Wake up. Even if it’s (the ungodly hour of) 9AM, wake up. Even if it involves getting out of your (admittedly more comfortable than expected) bed, wake up. Even when you don’t feel starting your day with a lecture, just wake up. It’s a struggle, but just do it, because the sooner the better.
first month two months (has it really almost been that long already?) here at Hopkins have been a series of wake ups.
1. Classes at Hopkins don’t mess around…
For me, I really had no idea what to expect from my classes. I took some APs in high school, but what was a college class really like? I kept on telling myself that Hopkins was indeed going to be academically challenging, but only until I actually started class did I really see that Hopkins is hard. A professor commented that my paper “sounded like high school”, on my calc exam I received zero credit for a part of a problem I had the correct answer for, and I’m still not 100% sure what anthropology even is. Compared to high school, the workload here is on another level. During midterms in high school, you somehow had enough time to study for all of your 6 or 7 exams and still do well. Here, I felt like I was struggling to find time to study for just 2 exams. Midterm week raised questions like, “What happened? I thought I was good at math!” and “How did I even get in here?”
Cue second wake up call.
2. …and you might not always get the grade you want…
After getting my calc exam grade back, I was distraught. It was below the class average, and considering I left the exam thinking I did alright, my grade was a little lower than I expected. Getting the actual test back, I saw that I lost 15 points because I used a different process than what the question was asking to use, despite getting the right answer in the end. The first thing that came to mind was that maybe a regrade was possible. Did I really deserve to lose full credit for that problem? With encouragement from @JHU_Dan, I decided to visit my professor during office hours, and after a talk, I received no points back.
But I’m happy.
My professor told me that indeed, the main point of the question was to show my knowledge of that process I failed to use, resulting in my grade. He did, however, tell me that I have nothing to worry about, that my work was clear and showed understanding of important calculus topics, and that I would have no problem succeeding in the course if I take just a little more caution during future exams. He gave me tips on how not to freak out in the middle of an exam (aka my Achilles heel), and made me feel a lot better about myself, even without those points.
I think a huge problem with students, especially college applicants, these days is that we’re all obsessed with numbers. I admit that I’m one of these people. I’m an applied math major (and man, do I love numbers), but I just want to say, it’s not all about the numbers. Whether it’s your GPA, or your SAT/ACT scores, or your class rank, or how well you did on your calc exam – it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. In the case of my exam, the points lost are points lost and that’s really it. It’s that I understand the concepts, and that I work harder to do better next time that matters most.
Cue third wake up call.
3. …but it’s your choice how you handle your work.
When you’re down, there’s always a way up. You can choose either fight or flight.
Classes are hard – that’s something you cannot change. Whether or not you fail or succeed – now that’s something you can change. (I thank the serenity prayer for that thought). So I won’t cry over spilled milk, I’ll just pour myself another glass.
My talk with my calc professor reinvigorated me, and I am determined to do better for my next exam. But this isn’t just for calc, or even just for my schoolwork. With Hopkins Interactive, planning campus-wide events with the HOP, and now working as assistant manager of Hopkins Creative Design for HSE, I don’t have time to mess around. Because even though it would be fun if my entire Hopkins experience was eating at the FFC, making friends, and exploring Baltimore’s neighborhoods, it’s time to get some work done.