My first semester was fun in some ways and not fun in others. Although the enjoyment and awe of Orientation had finally run out, I spent tons of my time outside of class chatting and meeting new people. In order to save my meal blocks and my DinExtra (Dinex), I constantly looked for events that offered food. I worried that I would run out of meal blocks too quickly. My meal plan provided on 22 meal blocks every two weeks; any unspent blocks expired at the end of those two weeks.

I was not focused my first semester in college. I spent more time going to campus events than studying for my exams, and even than doing my homework. I stayed on campus most of the time; the only moments when I ventured out were my occasional trips to Giant Eagle, a grocery store in nearby Squirrel Hill. On campus, my favorite eatery was (and still is) CMU Café, since it was (and still is) near my dorm.

To be frank, I believed I was going to be pressured to change upon entering college. I thought I was going to be pressured into partying hard, join a fraternity, take on 7+ courses a semester, otherwise pressured to be someone else. But being in college, I realized that there is none of the social hierarchy so typical of high school. There aren’t gatekeepers who say what is popular and what isn’t. No one cares about popularity. People have matured and only focus on themselves and their group of friends. Students at college are more like families. It’s like there are hundreds of families who live in college. Each of these families are unique but are all unified in how tight-knit they are. In college, you set out to find your chosen family. You get to meet people with whom you can talk about ideas and fears; you’ll get to be open and vulnerable in a way you’ve never been before.

Ever since I’ve been in college, I’ve learned that you’ll know people in deeper ways than you ever have and will share details about yourself you’ve never disclosed. People will likewise share very personal details with you. To illuminate, I’ve been impressed by how open students are about being queer or knowing someone who is. Where I’m from in central Florida, people don’t ever talk about coming out. It hurts me that there are likely people in my hometown who cannot come out because their family might reject them. I understand that this is a bold statement, but I wish that my hometown were more like Carnegie Mellon where people can be their full authentic selves and be celebrated for being themselves.

Ever since I’ve been in college, I’ve learned that you’ll know people in deeper ways than you ever have and will share details about yourself you’ve never disclosed.

Enjoying winter break after my first semester, I resolved to be more focused in my homework. I resolved to be more focused in my own academic development. I signed up for tutoring sessions with my academic coach early in my first semester. I resolved to continue to attend my sessions next semester. I would begin to digitize my schedule. I downloaded my course schedule into my GCalendar. I set reminders on my phone to help me develop a routine. Wake up at 10 AM. Go class at prescribed times. Go to the gym at 6 PM. Eat dinner at 8 PM. Sleep by 1 AM. These reminders helped me to know what to do during the day. Instead of wasting time thinking about work, I saw what I needed to do.

However, I’ll admit that I haven’t followed my schedule very well. Even when I have my calendar in front of me, I still procrastinate. That pushes everything off to the side and then I end up completing my homework last minute. Procrastinating reveals many things about me; it’s not that I’m unmotivated, it’s just I don’t reward myself enough to try to start homework earlier. What would be something I really want to do? This is a question I’m attempting to answer, since if I have an enticing incentive, I’ll want to do my homework earlier. What are some things you do to reward yourself after a HW assignment? Comment below.

Once I discover those fun incentives, I’ll be a better student. This is definitely a process so I’m going to be patient with myself. I encourage you to be kind to and patient with yourselves. Growth is a process, it takes a while. We have to be okay with that because we are worth our own time.