Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking Forward

My mother, half-brother, and I.

My first semester at Tech has transformed me from high school graduate to college freshman. Just like everyone said I would, I finally understand what it’s like to go away to college, but there was no way I could have known before this year. The biggest change came from being thrown into a world where there is everything I need to survive and thrive, but I have to find it myself. This didn't just help my independence, but it helped me realize what my true desires and passions are. The things I spend money, time, and effort on are the ones that I value. Because no one else here has enough weight on my decisions to change them completely, it’s my opinion that makes my decisions. I've learned that my opinions matter and it’s actually good to voice them. Everyone else’s opinions matter too and I respect that and discuss it, so that my opinion becomes more thorough and open-minded.

I realized that my passions and opinions align best with a Computational Media major, so I changed it (see previous post about hard decisions). In a major I enjoy, I’ll be more willing to work hard and study. While I am capable of focusing when I have deadlines, my general studying is with other people in my classes. I think it helps me focus and feel accountable for getting the work done at that moment instead of procrastinating.

So I've changed and learned, but my standards for myself, despite the difficulty of Tech, remain high. (Maybe not quite as high as high school, but high.) Next semester I want to do better in math next semester than I am currently. Hopefully with some good grades, I can successfully find an internship or co-op. Through that I can work on exploring my major, and make sure I actually will enjoy it. On the less academic side, I want to get involved as an instructor for climbing with ORGT (Outdoor Recreation at GT). Hopefully through that, or otherwise, I will find a way to get into a regular exercise routine (see freshman 15 post). That’s a lot for next semester, but I have (at least) 4 years at Tech. Over those years I hope I will have been involved in a study abroad that relates to my major, and have interned at a company I wouldn't mind working for. I know it will be a lot of work, but I’d like to graduate with a GPA around 3.5. That doesn't afford me much room for slacking, so that starts now. I want to be involved and have opportunities for leadership, so if they present themselves, great, but I will go looking if they don’t.

The goals I have put a lot of pressure on me both achievement wise and time wise, but I think I actually have better focus and drive when I’m under a little stress. If that’s true, I should do well here if I learn to manage it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Fry My Brain Slowly and Effectively

While I have fun at Tech, this semester is easily the hardest I’ve worked in my entire life. Knowing everyone is going through the same thing is my biggest comfort, so I press on through about 25 hours a week of homework (at least) and a bunch of studying before tests. Thus far, that pre-test-studying has been mostly the night/day before, but so far it’s working out okay (and I’m trying my hardest to work studying in earlier).

This was very productive.
I usually study around other people even if we’re not really studying together. It seems that emotional support is extremely beneficial to my focus and alertness on those REALLY late nights because every night is late, it seems. My multitudes of online homework I often work on with friends because they are usually practice problems and it’s nice to compare answers or opinions. I’ve found good study buddies! Hannah (the roommate) for English, Sara for Calculus II and Chemistry, Will for Lab Reports, Andree for online Calculus homework. Half of the people I study with are in my dorm, (a benefit of honors program housing) so it’s really convenient. While I usually study in my room, I’ve been on a few CULCing (Clough Undergraduate Learning Center…ing) marathons and have picked out my favorite corners and outlets (it IS Tech after all). These quiet places accompanied by the “Do Not Disturb” mode on my cell phone have been conducive to some fairly focused study sessions. While I sometimes get a little distracted, it’s usually because I need a mental break anyway and I’ve been pretty on top of things.

I have tried to make use of a couple of the tutoring/study sessions from my classes, but a lot of time that is harder to fit into my schedule than some work with other students which has shown to be very beneficial just on it’s own. The best ways to study for me are to rewrite concepts and organize them in my own way. Then, do practice problems. This is perfect for Chemistry where we have homework problems and then make crib sheets (info we can take to the test that must fit on the paper), but even in Calculus where I don’t have that luxury, I still make a crib sheet as review of formulas (and I stick it in my pocket to help me memorize).

I have a few books.
Finals are a looming fear. I will probably hull up with food in my room most of dead week. I know breaks are necessary though, so I’m working on finding a controlled way to relieve stress between study sessions. I find I’m most productive when I switch between subjects relatively frequently, so I’m not bored of the material and also so I can practice remembering what I just studied an hour or so back.
I suppose I should start all this soon…

Step 1: Get all the other work out of the way.