First Year, First Generation: Sean’s Diary

    We’ve been following a group of first-generation college students from Delaware as they transition to higher ed. In addition to running periodic stories about their journeys, we’ve helped each student keep an audio diary.

    The below diary is from Sean Ryan, a freshman at the University of Delaware. You can meet Sean and read more about the first year, first generation project here.

    Sean Graduation Resize

    June 19: To live carefree

    Hi. My name is Sean Ryan. I’m 18 years old. I’m Irish as hell and I just graduated from AI DuPont High School. I’ll be attending the University of Delaware in the fall and I’ll be going in undeclared. I want to go to college to further my knowledge most of all. However, I want to be able to live my life carefree, debt-free and enjoy luxuries such as vacations to Mexico and foreign countries. I also want to be able to support my mother since she worked her ass off, living paycheck to paycheck for my brother and myself. She supported us our whole lives so I want to support hers in the future. 

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    July 30:  A shot in the dark

    I only had to take a math placement test for UD. Initially I thought math was one of my better subjects and I would have no trouble with this test, but I only scored a 39 percent. Most of the questions were calculus and unfortunately I know nothing of calculus. Like a fool I didn’t study for the test at all. It was a shot in the dark. 

    September 18: Surrounded by friends

     So move in day was a success. I got everything done real fast. I met a bunch of new people. It was a good day to say the least. Compared to high school classes are much different. They’re way bigger. The professors don’t really pay attention to the students as much as teachers did in high school. And the work load is so much bigger. Although it’s easier in class because they don’t force you to do anything. They just expect you to show up and listen. In fact, half my lectures I don’t have to show up because there are so many kids. There’s no attendance. And another problem is being surrounded by friends 24/7. Day and night. I have to find a good balance of like stuff I like to do and getting my work done. I have to be able to get my work done even though I have to deal with these kids 24/7. But don’t even have to deal with them. I like putting up with them, which makes it hard to do my work

    September 30: “I’m just really far behind”

    So the academic side of things here…um…the work is really hard only because you need to be self-motivated to do it. Nobody reminds you to do it and nobody tells you what you actually have to do. You have to figure it out yourself half the time.

    For example, all of our work is on the syllabus and I completely forgot to check it the first week so I didn’t do my first week of homework so I’m about a week behind in homework for every class. I’m so far behind in readings I have like 100 pages to catch up on in on book and like 50 in another. I’m just really far behind.

    October 27: Falling behind, again

    Studying. Studying is a pain in the ass. Never wanna do it but always have to. I am a huge procrastinator so I always waste time. I’d much rather play video games than study. Which usually ends up happening.

    All the reading. I am so far behind on reading. Every time I feel like I’m catching up another reading gets assigned. And I fall behind again…  

    November 11: Relationships have changed 

    Alright, parents.

    Of course I miss my parents, man. I got my dad up in Washington. I never see him, but I see my mom about every weekend. But I’m a mama’s boy so I still miss her during the week.

    And my mom still supports me at school. I know my dad’s happy I’m here, but I never talk to him.

    And the relationships have changed. Not much with my dad, we never really hung out much in general. But now I never talk to him.

    My mom I used to see every day. And now that’s being cut down to about a week, week at a time, I guess. The rest of my family I still see about the same amount except for my brother. I really miss my brother. Cuz first off, he moved out and I started seeing him less. But now I see him about once a month and I hate that.

    November 19: If I’m stressing…I’m doing something right

    College is going great so far. I mean other than the stress, the problem meeting new people and the problem of getting into frats aka having a social life…college is great. 

    I do stress a lot which definitely isn’t good. But it’s not going to be the end of me. I know everybody stresses. Everybody’s going through the same thing. I just look past it and think if I’m stressing that means I’m doing something right.

    I have not been doing much drinking at college at all. But that’s good. I’m not a big fan of drinking. I have been smoking weed a little bit, but I’ve been keeping my work on top of everything else. So if I smoke I’m not putting other important things aside.

    I’m addicted to video games. That’s a problem. Whenever I have to study I usually play video games right before I study just to get through it and then as I’m studying I’m just really eager to play more video games.

    December 6: That’s how college goes…

    The past week itself has been pretty relaxing but overall I’ve been stressing about finals. I’ve already had a lot of work that I finally caught up on and now it’s time to cram for finals.

    Gotta read an entire book for it. That sucks. Got a shitload of studying to do. If I don’t do well on these finals then I’m failing for the year. That’s how college goes. There’s no, like, assignments that can help keep your grade up.

    January 4: Finally home

    It’s good to finally be back home with family. It’s still a little stressful. Just the little things like always having a little job to do around the house or running errands for mom. Definitely not as stressful as school, though, so I do not mind at all. I’m excited about moving back into the dorm just to see all my friends again and living with one of best friends. I love doing that. And always having time to yourself—other than having your roommate around. Not having your parents around 24/7 is also pretty nice. I’m looking forward to starting my new major as a Spanish education major. I don’t know. I just wanna take Spanish and classes similar to that. I think it’d be fun. I’m just dreading all the work and the stress again.

    January 31: Depression

    A couple weeks ago my girlfriend and I broke up and then that same night I got kicked out my house and it was a rough couple of days, but I’m already back at my house. And two and a half weeks later my girlfriend and I are back together so everything’s going well right now. Stressing about school and just other things. I’ve recently lost a family member. Just getting in fights with my mom because I know she’s stressing about losing family members as well. And she has a lot to stress about at work. So I’ve been getting in fights with my mom as well and I’m getting a little depressed, I believe. It’s not deep depression. I don’t think I would say it’s major. But just been a little depressed lately. Like not motivated. I’m used to going to the gym every day and going really hard and pushing myself. But lately just…I didn’t go at all for a week and then now that I’m back at it I feel like it’s…I dunno…I feel like it’s not my top priority. I’m not going as hard as I used to.

    February 26: New classes

    School’s been stressful just ‘cause it’s so much work. Like it’s always stressful, but I’m getting through it. I actually like my classes regardless of the work. I’m taking psychology, pre-calc, Spanish 106—which is like intermediate Spanish, I guess. It’s not hard, but it’s not beginner. Which I kinda wish I was in beginner even though I took three years in high school. It’s a hard class. The whole thing is taught in Spanish. But I love Spanish so I’m gonna deal with it. I’ll get better at it. Other than school and work…I’ve been going to the gym a lot to play basketball with my friends. That’s a new favorite of mine. I’ve been hanging out with my lady friend a lot. She comes over. And I think that’s it, man.

    March 14: Floor-cest

    I’d have to say I regret not talking to my advisor and figuring out what classes I should take. Basically I’d say my friend goes to his advisor I’d say every other week. I haven’t seen mine once. I wish I saw my advisor more and got my shit together. It’s not too late to do that, but, you know, I wish I’d started off the right way. Oh my roommate, my roommate he had a lady friend that they had been hooking up with all last semeseter. She’s our next-door neighbor. And at the beginning of the year I said, “Don’t hook up with somebody on our same floor. It’s called floor-cest. And it’s gonna ruin everything.” And they got in a fight earlier this week—actually it might have been last week, I dunno. Now they hate each other. They live right next to each other and it’s awkward and it sucks. And I told him this was gonna happen. And this just goes to show that I’m always right.

    March 30: Good but not great

    Spring break is good. It feels good to know that I have nothing to do. I have a little bit of homework, but just one assignment and it’s not a really big one. I’m finally feeling stress-free now that I’m not a school. I saw some of my grades from the first half of the semester and everything’s looking pretty good. Nothing’s great, but good. All B’s and C’s. That’s it, man. Not too much going on.

    April 15: To transfer or to stay

    Right now I’m thinking about transferring just in order to be at a smaller school. I like Delaware and everything, but I just want smaller classes. I want a smaller campus. And with less people you can probably make more friends. But I dunno. That’s probably stupid. I was also thinking about joining the Navy, but I talked to a recruiter and even he recommended that I get a degree first. So if I do join the Navy it’ll be after college. I won’t be dropping out of school for the Navy.

    May 1: Skipping class

    This coming week I got two exams coming up and I don’t really have much time to study because Monday I’m busy from 10 in the morning until 8 at night. So I’ve been trying to get on my shit this weekend, but I haven’t. [Laughs]. I’ve noticed that as I’m getting closer to finals I’ve been going to class less, which is not good, but most of my classes have all of the information online so I can still create a study guide. But not good that I’m not going to class and learning things that aren’t on the professor’s slides.

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