Entering college at 17
When I first entered Florida Tech as a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, 17 year-old Freshman, I thought I was the pinnacle of maturity. Here I was, graduated from high school, 1300 miles away from home and living on my own. I didn’t have Mom or Dad there to help me when the school work got rough or when I didn’t have enough time to do my laundry. No one was going to baby me when I got sick. I was responsible to wake up every day and go to class. If I got bad grades, that was all on me.
I thought I was mature
In essence, a lot of responsibility got dumped on me and because of that I thought I was mature. I quickly found out though that it wasn’t having the responsibility that allowed you to grow but how you handled having those responsibilities that really defined how you would turn out. I had this over-boding feeling that I had to succeed. If I screwed up this shot I had at a higher education, I would be letting down my family that had worked so hard to get me to where I was. I realized that they had primed me for this. They had instilled (or at least exemplified) the values and processes I would soon enough adopt.
My first taste of taking care of myself
Freshman year I adjusted to living on my own. Setting my own meal times, getting a workout routine set, allocating time for homework and then making sure I didn’t miss the many meetings I had for my extracurricular activities. I had my first taste of taking care of myself when I was sick too. (Word to the wise, don’t go to class when you have a 103 degree fever).
Don’t feel ashamed to call home to ask for advice
I learned early on that you shouldn’t feel ashamed about calling home and asking for advice on things. My parents and grandparents have always gotten a kick out of the situations I find myself in. Relatives can offer sage advice that can really help out when you get in a pinch. It’s a support group, but as I progressed through school I found I was calling on them less on how to function but more on how to think. Initially, calls were about things like what cold meds I should take or asking help on an assignment. Now that I’m older, I’ve figured out how to solve my own problems when it comes to assignments and such.
Discovering your priorities
As you grow in college, you become more autonomous. I’m not saying that you have fewer friends, just that you focus more on what really matters to you because you’ve discovered your priorities. School work certainly doesn’t get easier but it certainly helps when you begin to develop professional relationships with your professors. What I’ve noticed now is that I can more effectively plan out my schedule. I know how long certain assignments will take and how much effort I will need to allocate to them. I take much more effective notes now than I did back three years ago. You really begin to come into your own in college. Seeing where I was Freshman year and where I am now makes me appreciate the environment that allowed me to grow.