Nineteen days of college have passed, and over the course of these few weeks, I have had a chance to get a better feel for college. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Boston University so far, but it’s certainly nothing like high school, and Boston is simply so much different than my home town of Baton Rouge. There might be over-arching commonalities between life at high school in Baton Rouge and life at college in Boston for me, but the details of the two experiences differ significantly.
I feel as though I have taken a step from one world into another, although that’s quite a cliché way to phrase how I feel. High school was a sort of incubation period where there were parents, teachers, and other adults constantly monitoring my affairs as I learned how to learn just as much as I learned actual class material. College, on the other hand, is a world of independent, unmonitored decisions with real consequences, and help that is available only if one asks for it. Fortunately I really am liking these changes so far.
Learning how to learn in high school involved much more than establishing study habits and learning to prioritize. For me, these were lessons that came easily in comparison to the more important lessons, such as learning how to make the most of failure and how to take the initiative required to get the most out of my education. Recognizing the value in community involvement and service, understanding the complexities of professional relationships, and gaining a better grasp of the importance of a holistic education were all struggles of high school, and now that I have conquered those battles, it is time to start a new chapter in my life.
As I embark on this new journey, it is comforting to know that I have established the basic principles that predispose me to having a productive college experience, because the sheer amount of change in philosophy, modus operandi, and demographics of my college in comparison to my high school alone is enough to have to focus on for the time being. I feel as though high school was a sort of social, cultural, and even academic bubble in comparison to college, at least for me. Processing the changes in my environment, immersing myself in a completely new community, and in some cases re-learning how to learn are just a few of my current challenges, challenges which high school left for me to tackle.
College is a place of cultural, social, and academic diversity previously unknown to me, which is one major reason why I chose to move to Boston. I am enjoying being immersed in a community that has people of different races, religions, and birthplaces who speak different languages, listen to different music, have different hobbies, and passionately hold different opinions than I do. Just being a part of a community is an educational experience in itself, one that provides knowledge that is arguably far more important than what can be gained out of any textbook. Moving from Baton Rouge to Boston has opened my eyes to the world in a way that is analogous to, although less significant than, having performed service work in South Africa.
Unfortunately, not all influences in this community, nor in any college community for that matter, are positive ones. With the freedom to make more choices than ever comes a barrage of more potentially poor choices than I have ever been faced with before. Staying true to myself and filtering through these negative options is something all too familiar from high school, however I am on my own in the matter now. For the most part, there’s nobody to which I have to answer at the end of the day, and thus negative consequences are less immediately apparent. However, I see my heightened independence a constructive and much-desired change in my life, as I know that I have the ability to make the right choices for the right reasons, and being able to do so on my own feels much more satisfying.
As I hinted at earlier, high school left me with not only a social naivety but also a sort of academic one as well. This reality is perhaps one of the more difficult ones for me to grasp. As far as I can tell, high school was about receiving a lesson from an ideally well-trained teacher who provided personal attention and who was paid to teach. College, partially as expected, is much less personal and is, at least for most freshman, composed of classes taught by professors who are paid to succeed in their research, not in their teaching. There are assistants who run lab sessions, grade homework, and answer most questions. Beyond that, lecture, and office hours, students are expected to learn on their own. I am ready for the challenge, but I am not sure I agree with the notion that such impersonality should exist in the first place.
However, I would have to say that the positives of the college life far outweigh the negatives. I have already started to involve myself in BU’s community; just recently I was elected Secretary of my dorm, and tomorrow I will run for the Secretary position of the Class of 2015 College of Engineering. I am excited to be independent in a world of new people and possibilities, and I sincerely hope to make the absolute most of all four years of college! There already aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do all that I’d like and still have time to get enough sleep, so much so that short mid-day naps are becoming commonplace for me given that I prefer to do my homework at night. I’d say that being so busy is good, though, so long as I continue to place my family and friendships first in life.