“New Year, New Me:” New Year’s Resolutions are once again showing up around every corner as people everywhere start looking to make a change in their lives. I, however, am facing different changes. Some areas are moving forward as I chart new territory every day, while others seem to be reverting to old dreams and desires.
I have my first college semester under my belt. This isn’t the first time I’ve expressed that in writing, but it still hits hard. Break is starting to draw out, yet I still feel some of the weight of school riding my shoulders. Being a member of St. Louis University’s Engineering Program, I never expected the journey to be simple or easy, but so very little could have prepared me for the turmoil of my first few months “out on my own.” I moved into a dorm room infested with mold and in the months it took to cleanse it and settle into the routine of class, work, tutoring, and sleep I found so many events thrown at me that I lost count. To sum it up, I spent a grand total of two weekends in the dorm over the course of the entire semester between weddings, funerals, retreats, dances, and family excitement.
A few words of advice to those looking to the end of high school and the start of college in a few months, don’t underestimate anything. Life has a tendency to blindside the unprepared, especially if they are unwilling to admit their mistakes. I couldn’t tell you how many times I was told to expect to do more work in college than high school. I always wrote it off like i did the warnings about high school when I was in middle school because no one could describe the change other than by warning about all the extra work. I’m here to finally give an explanation about why more work is needed. In high school, your teachers were paid to teach you. In college, your professors are often hired to research, while teaching comes as an extra requirement. As such, professors (as a general rule) are not near as concerned about their students as teachers in high school, and they are there to legitimately test you, not to ensure your understanding and preparedness. The gap between what is taught and what is tested is so much greater in college, and the homework is designed to facilitate that gap, but it is important to realize that going in. Having taken many similar classes to those on my schedule this past semester, I felt thoroughly prepared and expected to be bored in classes I had already “passed.” I certainly was bored, but to say that I was as prepared as I thought would be a vast lie. The BIGGEST DIFFERENCE was in the testing: far fewer exams were given, and those that were present were TIMED. I’ve never struggled with testing anxiety in any form (I’ve always looked forward to tests and quizzes!) but without the experience from homework, the crammed tests became overwhelming and it became difficult to complete what would have been simple had I been given the time I was used to receiving to process and derive formulas and processes that I was familiar with, but not used to applying quickly.
Finally, for those of you who have stuck around to see me return after so many months away from the blog, and even further, those who have stuck with this long post: one of the larger changes I’m facing. (No, this does not involve my girlfriend or slow separation from family, those are planned steps, that are expected and calculated, not changes that alter my plans.) I’M GOING TO BE A TEACHER!!! Ever since third grade, math and science have been my deepest passions and I have had no plan to do anything but find myself in the field, practicing engineering, architecture, or some other STEM related career. Recent years, however, have found me tutoring peers and other students with greater and greater frequency and my own observations of successes and failures within greater education have inspired me to pursue my recent dream of seeking out employment as a high school teacher (and hopefully administrator with enough time). I plan to complete my Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering, then follow through with a Masters in Secondary Education. Who knows? I might find my way back to Rockwood with its Project Lead the Way program. Until then, I’m up for some adventuring! I’ll keep you updated.
~Stephen (Snots) Naylor