As one of the participants in the Ivy League Connection's 2010 summer program at Columbia University, I was given my first look at college life at the university I would be fortunate enough to matriculate to. I was able to experience New York City in one of the best ways imaginable: as a student at a world class research institution. This gave me incredible access to the city, and to amazing instructors which made New York magical for me. Participating in the Ivy League Connection was one of the best experiences of my life and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
As a junior at Columbia University in NYC I'm finally getting the hang of balancing all the different aspects of my college experience: classwork, extra-curricular activities, work-study, social life, and sleep. Settling in to my majors (African-American Studies and Jazz Studies) has also been really fun since I'm taking more upper division classes and I'm definitely enjoying priority registration as an upperclassman. I was recently awarded the Kenneth Cole Fellowship for summer 2014 and my extra-curricular activities include being the Vice-President of Students Against Mass Incarceration, a member of the Black History Month Planning Committee, a tour-guide for the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, a member of the Multicultural Recruitment Committee, a performing artist (I'm a jazz bassist and I play gigs) and hopefully next semester I'll be able to resume tutoring at the Double Discover Center-a tutoring and academic enrichment program for high school students. I also have two work-study jobs, and a really active social life but it isn't to difficult to juggle my interests and my school work with a little elbow grease.
Something I've learned over this past semester is that just like in high school, junior year is quite difficult so it is important to be prepared for the challenge and ready to work. However, having a solid support group definitely makes this easier. I struggled with finding that support group initially at Columbia, but I have been able to build a solid network of people I genuinely like and enjoying being around. I did this through finding like-minded individuals in the extra-curricular activities I'm passionate about, being open to making friends despite differences we may have, and making sure I'm investing my time and energy into worthwhile relationships rather than trying to change people to be the friends that I need. I wish I had known this and made the according changes in my life sophomore year, and that's my biggest suggestion to you all.
Good luck everyone!