With the school year coming to a close, I am counting down the days (there are exactly 11 days including today April 30th), of course until I go home, but also until I can officially call myself a college Junior.
Normally this is where the memories of how it feels like just yesterday I was in the college search process would kick in, but as someone whose high school workload (I went to school from 8 am –5pm) was a bit more than her college workload, I am nothing but grateful. I definitely have KIPP, which is a network of charter schools that work to give typically disadvantaged kids a leg up in life, to thank for my time management skills and I don’t know how I would manage spring semester without them. Spring semester to me is worse than senioritis. Every spring semester (I said that like this isn’t only my second year here) I dread classes and look more and more forward to a relaxing summer.
All the skills I’ve learned in high school helped me get into Davidson and now fast forward to the end of my sophomore year. I am halfway through my college experience, which is the perfect time to reflect. If I could do it all over there are a few things I would do differently (upcoming freshman and sophomores take notes).
My first piece of advice will help you navigate the new power dynamic you will encounter. No parents or pushy teachers, but you’ll still have decisions to make. Don’t let people talk you out of decisions that you think are the best. Even if it doesn’t go how you planned you will have a learning opportunity that will help you make better decisions in the future.
During my time at Davidson, I’ve taken five classes in three of the four semesters I’ve been here. Here only four classes are mandatory (and suggested) but taking five is an option. Each time a herd of people has come telling me it wasn’t a good idea and that I should drop one. Summer school is not really a cost-effective option for me, so the next best thing would be to take the two classes I would’ve had during the summer during the school year.
This leads me to my second piece of advice. Don’t overwhelm yourself but if you can, then take extra classes or summer classes even. Sometimes the people who tell you not to do extra are just trying to look out for you, but this doesn’t always mean they are right. If you think you can manage it, then go for it. For me, five classes were no big deal (especially given how long I was in the classroom prior to college), so I was glad that I stuck to my decision to take five classes.
My last piece of advice applies regardless of your class year.
Get off campus, explore, have fun, and take care of yourself. School work is important so make sure you get it done, but college is a time to make new experiences as well. I go to Davidson College, which is 20 minutes away from Charlotte. There are adventures all around me. But being around a major city doesn’t mean that there aren’t adventures and fun things to see elsewhere. Explore the area you have access to. If you don’t drive, then take the bus (be safe and ladies go in groups) or take an Uber/Lyft.
Making time to take care of yourself is important too because if you aren’t well you won’t be able to do well in the classes you’re stressing over anyway. No grade is worth sacrificing sleep or your mental health for. Honestly, all-nighters are a waste of time to me. You stay up all-night to sleep the whole next day and my motto is that if I don’t have it by 12:30 am, then I’m not going to get it. To avoid having to this just don’t procrastinate (yes, I know this is easier said than done).
All things considered, your college experience is what you make it. Take advantage of all the opportunities you can and don’t be afraid to try new things.