What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Your Second Year to be Different

You are nearing the end of your first year at Ohio State! You’re probably studying for finals, maybe figuring out your summer plans, or possibly thinking about your second year already. Whatever the case, I’m glad you are here, because I am going to share about how my second year was different than my first year.

As I returned to campus for my second year, my mindset was different than the previous year. This time around, I felt more confident and prepared. I knew the drill when it came to classes and living on campus. I had time to think about how to approach other aspects of my second year, like applying for my major, committing time to my involvement, and working an on-campus job. In my first year, the majority of my time and efforts was spent on academics; I didn’t have many other responsibilities. I was nervous to see how my new commitments fit in with my course load. I was approaching my second year with excitement and caution. I wanted to continue good standing in my classes, but I was also ready to take advantage of opportunities to help me grow outside the classroom. As I would learn over the course of second year, it is all about learning what’s important to you and finding a balance.

In my first year, I developed some habits that needed to be adjusted for success in my second year. Most of these habits were related to academics: where I studied, how I studied, and when I studied. I started to realize that I did not organize or structure my school work during my first year. This became a big problem for me at the start of my second year. My increased involvement and work forced me to re-evaluate my studying strategies. I learned that I needed to plan when I would work on homework or study for classes in order to do my best. For me, setting small goals for what I wanted to accomplish during a study session was very helpful. During my first year, it was nearly impossible for me to study in my room. I was constantly distracted and unmotivated when I found myself at my own desk. It was challenging for me to study in my room at the beginning of my second year, but I wanted to break that trend. By using my planning and goal-setting strategies, I learned to be disciplined and stay focused when studying in my room. These are just some ways that I have changed since my first year.

The biggest difference that I have seen between my first and second year at Ohio State is in how I spend my time. My first year was a stream of random events and occurrences that were squeezed in between my classes and homework. During my second year, I took time to think about what my priorities were and I ranked them in a top ten list. I then looked at my calendar for a given week and totaled the amount of time that I spent on each of those priorities. I was surprised to find that my priorities were disconnected from what I spent my time doing. I was motivated to change this and began thinking of ways that I could align my time with my priorities. Often you hear about time management skills and how important they are to success in college. I found that filtering my time through my priorities has been the best way to find a balance for my time. I was able to fully invest in my job and involvement while staying on top of my studies, and most importantly, I enjoyed what I was doing.

Your second year isn’t bound to look like mine, but I hope you found my experience helpful. My best advice to you is to reflect on your first year. Think about what you learned and how you grew as a student. I encourage you to think about how your second year might look different and what you can do to prepare yourself. I didn’t think very much about how my second year would go. Take advantage of the opportunity that you have to form some second year expectations and how you will approach reaching your goals, it will serve you well.

Life Unexpected

I decided I was going to attend The Ohio State University when I was in the third grade. I was nine years old, standing in my kitchen, clutching the USA Synchro magazine in my hand, and told my parents that is where I was going to college. Ohio State’s synchronized swimming team had come in second at collegiate nationals that year, and that was my sole reason for wanting to go to Ohio State. I worked for the rest of my elementary, middle, and high school career and synchro career gearing up to swim at Ohio State. I would dream about swimming in the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, my mom coming down for all my meets, becoming friends with all the girls on the team, and swimming amazing routines with beautiful suits.

In my senior year of high school, I just missed the deadline for recruiting and I sent in my video late, but the coaches said I could try out in the fall. On a Saturday in September, I woke up nervous and excited about my try out. As I swam for the coaches, the entire team watched me, wondering who I was. They clapped after I finished my routine and it made me feel like I was on top of the world. They said they would email me later that week letting me know if I made it. I was anxious that entire week. On Thursday, I opened my email and saw the first few lines of the message that said:

Sorry Libby. You were really close, but you didn’t make the team.

My entire life had been about swimming for Ohio State. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to transfer, because I had already made friends and connections to the campus. It would be too sad to leave, so I made the best of my situation. I decided to get involved in other activities.

I kept in touch with the synchro team and for the rest of my freshman year I was the team’s manager. They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like part of the group. I stayed in Columbus over winter break and helped with winter training and traveled with them. After winter break I went through formal recruitment through Sorority and Fraternity Life and joined my home away from home, Delta Delta Delta. They quickly became my best friends and truly my sisters. I joined University Choir where we performed in two concerts on campus.

In my second year, I went on my first Buck-I-Serv trip to Biloxi, MS, where we helped those who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. In May Term at the end of my second year, I studied the History, Culture, and Politics of Great Britain in London, England with an amazing group of Ohio State students.

In my third year, I went on my second Buck-I-Serv trip to Costa Rica, where we helped build a road and cleaned up a beach. During both my sophomore and junior years, I participated in BuckeyeThon to help raise money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I have also served as a recruitment guide for formal recruitment and helped 75 first- and second-year students find their homes. I also started working at the RPAC teaching swim lessons, which brought me back to the pool I thought I was going to spend many hours in.

My college career has been nothing like nine-year-old Libby imagined it to be, but I have loved every second of what it has become. I want everyone out there who worries that college is not going to be how they imagine to know that will not be; it’s going to be even better. No matter what experience comes your way, go with it and see where it takes you–it might become the most amazing adventure of your life.

Your Week in First Year Success: October 20-24

This week marks the halfway point of your first semester of college, and one way to approach the second half of your semester is to think about it the same way a football or basketball coach approaches halftime adjustments during a game. Effective coaches will use this limited amount of time to consider what their players are doing well, what parts of the game their players are struggling with, and what they should continue to do or change to finish strong.

Similarly, you have likely done some things well up to this point, but may have struggled in other areas. Now is the time for you to make your own halftime adjustments so that you will finish the semester with great results! These First Year Success Series sessions will help you do just that!

Getting over the hump: Navigating the rest of your first semester
Theme: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration
Various dates throughout October

This workshop is facilitated by members of the First Year Experience staff specifically to help you make the halftime adjustments I referenced earlier. We are the experts, or coaches, who can help you reflect on how this semester has gone and what you can do to finish strong. This session is interactive and engaging in order to get you thinking critically about your success.

Developing a Mindset for Success
Theme: Health and Wellness
October 22, 1-2 p.m.

Sure, you have the ability to do well at Ohio State, but do you have the mindset to be successful? Do you want to learn how to adapt your mindset to persevere for the rest of this semester and beyond? This session can help you think about how your brain functions in a way that can help you thrive!

Creating your own Path: Living and Leading with your Values
Theme: Leadership and Civic Engagement
October 23, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Honesty.
Education.
Spirituality.
Friendship.
Everyone has values which they hold dear. What are the values which are most important to you? More importantly, how do you make decisions which are in alignment with your values? This session will challenge you to think about your values and how they play a role in your daily life.

FYSS Guide for First Generation College Students
Theme: Health and Wellness
October 23, 7-8 p.m.

Students who are the first in their families to attend college can face unique challenges during their time in college. Don’t let these roadblocks stop you from having a terrific first semester. This session will help first-generation college students navigate some of the structural complexities of university life.

Creating Quality Relationships: Practical Guides for Cross-Cultural Communication and Relationship Building
Theme: Health and Wellness
October 24, 3-4 p.m.

In your time at Ohio State, you are going to meet people from many cultural backgrounds. To be successful, you will need to be able to build relationships across cultural barriers. Doing so will allow you to make more friends, learn about new experiences, and see the world from different perspectives. Attend this session to learn skills for creating these great relationships.

With these and other FYSS sessions, you will be able to develop the right game plan for success! Sign up now for your First Year Success Series sessions at www.go.osu.edu/FYSS before they fill up!