Generations Yap… About The First Semester of College!

September 29, 2017

 

So, newsflash: college is difficult.

 

There are many late night cramming sessions and times where you have no idea what’s going on. In the end though, your future is in your hands. How have college students dealt with this pressure in the present and the past? Let’s find out!

 

This week, I begin talking with sophomore, Social Work major, Destiny Kwiatek and Jarrell Williams—Williams graduated from Northwestern University and is currently working towards his MBA at USF.

 

Was graduating high school and thinking about college exciting for you? Did you have any fears?

  

Destiny Kwiatek: I was [excited]. I was also terrified because I had never actually left my parents for more than a couple of weeks. […] I didn’t know how I was going to do it. It took like three weeks to get fully adjusted.

 

Jarrell Williams: Mine was more exciting, more than anything else. I wasn’t too nervous. […] Our orientation was really cool, I got to meet a ton of new people and I was apart of the football team there so I had a family network already established.

 

What do you remember about orientation day?

 

Kwiatek: I remember being in the gym [The Pat Sullivan Recreation Center] and the only person I knew was my roommate so I just kind’ve sat there and observed. It was a whole bunch of information being dished at you. […] When you’re sitting down for a long time, you tend to lose your focus and you don’t typically care for long. […] I only listened to what I thought was important to myself—where the buildings were, who was going to show me where my classes were and they actually did that.

 

Williams: Mine was okay. It was super long because we did a lot of walking. But we were broken up into these things called “PA Groups”. So, the PA groups were the people we were in our freshman class with. I think that’s what kind’ve helped us all get to know each other in our group because we got to know each other through Facebook. It’s kind’ve weird because we were all excited to see each other and we never had met in person before so that made you feel like you already had friends.

 

Going into the semester did you have an academic game plan to ensure your success?

 

Kwiatek: [The first day] I already had my notebooks out with the class dates, where it was and what time. Just having that kind’ve organization helped me but I was definitely petrified so I made sure that I wrote down every single word that I thought might be important.

 

Williams: For me, honestly, I learned all of that stuff my freshman year. The most I did as far as organization was color coordinating my courses. […] Outside of that, I just learned from my academic advisors how to balance […].

 

What is something you had to do to ensure your success and keep your sanity?

 

Kwiatek: The one main thing is that you have to motivate yourself and if you don’t then that’s what your work is going to show.

 

Williams: What I did to keep my sanity at Northwestern was to pick back up one of my older habits, which was writing poetry. So, I did that to kind’ve keep me just calm, basically, not to get too stressed out […]. Honestly, my routine was to just take it a day at a time because everyday was different.

 

How did you balance your schoolwork with your social life, work and recreational activities?

 

Kwiatek: I had to learn how to make time for more important things. It took me awhile because I didn’t really necessarily know how to fully balance outside life and friends. […] This school definitely taught me how to multitask. I like the fact that it’s such a small school that you can get to know anyone and I feel like people here [faculty and friends] are more willing to help you out.

 

Williams: My job was football. I was on a full scholarship there so none of us had time to work. […] You had essentially two full time things you had to do; you had your sport, which could take up probably 14 hours of day on any given day. Then, school was a fill-in where you could kind of thing. So, the transition, trying to balance all of that out was probably one of my most difficult things that I had to grow to figure out.

 

What did you do if you found yourself in trouble (academically)?

 

Kwiatek: I would get ahold of some of the people that were in my class and I would get a study group together.

 

Williams: Within our athletic program we had study hall hours that we had to do as freshman so, we had to get 15 hours a week. […] We had tutors readily available for us. […] I would reach out and sign up for a tutor if I needed help. […] I didn’t reach out for a long time when I got in trouble I just kind’ve dealt with it because that’s what I was used to doing. So, I just finally realized that everyone needs help at some point and I started reaching out […].

 

Was building professional relationships with your professors/academic advisors vital to your success?

 

Kwiatek: Yeah, because if you actually show that you care about your grades and your future and you ask questions then that relationship goes far. The wavering at the end of the semester—where you’re at an A, B, C or D, --they definitely see your effort.

 

Williams: I developed relationships with my professors of my classes that were smaller—usually, 20 or 30 students. My academic advisors I had the best relationships with. […] They helped me get through college for the most part.

 

Next up it was time to talk with Robert Barwa an instructor in USF’s College of Education and University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate to see how things have changed.

 

Was graduating high school and thinking about college exciting for you? Did you have any fears?

 

Professor Barwa: Yes, it was a chance to live on my own and start a new chapter in my life and to meet new friends. High school had become boring and I was looking for some new challenges.

 

What do you remember about orientation day?

 

Barwa: It started with the move into the dorms, then an orientation to dorm life, the things to do in the town in which the school was located (we had only about 10% commuters so we were all new to the area), and some social activities so we got to know each other. The next day was about getting to know the campus, meeting briefly with all of our professors to learn their expectations. […] Day three was getting to know the campus rules and regulations, picking up textbooks, setting up our rooms […]. The final day was move-in for the upper classmen and we got to know the other members of our floor (dorms on that campus were not segregated by class) the first pep rally, finish getting our rooms organized and our first dorm floor party.

 

Going into the semester did you have an academic game plan to ensure your success? Did you have a planner to write due dates down in?

 

Barwa: Yes, my high school habits involved all of those things so I just carried them over to college. Back then the syllabi were on paper and we did not get them until the first class so it was not possible to do a lot of advanced planning until classes began.

 

How did you balance your schoolwork with your social life, work and recreational activities?

 

Barwa: I learned early on to get my schoolwork done during the times during the day when I did not have classes so that gave me the evenings to do other things and be involved in campus life. That worked for me.

 

What did you do if you found yourself in trouble (academically)?

 

Barwa: I was very well prepared for both the academic challenges and living on my own. My high school and my parents saw to that, and the support mechanisms we had on campus—especially my RA were there if I ever started to slip.

 

Was building professional relationships with your professors/academic advisors vital to your success?

 

Barwa: Absolutely! Because it was a small campus—and because the University was about the only thing in that town—we got to know everyone very well. We would see our professors around town, were frequently invited to their homes for meals (so we got to know their families), even saw them at many of our social events […]. My whole college experience was very much a family feeling. It’s where I met my future wife, and many friends that I am still connected to—even 45 years after my graduation. I even have relationships with some of my professors to this day, though many have now passed away. I now serve on the Alumni Board for that school and every time I go back to campus I find that feeling is still there.

 

The Verdict:

Balance and a responsibility to oneself has always seemed to be the name of the game. It’s important to keep yourself levelheaded otherwise your academics will suffer. So, always make time for work and play. If you find yourself in trouble seek help—friends, family and your professors are here to guide you along your journey. You are never alone.

 

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