Incoming freshman advice

Michael Bergonzi graduated from Parkland College in Spring 2014. Before graduating he was hired as a camera man for his local PBS station. He’s been there for over a year while interning at a local radio station where he mixes down radio hours and segments into podcasts. He currently manages a review site, posting an audio drama review once a week. You can find out more by visiting He also has an ebook out titled “Audio Drama Reviews: Three Years 100 Reviews,” which collects 3 years of reviews in one volume. You can find it at most e-book retailers for free. Michael believes strongly that people make their own luck through hard work and determination.

Stay Positive and Motivated:
One of the hardest parts of college is staying motivated. Whether it’s doing homework, going to class, or studying for an exam. As someone with depression, I know what it’s like to not want to do anything. To lie around in bed and sleep the day away. Having depression doesn’t mean you’re sad all the time. Rather it’s more akin to being unmotivated to do anything. It’s the “why bother” approach to life. Even with proper medication it can be hard to get out of bed in the morning and go to class. In particular a morning one — because, though you have more freedom than you did in high school, there’s a trade-off. It’s basic economics that if you want something, you’ll probably have to give something up.
In high school it was easy, because you were told to go by both parents, teachers, and anyone else who cared about your future. Getting an education is something we should all strive to get. Once you graduate high school, however, college is optional. The thing you have to give up in order to go to college is having fun. After high school you’re free to do whatever. Those who make the decision to go college make a choice, consciously or unconsciously, to go to an institution of higher learning. Many children between the ages of 18-25 make poor decisions. Like choosing to party rather than study. Studies say brains reach their maturity at around age 25. As someone two years away from that psychological milestone, I’ve accomplished so much. Part of it was due to an excellent support system at home and in college, along with caring professors who enjoyed teaching and had a passion for it.

Don’t Blame your Professors. Be Proactive in your Learning:
Some professor’s are better than other’s. There’s no getting around that simple truth of college. If you get someone who seems unmotivated and you feel like you haven’t learned anything from them, don’t blame them. Chances are you’re not doing your part either. There’s an adage that goes something like “Everything can be learned, but nothing can be taught. This is essentially the academic version of the “bring a horse to water” metaphor. A teacher or professor can only do so much. You have to meet them halfway, preferably more.
You’re paying to learn from experts in a field you yourself have invested interest in trying to pursue a career in. Add to that the simple truth that knowledge is free and what you’re paying for by going to college is a credit so you can get a good job (this comes from Michigan Tech Professor Robert Nemiroff via an iTunes U course). With such a wealth of information at your fingertips, the excuse “It’s my teacher’s fault” doesn’t cut it. Even if your professor is reading from a textbook when a student asks him or her a simple question that they should know on the top of their head is sadly a real world example in my last semester of college. Even still. Be proactive in your education and you can go far.

Don’t be Overconfident:
So you’ve survived the first semester of college. Congratulations. Was it harder than you thought? Easier? Somewhere in between. If you answered it was “easier” than I thought. Do NOT make the assumption I made that the rest of college would be easy. If there’s one piece of advice I can give, it’s to not let your guard down after one great semester. My own first semester was great academically. I took four classes Got three As and a B. The next semester my grades significantly dropped and continued to drop in the semesters which followed. I wasn’t failing the classes my GPA went down significantly after my first semester.
There were a number of reasons and possibilities this happened. One was that my first semester included classes that were interesting to me on some level. Those who’ve made this far in their high school career know that not every course is going to be interesting. If you aren’t good at math or science, then taking a course in one of those subjects is something you’ll have to tackle at some point, because most every major requires some math and science in order for you to earn your degree. As my GPA continued to drop, I had to rethink my approach to college. What was I doing that could be changed? What you’ve read above is what I ultimately came up with: being proactive and staying confident and motivated.

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