Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The High Road or the Load Road?

What do you do when a difficult situation presents itself? Do you push on through it or do you walk away defeated? People say that they love a challenge, but then they find themselves cutting corners and taking the easy way. I would be a liar if I said that I never took the easy road when others where embarking on the road less traveled. We all have, but that's not a true test of our character.

This year I've found myself with a larger workload, the classes growing more complicated and more difficult. When I was picking my classes last year I found myself being more adventurous. A challenge? Let's do it. I obviously chose those which fulfilled my major's requirement, but there is a little wiggle room with electives. Instead of taking the class that I know I could pass with minimal effort, I chose to take a more difficult class that fulfills the same requirement. That was last year when I was dreaming big. You can dream big and you can live the dream. Now I'm in the thick of it.

I've never had a class that challenges me so much intellectually than I have found myself in this year. I've always had a slight affinity for math, I could learn the stuff and with minimal studying pull off a good grade, but I've never really liked it. I used to think that mathematics was just a waste of time, that the basics can get me through. I found myself in a few required math courses where I knew everything already, didn't need to study and could pass everything with flying colors. Back in algebra 2 in high school when we were introduced to some basic calculus principles like logs and sins, that I was frightened. It may have grown my resistance to mathematics because when I came to college I thought that it was behind me. Now I realize that it doesn't go away.

The class I am now referring to is called Industrial Organization. It's an intermediate economics class, which combines all the basic tools learned in microeconomics and macroeconomics and analyzes industries. The first class was an introduction to the basic calculus that was going to be needed, religiously. My fears were all rushing back and I had to fight that urge, that devil on my shoulder that was whispering in my ear to just give up. The thoughts crossed my mind to drop the class, but for once I knew that it was time for a challenge. A challenge it is, concepts are actually the easiest parts stating the profit function, how to find consumer surplus, all that. Then throw calculus into the equation and my attempt at understanding whats been thrown at me. Stuff didn't make sense, numbers that were correct which didn't match mine, and complex lengthy equations which looked as if it were another language. Frustration sets in and I knew I just had to take a step back and breathe.

It's easy to grow complacent, to believe that you know it all and not want to ask questions because you think you can figure it out on your own. That was how I was in the beginning, but I soon figured out that if something doesn't make sense, ask all the questions that you need so that you know what is going on. If you don't you're going to be more lost. Keep practicing and every day just take a little at a time, for I found myself sometimes in my free time just going over the steps, saying how once you plug in this formula, then after you derive it you plug that solution into this formula. I realized that it's not just something I have to do, but I'm actually learning something and can apply it to more than just an equation.

A challenge is something that you want to do, but you find difficulty, apprehension from emotion, and complexity in understanding. Yet, once you're being challenged it's almost as if that success is a drug that you're addicted to. You did okay, but you know you can do better. You gain a thirst of wanting to do better. You find a drive coming from inside that pushes you a little bit further everyday. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy, but all play and no work makes Johnny a loser. Why settle for a slice of pie when you can have the whole thing? So why take the easy way while the road less traveled can teach you a valuable lesson about yourself. A challenge is intimidating, but fear, apprehension, and doubt are all just human emotions. You can't cloud your mind with that thinking of what if I can't do it, what if I fail, and that's too much for me. You need to cast that aside and take a leap of faith. Like Wayne Gretzky once said "You miss 100% of the shots that you don't take."

The Beginning of the End

Junior year of College just has a ring to it. It's the year that you will never forget because it matters the most. In high school, junior year was the pinnacle of my success. It was where I came into my own as a human being. It was the year that the world finally began to make sense with me. It's easy to lose sight when your in the long run. Change comes and you must adapt, yet you find yourself four years into the future, hopefully with no regret.

The two years that matter the most are Freshman and Junior year, not saying that the others don't hold importance. However, these two mark the beginning and the beginning of the end. It's a relief and sadness to say that the halfway mark has been met and the clock is ticking down. Freshman and Sophomore year are adjustments to college life such as learning the ropes, attaining the status of familiarity, and getting the prerequisites done. Last year was my year to get the perquisites out of the way, now I can focus on the getting the end in sight.

The work has gotten harder, but the challenge is the best part. They may overwhelm you and it may feel like you're getting kicked when your down. You may call into question your motivation, but that pain is only temporary. We've all had those times where everything just seems like it crumbling, where you don't think you can make it or keep up. I had that last week, with paper due, quiz, test, quiz, exam, homework, test, quiz, read this many pages, and memorize that. You lose sleep and you crave not having to bury your nose within a book. Reality check dawns, this is what I signed up for and this is actually gonna make a difference. Then I kept on going because it all just made sense.

If you take one lesson away from this, its the following. When it all just seems too much, keep your peace of mind. I don't think about what I can't do. I think about what I want to do and how to do it. Try looking at the world in a new angle, you can surpass all the indecision and emotion. Maybe it might even surprise and delight you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Walk Which Way?

Life is an endless road, with many paths to take. Some good and some bad. You must be familiar with the phrase, whenever one door closes another opens. Everyone has a choice as to where they want to go in life. Your college experience is just one door and when you choose to enroll, there are many more doors opening. Then you have to choose your a major, followed by an internship, following graduation you must choose what you really want to do with life.

Nevertheless, your life is always within your own hands. The choices that you make now can affect every door that will open for you way on down the road. How do you know your making the right choice? How do you know that your not wasting your preciously endowed time upon Earth? These are simply speculative questions and everyone has their own answer. My answer, is simply cause it feels right, and that it makes you happy. Everyone has their pitfalls, but a door may open only for a short time. A choice must be made, whether you have time to think or split seconds to make up your mind. Every choice must be taken with the same amount of precaution.

So which way are you going to walk? That's up to you. No ones experience in life is exactly the same, there are trillions of variables that affect each day, each and every breathe that you take. For example, take a look at the political unrest that has been sweeping through northern Africa: Egypt, Tunisia, especially Libya. Each individual has to make up their mind, for their future rests within their hands. No one is guiding you and no one will make the choices for you. Only you are in control of your destiny and only you have the power to forge your own way in this universe.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Victory?

Imagine life and college as a book, each day a couple pages, and each week a brand new chapter. Some days readings are longer than others and some chapters much more difficult than the previous. Thus has been my life over the past few weeks. I know it has been a while since my last post.

Life has been rather hectic latley, with these last few weeks adding to the pressures of managing your affairs on your own. From the incestuous amounts of reading required for classes its difficult to convince yourself that you are making a dent. My philosophy for when times get tough is to just always remain cool and collected. The hard times won't seem as frightening once they've come to pass. If you panic you will only be making matters worse.

While the first weeks of a term may seem like easy street, its never long until you're swimming over your head. Tests come up fast, whether your prepared or not and some things you deemed important take the back burners for a while. I've had a few tests creep up on me in the last week, some going into I knew wouldn't be an issue and then there are the ones that bring the uncertainty into your life. When receiving that grade and hearing that your grade was above the class average and you were close to highest scorer in the class is always a great feeling. You can't always pick your battles, but when you come out on top you have to take each breath of air with a sense of accomplishment no matter how small the victory may be. If everyone simply gave up at the first sign of discouragement the world would be a much different place.

Treat each new day as a blank slate and don't let the day before or tomorrow affect today. Doing so would not only be unfair to your potential, but it would be a disgrace upon yourself. Treat the joys in your life as if you will never savor them again, but know that there is always a time and a place for everything. You cannot rely simply on hedonism to get you through the day, there is that little flame in your heart that drives your actions. The pursuit of pleasure over accomplishment may seem as if it is worth it, but that is a deep and personal decision that everyone has to make.

Nonetheless, it may seem depressing and gloomy when you walk out the doors of your dormitory only to be confronted by the bite of the bitter cold and see the snow on the ground. I am optimistic though, when I walked outside today I felt a sense of warmth, the weather has eased for the time being, hopefully. I could almost feel the spring within the air. Needless to say I don't doubt that we have another snowfall looming upon us in the near future, but I think the storm that has had so many in hibernation is on its hind legs. I believe that it is almost over and when the last snow bank has melted, snow returns to rain, and the flowers melted that the natural order of the world will once again return to normal. I simply cannot wait for the sunshine upon my face while everyone who has become so accustomed to gray sky revels in sunshine.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Classes have commenced, a new term has begun here at Elmira College. The bookstore has refilled its shelves with text books only to be nearly wiped out by all of the students picking up all their necessary text books for their classes. It is important to remember that ultimate goal in which everyone is working towards. Last year term 2 saw my GPA slip from the best I have ever done in my academic career which was term 1 my freshman year. For the freshmen, college life has grown familiar and the new found freedom of living on their own has finally set in. Take caution that this does not become your hubris.

So many students fall prey to this tragic flaw that it may make it difficult to ever recover; I did not say impossible though. There are certain pit holes that can be avoided with due warning.

Keep on doing your reading and homework
A sense of confidence can be the greatest weapon or the most tragic of flaws. Nothing will hurt you more than falling behind because you think that it doesnt pay off. Trust me, you'll learn this lesson the hard way.

Stick to your sleep schedule
Nothing will hurt you more than anything less than a good nights sleep. If you have an 8 a.m. class in the morning and are up until all hours of the evening, chances are that this is going to affect your attendance. With teachers that have strict attendance policies a few late nights could cause enormous problems for you down the road. Work ahead and avoid those late nights in the lounge that I had during my freshman year while my roommate got a good nights sleep in our room.

There will be other parties
It's college, there's not only going to be one party a year. Most parties that happen during the week aren't even worth it, the smart ones will be the ones that only go out on the weekend. Plus thats when the best parties happen, let's be honest. No classes the next morning will draw anyone out.

This one goes hand in hand with the last tip. Moderation is key for everything. For parties, for studying, for everything imaginable. Spending 10 hours studying is just as inefficient as going out on a Monday night. Well probably not, but it's the analogy that counts. You're going to fry yourself cramming for 10 hours and its scientifically proven that your retention rate is significantly lowered. Study an hour or 2, nothing more a night. Work ahead so that you can be the one who says, wow this guy actually knows what he's talking about.

I can't guarantee that you will follow that advice that I have given, but at least its something that might alter your decision at least a little bit. It's much more valuable to take the advice of someone who fell into each of these pit holes and survived to tell the tale than to take the advice of someone who has never left their room besides for class and pulls of a GPA of 4.0. That may look good on paper, but it's you that makes whats on paper come to life. Grab your destiny by the horns and see where it leads you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

Finals week has fallen upon us just like the snow that's made this week just a little more testing. It is the time in which students receive the least amount of sleep that we will experience every term, with the term literally two days from coming to an end. It seemed as if this day was never to come, only for it to have creeped upon us like as stranger in the dark. I can attest that I've slept minimally in the last few days, the hope that these final exams will propel my grade even further. For those who have slacked off all term, the crunch time is on and these last few days have seemed like judgment day.
Final exams have a bittersweet feeling to them, it is the final stretch of the race, but it is the most important time of the year. The finish line is in sight, but the marathon has left you breathless and tired. Slacking is not an option when nearly 15% of a students grade is on the line. The culmination of all that has been learned in the last 11 weeks and a discipline that may seem alien to many, studying. The halls of our dorms have quieted, students have locked themselves in their rooms and the library with nothing but a stack of papers, a computer, a few text books, and several cups of coffee. Although the 24 hour quiet hour that is imposed every finals week plays a role, I believe that even if this was not in effect there would be no change.
At midnight on the Sunday, the eve before finals, the campus center was packed to the brim. Students lined up for the Midnight breakfast that is put on the evening before finals. This is a lovely event, on that is provided by the college that lifts the spirits of all students. The familiar faces of faculty that have been seen all year turning the gears of the college behind the scenes from their offices and meeting rooms are the servers for the evening. They serve hefty portions of breakfast food for each student, almost as a good luck wish. This event instills in us, the college's students, an energy boost for the long week that is to come.
We're two days from the finish line, some students have been lucky enough to finish. We are not racing against each others, each student is in a league of their own. Taking aid from those who share the same classes as us, each student will either fulfill their aspirations for the term or fall short of their goal. At the end of the day, it is only you who must stand at the podium and claim your gold medal, for this leg of the race is almost over. Tomorrow brings another day and a new race is soon to begin. Saddened to see some cherished faces depart from our halls and will not return next term to continue the race here at Elmira College can weigh heavy upon the heart, but the sadness will wash away. For the friends we have made here and the trials that we have endured we will never forget.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The First Final Stretch

It has been a little while, with all the excitement that the last break had brought time has seemed to slip away. The days are getting shorter, but with all the upcoming work and finals drawing ever closer all the sleep that was caught up upon will slowly return to it's equilibrium. As I was leaving for Thanksgiving break, the thoughts of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry filling my head, the effect that the break had upon the gas station was noticeable. I saw a few friends who were on the same page as I was, gassing up ready to embark on the journey home.
Inside the gas station while I was getting a coffee for fuel for the long drive ahead I overheard the effect that all the student leaving had upon the gas station. Let's simply say that the local Sunoco sold a lot of gas that day. A little tips for students who are heading home is to carpool. It might seem a little difficult with such a diverse population of students from many different states, but the companionship on a long drive is a morale booster when you're ticking down the miles from home on your odometer. The financial benefit is there too, more people going the same direction means that you can split some of the costs of gas.
Back to campus at this current time, classes resumed today and it was apparent that everyone's sleep cycles are not what they were a week before. There was no lack of zeal seeing as the optimism that the term is nearly over. Only two weeks and a week for finals, the library will be seeing maximum visit numbers. Although some of the years best events such as the holiday banquet and the holiday ball will be taking place soon. The next few weeks will be another adventure and I can't wait to fill you in on some of the stories, but that will have to come at a later date. The perfect balance between studying and fun will be achieved in the next few weeks before our three week holiday break, Santa Claus is readying up his sleigh and his elves are in overdrive preparing for the holiday season. You know all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.