College life experience

A Political Science major, Markenzie Johnson is a sophomore in Rutgers University-Camden Class of 2017. Her interests include social justice, LGBTQAI+ equality, marketing, and feminism.

When I first started college, I was a naive student with no cares in the world. I was living off my parent’s generous monthly allowance and assumed that classes would be stress free and exciting. Then I experienced real life. With too much month for my money and Forever 21 sending me thank you cards, there was just enough money to spend in the local big city. I had no concept of studying. Who needed studying when you could just slide by every high school quarter? My classes did not pique my interest and, consequently, I thought the tests and quizzes to be irrelevant and unimportant. My social life was the only aspect of college that was thriving. I had SO many friends! Just a short stroll to class from the dorms and BAM! Twelve friends appeared that you could casually acknowledge in passing. The frequent parties allowed me to expand my social circles and meet people from different walks of life. Sadly, my “personal diversity quest” was not available for course credit. The popularity and excitement of my free time consumed any motivation for other studious activities.

If a social GPA was considered for academic merit, I would have been a departmental honors student, maybe even a frontrunner for valedictorian. Despite my social butterfly reputation, my grades were not flying high. I ended my first year with a B- GPA. While not as bad as some less fortunate students, this GPA was akin to a D- in my family. The familail mindset was, if you could get a B, you probably could have gotten an A with a little extra effort. After ending my high school career with an A- GPA, my parents wanted to know how I dropped a whole letter in one year. I had no explanation other than my changed allegiance from studying and extra credit assignments to day trips to the local metropolis and daily late night hangouts with friends. Arguments ensued. My parents expected better from me. I expected better from myself. In a world where a Bachelor’s Degree was slowly becoming equivalent to a High School diploma, how did my lackluster GPA fit into society’s mold?

The start of my second year was an entirely different ball game. I learned how to study to meet my learning needs. During that semester, I took on two jobs at once and stopped being as dependent on my parents. I still attended parties and I still held my social butterfly status. But I also rose in GPA by a half of a letter grade in one semester. In short, I grew up. How did I do it, you ask? I applied myself. I realized that by balancing schoolwork with friends, I was able to do both in moderation and still fully enjoy my college experience. That is the reason for college. College is a chance for you to grow and learn about what you as an individual, without the protection of your parents, can actually accomplish. With no one to pick you up when you fall, can you survive through the scrapes and bruises and keep walking? Or will you wait to be rescued?

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