NewsWorks reached out to a few graduates of local high schools and asked them to tell us about their experiences during a first semester at college. Here’s a response from Adam Kurtz, graduate of William Penn Charter School and current finance student at Washington University in St. Louis.
What was your biggest surprise about college life during your first semester?
The biggest surprise was the workload and the dedication to work of all the students. Each night I have at least three to four hours of work either through exams, readings, or papers. The majority of time that I do work, I am in the library. I am always busy between my school workload and my various activities.
Did your high school prepare you for the academic work you’re being asked to do?
My high school definitely did a great job in preparing me for the academic work of college. High school taught me how not to panic and stay cool when facing a lot of work. In school, I learned how to be organized and operate through a schedule. I would always write down how much time I had each day and then figure out how to divide it between all of my classes and activities. It also taught me the importance of getting involved in activities, such as a cappella and sports.
Is your social life: about what you expected; less than you hoped; or more than you imagined? Explain.
My social life is definitely better than what I expected. At Penn Charter, there were only 100 kids in my grade. By comparison, at Wash U, there are 1600 freshman and the opportunity to meet and hangout with more people is greater. It is easier to see friends at Wash U since we are all near each other versus driving at least 30 minutes when I wanted to see my high school friends.
What was the best experience of your first semester?
The best experience was when my management group came in second place for a case competition regarding BP. All of the freshmen in the business school were divided into groups of four or five. Each group presented their case about BP, suggesting ideas of what they should do to proceed after the oil spill. The top five groups made it to the finals. Luckily, my group was one of the five that made it to the finals. In preparation for the finals, we practiced at least one to two hours a night. It required a lot of work and dedication, but on the day of the finals, we were prepared. The result is that we came in second place. I am extremely happy with that result because it meant a lot to my group after all of their hardwork.
What was the worst?
The worst experience was my first exam in my management class. This management class is required for all freshmen who want to major or minor in the area of business. I worked very hard for this exam but the outcome was disappointing to me. I did much worse than I was ever used to doing and I realized that college would require me to step it up a notch. This was my first real wake-up call.
If you could define your transition from high school to college in one word, what would it be?
Exciting and smooth.
How often a week do you contact your parents? What’s your favorite way to stay in touch with them (phone calls, texting, Facebook, Skype etc)?
I contact my parents roughly three times a week. I will usually call them on Tuesdays and Thursdays to catch up and keep them updated on my workload and upcoming activities or exams. On Sunday, we have a weekly video chat through ichat. It is nice to see them and they really appreciate seeing me. They keep me constantly happy when I am swamped with work.
What song or movie title best sums up the start of your college career?
The song or movie that best sums up the start of my college career would probably be just the way you are by Bruno Mars. I am in a cappella and we sing that song a lot and also I think that song sums up college. Sometimes college is hard and sometimes it is easy, sometimes it’s upsetting while other times it’s exciting, sometimes it’s boring while other times it’s fun, but in the end, the good times are always greater. The chorus of the song states, “When I see your face, There’s not a thing that I would change, Cause you’re amazing, Just the way you are”. That stanza is college, when I am there I am happy and it is amazing. I wouldn’t change anything because it is perfect.
What are you most looking forward to in your second semester?
In the second semester, I am looking forward to seeing my friends and possibly going through the fraternity rush process. I made a lot of friends in the first semester, and it will be nice to see them after one month off.