’13 Students Relive Freshman Year
October 10, 2013
Just four months ago, Albemarle’s senior class of 2013 walked the stage of John Paul Jones Arena to finally earn their diplomas, marking the end of one era, and the beginning of another. The Revolution decided to catch up with three members of the class of ‘13 to see what college life is all about.
Just a few hours away in Blacksburg, Maddie Walters is attending Virginia Tech. New to Hokie Nation, Walters said, “I’m a little fish in such a big pond. Everywhere you look, there is someone that you don’t know.” Every now and then, however, Walters finds a familiar face. “It’s always great when you see a fellow Patriot walking around,” she said.
Initially after her arrival, Walters felt “lost.” As a solution, she began participating in activities that she had previously done back home. At AHS, Walters performed in No Fella acapella. Now at Tech, Walters performs with The Sensations. “A lot of things have changed,” she said, “but it is comforting to know that you’re still you.”
Other class of ‘13 members, Andrew Hucek and Irene Lee, are also finding their places within their universities. Lee, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said of her early moments at school, “I felt like I was still in high school and everyone else looked and acted so much older than me.”
Lee has since learned ways to make herself feel more at home. “I always leave time to relax so I don’t get too stressed out, because it is really easy to get stressed out and want to cry,” she said.
Hucek, who attends Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, found transitioning into college life slightly easier when he joined the Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). “ROTC is kind of like one huge family,” Hucek said. “Some of my best friends are my fellow cadets.”
So far, the biggest challenge for the first year college students is leaving friends and loved ones to be on their own. Another challenge is not taking parental presence for granted. Hucek said of the sudden liberty, “You don’t have someone holding your hand or keeping yourself on track and making sure that you do the right things.”
Without parents to motivate them to stay on task with their studies, students must take responsibility for themselves and their education. Lee said, “It is really easy to fall behind, which results in failing exams, and you don’t have many of those [exams] in college.”
Another adjustment for students is a larger student body. While Albemarle has about 1700 students, the average university typically has an enrollment of about 10,000 students. Lee has as many as 200 people in a few of her classes, which she said, “is scary at first, but you get used to it.”
Even though college and high school have their differences, homework is something that all students are familiar with. Within a few weeks of arriving at Tech, Walters saw a whole new level of work. Walters particularly finds the most work in her chemistry lab class. On a typical homework night, Walters finds it to take a minimum of three hours just for one class.
At VCU, Lee puts most of her effort into her philosophy class, preparing for endless amounts of quizzes, hundred-page readings and daily class discussions. “Once you think that you’re done, you realize that you have a truck load more left for your classes,” she said.
Luckily for Hucek, his experience with homework is not identical to Walters and Lee. “I’m in a very specific major program [aviation management], so I don’t take many general education programs,” he said. As a result, Hucek’s maximum amount of time spent on homework is just around 10 hours a week.
Although the amount of homework may be one downside to college, students have other things to look forward to during their stay. Lee is anxious to meet new people, as the VCU campus has a lot of diversity, but she is also eager to learn things that will contribute to her psychology major.
Hucek specifically awaits Halloween at his OU campus, which holds the third largest block party in the country behind New Year’s in New York and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Walters is simply excited for the uncertainty and newness of freshman year. “Apparently you meet your lifetime friends in college, so I’m curious to to see who is stuck with me for eternity.”
While many college students are glad to see their high school years finally behind them, Walters finds her moments to be bittersweet. She tells current seniors, “Don’t waste senior year yearning for college because you’re going to miss the amazing school that AHS is.”
In regards to the application process, Lee said, “Do not procrastinate! You don’t want to be that person stressing out while everyone else posts Facebook statuses and tweets about the colleges that they got into.”
She added, “If you don’t get into a college, don’t be discouraged, you will find your place. No matter where you go, you will love it if you make the best of it and go with a positive attitude.” For Hucek, the key factor is determining your school is the location. “If you do not like the physical place where you will be living, chances are you won’t be too happy,” he said.
As far as other things to do before May 31, Walters said, “Keep a diary for your last year in high school. I did and it is hilarious to see me ranting about stupid stuff.”