College: Ish just got real

A fresh perspective

Stephen Kolison

In my article from Sept. 20, I mentioned that college for the freshman class had been like a fun summer camp where we all had the time to chill and joke around with one another. Well, the girls are now packing their bags, crying and saying to their friends “Oh my god, I’m so going to miss you! Follow me on Twitter!” while the boys are waiting outside for a ride home.

This is because the general consensus among the Class of 2017 is that summer has officially ended and winter is coming. And here at Case Western Reserve, House Freshman was obliterated in the red testing. Yes, I am talking about that dreaded CHEM 105 test and the surprising results from many other tests for the freshmen.

As I took the chemistry test and was warned that only ten minutes were left, I glanced over to my right and noticed a girl calmly writing down her answers. Her serene test-taking was offset by the two tears that fell as she erased some of her work. Here is this girl who looked so friendly and had a bow in her hair, silently crying.

I couldn’t blame her. I felt like doing the same thing. More than half of us in the room felt like doing the same. As we left Ford auditorium, the mix of reactions and facial expressions were so varied that describing them all would be impossible. I had the giggles because I knew that test was awful. A majority of us looked like deer in headlights, others laughed the pain away, and some cried by themselves as they uttered, “I am never going to medical school now!”

This is a sharp contrast to how we were acting a week before. My studying consisted of sitting in Wade Commons either giggling and joking with a friend or trying to cram for the test. Towards the end of the studying, the number of things I learned paled in comparison to the amount of times I just sat there and freaked out about the upcoming test. Let’s be real, we have all done some variation of that before. And when we got back to our dorms, we’d just ask ourselves, “Seriously. What did I even do an hour ago?” I would look outside the window and see another group of people heading out of the north residential village to a party.

Really? It seems like the majority of the freshman class is either BME or pre-med. How are you finding the time to visit Mi Pueblo on a Wednesday night? When they get back late, I can only quote my loving father, “Where the heck have you been?” Then there is the arrogance that came from some students who would say things like, “This is my first time ever studying for a test,” “I don’t have to study, I took this all in high school” or “I’m not studying that much. I got all A’s in high school.” The best thing about this first round of tests is that it knocked us all down a few pegs. There is a unifying feeling in knowing that we are all as average as each other. There is nothing wrong with being average, however. Being average opens up the opportunity to become extraordinary.

Wanting to break down out of stress but making ourselves carry on is a common feeling whether you’re a freshman or a senior. Studying for our first round of exams was so overwhelming that college became a race to catch up with all we’ve learned the month before. After the exams, many of us held onto our naïve hope that maybe the test will be curved or extra credit will be given. This hope only gets you so far.

If you are one of the people who did badly, the first step is actually accepting the disappointment. I know that’s a harsh word to use, but knowing that you did poorly on something could be motivation to change yourself for the next time. If your results were not so hot because you didn’t study the right way, it is easy to feel like you just cheated yourself out of a good grade.

Do not feel stupid when you see yourself not living up to as much as you thought. It is hard to come to the realization that you cannot handle as much as you thought. The beauty of this school is the amount of resources available to help you get through the academic challenges. Maybe some of us, myself included, need to leave our high school arrogance at the door and admit when we need help. It is really cliche to say that there is nothing wrong with getting a tutor or going to more than one SI session.

But it is cliche because it makes sense. It is cliche because it is true.This was a wake-up call for a lot of people. But when we learn from it by changing ourselves, study habits and basically adapting, we all have something, or our “Hodor,” to carry us to graduation.

Stephen Kolison is a first-year biology student. While confining himself to his dorm, he enjoys knitting while watching Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey.