My name is Anna, and I’m just about to end my sophomore year at Harvard. My major is statistics and I’m hoping to minor in computer science. Outside of the classroom, I participate in student government (the Undergraduate Council), Harvard’s Undergraduate Women in Business, I’m the social chair of my House Committee, and I tutor for Harvard Student Agencies! I also am a part of the club swim team.
Many of these extracurriculars are not activities I participated in high school. I spend most of my time in meetings for the Undergraduate Council, especially as its secretary. My active role in student government is something I certainly never expected to do and is just one way in which college is so very different from high school. While the transition between the two can certainly take some adjusting to, I personally found that many of the changes were very manageable, and enjoyable as well.
The difference that really hit me was the incredible amount of personal freedom I had, and as a result, the need to be as efficient with my time as possible. It was slightly overwhelming to not have a fixed schedule -in high school, my days followed a regular pattern: school, swim practice or other extracurriculars, and then homework. The lack of structure in college life, while freeing and often leading to an empowering sense of independence, can actually be quite stressful. Time management becomes a much more necessary skill, especially with the addition of self-scheduled extracurriculars. Learning how much I could really commit to while still having time to sleep, do well in classes, and even have a little relaxation time was one of the most important lessons of my freshman year. Beyond simply structuring one’s time wisely, the use of unstructured time requires just as much thought and consideration. When your friends surround you almost 24/7, it is so easy, when faced with a block of free time that should be used for studying, to put off work.
Self restraint through the avoidance of procrastination and an efficient use of time are still skills that I am working on, but I like to think each semester I have gotten a little more used to life at college and a little more attuned to this sense of freedom. The best advice I can give is to try to stay as organized as possible and to keep a to-do list to keep yourself accountable.