Student Login

Tagged: Freshman files

Be organized. Try new things. Get involved. Rise to the challenge. Experience diversity.

March 26th, 2018

Last year’s Shrop Ed seniors continue to send feedback about their first year at college, and today we share excerpts from three students who report both happiness and success.  You’ll note some boldfaced text – these are points that we feel are crucial for younger students to zero in on, to understand what it takes to transition successfully to college.

What themes do you note?

First year at U. of Kentucky

My first few months at the University of Kentucky have been pretty good!  I am currently involved in a variety of activities here, including the International Student Council, the University of Kentucky Leadership Exchange, the Chinese Culture Club, and the Korean Language and Culture Club.  Overall, transitioning to life in campus was not very difficult for me, surprisingly.  My classes have gone quite well so far, and while I am still trying to find my perfect niche here I have met a variety of people I have become close friends with.  Interesting, adjusting to my new homework load wasn’t very difficult, and I finished the semester with straight A’s.  The hardest thing I’ve had to grow used to is managing when I will do all of my homework, but it did not take long for me to get used to this.  I have been working with the Modern and Classical Languages Department to start a new Korean language program due both to strong student interest and my own time spent in South Korea on a scholarship last summer, and I have recently been accepted for a summer internship overseas!  While at times I do wish I had been able to attend one of the other wonderful schools I was accepted to, I do think I have done well at UK so far and I have high hopes for the upcoming semester.

First year at Northeastern U. in Boston

My first semester is going absolutely amazing.  Northeastern was definitely a perfect fit for me and I am so glad I chose it.  The courses I’m taking are really challenging, not sure if I will end up sticking with Math as a major, I may be switching to a minor.  However, I am really enjoying the courses I’m taking and I’m glad Northeastern has given me room in my schedule to explore other areas, such as Communications, Linguistics, and Psychology.  Through the academic part is definitely at challenge, I’ve gained some really great study skills and I’ve become more organized.  My work ethic has increased as well, due to the fact that what I am learning is really interesting and exciting for me!  I think the transition to college went really smoothly and I made friends quickly without any difficulty.  Additionally, I am getting involved on and off campus with different clubs and activities.  I am doing lots of community service for different organizations around Boston and joined a recreational soccer team as well as other activities.  It seems as though I have unlimited opportunities to get involved in clubs/extracurriculars as well as research and internships.  I’m so excited for what is to come in my college career and I can’t thank you enough for all the help in my college process!

First year at Southern Methodist U. Honors Program 

SMU…is academically challenging, especially for me who is in the Honors Program and seeking a triple major (thanks to the AP classes I have taken and my interests in humanities and STEM).  One of the things that has definitely helped me to get through is motivation because I am the kind of person who does not like to do assignments, especially papers for English major classes, the day before it’s due….I would rather work hard on Friday and Saturday so that I can have Sunday free.  What I actually do, providing that there is a long-term assignment, is to put it in my planner twice or even more times and aim for the first date to compete it…

…I have made much effort and found great venues to get involved.  One of the great things I am involved in is Yearbook as a staff writer, which allows and motivates me to go to different events and write about them.  I feel that it is important to do what I actually like while it is also worthwhile to consider the potential benefits.  I am also working for the library, and that’s why I stayed on campus through this winter break.  At the same time, I am applying to become an RA, a position that can potentially bring me more into the community of my Residential Commons.  What has gone smoothly for me is to adapt to the college campus and be independent responsibly because I came to the States when I was 15, and I feel like moving into college is not like leaving my family for the first time.  Therefore, the transition is smooth, and most importantly, since such independence is not something new to me, I treat it with responsibility which is important, in my opinion, for a college freshman.  And what’s surprising is how busy college life can be even if it may sound plausible that I come back to dorm and take a nap after classes.  Classes, homework, jobs/activities, and all other things that will come up take up much of the time, and in order to stick to my routines, I have to pace myself well.

Throughout these months, I have come to understand how the sense of responsibility can play a key role in almost everything, and I have seen how different everyone is.  I went to a very small high school, and college is giving me a better idea of diversity by which I mean how everyone is pursuing different things and how drastically different ideas, personalities, and values can come together….

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We’re grateful to these students for allowing us to share their thoughts with you on our blog, and wish them continued success and new adventures!  We hope they’ll stay in touch with us for a long time to come, just as we hope you will do when you’re at the school of your choice.
 

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Freshman Files: Liberal arts on a block plan

March 5th, 2018

Today Amy J. shares her unique experience as a first-year student at Colorado College.  CC is one of only a handful of schools that operate on a block plan:  full immersion into a single course, devoting all energies to completing a semester’s work in 3 ½ weeks.  Over the course of the academic year, students complete just as many courses as they would in a traditional semester schedule.  The students and professor become a team, in a way, and as classes at Colorado College are small it’s quite a remarkable environment.

We’re grateful that Amy is willing to share her experience as a new student at Colorado College and wish her continued success and happiness ahead!

Academics: Block plan makes the academics at CC pretty intense. All freshmen start … with the First Year Experience (FYE), a two-block class of their choice … and the professors teaching FYE usually offer more help to these freshmen for their transition to college. My FYE was introduction to comparative literature, and it was especially challenging for me due to the fast pace of a “block” – we finished our discussion of a book in two to three days on average, and sometimes it was just one day for one book. The first week was probably the hardest: we finished Homer’s Iliad in five days! … But luckily, … I found our professor’s lecture so fascinating. … She also invited us to her house for the first Sunday’s brunch, and it was a great experience!

We had another professor teaching us for the second block of FYE …The reading load each day was still a challenge to me, but … I gained confidence in my writing through the paper grades and my two professors’ encouraging comments. …

The third block I took elementary French I, and … learning a language in a block was intense in that we had 3 hours of online practice as homework every day…

Activities: … My Priddy trip (a five-day outdoor and service trip mandatory for every new student to participate before school starts) to Santa Fe was actually my first time going overnight camping and seeing the starry, starry night. … The last night in Santa Fe national forest was my favorite – our group merged with another group that camped nearby, and sitting around a bonfire, we got to know each other, chatted, and asked our leaders questions about CC life. The ambience was fantastic. …

My next outdoor experience at CC was rock climbing on the first Saturday after school started. Again it was my first rock climbing experience – although it was scary at times when I couldn’t find a spot to place my feet, it was a lot of fun! From then on, I began to love this sport.

The third one was my FOOT trip, a 5-day backpacking trip during the first block break specially organized for freshmen to further experience the outdoors in Colorado. We went to a place called “Lost Creek Wilderness” and I was really impressed by the beautiful aspens whose leaves turned yellow in late September. The views were fantastic, as if in a dream. …

The fourth one was another rock-climbing in a nearby mountain. It was a trip included in the “rock school” – a class teaching rock climbing skills that I signed up for …

My fifth outdoor experience was phenomenal: I went on a 10-day road trip to several national parks with some other international students and some Americans who did not go back home during the Thanksgiving break. We went to Canyonlands National Park in Utah, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Zion and Bryce national parks in Utah. I witnessed, for so many times, the magic of mother Nature in this trip… Amazing. I was so so lucky. CC is definitely my place.

Something about CC’s outdoor culture:  The Outdoor Education Center is a big part at CC. Students can take trainings to become a backcountry level 1, 2 or even level 3 leader, or a leader in other tracks such as rock climbing and skiing. Then these student leaders can plan and lead their trips.  Students can simply sign up for a trip on “Summit” (a website) and most trips do not cost much. Therefore, people who love outdoor sports will definitely love CC!

Overall, my first semester at CC was wonderful and full of new and exciting experiences. I think that block breaks really give students a lot of opportunities to travel and to have fun. …

Though blocks are hard, my first semester’s experience clearly proved what I had said in my application essay: CC is my best fit.

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Freshman Files: First year in Scotland

January 22nd, 2018

Winter break is a great time for college students to reflect on their first semester and their personal and academic growth while adapting to newfound freedom.  I love to use this opportunity to check in with former students and learn about their experiences thus far.  It is always great to hear how students navigate through this journey and understand the challenges that come along with this change.

Our first report this year on the transition to college is from Natasha, a first-year student at University of St Andrews, in Scotland.  She is the most recent Shrop Ed student to enroll at St Andrews and I am so pleased she has agreed to let us share her open and honest description of the first few months abroad.  What an exciting opportunity to gain perspective into her life as an international student.

I could write a book on this last semester–it’s been absolutely wonderful. Everything I hoped for and more. I’ve especially been enjoying the academics. I take International Relations, Arabic, and Philosophy, and I’m getting a joint degree in the first two. I got a job immediately and began working, which I highly recommend as it is the only way I know any locals in St Andrews. It’s also a really good way to meet older students. 

I can’t think of anything that didn’t go smoothly! Moving internationally is a logistical nightmare, but it’s completely manageable if you do everything in the right order. My visa, flight, baggage, cell phone plan, bank account, and tax forms pretty much got figured out without a hitch. This is the only time in life when I’ll be able to, quite literally, just up and move to a country of my choice without worrying about visas or jobs. And I don’t think I could have picked a better one than Scotland. The people are so kind, the countryside is gorgeous, and the cost of living is nothing compared to London, especially if your income is in pounds instead of dollars. 

My view of the world has changed a little, but it’s hard to say as I think I had a more international upbringing and mindset than most to begin with. But, for example, I know so much now about the atrocities the English committed in Scotland for hundreds of years, rather recently. Or, for example, how Churchill saved all the English soldiers at Dunkirk but left the Scottish 51st Highland Regiment to die on the beach. There’s a very interesting other side of the story, and the Scottish have definitely not forgotten it. It’s made me very curious about other sides of history in general. 

Just about St Andrews in general: My lecturers have been absolutely amazing. St Andrews has the top IR and Philosophy departments in the country (read: ahead of Oxford and Cambridge, which we’re very proud of), and the School of Modern Languages is just behind at second in the rankings. So I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from all the funding they’re receiving, which has especially reduced class sizes. I have tutorials with eight students and a professor or graduate student. I chose to have graduate students as tutors for IR and Philosophy because I was more interested in their specialties than the specialties of the professors, and I chose a professor for Arabic because I wanted someone who knew how to teach well. The social scene is very fun–I’m in McIntosh Hall, which is the best hall in terms of community and events. I am the Hall Sports Rep, which means I coordinate intramural type activities and get people to come compete for us. Even though it’s a small town, there are always tons of events going on. In the fall there are loads of balls–Opening ball, Welly ball, Reeling ball, and Christmas ball are very popular–and the spring is fashion show season. If you get bored of St Andrews, it’s really cheap and easy to get to Dundee or Edinburgh by train or bus. 

I honestly could not recommend St Andrews enough. I’ve had the type of first semester where I’m getting worried about the second, because it couldn’t possibly top the first. 

We’re grateful to Natasha for allowing us to share her insights – especially impressive is her note about her new understanding of history, now viewing it through a new lens.  Wishing you continued success and happiness, Natasha!

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Freshman Files: First year at an Ivy League university

January 23rd, 2017

In our second installment of “Freshman Files” for 2017, Abigail L. reports in from the University of Pennsylvania, a renowned private research university located in a very lively section of Philadelphia. We were delighted to hear about Abigail’s academic, social, and even political experiences and appreciate her willingness to share so much with the Shrop Ed community.

“Penn has been fantastic so far. I couldn’t really ask for anything more. … Although the classes were pretty demanding, I was happy to find the work load easier than expected. I was left with more free time than I was used to and was able to join … Social Planning and Events Committee, and Penn Dance Marathon. SPEC develops marketing campaigns for student events on Penn’s campus and helps to plan the logistics and marketing for Spring Fling: a multi-day festival event occurring across several venues. Dance Marathon is a club that partners with Children’s Hospital of PA for a fund raising event to support childhood cancer research. These two clubs have kept me pretty busy. In addition to these clubs, I plan to rush this semester and am excited to see what opportunities arise from being a part of Greek life.

I would say that the most challenging thing was getting used to how college professors grade. I was used to my high school teachers not really expecting a lot from their students and not really grading us to our full potential. At Penn, however, the professors really hold you to a higher standard and expect a lot from you. I was a tad frustrated at first for I felt I was giving my all, but my professors helped me realize the mistakes I was making and helped me grow as a student and as a learner overall.

You could definitely say that my world view is changing thanks to Penn. For example, there were many events that occurred on campus after Trump was elected (protests, cancelled classes, the creation of “safe spaces,” etc.) and it opened my eyes to how people react in different ways to unexpected events. Although something I’m not used to, I’m very glad to be on a campus where I am exposed to these types of reactions.

I would have to say that my favorite class was my Spanish class. The main reason was because my professor was incredible. I have never had a professor who exuded so much passion. I could tell he loved teaching and watching us learn, and he was incredibly helpful whenever I had questions. … I also enjoyed the class because of its size. It was an intimate class with only 12 students! This allowed me to participate in class regularly and get to know my fellow classmates on a personal level.”

Best of luck, Abigail, as you continue your studies, your service and your social engagement.  We are always delighted when students are so well matched!

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