RP Insights: Diary of a College Freshman
First semester in college is big shock …. David Perez who was featured in our inaugural RP Spotlight article is bringing some insight on what it takes to survive at Dartmouth.
How was your first semester at university?
Very challenging, more so socially than academically. Learning to live on your own and being solely responsible for all your actions is both an awesome experience but overwhelming at times. Keeping on top of laundry, meals, club meetings, homework, classes, and still having time for friends is not an easy task but it comes with experience. Academically, college is completely different than high school. Attending classes isn’t mandatory and the professor doesn’t care if you show up, pay attention, or do the homework.
What classes did you take?
I took Multivariable Calculus, Physics: Classical Mechanics, Debates in International Politics, and the most unique class you can probably take, the Life on Mars Seminar!
Are university classes different from high school? If so, how?
In high school your teacher was also more invested in what you did and how you learned the material. In college, the professor teaches and it is up to you whether you understand or not. If you don’t, then you must either schedule an appointment with the professor or TA, or attend their office hour; you also receive a lot more work and less time to complete it in. Furthermore, attendance isn’t mandatory and the professor doesn’t care if you show up, pay attention or do the homework, especially in general subjects classes where the class size can reach over 200 kids.
What are you getting into outside of the classroom?
I’ve joined a myriad of clubs here on campus. I’m part of clubs such as the Dartmouth Quant Traders, Formula 1 Race Team, Finance Society, Data Science Club, Crypto club, and the Club Soccer Team.
How is college life different from high school life?
You are completely independent in college, no one is going to be looking over your shoulder or holding your hand. Everything you do is completely up to you. You can wake up whenever you want, miss classes as often as you want, and eat whenever and whatever you want. Having this much freedom is both a luxury and a burden because the consequences of each action you take will be confront by you and you alone.
What pieces of advice would you have for a junior and senior getting ready for college?
Enjoy high school for what it is, don’t hurry to become completely independent. Enjoy the home cooked meals and the pampering you get when you’re sick. In college those things go away and you’ll start to miss them. Academically, read a lot more, 80% of college assignments are reading insane amounts of pages every night and understanding the convoluted jargon. Also failing in college is completely normal, you won’t be one of the smartest kids in your lectures. You will come across people whose genius and intellect are almost unparalleled but you shouldn’t let that get to you. Never compare yourself to others, it’ll only give you headaches, instead focus on yourself and achieving your own goals. The curve on test scores in college is very helpful, but don’t rely too much on it because it can always backfire on you. If you fail a midterm or final, it’s okay as everyone’s flunked an exam or two it’s not the end of the world. Recruiters know the college transition isn’t easy so they tend to be lenient with these sort of things, just dust yourself off and keep at it because in the long run consistency and tenacity pay off more than natural intellect.