Before you read this, take one deep breath and remind yourself of how special and how talented you are, and all the wonderful little attributes that make you “you”. If you are yet to think about your strengths and weaknesses, now is the time to do so because you only live once right? Look around and savor all the people who care about you and God’s blessings in your life.
The paragraph above may seem out of place in this article but believe me, transitioning into a new environment and culture is a great test of your values, resilience, and self-awareness. Especially when that new place is college, you want to make sure that you know who you are, and what you stand for. Every Nigerian’s transition story into freshman year at college is different, and for good reason. There are different levels of difficulty, adaptation and linearity.
I have picked up some helpful bits of information that might help in your journey. The following are focused on academics:
- That first failed test: This test grade, with a score that you probably had never seen in your life and never want to see again, happens for most in freshman year. For some, it happens in later years and for a select few, it never happens. Unfortunately, I was not one of the select few. I remember mine was my first physics test in my second college semester, and I ran crying to my professor’s office hours. I had never seen such a low score in my entire life! Needless to say, my approach towards academics and learning changed after that and I had to continuously tailor my study style/habits to different classes and semesters. The worst thing that you can do after one (or multiple) of these kind of tests is to convince yourself that you are not as smart as you thought or that you do not have what it takes. Those negative thoughts, and not the failed tests have caused a lot of students to continually perform poorly. I have actually developed a strategy for critically analyzing tests, and bouncing back to perform better and will most likely share in subsequent articles. So get up and keep moving! We Nigerians are made of tough stuff (*wink)
- Professors = Friends + mentors: I’m sure that equation does not seem plausible but it is true! Contrary to our educational system where there is a very formal relationship between students and their teaching counterparts, the professor I’ve encountered here are very friendly and welcoming. I’ve had several great conversations with both teachers and higher administrative staff, and each has made me a better individual, student or professional. So take advantage of your professors as they have been in your shoes before and have a wealth of advice to share. I actually make it a point to meet professors before the start of the semester to express my desire to succeed in their class, learn about their career and jump-start the student-teacher relationship. You absolutely want your teachers to know your name/face, and be able to say one or two things about you a well. Don’t forget that when you start hunting for research positions, graduate school programs and jobs, they are in the best position to write recommendation letters. All professors also designate office hours, which are specific hours during the week where you can walk into their office to ask for clarification on their subject-matter or just talk about life! I encourage going for office hours or making appointments as often as you have questions or want to. Especially after failed tests (refer to above), you want to make sure the professor knows you are doing your best and they have so much experience that they can enlighten you on what you can do better. I cannot emphasize the importance of getting to know your professors enough!
That’s all I have for now! I hope you enjoyed it or at least learnt something! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/somtochukwudimobi