Before starting my first year at Ohio State, I thought college was going to be a lot of memorizing facts to pass classes in order to graduate. I thought college was simply a continuation of high school, just with a more flexible schedule and semester-long classes. However, after starting my first semester, I realized my original ideas about college were very wrong. Unlike high school, simply memorizing facts in college will get you nowhere. After my first few midterms that did not go as planned, I realized that professors cared a lot more about how you think about the information taught in class instead of if you memorized the material or not. This was a huge shock. I spent my entire K-12 education memorizing facts and procedures that I knew would show up on tests, so I had to completely change my study habits and mindset towards classes. Although this was a difficult change to make, it has helped me grow intellectually. I no longer worry about memorizing every little detail about a subject, but rather I focus on the thought process behind everything. In the real world, you can look up various information when you need it, but you cannot look up how to think critically about a challenging problem. This has really helped me understand the purpose of college: learning how to think.
Along with a new idea of what college is about, I also developed different academic expectations for myself. In high school, I maintained a 4.0 without much of an issue, and I thought I would be able to continue this in college if I put in the extra work. However, this year really taught me that getting a 4.0 is not necessarily the most important thing. Getting a 4.0 as an engineering student would require countless hours of extra work, stress, and pressure. Instead of using my extra time to perfect my grades, I could use this extra time to grow as a person. Although my grades are still a priority, I have also been able to be a part of a scholar’s program, work on campus, meet new people, and attend various campus events. These out of the classroom experiences have helped me determine my likes, dislikes, and goals for my life beyond college. Discovering these things about myself would not have been possible if I allowed myself to be consumed by my course work.
Overall, I believe this past year has been extremely beneficial to me not only academically, but personally. I have learned how to better manage my time, how to prioritize what matters to me, and how to take care of myself like an actual adult. I’ve met new people with different cultures and lifestyles, and I’ve had countless new experiences and opportunities. This year has changed me for the better, and I look forward what other changes the next three years will bring.