Thursday, August 2, 2012

Best regards from a Brownie, Guadalupe Morales

Dear ILC members,

Now nearing the end of a great and relaxing summer, I can still say that my memories and experiences of my first year in college are still as vivid as if they happened yesterday. They've filed away as chapter one of my college experience, and the best part is: I still have three more to go.

From the day I arrived on campus to the day I left, Brown has been great to me. There are moments every now and then that I stop and stand in awe of how grateful I am to be going to Brown University. No, it's not so much the prestige or the ranking that I love Brown so dearly for; it has never really been like that. It is that Brown really does encourage its students to learn and grow. I've always been that person to try many different things growing up: swimming, badminton, volunteering, knitting, taekwondo, filming, cooking, etc. Brown is the place to continue that curiosity. And that is what makes Brown the way it is.

I could go on and on about how great it is (because it is, there's no doubt about it) but for the incoming college students (and the ones to be) it is inevitable for college students to hit low points in the year. That is what I want to share with you.

One of my mistakes last year was not managing my time correctly. That is probably going to be the biggest red flag of most college students' mistakes. Time management is anything and everything about college. Let me repeat: Manage. Your. Time. Drill that into your head, folks. Everyone will probably warn you about it (like I am now), but most of us make that mistake anyway, and that's okay. I was involved with both taekwondo and a dance troupe (both of which require a bit more time than a regular club) among other things (including a job) and it became difficult for me to try and make all of that fit into 24 hours of the day when you also have to study for classes. I was ready to quit certain things. Fortunately, I stuck it through. I made a mental list this summer of what I needed to do last year that I will do for this upcoming semester. So from experience, these are some of my tips for time management.

#1: Do not join 147,182,341 clubs your first year. Especially being so new at attending school differently than high school, I regret not taking it slowly so it does not become overwhelming.

Plan out your day (or even the whole week) in your head. Know what you have to get done now, later and what you can possibly get ahead in. It's easier to get things done when you make everything a task. Agendas come handy for this! Or, if you're like me, you can use your calendar on Gmail to organize your day. It's kind of fun, too.

#3: Ask or observe your peers on their study habits. One of my fellow peers had almost all A's for his first year. It was very impressive. It was intimidating, yes, but realizing what his study habits were (and having two parents in education as well) made sense to me. He would wake up early on the weekends to study for most of the day, which brings me to...
#4: Study on the weekends. Yes, it hurts me too. I love to spend my weekends relaxing from lectures but it should definitely become a habit. It becomes a lot easier to do work during the week (and attend your club meetings and dance practices too!) so it's not as stressful. Don't leave off what you can do Saturday or even Friday afternoon until Sunday night. That's the biggest high school habit to break and it definitely took me a while to get into that habit (I still need to as well). Great suggestion for this is to tell yourself to spend a set numbers of hours to study and then get to do something fun.

#5: Get ahead in your work when you can. Normally, for a humanities course, in example, you'll have reading to do before a class. But instead of reading only 50 pages, do the reading for next week's class too (this can be where weekend studying comes in handy). Maybe do readings for two more classes as well. This is really, really useful because sometimes you urgently have to do something else, whatever it may be, and studying ahead of time can save you (it saved me on several occasions). My suggestion: do this a week before spring break. It'll make your week more enjoyable knowing that you did your work for your classes already.

And finally...

#6: Prioritize your classes, above all else. Maybe it'll be hard for some of you to do this, but remember that you're in college to learn. When there are conflicting events, remember that your studying must be the most important, because it's what you're there for. Everything else matters too, but this is of the utmost concern.

I hope this helped for those of you anxiously awaiting the time to pack your bags and leave for college. There are many things that happened my first year that I wish I could go back and erase and try again. I'm sure you will too. However, when you really think about it, how else would you learn? It's not about how well you did in comparison to your peers. There's definitely a lot to learn about each other, but at the end of the day, it's about how well YOU did. Do the best that you can. Challenge yourself. Become a better person.

I learned from my mistakes, and all of my advice comes from my own experience. I'm learning. I'm forming my own identity and who I am and where I come from. I think that's the most beautiful part of the college experience. I stray far from being a perfect college student, but I pride myself most on trying hard and doing the best that I can and not letting a bad grade or a mistake get to me. I hope that you all do the same (my fingers are crossed!)

I wish you all the best and I'm here for anything. I'm sorry if some of you have been messaging me and I haven't replied back yet (I will!).

Best regards from a Brownie,
Guadalupe Morales

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