Author: Sara Jimenez Cruz | MU Junior; Political Science

No amount of advice; whether from friends, siblings, or professors, can ever perfectly prepare you for the transition from high school to college. During the last few years of high school, many of us have heard that a college is a place where the demand of work is twice as hard and there is no time to slack. Many have also heard that a college is a place where professors will be unforgiving, demanding, and not caring for your path in the university. If you are like me, an international student, you might have been told that there will be some barriers to your understanding of the English language and American customs. With all these ideas in our head, it is normal to feel overwhelming stress at the beginning of your academic path in the university.

However, from my first year in Marymount, I learned that all of those intimidating myths of college were nothing but far from the truth. Although the first few months were not easy, there are three essential things that helped me with my transition in Marymount was; asking for help, not being afraid to fail, and finding time for myself.

Asking for help might as well be the most important part of transitioning to a university. Yes, it is easier said than done, but I can promise you that once you try, there will be people that will help and guide you in anything you need. The first time I ever asked for help in the university was during my second semester in Marymount, when I got my first presentation assignment of the semester for my English class. It was my first time speaking English in front of a big crowd and my nerves started to kick in. Not all the international students go through this, but in my case, I was worried about my pronunciation, using academic words to describe my projects and to answer questions my classmates might have. So, after building the presentation and freaking out about making a fool of myself, I decided to ask for help from my professor. After going to his office hours and speaking with him, I can tell you that it was the most rewarding experience of that semester. The first thing he said to me was that no international student (or a person whose English is their second language) should be embarrassed to speak in front of anyone, to leave the fear of speaking aside, and to embrace the accent that we might have. Then, he helped me out not only by practicing the presentation but also by building a set of brainstormed answers to any possible questions my classmates might have. After all the worry I had, I ended up nailing that presentation. I decided to come back to the professor and ask for his advice on other projects; with his guidance, I was able to end the semester not only with a good grade but also with advice that will last for a long time.

For me, being afraid of failure was another major setback in the first few semesters in the university. When I say that I was afraid of failure, I am not talking about failing a class; but rather getting a lower grade in an exam that you didn’t expect or simply answering a question wrong in class. The reality of college is that, since you are learning a whole bunch of new material, you might not be perfect at every single subject you are presented with. That was one of my biggest problems when I joined the university; I made the mistake of feeling defeated whenever I got a lower grade or got frustrated if I did not get an answer right. However, I had to learn that letting go of the fear of making a mistake will free you from unnecessary frustration and fear; and will make you most likely to ask for help from others (which I again emphasize super important part of transitioning). I am a firm believer that college does not only prepare you for your academic life but also teaches you how to solve problems in your future dream jobs that will lead you to become the best professional you can be.

Lastly, finding time for myself was also another factor that helped me in my transition from high school to college. While our main priority is our education, it does not mean that college is not the perfect time to do things that you always dreamed of. For instance, when I got to Marymount, I was able to take courses like drawing and psychology for my own pleasure. I also found the gym on campus that has helped me in my most stressed week by liberating endorphins and keeping myself in shape. Most importantly, I have had the chance to make friends that make my path in Marymount more fun, and who I can distract myself with whenever we might need a break from school.
While the path of transition might not be smooth, I hope that this will help give you another perspective. Know that there is a team of people that will love to help you in your journey here in Marymount; and that no matter the challenges there is always a way to get back up and keep going!

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