Cameron Freshmen: The Struggle of College Life

Katie Livingston
Staff Writer

Every day while in high school, sophomore biology major Kaylee Craig took a “stress nap” when she came home from school.

The cumulative anxieties of the day would hit her, and she would collapse, exhausted from having to deal with students who didn’t want to be at school and teachers who didn’t care.

For Craig, high school became physically and mentally draining – her memory of the time “mostly a black hole.”

When she left public education and started going to college full time, she realized the transition would be a challenge.

Craig said her first semester was overwhelming, mainly because her personal responsibilities and schoolwork increased exponentially.

High school did not help her prepare for college.

Junior early childhood education major Reagan Pyles had a similar experience as a freshman.

Pyles grew up in a strict household, and her freshman year of college required her to function independently for the first time.

The sudden increase in workload also took a toll on Pyles; she experienced trouble balancing priorities.

Both Craig and Pyles struggled to adjust to their new roles and with their newfound freedoms.

During Craig’s high school days, teachers planned out her day from 8 a.m. to 3:25 p.m., making her feel restricted.

Restroom breaks had to be authorized, and Craig said some teachers locked the doors when classes began.

“If you were late to class, you hoped to God the doors were unlocked,” she said. “[Otherwise] you would have to stay out in the hall.”

Even though she did not enjoy high school, she became acclimated to it.

Craig said this is what made adjusting to the freedom of college difficult.

“It was a struggle to think independently,” she said. “Having to become your own person and find your own voice can be frightening.”

Pyles said having to deal with a lack of imposed structure made everything much more difficult.

In her first semester, one of her professors said students were allowed up to five absences from class, and Pyles took this to mean she could miss five classes with no repercussions.

Both Pyles and Craig struggled with time management their first semesters.

Void of the structure of high school, they were unsure of what to do with themselves at any given moment or how to balance their school work and social lives.

A dramatic shift in workload also presented its own problems.

In high school, Craig’s idea of studying involved sitting in front of the TV with a book open on her lap.

She said teachers were lax with school work, and she received good grades using this strategy, but it did not prepare her for college level classes.

Pyles had a similar experience during her high school career, as she needed to do little to no serious studying to pass her classes.

She had teachers who gave students a little too much slack concerning due dates, frequently extending deadlines.

Pyles said she could distinguish which teachers would allow stunts to push these boundaries, and she took full advantage of them.

“Don’t let me play you [the teachers],” she said. “Because if you let me play you, I’ll play you.”

Craig and Pyles experienced a shock when they entered college and realized that the course material was significantly more challenging than what they experienced previously, with neither having developed basic study habits.

However, they did adapt. Craig now has a color-coded binder to keep track of her schedule and assignments, and she also disconnected the cable in her room.

Pyles has learned to set aside time and find a quiet location and focus on her work.

Craig said it’s difficult at first to adapt to college life, but it’s important for new freshmen to take their first semester seriously and devote time to studying.

“Don’t start with a bad GPA,” she said. “Start strong.”

Pyles said getting involved in clubs is vital for making connections early on but warned against getting too caught up in social engagements.

“In 10 years from now is it going to matter if you went to that party?” she asked. “No, it’s not.”

The unique combination of stressors freshmen face can make their transition from high school to college a difficult one.

While adjustment may be confusing and difficult at first, other students are proof of the fact that freshmen can overcome these difficulties and learn to become independent, responsible young adults.

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