Category Archives: Academics

On Planning Your Summer

When the snow is falling and temperatures dip below freezing, my friends are dreaming of white sand beaches and tanned skin. I revel in putting on my winter coat and the stillness of a cold, gray day. Maybe I’m a freak, but I prefer winter to summer. I’d rather be bundled up and wrapped in a blanket drinking hot cocoa than feel sticky sweat on the back of my neck on a humid August day. Still, while I’m living in bliss every winter, I am forced to think about the summer months looming ahead because whether I like it or not (I don’t), my last summer as a college student is approaching.

What this meant for me was that I had to plan my sweaty days well ahead of time. Every field of interest has relevant research and job opportunities, each with different deadlines. In my experience, engineering research and jobs often have deadlines as early as mid-December, and most are closed by the end of January. After an initial survey of the opportunities available to me in December, I decided that my first choice would be to pursue biology-oriented research abroad by applying for the Vredenburg scholarship, which Hopkins engineering students can apply for.

The decision almost made itself. I’ve dedicated this year to finding travel opportunities within my means, which translates to seeking out scholarships for educational reasons. There is a wide variety of majors at Hopkins that lend themselves to semesters abroad or even a year abroad, but mine led me to a search for a summer abroad because a semester just didn’t seem feasible. An opportunity to spend a few months in a different country and gain some academic perspective into a new research topic provided the appropriate academic component of a study abroad experience, while also allowing me to continue doing research, and (best of all), live in a foreign country.

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Hyde Park, London (I will be living across the street.)

After an extensive search and an even more lengthy application, I decided that I wanted to study at Imperial College in London, England this summer. Because I’m planning to attend graduate school and pursue a PhD in chemical engineering or a similar field, a research position felt like the right fit. I get to attend a fabulous university for ten weeks and conduct research on the synthesis of therapeutic glycoproteins, all while living in central London on my own.

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From one library to another, Imperial College library

I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait for the sticky summer days to get here, because that means I get to embark on my study abroad adventure.

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Majestic London skyline, I’m ready for you.

My Semester in Proteins

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Asparagine (Asn, N)

My only exposure to the various studies on proteins was during my sophomore fall in Biochemistry. Every year, nearly 400 students at Johns Hopkins will memorize their amino acids, along with chemical structures and properties, three-letter codes, and one-letter codes. Now, I don’t know about the rest of those students, but I do know that as soon as that class was over, I promptly forgot all that I had learned about proteins and what makes them what they are. My inability to remember asparagine’s carbonyl and amide groups no longer seemed to matter and I let it all fade into the background of my academic studies.

Now, over a year after my amino acid flash cards, studied knowledge of peptide bonds, and in depth analysis of hemoglobin’s active sites, the amino acids are back and I have to kick the old biochemistry brain back in to overdrive. As I reach my final semesters in the bulk of my major, they become more and more specialized, and all of a sudden, two of my classes are strictly dedicated to the study of proteins.

Protein Engineering and Biochemistry Lab (PEBL, pronounce “pebble”) is a lab course in the Biophysics department in the School of Arts & Sciences. In this course, we will be working with a protein called SNase, or Staphylococcus aureus nuclease, learning about its properties using various analytical techniques, and changing one of the amino acids in its sequence to a different amino acid called proline.

Application of Molecular Evolution to Biotechnology (I wish there was an acronym for this class) is a bioengineering elective that I’m taking this semester in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department in the School of Engineering. This is another class entirely focused on proteins but takes a different approach from PEBL. This course meets two times a week, and the bulk of its work takes the form of reading journal articles and reviews, focusing on directed evolution.

To top it all off, I’ve applied to work in a lab overseas this summer working on a cell-free protein synthesis project. Needless to say, if someone had told me a year and a half ago as I pored over my amino acid flash cards that I would have a semester so heavily focused on the proteins they made, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Now I’m just trying to glean as much information as I can this semester before I (hopefully — I’m still in an application process) go abroad to experience it in a research lab for real.

Declarative

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Closing out the summer with views from the 410

In the past month, I’ve begun to feel restless. My days are jam packed with classes, rehearsals, meetings, and events, but my mind has been yearning for something different. With the constant activities, I’ve started to realize that all I want is a day in the library. It sounds weird, but I really feel like that’s what’s missing. To sit in the naturally sunlit atrium, the coffee charged cafe at the upper entrance of Brody, or even a quiet table on C level is the only thing that could possibly bring me solace in this whirlwind of my junior year.

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We also got new Pode babies!

With this newfound love for the occasional sedentary afternoon, I found myself looking at the remainder of my coursework for my degree and realized that my senior year was looking pretty light. Most people would jump at the opportunity to take an easier semester and do something for themselves, but a few weeks ago, I made a choice.

I’m also doing something for myself. I’m just taking a slightly different approach.

A common tour statistic boasts that 60% of Hopkins students declare a second major or a minor to accompany their primary major. For the past two years, I have proudly waved my single major flag high, but for the first time, I’m proud to be a statistic. At 2:45PM on Monday afternoon, I walked in to speak with the head of the Mathematics department and walked out with a second major 18 minutes later.

So why mathematics?

A video: See Professor Richard Brown’s response to this question to understand how I got interested in a math degree. I remember watching this late at night during my freshman fall and I’m pretty sure I teared up a little. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg2mOl042ng

A feeling: Barring my freshman spring, I have taken a course in the Mathematics or Applied Math & Statistics department every semester I’ve been at Hopkins. I have found that being in a math class helps me to stay motivated, because I always have a homework assignment that I’m eager to work through. Being able to come back to that math homework has always been comforting. Math is always something I can come back to and work through by myself, so it also gives me the alone time that I need in a world of engineering collaboration and teamwork.

A future: I don’t know what I want to do for grad school. I know I want to go, but I don’t know for where or for what. Maybe I want to go somewhere to continue studying chemical engineering or biological engineering, or maybe I want to change courses completely and study math. Either way, my coursework is set for the next two semesters, and it will be in my senior spring that I make the decision to take either Analysis II & Algebra II, or Partial Differential Equations & Dynamical Systems. The first route allows me to root myself in a purely mathematical world, where the second  will strengthen my knowledge of my current major and research.

A question: If I’ve enjoyed my courses in the math department this much in the past, why not?

What I Learned in Class Today: Transport I

I’m taking a letter from the book of @JHU_Jackie to talk to you a little bit about what I’ve been learning this semester in my current favorite class. As sophomore year continues on, the classes I’m taking continue to get more and more specialized. Ever sequential class I take becomes more specific, more interesting, and gets to the meat of what this major really is.

If you asked me to describe today what I hope my career in chemical engineering would look like, I would have to say Transport. Transport Phenomena I is the first in a series of upper level Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering classes. This semester, it meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 9AM in Maryland 110 (home base) and it is the first 9AM class that I have not had to drag myself out of bed for — although if I’m being perfectly honest, Introductory and Organic Chemistry aren’t huge competition. If you’re thinking about an engineering field and you like chemistry, or you’re just curious to know what I’m up to (hi family and friends), this is what I learned in class today.

What is Transport anyway? JHU’s course registration system gives a long description about molecular mechanisms of momentum, energy, and mass transport, the use of the Navier Stokes equation, and the development of exact solutions to steady state, isothermal, and unidirectional flow problems. If you’re wondering what that means in plain English, it means that we’re figuring out how things move, in both a qualitative and quantitative way. We’re looking at the way velocity, heat, and mass are exchanged from one point to another, and we’re doing it with really cool looking equations.

What does a typical Transport class look like? Transport is typically taken sophomore spring, and since I didn’t take it a semester early, this is a fairly large lecture class. I think there are about 75 people in the class, and it is taught by Professor Konstantopoulos, who does research in the Institute of Nano and Biotechnology in Croft Hall. Professor Konstantopoulos (KK for short) is probably one of the most engaging lecturers I’ve had here. He takes detailed, color coded notes on the board (I’ll just reiterate color coded again), and he’s passionate about what he teaches. He’ll walk around and randomly ask people to answer his questions and it keeps us on our toes, but it also gets us thinking instead of just mindlessly copying. I find myself checking my watch in a lot of my classes, but with Transport, it’s usually already time to go when I start to wonder what time it is.

What does a Transport assignment look like? Our weekly problem sets are generally four to five questions, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I usually get through about a problem or two (at most) a day. Transport problems have the tendency to go into great depth and detail. Half of the problem is being able to visualize and draw it, a quarter of it is making a bunch of assumptions and assigning boundary conditions based on given information, and the last bit is all of the calculus/differential equations/math stuff that goes in to solving it.

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Transport notes

Why do I love it? I’m not completely sure what it is about Transport that I’m really enjoying. I think it’s probably the idea that all of the math I’ve learned here is finally being put into some kind of practical application (even if I’m not sure where I’ll ever see two coaxial cylinders rotating at different speeds in opposite directions with some kind of mystery liquid sandwiched between them). The satisfaction that comes with whittling down all of the crazy equations to get a quantifiable answer that I can reason my way through is satisfying. There’s a method to the madness, and that’s the beauty of it. 

What’s In My Backpack?

Long ago, I purchased a green Jansport backpack, and it is has since remained a faithful friend. Though the hole in the bottom of my eight-year-old bag is large enough to fit a water bottle through, it remains my daily confidante and the bag I set out the night before every day of class. In order to embark on a full day without returning to my room, there are several things I always carry with me:

  1. My computer: I don’t generally take notes on my computer, but some of my professors post lecture slides before class and I’ll keep my computer on my desk if they go through slides too quickly. Carrying my computer with me also allows me to go directly to Brody or Mason Hall when I’m finished with class for the day without going back to my room. I think the stickers are pretty indicative of who I am, too.IMG_4602
  2. My binder: Everybody has a certain way that they like to take and organize their notes. My method of choice is via binder. That way, I can just bring a ton of paper to class and put it into my binder when the day is done. It allows me to organize my notes, homework, and printouts any way I want. I can hole punch things so I never lose a folder. After the tragic loss of a folder (containing all of my homework) in high school, I try to steer clear.IMG_4603
  3. Textbooks: The joy that is carrying heavy textbooks really knows no bounds. The textbook(s) I carry are largely dependent on my plan of attack for studying and working for the day. Today I have my Cell Biology book but tomorrow will probably be Transport or Linear Algebra. There are daily lockers in Brody that I use frequently because they’re free and they encourage me to come back to the library if I leave them there. (The lockers get cleared at 7AM so I always go back before the end of the day!)IMG_4604
  4. Chargers on chargers: At all times, I carry both my phone charger and my computer charger with its extension cord. iPhones never seem to want to make it through the day, and with the insanely long battery life of a MacBook Air, I usually don’t notice that my computer is about to die until minutes before it happens. It’s a pain to go back to Commons if I’m studying in Gilman or MSE (even though neither is that far), so I always make sure never to leave without them.IMG_4605
  5. Pens, pencils, and pencil lead: I hate pens but I have a bunch just in case I need them. I almost exclusively use pencils (which are useless without lead) and all of my pens are from Mason Hall.IMG_4606
  6. Highlighter, Expo markers, and mini stapler: I have a highlighter because you’re allowed to highlight in rental textbooks (my favorite discovery) and Expo markers for the whiteboards in Brody because it’s impossible to find markers most of the time. I carry around a mini stapler for mine and my friends’ last minute homework stapling needs.IMG_4607
  7. iClicker: I’ve needed one for a class every semester. The only way I remember not to forget it is to never take it out of my bag.IMG_4608
  8. Wallet: I keep everything in here except for my J-card and keys, which I usually keep in my jacket pocket. That way, I can take my wallet out of my bag so I’m not tempted to buy coffee or snacks in Brody cafe (I have run up quite the tab in the past year).IMG_4609
  9. Miscellaneous: While I was rifling through my bag to find out what was in it, I also found Chapstick, a spoon, index cards, and my Rubik’s cube.IMG_4610

An Ode To Finals

While I sit in my living room at home, 180 miles from the Hop, I cannot help but feel lucky. After two finals periods last year in which I remained at school for two full, stress-filled weeks, I had the privilege of leaving quite early this time. With all of my finals crammed in to the first week, I am cozy and warm at home, sitting across the table from my sister as I write this.

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Hello, it’s me.

For those who are waiting to take their last exams tomorrow, my heart is with you.

That being said, I think finals get a bad reputation for reasons I don’t really understand. I definitely had a comparatively easy finals period this semester to previous ones, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that finals period, particularly reading period, actually tends to be pretty fun. While I do not pine for sixteen-hour days in the library or enjoy permanently penciled-stained hands, I enjoy the freedom of finals. After a semester of classes and a regimented schedule, it’s nice to schedule my own days and create a plan of attack for my exams. I had down time between each one (it really is the luck of the draw every time) and I even got to go out to dinner with my friends and cherish my last few days with the best people on Earth for what is bound to feel like an eternity.

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Thank you for supporting my FFC obsession.

Sure, finals are cumulative. Sometimes they can make or break you; if you’ve been doing well in a class, you’re worried that the final might throw a curveball and ruin a good thing that you have going. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re not doing so well, you might have a lot to prove through one exam or paper. By no stretch of the imagination do I mean to say that finals are the highlight of my semester, but I do like that they wrap up each one in a neat little package. They signify the start of a new semester and in the fall, a new year.

Thinking about year long courses in high school, I honestly don’t know how I did it. I like the fast paced environment of college and the hustle and bustle of getting things done. I like having a course’s work under my belt because it means I can move on to bigger and better things. This spring, I get to truly delve in to my major, and thinking about it makes me want to fast forward to January 25.

Before that can happen, I’m returning for Intersession (for a myriad of reasons). Staying home for over a month with nothing to do almost feels like a waste of my time, for starters, but I want to come back to take classes with my friends, continue working on my research, and rehearsing with the Octopodes. I love being at Hopkins, plus getting to stick around and take free classes which are pass/fail and zero stress is a win on all fronts.

Did I sleep until 11:30AM the day after I got home from my finals? Absolutely. They’re draining, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of them and look forward to coming back in just a few weeks.

ChemBE and Me

When people ask me what my major is, I’ve begun to hesitate when I answer the question. It’s not because I’m doubting my choice in the midst of a busy semester — far from it — but it’s because I’m beginning to wonder how to tackle the response I get when I reveal what I’m studying.

“I’m ChemBE.”

“Oh my goodness, why would you do that to yourself?” A quick shudder tends to run through the asker’s body and I smile politely, replying with a slightly defensive tone.

“I like it!”

I’ve written countless blogs on my attitude toward exams, how I’ve gotten through stressful times, and the countless activities with which I supplement my education here. After this week’s SAAB meeting, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever put in to words exactly why I’ve chosen one of Johns Hopkins’s most notoriously difficult majors. I’m not certain of what I want to do when I leave undergrad as far as careers go. I know that I’m going to an MD/PhD information session tonight, but I’m still not even sure that I’m pre-med, much less sure that I want to be a doctor somewhere down the line.

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Working hard or hardly working in Brody cafe?

In any case, one thing I do know is that the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department here can prepare me for anything that I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I’ve always been a chemistry nerd. I took two years of high school chemistry because I loved it so much, as did many of my ChemBE peers. Still, loving chemistry doesn’t justify my choice. Why not just be a chemistry major?

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Wyman Quad AKA Engineering Quad AKA Home Base

I want to make things. I want to take part in creating active, tangible things that can revolutionize medicine. I’m not planning on singlehandedly transforming the pharmaceutical industry, but I do plan on making my mark. The major I’ve chosen is arming me with the ability to answer the tough questions at every turn in the engineering process. There are classes to teach me how to bring materials from point A to point B, as well as classes teaching me how to separate the wanted materials from the unwanted ones, and all the while there are chemistry courses and labs encouraging me to think about these abstract ideas in a concrete setting.

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Even though homework isn’t actually bae, doing work toward my major makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.

At Hopkins, chemical engineering is special because it puts “and biomolecular” into the title of its major. That means that there are different tracks to follow, and I’ve chosen one that will hopefully prepare me for a future in drug delivery, pharmaceutical development, or the like. Others may be looking for careers in industry, oil, or marketing. ChemBE is a diverse major with countless avenues to choose.

The classes are more than just interesting; they’re dynamic and exciting, and no matter how difficult they are, I love every moment equally. Whether they’re filled with confusion, relief, or understanding, each day brings me closer to a clear decision on what I want to do with my life. I’m challenged here daily in ways that I could not possibly have imagined before I got here, but at this stage in my college career, I couldn’t fathom doing anything different.

So I might not have a crystal clear path yet, but I know I’m heading generally in the right direction. Simply put, I’m ChemBE because it feels right.

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I love you, Maryland Hall.

The L Word

Everyone is looking for it, everybody knows that everyone else is looking for it, and everybody wants to know how they can experience it too. I’m not talking about love here (but I bet I could have fooled you), I’m talking about labs.

A majority of Hopkins students come to this school fully intending to find a lab to work in. Lab opportunities are everywhere, but landing a research job can sometimes be a more convoluted process than it seems. Some labs require you to take safety courses before you can be permitted inside of them, while others require prior experience, or even outside skills that you never expected you would need to have.

When I got here, a vicious cycle of questions seemed to constantly be running through my mind. When I finally sorted it out, I realized that the first question I needed to answer was “How am I supposed to work in a lab that wants me to have prior experience when everyone wants me to have prior experience?”

It’s a tricky question to tackle, but what I learned about half way through February is that not everyone is looking for someone who knows everything before they get there. Of course you need to educate yourself about the lab you’re applying for a position in and it’s good to know the work of the advisor you’ll be working under, but the wonderful thing about Hopkins being a research institution is that freshmen are expected to look for labs to work in; they are expected to find research opportunities, and more often than not, if you can find the right lab and make a longterm commitment, you can learn the tricks of the trade after you’ve gotten the job.

The best way to find a research position is to ask. Look up projects you’re interested in, or fields you want to explore, and see what your professors are working on. Dr. Gray, my professor for Introduction to Chemical and Biological Process Analysis (we call it Process by the way, because nobody has time to say the entire title) gave us a super helpful push at the beginning of the semester by giving a presentation on all of the research happening in the ChemBE department. It was great — I wrote down whose projects interested me most and prepared to write a few e-mails to see if any positions were open.

After reading up on the labs and their supervisors, I opened my e-mail to start writing some drafts, but in true procrastination fashion, I decided to open Facebook along with it. While mindlessly scrolling through the Hopkins Class of 2018 page, I happened upon a post recruiting MatSci, ChemBE, and BME freshmen interested in nanomedicine and drug delivery to send in their résumés.

For me, it was done and done. After some pretty hard hitting personal experiences with cancer and a desire to understand the genetics of the disease, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about the potential for nanomedicine to be utilized in cancer treatments. I sent in my résumé and held off on my other e-mails.

I was extremely lucky; within three days, I had scheduled an interview, and within a week I had a job. I am now currently working in the Hanes Lab at the Wilmer Eye Institute (a part of the Hopkins medical campus) in a sector that is studying different emulsion methods to make drug loaded nanoparticles for pancreatic cancer and ophthalmology. I’m fewer than two weeks in and I even got to spend a day making some of my own particles. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. I was fortunate enough that the opportunity practically fell into my lap, and perhaps it wasn’t the most conventional way to go about it, but I think I’m living the true Hopkins experience now.

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My first real lab notebook

 

Week Four Woes

As the third week of the semester draws to a close, midterms are officially upon us. B-level and C-level are slowly beginning to fill up, and it is becoming more and more difficult to reserve a study room unless you decide you want it at least twelve hours in advance. Just as we were all beginning to settle into the spring semester, the tidal wave that is week four has hit. I learned this last semester, but the stress doesn’t dissipate regardless of how long you anticipate it. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t help that I got sick last week for the first time in over a year, and my coughs seem to reverberate across C-level for the entire Hopkins community to hear. Still, the world doesn’t stop for a cold; by 6PM on Monday the 23rd, I will have taken 3 midterms and handed in an essay. I’m not here to complain, and it’s not like I have it worse than anybody else, but this is usually about the time when things start getting difficult. There are high points and low points in every semester, and I hate to say it, but I’d be lying if I said this was a high.

Midterm exams often make you question your knowledge of the content in a class and your ability to study effectively. When they hit you all at once, you even find yourself questioning your major, your intelligence, and sometimes you’ll wonder if you even belong here if the stress is consuming enough. I am more than half way through my freshman year (extremely brief tangent: how?), and I’ve never doubted my belonging here, but there always seems to be someone who understands the material better, faster, and with more ease. Buckling down and doing the work doesn’t always seem to be enough, and for an ultra-perfectionist like me, sometimes that’s enough to bring me down. In high school it seemed fairly simple; do your homework, study for your tests, and start your papers early. It was a guaranteed recipe for success, but it doesn’t seem to work like that anymore. At the end of last semester, I wrote one of my blogs about finally figuring out the most effective ways to study, but even equipped with that knowledge, midterms can seem daunting (especially when all three are for science classes and one of them is physics).

My goal is not to discourage people from choosing a challenging major. I don’t intend to incite fear or create unnecessary worries, but with midterms on my mind, I’m almost unable to focus on anything else at the moment. Midterms are never fun; in my eighteen years, I’ve never seen anybody exhilarated by the thought of an exam, excited to wake up at 9AM on a Monday for a chemistry exam, or at 8AM on a Friday for physics.

But we do it.

It’s important to remember that no matter how many alternatives we as students feel could substitute exams, this is just the way it is. There is not a college in the country where exams don’t cause stress or anxiety. I have two sisters at universities that couldn’t be more different from this one, and we all bond over this distress. While I’m on the subject though, I’d like to bust a common myth: just because it’s Hopkins doesn’t mean our lives are infinitely more stressful. Is this a challenging university? Absolutely, but the opportunities granted to students here simply can’t be beat, and that’s what makes going here incredibly worth it.

So with that, I think it’s important to remember a few things. We are still freshmen, and that doesn’t give us the right to slack off or do poorly, but it’s okay to take a step back and remember that the learning process is really just beginning. We have to be organized and stay calm, because psyching ourselves out and finding that we can’t even hold a pen upright because our hands are shaking so badly will not help us finish on time. (I know about that one from personal experience — the first Calculus III midterm from last semester was not my proudest moment.) Professors here are more than willing to answer our questions, and love students who frequent their office hours. Take practice exams early, and figure out what you need help with before it’s too late.

There are a million lessons to learn from each round of midterms, and even though it is anything but a fun and carefree time, we are here to learn and master skills. Good stress relievers will save you (mine are blogging and sharing my physics woes with my friend Jasmine) and midterms don’t last forever. By my next blog, they will all be over, and even though it’s scary now, that is quite a comforting thought.

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Just to remind us that the blue period doesn’t last forever, and that pretty excellent things can come from it regardless.

 

Training Wheels

With finals fast approaching, I can’t help but wonder how first semester can be over. Next week marks the beginning of a long week of finals, but it also marks an important milestone; the training wheels are coming off. We’re about to go into the real world of college, official GPAs and all. With a semester of covered grades behind us, we are officially expected to do well. We’re expected to be able to handle all of it — the exciting part is, I think we’re ready. It’s daunting for sure, but I know that I’m ready for the spring.

Covered grades provide the perfect opportunity to figure out the right way to study and find a balance between homework, studying, clubs, activities, and friends. Covered grades by no means give freshmen the opportunity to slack off and take a break, but they provide an excellent cushion for trial and error. Studying for college is nothing like it was in high school.

If you’re anything like I was in high school, you probably take every AP course you’re allowed to sign up for in a given year, and you study for every exam you have because you feel an obligation to both your teachers and yourself. The definition of studying in high school changes pretty drastically in college though. It’s based on the same principles, but it takes a lot more to achieve the same result. For me, being well prepared in high school meant studying for about an hour for a normal test. A really hard test warranted maybe three hours or two days, and at the time, that was strenuous. That’s not how college works though, and time management is just as important as people say it is.

Class time is cut in half and study time is doubled or tripled depending on the class. I’m grateful for covered grades because I think I’ve finally found the key to studying successfully here. The end result is not always that perfect 100% the way it was in high school, but it’s usually worth much more than that. A mastery of the material and confidence that you’re learning something critical to mastering your field of study are the true benefits of learning what studying really means. I thought that I knew what it was in high school, but now I’m sure.

It works differently for everyone, but the key to my success is usually outlining the textbook, doing practice problems, and then working in a small group once I can pinpoint what I’m still struggling with. It’s not magical or revolutionary and it sounds simple, but it took me nearly the entire semester to figure out. Armed with this knowledge, I think I’m ready to take on finals. (As I’m typing that, I’m knocking on wood because I don’t want to jinx it, but I really do feel ready.)

So with that, we’re on to the real world of college. It’s exciting, terrifying, and I feel like I’m growing up a little bit too fast, but the good outweighs the bad, and I’m eager to move in to the spring semester. For me, that means a new dorm, new friends, and the opportunity to focus on my engineering degree without a commute and a voice degree. It’s uncharted territory, but being equipped with the tools to study right and be successful in my classes, I know that everything else will be just fine.