When I was a freshman in college pursuing my first degree, I was ready to take on the world. I made excellent grades in high school with a minimal amount of studying. College was going to be easy. Unfortunately, this sentiment only lasted a couple weeks into the school year. After my first round of tests wrapped up, I quickly realized that college wasn`t going to be even remotely similar to high school. I struggled profusely at first, barely making passing grades, even being put on an organization`s academic probation. At first, I blamed the poor performance completely on myself. I wasn`t studying hard enough, I wasn`t paying enough attention, I wasn`t grasping the material. My natural instinct to deviate towards an internal locus of control was controlling my perspective. But word-for-word memorization of textbooks and an abundance of tutors couldn`t change the path I was headed down. I was recommended by a friend to make an appointment with a counseling service that was provided by my school. This was when everything changed.
My first meeting with my counselor was uncomfortable since I had never spoken to a one before. She began to ask me personal questions and ask about issues I faced outside of school. I didn`t disclose too much too quickly, instead I politely answered as briefly as I could and attempted to get the conversation to end as quickly as possible. Then she began to ask how I felt when I was taking tests. I explained to her that I struggled remembering things I had just read, often had to repetitively read paragraphs to make sense of what I was reading, and quickly became distracted by the 500 other students alongside me in the lecture hall. What I was describing were all things I believed to be normal, but she expressed to me the issues that arose when these feelings became debilitating. She explained to me the concept of testing anxiety. At first, it was hard for me to accept any excuse besides poor personal performance. But as I got my testing accommodations, which allowed me to take my test in a silent room with less people, my semester GPA went from a 2.7 in the Fall term to a perfect 4.0 in the Spring term.
College is difficult in many ways. Its challenging academically, personally, and socially. It requires you to make big decisions about your future and puts an inexplicable amount of pressure on you to be successful. It`s a difficult transition from high school and many students often feel that since they were successful in high school, college should be no issue. I learned that this isn`t always the case and that it`s better to ask for help. I also learned the significance of taking care of yourself mentally. Mental health is important and testing anxiety is a very real illness. If you need to talk to someone about a level of stress that debilitates you and hinders your performance, then do so. College is not easy, nobody expects you to be perfect, and success will always come to those who fall down seven times, but stand up eight.
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