Freshman year, your first taste of actual independence and adulthood, while also being treated like a second-class citizen just because you’re a freshman. Spending hours at College Library and crying to your parents when you get the chance and the occasional mental breakdown, it’s finally over!
I’m not going to lie, first semester was a total breeze compared to Spring semester. I somehow managed to work a job and a half while taking 14 credits and maintaining a social life, but as soon as the new year hit me, I knew I was done for. Overall, freshman year was full of adventures, lessons, and learning more about life than I could ever learn in a class.
Expectations for college students are already high enough without having to worry about adding extra things on the plate. You’re practicing actual adult stuff and managing full course loads while being expected to be active in organizations and clubs.
Realizing I was coming into college as an out-of-pocket/in-state student was the first indicator that shit was about to get real, real quick. It meant no matter how many scholarships I applied for, I still didn’t have enough to focus on school without working. Believe me, I know I’m not the first college student to have to work, but working and trying to maintain a decent grade point average was the ultimate struggle. By the grace of God and assistance editing my essays, I managed to come out of first semester with a 4.0 GPA; little did I know Spring semester was about to change the whole game.
First thing I realized is that lectures are VITAL. Even if you think you can breeze by simply by reading the content, unless it comes naturally to you, you cannot. Being in your professor or TA’s face is more helpful than if you are not, but you are better off finding support groups with other students who can help you understand content because not all professors adapt to different learning styles. Spending hours cramming can be a good time to get loads of work done, but to study, it is not a good idea nor is it good for your health.
While we’re on the subject of health, the Freshman Fifteen? I’ve never met her. At UW-Madison, it actually doesn’t exist, and I learned it very early on. Between hiking up hills, walking 15 minutes daily to class, and expensive dining hall food, you’re more likely to catch the Negative Freshman Fifteen. It is just as important to eat actual food every now and then, even if it’s a granola bar or something. That five dollar cup of coffee may be doing something in the moment, but it’s really not doing anything beneficial for your body. Without food your body doesn’t have energy, which affects how your brain does work, and the last thing you want to do is affect your brain.
Everybody says Spring semester is worse than the first, and to be honest it was. As a first-year, you don’t have the guidance you had at orientation, it is purely up to you and your advisor to make the best schedule for your desired plan. It is your first taste of doing what you need to do to get your degree and hop out the jam, but without guidance, you can truly be lost. Something I wish I had known more about was the General Requirements and how they can be manipulated to fit your needs as a student. I recommend checking DARs reports every now and again to make sure you’re on track with your major and classes that you’re taking. There is nothing wrong with taking an extra semester or year, but most people recommend doing what you can while you can.
In addition to doing what you can while you can, you have to know your limit. Sometimes, you can actually be doing too much stuff. If you feel yourself stressing out all the time, you probably have too much on your plate. School is supposed to be the primary focus, but your mental health is more important so you want to make sure anything extra on your plate isn’t going to get in the way of your studies. Make sure you find time to practice self-love and good health in between life and enjoy life while you can.
Have a great summer and stay Black and Beautiful!