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First year files: finding the right fit and making the most of it

February 6th, 2024

College is a huge transition and a time where your independence grows substantially. You’re now responsible for your own schedule, laundry, study habits and so much more. This is such an exciting time in your life, and choosing a college that’s the right fit for your individual needs encourages success.

One of the most important pieces to the college application process is formulating a balanced college list. Sometimes strong opinions can limit this, leaving excellent options unexplored. Often students surprise themselves when they change their mindset and start researching schools originally left off the table. Of course, having preferences is important but don’t let those preferences overwhelm common sense.

In today’s blog post, Sasha G., a previous Shrop Ed advisee, chose a college she didn’t want to consider seriously at first, and now laughs about the fact that she was so closed off initially. The community she describes at Baylor University is wonderfully fitting for her and is supporting her growth and independence. She gives great pointers about taking advantage of all the resources that are at your fingertips and truly enjoys all that this college has to offer. We appreciate Sasha’s generous sharing and wish her continued success and happiness.

Baylor was amazing for my first semester. A lot of schools put a ton of emphasis on traditions, welcome week, and things like that. Baylor is definitely one of them. While I appreciated a lot of their traditions, I found my favorite moments in the quiet and in-between. Sure, I went to the football games and participated in university-wide events. However, what sticks out to me as my favorite memories are roommate dining hall runs, running into friends in the library, and conversations with unlikely friends late at night. My absolute favorite memories are going to be the spontaneous adventures you decide to take on a random Tuesday night (given: I already had my homework and studying done). I found time management was easier when I could do it on my schedule, which was admittedly a strange one. I used up every second between classes and in the evenings to get my work done (including my laundry and errands), and then I’d go and hang out with my friends around 8PM. 

Academically, I was surprised by how simple everything is. That’s not to say it was easy. I definitely had some 10-minute crying breaks in the library over hard economics homework. I definitely received surprising grades I wasn’t proud of. However, your professors give you various resources to help you study. Each small assignment, each textbook, and each in-class activity helped me guide where to study. I had professors post practice tests, practice quizzes, practice problems, study guides, and even had one who had a test review where he’d go over exactly what was on the test. Always, always, go to the optional test review. Even if you already know everything, you won’t regret it. In High School, I’d have to look up YouTube videos to teach me what I hadn’t learned in lectures. Now, I can use those resources, read the textbook in-depth, or go to Office Hours. I had basic rules and rhythms I committed to. I went to service every Sunday and I always turned in every assignment. I think if I’d placed any more boundaries I would never have followed them, so I kept it simple. I ended my semester with a 4.0 in a difficult, accelerated program. 

If I had any general advice I’d say: 8AMs are not the worst thing invented to punish them. However, I’d avoid them if you’re not someone who has ever had to get up early. I’ll admit I slept through my 8AM Calculus class at least twice, but I had it three times a week the entire semester. It was a pretty good hit rate. While it was grueling, the first class of the day is always going to be grueling. I had trouble making it to my 2PM Accounting class because I just didn’t want to leave my comfy dorm sometimes. I’d also say that nothing is as bad in the sunlight. Anytime I was having a homesick, stressed, or lonely day, I’d go outside and sit there for a while. I’m lucky enough to have a particularly beautiful campus, but any campus will have some place to do that. 

If I had any thoughts for students considering Baylor I’d say this: I can’t imagine a more supportive community. College is extremely hard, whether it’s academics, being away from home for the first time, or just being a young person. The Baylor community is one where people walk with their heads high to class, where you can run into anyone and give them a hug, and where your professors might invite you out to coffee just to chat. I can’t go to the dining hall without running into anywhere between 2 and 30 people I know well. My academic advisor asks about my family, we chat about churches in the area, and sometimes mid-meeting his daughter walks into the office to give him updates on her life as a student. I was terrified to leave my parent’s home, but the community I’ve found at school has made me itch to go back all break. 

One more thing about Baylor: the crickets. An early week in September, there are going to be about 20,000 crickets all over campus. That first week they will be everywhere. For about two weeks after that, they’ll be mostly gone but areas of the campus will smell like them. It will be awful. There’s nothing you can do about it, if you live on the first floor I’d go to hang out with people who don’t. That is quite literally the only negative thing I can say about my school, but my goodness was it an awful surprise on one of my 6AM runs. 

I can’t say it’s all my best writing, but I can say it’s very honest … and that 16-year-old who was so opposed to Baylor was kind of an idiot.