The age old question: Am I being productive or am I binge watching Friends for the 5th time while sitting in the library looking like I’m doing something really important? For the majority of first year students, it’s unfortunately usually the latter until the day before a major paper is due or a big exam is about to ruin their life. This is, of course, speaking from the experience of a freshman who has never studied a day in her life until entering college.
High school was easy for me. I know that sounds braggy and awful and makes it seem like I don’t think high school was a challenge for anyone, but that’s certainly not the case. The answers to homework and tests just came naturally to me and I took classes that, for the most part, suited my interests, so I typically already knew the material going in to the course. With that being said, I would like to introduce a slight disclaimer: AP Latin IV, Vergil.
Jesus Christ, that class was hard. It was translating Latin texts from antiquity out of Latin and into English. For a fourth year Latin student that sounds like it would be a breeze, but allow to me drop these facts about Latin on you: 1) Latin does not follow a specific word order and everything is based on word endings for which noun goes with which adjective which goes as the subject of which verb. Just let that sink in for a second. 2) in ancient Latin texts A LOT is implied and not directly stated, so you end up spending at least 20 minutes staring at a sentence wondering where the verb is only to realize that, oh, it’s “to be” and it’s implied and this is the third time this has happened to you today and also you’re a dumbass. But no matter how hard it was there will always be a soft spot in my heart for my AP Latin IV class and the lovely Dea Latina, Angela Wells. Wow that was a long tangent about Latin. For those of you not interested in Latin in the slightest I am incredibly sorry but I am a huge Latin nerd and am full of weirdly specific knowledge of an unspoken and incredibly old language so trust me, this is the first of many tangents about Latin that you’ll see. Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.
So high school was not a challenge and not once did I study. Of course I usually did the required reading for my courses, but I never really cracked a textbook and hard core studied, made study guides, or reviewed material.
Yeah, this is going exactly where you think it’s going. I got to the lovely University of Oklahoma and immediately continued not studying or planning in advance up until my first major paper for my Comp II class was due. Much like the work plan I used for my senior paper in high school and most likely whoever designed this, I came up with all of my research and work the night before the deadline.
Needless to say, that paper was garbage. Actual garbage. I’m pretty sure if you took a good whiff it would smell like the Chinese food you threw away a few days back. It was supposed to be two pages long double-spaced, so naturally I used the cunning and very obvious tactic of making all the punctuation size 16 and the font size 12, adding easily an extra half a page. While my professor may have been born at night, it sure wasn’t last night and I’m sure that trick did NOT work on her. While she never said anything to me about it, I just know she’s silently judging me for my indolent attempt at looking smarter than I actually am. By some act of God, I got a 90% on the paper, which, by the way, makes up 20% of my final grade.
Thankfully, I learned from that mistake, and by the time my second major paper rolls around in Comp II, I’ll be ready for it. I’ve made an outline, taken all of my research notes, conducted my interviews regarding the topic, and, of course, mentally prepared to sit down and write for a few hours until a few solid pages have been written. But I wouldn’t have been able to have a solid approach without first struggling to write my first major college paper.
Overall, while that first paper was the epitome of a shitty first draft that I stupidly turned in for a final grade without thinking twice, I can now rest assured that for my upcoming papers, projects, and exams, I will be prepared. It’s just a matter of sitting down and allotting time for he week to study, work on homework, and of course, take coffee breaks in order to stay awake long enough TO study and work on homework.
Thankfully I picked up on this tactic early on in my college career, and thanks to the initial battle with my coursework, I now have a beautifully color coded and painstakingly organized planner and a game plan for graduating cum laude (after college algebra I have given up all hope of a summa cum laude). I count my lucky stars for this rocky start, as it taught me that it’s okay to mess up a little bit in order to get to the place you’re supposed to be. After all, while riding the struggle bus is just that, a struggle, it still gets you to your destination.