Some first-years are not ready for intense college workload

By Elizabeth Bacharach

Contributing Writer

Despite my fear, I approached the first day of classes positively, reiterating to myself words of encouragement. I thought, “I can do this; I got into this school, didn’t I? That must mean I am prepared for the academics.” Ten a.m. came around and it was time to enter my first class: Spanish. It all seemed simple enough: a guiding syllabus, basic class rules (no cell phone, food, etc.) and finally, my first assignment. I proudly took out my planner, ready to be the best student I can be. The 52 minutes passed rather quickly, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had made it through my first college class.

Returning to my dorm room, I decided to get a head start on my work. However, the only thing I got was a rude awakening. I found myself puzzled by the syllabus; initially a simple assignment guide, this packet of work took on a new life. I was so accustomed to receiving my course work on a daily basis in high school that I did not even know where to begin. I was lost in a sea of assignments, unsure of how to complete them and what their due date actually was. Apparently, I was not as prepared as I thought I was; thanks a lot, high school.

Four years of monotonous studying and preparation, and you would think I would be equipped for the next level of learning. However, college is a whole new world in which I am finding my rudimentary high school practices inconsequential to the actual studying, reading and writing I have to complete. As the first week progressed, I found myself burdened by a night’s reading of 30 pages. That was not my only assignment. Add to that a workbook full of Spanish grammar and conjugations, a “short” story by Chekov, a poem to write and a blog entry about my beliefs. Hours later (the next morning) I slowly climbed into bed, weak from the night’s work.

That night I was painfully alerted that I do not know how to read properly; high school never truly taught me how to actively read, highlight and take proper notes. Not only that, but as my first paper assignment approached, I did not even know where to begin. Without a simple prompt, I was lost as to what to write, how to write it and completely perplexed by the APA format.

This past week I had my first college exam. It was a nightmare, to put it simply. I spent dawn to dusk Sunday in the library, trying to manage all of the information I learned in the past three weeks. I was trapped by the panicking in my head, worrying about the unknown of what college tests constitute. I reread chapters, took even more notes, copied diagrams and memorized parts of the brain like it was my job. I stumbled out of the library feeling like Jello. There was too much information, and none of it was sticking. At that point, it was obvious that high school did not prepare me for the extensive information I was going to receive, nonetheless teach me the importance of processing it.

Another story is time management. I am finding the only true way to learn to manage my time correctly is by trial and error. The more I get accustomed to my work load, the easier it is to designate certain times in the day for certain assignments. Conversely, this process is just another added weight to my shoulders as I try to manage my time as well as my school work; so much managing, so little understanding. My mind is a mess, and it is all thanks to high school, or rather the lack of preparation that my high school provided.

Despite my inexperience, I have come to a realization that it will all take time. Yes, it would be far easier to be prepared and to be good at time management. But for now, I just have to feel my way around and accept the trial and error learning experience that is to come. Nonetheless, it is official: high school did not prepare me for college work. So four years later, here I am trying to learn how to be a student, while trying to manage good grades.
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