Having gone to boarding school and then spending a gap year in Europe, I knew being homesick would be the least of my worries when I got to college. It’d be my fifth year in dorms, fifth year of dining hall food, fifth year of getting letters from my grandma every week. That was all fine.
But, I didn’t think it would be difficult for me to find my academic footing here. One of my other motivations for going to prep school was that I would be better prepared, in theory, for college-level curriculum. I know I was pushed harder than I would’ve been had I stayed at home, and I loved the academic experience I had in high school.
Social stuff is on a whole different level and that’s not what I’m worried about right now, sitting in Olin at 10:30pm, taking a break from meticulously analyzing my Spanish homework to see what questions I might have before we have our second exam next week.
So like I was saying, I wasn’t really ever concerned about college work. I don’t think it really crossed my mind until probably in June of this year when I was in a history class at school (I attended an English high school, and I was taking classes all year). The teacher brought in a woman who is in her third year “reading” history at university in Scotland. She was funny and pleasant, but she stressed that at her university you are reading for your degree. Work wouldn’t be doing worksheets or shorter essays and most of your time you won’t be in class because you’d be using that time to prepare, read your assigned/suggested reading, and maybe reading independently to supplement your studies. I was among people who were the equivalent of juniors, so they are now just applying for university and although they might have been fazed by what she was saying, they didn’t have to face it in three months, like I did (although I wasn’t going to a British university where one “reads” for a degree, I still panicked).
I knew homework wouldn’t just take me three or four hours of dedicated work at night, and I knew I would have more time outside of class. I knew I wouldn’t just be filling out worksheets for my science classes any more, and I wouldn’t just have forty pages of a novel to read for English. I’d have forty pages of reading and learning for geology before each lesson. I’d have essays after every lesson plus forty pages of reading on social theory for English.
But that hasn’t really sunk in fully until now.
To be honest, my first few weeks of classes I didn’t have a ton of work, wasn’t too concerned about things, and was sleeping a good amount at night. Then I had midterms before Parents Weekend. I struggled a bit, honestly, but I knew where I had gone wrong. And last week was probably when I started realizing how I’d have to change my study habits to adjust to my new curriculum.
Yes, I’ve been here nearly two months. And I have a prep school education that has prepared me well. But adjusting still has to happen. I didn’t give in to that until recently, and that was my error. I wanted to carry on not spending inordinate amount of time on my Spanish homework, and not preparing as much for my geology class.
But part of my personal adjustment here has been changing some of my habits to fit my new life as a student here. It’s not been easy, but I think it’s starting to change for the better.
This is where we went for my geology lab this week – just in downtown Waterville: