My life as a student?
I have always been the youngest in my class from early education to near the end of my high school career. It was an experience that really motivated and aided in my development as a student and as a person. Being the youngest I always felt the need to prove myself or to “Catch up” with everyone in my class in all aspects of school. Academically, I always tried to stay ahead of the game by taking honors courses or courses above my academic level. Athletically I was also, usually, the youngest. That was also motivation for me. I always played in higher age groups through school and being in that higher, more advanced, environment positively pushed me. These types of environments always brought the best out me. This was a constant positive trend throughout different aspects of school. My student career is one of constant growth not only academically, but professionally, socially, culturally, and mentally.
I was blessed to receive a private and Christian school education outside of my zoned school. I will always be grateful for that opportunity. Looking back now I appreciate that more now than I ever did when I was actually in high school. The opportunities to learn at a higher level greatly expanded my opportunities outside of school and beyond it. Being prepared for higher education and choosing my future career field were two functions of schooling that I really feel were successfully completed the best for me. The people I met and connections I had the opportunity to make I know were special. With that being said, I realized now that high school had a huge positive influence on me and helped mold me into the person that I am today.
Although my school had a rigorous academic curriculum, the hidden curriculum of high school was just as important. As a Christian school, religion was a part of our formal and also informal curriculum, it was a core concept in our schooling that was the basis of everything we did. Although our school had a clear identity, there was not an overbearing pressure to conform behaviorally, culturally, or morally. There was nothing but love for the students and as a student I felt that. With that being said, my school was very small as well. My graduating class consisted of approximately 64 students which we considered at the time to be one of our “Biggest classes”. Avoiding social interaction with everyone was simply not an option. This again had a positive impact on me because within our small community we all had different economic backgrounds, different cultural backgrounds, different reasons for being at the school, and very different likes and interests that made for very insightful conversation. However, with so many differences between us, there were many controversial topics that caused us to really think and to really take a stand.
One of the biggest concepts I learned from high school was how to stand for something. Religion, politics, sexuality, race, and many other sensitive topics are conversations that someone may respectfully or disrespectfully challenge you on. Having the tools to skillfully craft an argument that successfully explains clearly and defends what you believe in is valuable especially in today’s society. It was a second form of informal curriculum that was only learned through social experience within schooling. My schooling experience helped me to mature mentally and realize that everyone is different, but difference is beautiful. Those two concepts alone proved to be very, very, valuable as I graduated and headed to VCU in the fall.
My first year of university was my most challenging year in life, in positive way, especially at a school like VCU where diversity is prominent. Diversity is what I most excited for. The chance to interact and learn from people and cultures different from my own. My neighborhood was predominantly one race as were my schools, so after touring VCU I knew instantly that I would love it. So far, it has been everything I thought and hoped it would be. Time management was my biggest challenge and biggest discouragement. After leaving a place where every hour of the day was already simply planned out to now being at a place where I could literally do whatever I wanted (my problematic freshman logic). Looking back however, I am so glad I had those struggles because what once was my weakest area is now my biggest strength. That idea is something I truly appreciate now. The ability to “look at the glass half full”, to stay positive, to learn from your mistakes and get better, and finally to never give up.
These are all simple concepts in the grand scheme of things but mean the a great deal to me now. Entering college I thought I had an Idea of the person I was and the person I wanted to be. Sadly, I was mistaken. Socially, I found out more about myself in one year of university then twelve years of grade school. It was one of the best things that could have happened. I was challenged on every social topic. No one told me I had to have an opinion on everything. My core beliefs were definitely still intact, and that will not change. However, seeing different walks of life and hearing different perspectives definitely opened both my eyes and my mind. I grew to be more aware, more appreciated, more caring, and more mature. After my first year, I knew I was in exactly the right place. I place where a can constantly grow not just academically but culturally, socially and mentally.
Something I could teach others about being a student, coming from the perspective of an upcoming third year college student, would be that learning never stops. Learning never stops inside the classroom and more importantly outside the classroom. Professors are not the only people you can learn from; your peers, your family, your co-workers, and most importantly yourself. They say experience is the best teacher, and I definitely agree.