It’s the beginning of a story. It’s about potential struggle and success. More specifically, it is a story about a student’s first semester in college. Whether you are recent high school graduates or even returning students, many often go through moments of intense questioning regarding life paths. Students also face academic challenges influenced by our life backgrounds, or even have fear of social interaction. Sometimes they can begin to obsessively compare themselves to others and may feel like giving up for good. Take a deep breath. Calm down.
Your response might be, “How can you tell me to calm down when I’m struggling so much this semester?” Although there are no magic spells that can solve all of life’s problems (that I know of), we can, however, look for ways to face our own unique challenges. You might not even have a major yet, and even if you are signed up for some program, you might not even be sure if it is the right one for you. The clock is slowly ticking. There is a possibility that the classes you are in are simply time wasters, right?
According to the Director of the Center for New Students, Dr. Vicki Atkinson, about 30% of new students at Harper are undecided. “We can support the undecided students by
talking about ‘decided-ness’. Undecided is like a diagnosis, it’s like a big label, but if we say deciding, it’s like, Oh, welcome to Harper! This is the place where we can examine all the possibilities and then get closer to what your heart desires, purpose, or your passion,” says Atkinson.
Parents, or even friends, might pressure you to pick a certain program or finish college within a certain time frame. Money is important in life, yes, we all know. But potentially choosing a major or a job that does not bring happiness or a sense of fulfillment is soul crushing. Yes, these words sound cliché and melodramatic but just listen to some that have stories of regret for not listening to their own inclinations when they had circumstances to do so. Remember that at the end, it will not make much of a difference if you finish two or more years later. No one is “better” or “worse,” just different. Every experience that we go through will shape us.
The pain and the happiness that you feel is always yours and you do have the power to choose a path that suits you best. Even though college should be treated seriously, do not forget to have some fun as well. “Sometimes students just need to remember that you may be feeling a lot of stress and a burden, but sometimes you just need to remember to do something that brings you joy,” says Atkinson.
There are moments, however, when life can become overwhelming for many students. Whether our stress or anxiety is caused by uncontrollable tragedies, failing grades, or because of emotional problems, we may need a moment to make a decision. Sometimes dropping a class is the right decision to make depending on the situation. We may feel like we have hit rock bottom, a point of no return accompanied by a phantom. But going back up on stage is possible. According to Atkinson, “writing yourself off as a student who can’t do school, is the thing that scares me a little bit cause of course you can just maybe the conditions weren’t quite right.” She adds, “[for]…some students it can be difficult to look at short-term goals versus long-term goals,” but she reminds us that “…completing a college credential is a long term goal, and some students we lose them along the way because they have a hard time sustaining their effort toward a long term goal.”
At Harper, there are have various resources available for those who may need emotional and academic help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Atkinson concludes, “students need to be patient with themselves to discover what’s unique about you and how does that translate into what you need in the learning experience for you.”