learned to love Biology and everything that I am learning. I love my discussion class. It is so interesting, and the TA is super knowledgeable. My friend is in the class, and we help each other out when needed. I value the information much more than I used to. I also see students in a different light; I look at each of my classmates and wonder where they came from and how they got to the point they are at now. It is so refreshing to meet new people and also collaborate with people who are literal geniuses. I like my class, and I am not too shy to speak up in class anymore. In fact, I have spoken up at least once in each of my discussion classes, and I feel more confident about my answers. I don’t feel bad anymore when I get an answer wrong because I learn much more from getting an answer wrong than not trying at all.