Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From Brown University

From Kiana Ward
El Cerrito High School '09
Brown University
Women and Leadership '08

After a year in college I've realized that I have unknowingly begun to make the transition into adulthood. It's scary and hard but also liberating. I have learned a lot this year and although the academics were part of that, the most valuable lessons were ones I learned simply because I am now IN college. Things like networking, handling school fees, and arranging travel plans were frustrating at times but invaluable for the future.

The transition from high school to college classes was drastic... especially at Brown where there are no GE requirements. It was odd to be in a class and know that the only reason I was there was because I had chosen to be. There was no one to complain to when I was struggling with calculus problem sets because I knew that I had brought it on myself. If I didn't go to class, the professors didn't care but I knew that I was wasting my own money. I had to learn a new type of self-motivation, the kind where if I wasn't working my hardest, the only person I was letting down was myself. There were no teachers or parents to watch over me. So I powered through economics and the plus-que-parfait form of the French subjunctive and realized that when you study that hard...when you learn simply because you want to and you are interested in the subject... you can actually learn a language. You can actually see tangible improvement. There were times when, as I was studying for a final or reading a textbook, I swore that I could actually feel my brain growing.

I, like Jennifer, was extremely intimidated by the intellect and drive of the student body on my campus. Everyone I spoke to had done something amazing or seemed like an absolute genius. After awhile however, I began to realize that I could keep up with these students. Yes, I may have had to work harder than my roommate who was writing 20 page research papers in high school, but I was raising my hand in lectures and actually answering correctly. I would talk to people and say, "I have absolutely no idea how I got in here" and almost always got the response, "me either!" It became apparent that everyone was in the same boat: no one really understood how they got in and everyone had their doubts about their own intelligence, but everyone was ready to make the most of it.

I finished my year feeling the need to have done more. College is all about new experiences and there are so many options to choose from, it can get overwhelming at times. I kept telling myself that I just needed to get adjusted to college life before I would be able to handle a job AND extracurriculars. The fact was that, although classes were very challenging, it is those sort of things that expose you to campus life the most and, in my opinion, allow you to get the most out of your college experience. So my advice is, do too much first and then decide what works best for you.



Don Gosney said...


Thank you for sharing with us all.

As 'older' people we can preach til we're blue in the face and 'young' people will ignore us mostly because we're old and decrepit.

When the same words come from someone like yourself who has experienced these things first hand, all of a sudden our young students hang on every word.

It doesn't matter where the message comes from, as long as the message gets out and our students pay heed, that's all that matters.

Don Gosney said...

From Mario Miranda:

"There were times when, as I was studying for a final or reading a textbook, I swore that I could actually feel my brain growing." Kiana, I love that sentence. You are thriving and that is the best we could have hoped for--excelling is indeed part of the learning process and you are experiencing it. Great to hear from you and much success and good luck to you.