Before we explore what transitioning from secondary school to university is like, let me briefly present myself to you through this virtual platform. Some interesting (okay, perhaps weird too) facades of my personality:
I tell my friends the books that I recently borrowed / bought to read outside of class, somehow hoping that they would ask follow-up questions about the specific content of the books. This could motivate me to read when there are so many priorities that are equally exciting.
Although I am not an extrovert by nature, I always try to be proactive in reaching out, and prefer to sit in the front row in any class, right in the middle.
One of my favourite pastimes is to window-shop in bookstores / take long strolls in the libraries. I always feel somewhat guilty about spending little time reading each book, but have devoted more time and attention reading the synopsis / a few pages from a diversity of books. It's all about balance.
I feel that writing in a quiet spot is in itself a cathartic process. If I want to remember something or let it go, I write things down. Sometimes, I don't get to finish writing every details of the entire experience, but it feels good.
Often, as I revisit a creative writing piece that I've done, I feel that there's so much room for more improvement. I really hope to be persistent in finish editing it, on a regular basis, to polish my writing.
Some of the questions I ponder about...Should I define, brand, redefine, and rebrand myself? For instance, I feel that trying to Americanise my originally British accent is redefining me, and I am not sure if I like it. I seem to find it tricky to go back.
Attending university in the U.S. really embodies freedom for me: the liberty in course selection and scheduling events outside the classroom for ourselves, and adventures in a new geographical region with fascinating new friends...
Surely, nothing is entirely free. Even the Daylight Saving Time (which is a brand new concept for me), which gives the illusion that we get a free extra hour, demands that we eventually pay it back next spring. The freedom that college offers also comes with a price. Living away from home has meant that I need to make more decisions on my own. Instead of going to class at a fixed time every morning, I now get to DIY my academic and extracurricular schedule. Do I want to be a morning person? Should I skip breakfast to finish this assignment prior to today's office hours? Do I go to the contradance today or should I choose to write this article for HuffPost? I have considered these kinds of questions prior to college, but certainly not as frequently.
There is always a diversity of events that are incredibly enticing to me, almost multiple times the range of activities offered back in high school. I constantly find myself indecisive, carefully weighing the tradeoffs of each option. Often, the process itself has taken much time, energy, and thought. Although freshman year is about exploring everything that college has to offer, it is important to find a balance between academics, sleep, and social / general non-academic life. I have gradually learned to become more decisive, staying steadfast in adhering to my personal principles.
Although classes have only started for three months, I can already track my personal growth as a learner and also as a young adult. Yes, freedom demands a price. The college experience has much liberty to offer, but it simultaneously demands effective planning and personal determination to pay this price through means that have the least tradeoffs. It's almost like evaluating the opportunity costs when making an investment in business.
Whether you are a current high school senior frantically finishing up your college applications, their family members, or those who are about to begin this much-dreaded process, I encourage you to look beyond the pile of papers sitting in front of you. Getting in to college is very important, but something that is equally important but is often overlooked is preparing yourself for college. Yes, you will have months (or even years for my non-senior readers) ahead, but doesn't time fly when you are having fun (with the exhilarating moment of getting your acceptance(s), enjoying the final moments of high school, senioritis and all)?