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First semester at Hopkins is a blessing; covered grades power everything. Like most freshmen, I tried not to think about them. I wanted to treat the semester like a test run. I studied for every test, did every homework, and read every chapter like it really counted. But, as hard as you can try to run from it, the knowledge that the semester is covered is overarching and undeniable. Even if I never consciously evoked the “who cares, it’s covered” cop out, I think it was definitely there. Even if I studied days for a test, it’s just different when you know that there’s a safety net.

Sometimes, I felt like thats why I did better. To me, covered grades didn’t engender that “yolo” attitude they seem to evoke at first glance; they just let me study the same way as normal but without the stress that can detract from my concentration and performance. But that made the thought of spring semester all the scarier from the perspective of a first semester freshman. I don’t think I function under high pressure like some people do; the thought of a first semester rigor without the stress-free approach was terrifying. And I don’t think I was alone. Finals were a bittersweet end to our first round of test and the beginning of 7 semesters of tests that legitimately mattered. Over a thousand Blue Jays were about to be pushed out of their nest without any real confidence that they would fly.

I realize now that our fears were silly. Not unfounded, but not too substantial either. I spend the same amount of time at my desk as I do with my friends. I still have time to do what I love. The classes aren’t suddenly a thousand times harder. I don’t type any faster. I don’t have more deadlines. I don’t write longer. Nothing’s changed.

Protip for the time-management deficient like me: Google Calendars is the way to go

Protip for the time-management deficient like me: Google Calendars is the way to go

And that’s the biggest feeling of relief I could get. As a first-semester freshman, second semester seemed like a bottomless pit where insanely rigorous classes were punctuated with an inability to keep up on the students’ end and a miasma of stress and tension created by the whole situation. What I was forgetting was that I had practiced all of this in first semester. Even if the idea of covered grades was there, I’m realizing now that nothing else has changed. I had prepared for this. The concept of covered grades really did and does continue to work. If you could handle the classes first semester, there’s absolutely nothing that will stop you from spreading your blue wings and soaring second semester.