Do you remember what first day jitters were like?
Day one of college was full of them for me because of the stress I experienced in heading to school for the first time. I moved from high school to college through dual enrollment. As a high school senior, dual enrollment gave me insight into what college academics would be like. It helped me fine-tune my study habits so that I would be prepared for full-time college courses.
I was juggling a tutoring job with two college and two high school classes during my year of dual enrollment. Here, I experienced contrasting levels of education. These differences showed me how taking both harder and easier classes should change my studying process. I learned how to improve my time management abilities, which was my first lesson.
The way I did this was by scheduling how much time to allow for each subject. Then, I could avoid overdoing my college work or neglecting my high school classes. This learning experience created a need for a balanced schedule consisting of chores, work, and school, but a daily schedule was hard to maintain. I had to work hard at implementing a plan that included eating, studying, tutoring others, relaxing, doing homework, and still having fun.
After graduating high school, I commuted for my freshman year of college and worked full-time at a deli. I was immersed in a new level of academic learning in my classes. At the collegiate level, I encountered a different teaching style called the Socratic Debate. Instead of a traditional lecture, it revolves around critical thinking. The method requires carefully planned individual responses. This style transformed a basic classroom into a constructive environment. This kind of setting allowed students to develop their own knowledge further. The Socratic Debate showed me how to create answers wisely. I also learned how to incorporate my answers into group discussions. Both understanding how to answer and how to cooperate together established my second college lesson.
A year later, the jitters returned when I found myself at the main campus of my college, in my sophomore year of school. However, I had to get over my nerves and learn how to speak with adults at the school. I found that the best way to communicate was to address a college staff member like I would a doctor: with respect, honesty, and clarity. This adapted form of speaking with adults helped me create ongoing professional relationships. Finding a proper way to communicate with adults was the third lesson that I learned from my second year of college.
Finding My Tribe
I was getting used to campus life, academics, and responsibilities, then I added more by participating in a marching band. It helped with my social life by building solid friendships. While working with a group of people who accepted me for who I was, the next valuable lesson was imprinted on my mind. The fourth lesson was understanding the importance of finding a team where I belonged. They were the ones who helped me get through my struggles with homesickness, classes, and making friends. Looking back on my time spent in marching band, I realized that I was lucky enough to find a great support group with my fellow bandmates. They were like a second family and made college adjustment easier.
As a soon-to-be senior I am looking back over my college years, I see that all my experiences lead to the next lesson which is mistakes will happen. However, I will continue to work on how to learn from my mistakes. I’ve also realized there is no shame in getting stuck when experiencing new situations, and its ok to be unsure of what to do.
Before I left for college, my parents warned me to expect life to get harder. With that in mind, as my life becomes more complicated, I know I should ask for help in solving my problems. Difficulties are guaranteed, but I will learn from them.
Looking to the future, I realize that my experiences in college can be applied to the next steps in my life. I will need to organize my life, balancing work, finances, home, and social life along with other adult responsibilities. These lessons I have learned from college life will stay with me as I continue to adapt and do well in the future.
They may be gone for now, but I wonder when those jitters will return again.
A native Peachtree City girl, Megan Brooks is a freelance writer and senior at Point University, majoring in English and graduating in December 2018. Besides writing, she loves playing clarinet and reading a variety of literature, especially classic fiction.