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  • Julian Reynoso

How freshmen feel about the end of their first semester

Freshmen are wrapping up their first semester in college, and are getting acclimated to the college atmosphere as well as classes and assignments. Photo: Kyra Laurie

As we come closer to Thanksgiving, we also approach the quickly upcoming end of the first semester. This time is hectic for college students as they begin to feel the effects of finals week looming on them.

Each student faces different issues, whether they be balancing their jobs and schoolwork or dealing with the intense workload of their majors. These concerns usually come down to proper time management, which freshmen are still learning through their time in college: it is very common for the end of the first semester to be the biggest hurdle that freshmen overcome.

I interviewed four freshmen students: Asia Beard-Booze, Linda Byamungu Preto, Ahmad Jandel and Melissa Zolnowski. Each of them reside on campus and are of a similar age group. Beard-Booze and Zolnowski currently attend work shifts and classes during the semester, whereas Jandel and Byamungu Preto are not working.

Beard-Booze is majoring in psychology and has a pending minor in clinical psychology. She is enrolled in six classes and enjoys most of them, saying, “Yes, actually with my classes I enjoy the content and the time I have them, fitting so beautifully into my life. Most — if not all — of my professors are genuine and great instructors willing to help you with work.” She transitioned rather smoothly from high school to college, even adapting to the greater workload while working a job.

Her skill in adapting to this new environment well leads to her feeling relieved and prepared as the conclusion of her first college semester quickly approaches. She says, “I feel at ease, relieved and proud. I am proud that I made it past this, because this sets the bar for me and I'm ready for more. Plus, the first college break for real this time.”

Upon being asked about her closing thoughts on how the end of a first college semester affects freshmen, Beard-Booze had this to say: “It can be hard and tear some students down, but it is not the end. It also can be eye-opening, helping students find a piece of them they never knew they needed.”

Zolnowski majors in special education/childhood education with a social studies concentration. She is currently taking six classes and thoroughly enjoys them. “Yes, I do enjoy them,” she said. “The classes are accepting and understanding, and the professors are helpful.” Her transition from high school to college was rather difficult because there were so many unfamiliar faces and nobody knew her, which directly contradicted her experiences in middle school and high school.

When asked about how her workload has been this semester, Zolnowski said, “It’s been pretty consistent throughout the semester. It hasn’t been too intense and the work is spread out well, even though I have homework every day.” Regardless of her difficult transition, she has found the advancing conclusion to the semester is not daunting at all. “I found myself feeling victorious. I’m happy that it’s coming to an end. I’m also proud of having been a conscientious student, managing to balance school and work alongside my personal life,” she explained.

This feeling of triumph has given her a newfound sense of excitement for school: “I wake up with a purpose and am eager to go to class with all of my work done.” When asked about her closing thoughts on how the end of a first college semester affects freshmen, Zolnowski said, “I am excited that it’s going to be over soon and I’m happy to have learned a lot.”

These two students simultaneously deal with school and their jobs, yet they both found a sense of contentment at the nearing end of the semester. The next two students are not working as of writing this, but they wound up having a more difficult time with their workload from school and dealing with the end of the semester.

Byamungu Preto is an international relations major. She is taking 6 classes and is also on the Mock Trial team. She enjoys her classes, especially her course for her major. She said, “I love my international relations class because it’s a subject I am passionate about, and I get the opportunity to get a preview of what I would do when I join the workforce.” Her transition to college was a strenuous one, though. “I had a tough time adjusting as the classes and

the environment was different,” she stated.

She found the workload to be very difficult, stating that it went up exponentially as time went on. “The assignments went more in-depth than in high school. I also had a hard time keeping up with my schedule because I had to learn time management.”

When asked how she feels about the end of the semester, she said, “I’ve been feeling happy because I will finally be able to rest from assignments and have more time to spend with my family, but I’ve also felt exhausted, as the semester has been going at such a fast pace that there is no time for anything but doing assignments.” The intense workload has led to her feeling a great sense of exhaustion. Preto ended saying, “Since it is the first time ever experiencing such a stressful environment, we freshmen have never experienced this and this takes a big toll on us, mentally and physically.”

Jandel is majoring in biochemistry. He has seven classes which he enjoys, even though he finds himself struggling in a few of them. When asked about how his transition from high school to college was, he had this to say: “At first, my transition from high school to college was smooth — until the workload started. Then I realized it’s much different than [high school]. I wasn’t prepared for the college transition, especially with the poor time-management skills I had, which made deciding when and what classes to study for a difficult task.” He also added that the amount of work is astronomical compared to high school, so that burden makes college even more difficult for him, especially as he approaches the end of the semester.

His response to being asked about how he feels on reaching the end of the semester was that he felt alleviated.“Reaching the end of the first semester is a little bit of a relief,” Jandel explained, “because I won’t have to stress anymore or overwhelm myself with so much work.” He feels like this has put him and many others in a negative state of mind.

Jandel’s final thoughts on how the end of a first college semester affects freshmen were that it is difficult for all freshmen since it is a new experience for them; he admitted, “I feel like I’m not the only one that is going through what I am. I believe most freshmen relate to the same things that I am running into as well. I feel that the first semester of college is the most difficult for freshmen, because the college lifestyle is new for us.”

One interesting pattern that I noticed was that the two students who work and go to school have an easier time dealing with the workload than the two who do not work. Although they may differ in this way, one thing is present throughout each of their thoughts — each of them expressed unadulterated feelings of joy that their first college semester is going to conclude soon.

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