I would like to share my experience about my first week of undergraduate study at Purdue University. If I am being honest, I’ve never been so stressed out in my entire life. I have trouble transitioning to college as a first-time freshman during the spring semester. I am very humbled now and I feel like I’m not as smart or bright anymore, I feel like everyone is much more advanced than me when it comes to the academic setting in college. I have trouble keeping up with the fast-paced schedule in my STEM classes and I feel ashamed of myself because everyone else seems to perform better in college academically and still have a social life. For example, My roommate is an engineering major taking more classes than me and has a heavier workload but still has time to go out with friends and watch movies almost every night while I’m stuck at the library or my dorm room studying and doing my homework. I try my very best when I study for several hours outside of class and it feels like I still have so much more to do and still have trouble memorizing every concept. I studied and try to read ahead for my chemistry recitation and I only studied the material that my lecturer discussed but when I went to recitation today we did something completely different and I was so embarrassed. To cope with my stress I usually go for a walk, talk to my roommate, or stress eat at the dining hall (food tastes better when you are stressed out). And its only the first week of college, I cannot imagine feeling this way for another four to six years. Ever since I graduated high school early I thought I was smart and talented but once I stepped foot into college I started to feel like a nobody and started to think I was dumb. I still want to be a chemical engineer/chemist someday but I’m not too sure about that. I’m afraid I might get on academic probation and flunk out because I have so much stress from schoolwork. My biggest regret from high school is stressing too much on academics when life has more to offer than just schoolwork, now I’m at the point where I have to worry and stress about college. I’m already planning my spring break vacation and its only week one.
Deep breath! It’s a big transition from HS to college.
Don’t worry about what others are doing. Focus on you. Go to office hours, tutoring, and find a study group. Freshman year was the toughest for my daughter. Take advantage of all the extra help on campus!
Hello and good for you for figuring out ways to de-stress. Do you have the ability to make a schedule change out of one of the STEM classes to a “fun” or lighter course and still keep your credits? My daughter got excellent advice from her freshman college advisor, as he told her to take classes her 1st semester that played to her strengths and not to overthink what she thought she should be taking. You are learning how to care for yourself, making new friends, becoming more independent and that all adds time and stress too. If add/drop is still available, it may be worth researching options. Agree with the above poster too - offices hours and study groups are a great resource and your professors want you to succeed.
Please be kind to yourself. You are in just your first week of college, and everyone around you spent all of last semester adjusting. You have to give yourself some time. What you are experiencing I think, in addition to stress, is “imposter syndrome”. Many bright kids at good schools feel like they are the only one who can’t handle it, but in fact you would not have been admitted if you couldn’t handle it. But please, give yourself some time to adjust. It is absolutely fine to take a lighter load or easier classes this first semester. Some colleges insist on this. Do you have an academic or residential advisor? Please talk to them. I am sure they have talked to many, many kids who feel like you do. It is fine to adjust your class schedule, if possible, so that your workload is a bit light to begin with. My freshman daughter almost started crying in her first math class (she hasn’t cried since she was about 8) and dropped down a level almost immediately. We were glad she did. You do need to have some time for fun and making friends.
This is a new experience. Things will be different than you’ve known. Not worse, not better, just different. Don’t view something that’s different as something that is negative.
Not every HS experience prepares you exactly the same as each college course might start out at. Also, college classes move at a faster pace than HS, often with a larger workload. Not every student will have to adjust but many will and It’s not unusual to momentarily feel overwhelmed by this shift.
You are NOT your major. You are not married to your major. Try your best, but remember Purdue has nearly 200 majors. There is something there for every student. Remember also, according to The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) " between 40% to 50% of engineering students drop out or change their majors " If you give it a shot but end up changing your major, it means nothing other than you learned more about yourself and the world and realized a different major was better suited to you. Realizing a better major awaits you should be viewed as a positive change.
One step at a time, one day at a time, one class at a time. College is a journey, not a race, not a contest. Each student is on his/her own personal journey. No one has lived a life exactly like yours to this point, and you should never expect your college journey to mirror that of any other student you see on campus now. Don’t beat yourself up over selective comparisons you make to other students you see. Follow your path, embrace your journey, and enjoy as much of it as you can.
Good luck and congratulations on your first week of classes!!!
This is all normal for week one, month one, semester one. D21 stressed beyond any previous stress all semester in the fall and ended up with a 3.22. Not at all what she was used to and failed tests and quizzes along the way but she was thrilled with that outcome.
Figure out if they curve things at the end of the semester.
Go for any extra help sessions.
Make time to go to dorm activities.
Remember your roommate knows they have time to pull up their grade and the first week is a grind sometimes.
You are starting earlier than your high school peers. You are in classes with kids who did take calc in HS. Recitations are not aligned to what is going on in lecture just for some additional evil twist…no one knows why. You have time to figure this out and find your groove. Summer classes may need to happen - you may end up with a job on campus that gives you free summer housing while you also take a class or two. Just embrace the chaos for the moment - this is what you have been working towards - you just did not know it. And find healthy ways to distress.
Is she okay with you failing classes and retaking them in Summer or Fall?
You really need to drop a class.
What happens is that entering freshman think that they need to get right into their majors and start taking classes that are work heavy. The pace, as you’ve seen, is brutally faster. The professors assume that you have met the prerequisites for the classes. They are not going to slow their pace down because a few students can’t keep up. They are obligated, to the students and university, to go through the syllabus and meet the deadlines to meet your finals schedule.
Learn to go, daily, to the tutors to learn how to divide and conquer your work. If you want great grades, you will go to the tutors. In college, it’s not seen as “remedial”; it’s regarded as proactive.
Along with taking care of your personal needs, it’s tough. So it is okay for you to drop a class and wait to take it. It happens often and is very common. All of us did that in college, anyway, I did and so did my kids; if the class didn’t work for me, my work schedule, or my balance, I dropped it.
Make sure you drop before the drop deadline. As you progress into Sophomore, Junior and Senior years, you’ll be able to multitask your studies and work habits, such that you can take additional classes and work a part-time job, later.
By the time Summer or Fall comes around, you will have settled into the demands of studying at a university, such that you will be able to take the courses and do well.
Oh this just breaks my heart. PLEASE don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s your first week. Starting mid-year, during a pandemic is really tough and would be on anyone. You are at Purdue because you earned it and because you deserve to be there. It’s hard not to look around and see everyone else seemingly unphased by it all, but I assure you that you are not alone in how overwhelmed you are feeling. I had a really hard time my freshman fall. I LOVED college, perhaps too much but I allowed the academics to get away from me a little bit. I was also an athlete. I went to my coach and told her that I couldn’t travel one weekend because I couldn’t manage my schoolwork and be away playing games. She sat me down and taught me the importance of saying “NO.” It was one of the most valuable lessons of my life. We scheduled every minute of my next two weeks and I followed it. Time management was something that I just didn’t have to master in high school. It sounds like you don’t have the same issues I had, but I definitely felt inadequate and that maybe I didn’t belong there. I think most everyone does their freshman year. Even if you have to drop a class or fail one it is NOT the end of the world. You’ll find your way. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far. And please check in here to let us know how you’re doing. Mental health is far more important than any grade at Purdue.
@unknowncreature I am sorry to hear that the last few days have been so stressful, but it is only the first week, and it is a big transition. Remember, your roommate and probably all the other students in your classes have been in college at least for a semester, and maybe longer (some of the other students in your chemistry class may be sophomores or juniors). They have had much more time than you to figure out how to study and how to conquer any time management issues.
Also, please know that In college, it is the successful students who seek help. Here are some resources and ideas. I suggest you try all of them, even the ones that might seem intimidating, such going to faculty office hours. (I am providing some sample email texts if you think it would be helpful, since I know that kids in your generation seem to hate email and are often intimidated by writing emails to faculty. I am fine if you use my words, change them a little, or change them a lot. No pressure – just take from them what is helpful and disregard what isn’t.
Go to Purdue’s Academic Success Center and see what they offer. Tell them that you are first-generation and a spring admit. If you are younger than your peers (because you graduated early), tell them that, too. If you think your high school wasn’t as rigorous as some of your other classmates’, you can tell them that, too. If you need help with time management, tell them that. (although that doesn’t seem to be a concern, based on what you have posted).
Ask them if they have one-to-one coaching, group classes, etc. Their goal is to help you, and the best students (at all colleges) make use of these types of resources.
Also, they may have special study groups or tutoring for specific classes, especially classes that Freshmen have to take and that are known to be especially challenging, such as math and chemistry. Make sure to ask about special resources for the courses you are taking.
Here is their website.
Purdue (and other colleges) know that first-generation students often need extra support in transitioning to college, and they set up resources just for that. Please take advantage of what Purdue offers in this regard.
The university pays faculty to hold office hours, which is time they set aside each week to meet with students to help them and to answer questions. (A professor of mine once told me “they pay me to sit there and wait for students. I wish the students would show up”). Find out when your professors hold office hours and go to them – either in person or remotely, depending on Purdue’s Covid policy. Tell them you are a spring-admit, first-generation student and want to succeed in their class but you are struggling. Their office hours and locations should be on the syllabus. If it is not, then email them and ask. The email doesn’t have to be complex. Here is a sample:
Dear Professor _____ or Hi Professor _____
I am a student in (name of class). I would like to attend your office hours, but I can’t locate when and where they are. Can you please let me know?
(Also, make sure to use your Purdue email account for the email and in the subject line always include the name of the class. Example: Chem 101 Office Hours Question)
See if the Teaching Assistants (TAs) for your classes also hold office hours or study sessions. The University pays them for this, so take advantage of it. This information should also be on the syllabus. If they have this information, attend all of them. If they don’t, then email them and ask for their assistance – or ask them in person at the end of the next recitation. You can also ask them for one-on-one assistance, or for help in understanding the subject. They can also tell you if there are study groups already set up for the class – study groups being when some of the students in the class get together at the library or elsewhere to work as a team to understand the material. These are usually student-generated (you could start your own if you wanted). Usually the TA isn’t present for these, although the TAs may also offer more formal study sessions.
Same rules as above re: using your Purdue email and including the name of the class in the subject line.
Do you qualify for the Purdue Boiler Affordability Grant? I am hoping you do – and it looks like it is designed to pay for any need that is still unmet after other grants have been applied.
If you qualify, it covers 8 semesters of college. I am hoping that will take some of the financial pressures off so that you don’t have to also work part-time. Please call Financial Aid and ask them about this.
And, if you get this grant and don’t have to pay for 8 semesters, then you can consider taking 9 or 10 semesters to get your degree instead of 8. Ask Financial Aid about this – I think that some of the other grants will extend into a 9th and possibly 10th semester. Pell Grants appear to be good for 6 years.
If you can get funding for an extra semester or two, then you can take a ligher courseload your first few semesters, which will give you extra time to study as well as to socialize and exercise. I know others have expressed concern in earlier threads that you might be taking too many courses this summer, and this could be one way to help make it work.
I know this is a long post, and I apologize for that. I have been thinking about you a lot since you posted on Friday. I want you to know that we are all wishing you the best, and hope that you can de-stress and find the resouces you need to be successful. We are all rooting for you.
All of the above advice is great. Welcome to college. Once you adjust you will be fine. Get help early and often. Some of the best /brightest kids in your class take advantage of all the learning supplements your college has to offer. Knowing this about yourself is a blessing and not a curse. Get the help you need and you will be fine. Professors are there to help you.
OP: You wrote: “and still have trouble memorizing every concept”.
This may be the source of your discomfort.
Memorization & regurgitation works well in high school and in many college majors, but the more challenging areas of study require understanding–not memorization–of concepts.
If this is the cause of your anxiety, then it might be better to drop a course & focus on what you can handle now. Don’t rush through college without a strong understanding of important concepts. If understanding is not a large part of your academic experience, then consider easing into your major even if this requires attending a summer session.
I have horrible professors especially my chemistry professor. I am so stressed right now and I never have time for myself all I do is stress eat, sleep, go to class, go to work, study, do homework, and it’s a never-ending cycle. I am mentally and physically exhausted right now and I want to go to bed but I can’t because I have to catch up on homework.
I don’t know if it’s right to drop a course, I know I’ll have better time management and mental health but I would have to take the dropped class again in the fall and my schedule gets harder and harder each semester and I want to graduate on time. The schoolwork at this moment is not difficult to understand its so much that I have to do in order to get a good grade in the class.