Learn the Hard Way
Going through high school, I never felt the pressure of having to study for a test or structure my life around my school work. All four years, I just went with the flow, paid attention in class, and did the homework the day of or before it was due. This could’ve been due to my fairly easy classes and light workload, but it put me in a relaxed state of mind throughout these years. I knew I was capable of taking AP courses or being in the IB program, but I just didn’t feel the need to put that sort of stress onto myself. Sure, it would’ve prepared me for college and looked better on my applications, but I chose to enjoy my years of high school and use that time to work. I found that in high school, paying attention in class and doing your homework was more than enough to prepare you for tests and finals. I don’t think I even studied for my final exams, besides maybe some final exam review worksheets my teachers would pass out. It was this type of passiveness and lack of hard work that told me “Maybe I’m just smart enough that I don’t need to study, I absorb this information well enough in class”. This mindset put my guard down when entering college, and like a lead kick from Manny Pacquiao, I got hit hard in the face by reality. College was not like high school, at all.
Unlike most kids, I tend to look forward to a new school year. I’ve always enjoyed going to school, mostly because it gives my life some structure. In this case, I was especially excited to start school because it was the beginning of a whole new chapter in my academic career, college. My thought process was “I chose some pretty easy classes and I only go twice a week, this should be pretty easy”, and for the first week, I was right. It was as simple as going to class, taking notes and paying attention. I knew the homework stage was right around the corner, I just didn’t know how hard it would hit. I still remember my first assignment, writing a brief summary on an article of our choice from the Wall Street Journal for my Intro to Business class. I actually looked forward to this assignment and completed it while waiting to go my next class. My next class starts, we go through the lesson as usual and at the end he announces we have our first homework assignment, ‘No problem, I have two days to this’ I thought to myself. After leaving my third and final class of the day with yet another homework assignment, I felt a slight sense of what is yet to come. As if it was some sort of flash flood, the work load just started pouring in from there.
As you know, it doesn’t get any easier as the semester goes on. While I was still trying to wake up to the reality of post-secondary education, the assignments and tests just kept coming. It felt as if every completed assignment was met with two more. I’d finally complete my assignments for the week just to find out I have a test the next day. Being too exhausted from my two jobs and all the homework to study , I’d rely on my diligence in class to get me through the tests.
Come to find out, just like every other aspect of college, my high school methods would not work on these tests. After what seemed like a never-ending cycle of work, homework, class, study, repeat; my first semester was coming to an end, and boy was I behind. The combination of stress, exhaustion, and lack of organization was just too much for me to handle. My motivation was coming to an all time low, and like a deer in the headlights, I just felt stuck. I was watching my grades fall and knew I had to change my ways from here on out. My first semester was a huge wake up call, and for some reason, I still didn’t pick up the phone.
After a last minute effort to turn in all my late work and prepare myself for the finals, I was able to finish my first semester with respectable grades. Spring semester was right around the corner and I told myself I wouldn't let this happen again. What I was going to differently this semester, I wasn’t sure, but it wasn't the best idea to use the same ‘Deal with it when the time comes’ mindset I was so accustomed to using. I wish I could write this paragraph about what I did to make this semester better, but if I’m being honest with myself, I let it all slip away from me yet again. From not showing up to class towards the end of the semester, to acting like my homework just didn't exist, I could argue that I was even lazier and less motivated this time around. The constant weight of these academic responsibilities on my shoulders was so heavy, I chose to just completely ignore it rather than man up and face it. The devil on one shoulder constantly telling me things like “You don’t need school”, “Just drop out”, “Making money is more important”; and the angel on the other shoulder saying “You’re more than capable of succeeding”, “Stop being lazy, do your work” “ It’s just two years, you can do it”. It was a constant battle in my head and I let it get the best of me.
I’ve reached the end of my first year of college and it’s safe to say I let myself down. I have always prided myself on my work ethic and to know that I didn’t try my best really disappoints me. I have no one to blame but myself for this. The age old of saying of “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” really came to truth for me this year. I know without a doubt that I am smart enough to be a 4.0 GPA student, and if I could just apply the same work ethic I have in real life to my school life, I would’ve achieved this already. This first year of college has taught me a lot, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that college is really just preparing us for the real world. The fact that you are required to push yourself and do your best at all times to succeed, the fact that the slightest lack of motivation can suck you under like a rip current, and most importantly, the fact that hard work is what will put you at the top; these virtues are the way of life in college and the real world. I am planning on using this experience and knowledge as a reminder for my next year. I will use this feeling of disappointment and anger at myself to motivate me in my next year. With all the negative that came from my freshman year, I’m ready to take on my next year and I’m happy to say that I came out of it with a new outlook on college, even if it meant learning the hard way.