UNITED STATES—In our previous column we talked about my process of applying for college, in this column we’re going to elaborate on my entire college undergraduate career. We’re going to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly people. As an undergraduate, in particular as a freshmen you know nothing; it’s like a blank canvas and you just have to navigate the best way you know how and utilize the information you get from the people you talk to.

I remember when I had to attend orientation at the university, which is like 48 hours, including an overnight stay in one of the dorms. This experience was not fun because it felt like a chore more than anything. You attend all these lectures talking about the college experience, but in honesty you learn absolutely nothing people and I mean that. All I can recall is the little campus tour that we received that was not memorable and I didn’t recall a single thing about it. Then you learn about books that are not free; they are damn costly and we will talk more about that later. As I learned real soon, a semester of books can run $500 to $1000. However, the thing I remember vividly is the setup of your school schedule.

Here is the problem: your schedule is not setup by your academic advisor, you are advised by a sophomore or some upperclassmen that are assisting because they are likely getting paid to do so. Trust me this is something they want to do. So do they care about what classes you are taking or want to take? No and that is a bad notion that the university allowed this to happen. All I can remember is them asking what I like to do, and I explained writing. That led to me being signed up for a journalism course, I had my mathematics university requirement and then another writing requirement per university requirements. During a typical semester, a student will carry 12 to 15 credits. Back when I started college in the early 00s, the cost for classes were around $2,000 to $2,500 per semester that is not including room and board which was around $2,500.  So a semester of studies cost around $5k.

I remember my first semester was no stressor when it came to cost. My scholarship grants I attained in high school covered my entire semester, so I actually saw a refund, but I had to produce a letter to the financial aid office letting it be known that I could utilize my scholarship in full and when I wanted. They were trying to hold onto my money and force me to come out of my own pocket. I used that money to purchase my prescription glasses and then some clothing. My first semester was a shock because I struggled so much in my lecture course for journalism. I had to adapt to a new way of studying that I had never did before. All this material was being condensed to select questions where we had four exams the entire semester. It wasn’t that the material was difficult; I just needed plenty of time to master it.

After two exams, I was failing the course and it worried me to the core. I needed to do something to improve. The professor offered extra credit and I did a presentation solo in front of almost 400 people. Was I nervous, more than you can imagine, but I attained a near perfect score, 14/15, which helped boost me from a low D to an average C grade and that was not acceptable to me. The third exam I performed significantly better on and the final exam which was 100 multiple choice questions (which I hate); I managed to score a high 70. So when it was all said and done I scored a 2.5 in the course. Yes, at my university we didn’t have a grading scale, it was numerical. A 0.0 means a fail or an F, while a 4.0 was an A+.

I did well in my mathematics course. Math has always been easy for me. I struggled in one section of the class dealing with compound interest, but after a chat with the Teacher’s Assistant (TA), I mastered the material. Hell, I was doing so well that we started a particular section on matrices which no one in the class could figure it out, but I did. I knew it so well that I was actually teaching other students how to do it. That is always a great feeling people. I got a 3.5 in the course. Then with my writing course, I loved it because I actually go to do what I liked, but I learned a valuable lesson, my writing needed editing and thru constructive criticism from my schoolmates I learned how to tone down my wordiness at times and bring more clarity to my intellectual writing.

I would call the course like a history class that merged everyday literature. Overall that semester I had a GPA of a 2.95. Oh, that struck me to the core and I was not happy. I made it my mission that before I graduated I would make the Dean’s List, which required and overall GPA of a 3.5. Yeah, that is not easy to attain people because a 2.0 or 2.5 could screw you up royally. However, the challenge of all challenges came my next semester in the fall as I moved from freshmen to sophomore. Challenging? Without a doubt, but without certainty it made me into the man that I am today.