Sometimes, life throws a curveball and sends you barrelling along a trajectory you didn’t expect. It can be difficult to maneuver these experiences. However, it’s something we all face, whether it’s entering university, moving to a new city, or getting a new job. In a recent Berkeley Connect Math small group discussion, students discussed the transition from high school to university and the challenges that come with it. Together, they came up with various solutions to problems many students face. Students bonded over their shared struggles.
Reading load: There was a common theme of being surprised by the amount of reading assigned. Apparently, the professors don’t expect students to read every word lof all of the texts, but skim instead. Some students recommended skimming the texts once more right before class as a refresher..
Office hours: “In upper division math classes, there aren’t discussion sections, so you need to manage your time and go to office hours more because you need to gain a better understanding of the material,” senior Gabriela Bobadilla shared. Other students agreed that it’s very helpful to attend a professor or GSI’s office hours. Not only does it allow you to better understand the material, but it provides for good face-time with the instructor, which may come in handy later on when asking for a letter of recommendation.
Grades: In high school, many students’ tests were regularly graded on a curve. But in college, throughout the semester, the whole course grade is curved, making it difficult to know exactly how you are doing. Class grades can seem like enigmatic mysteries. One student laughingly exclaimed, “It’s scary! I’ll just choose to believe I have an A.”
Time management: Time management was the most common issue raised by students. The Berkeley Connect Math mentor, Kevin O’ Neill, passed around time management worksheets as a solution. Using these, students can map out their schedules and organize their time efficiently. O’Neill blocks out time for his thesis by going to the library for two hours, writing the full time, and then finishing that task for the day. By repeating that process over an extended period of time, O’Neill is making good progress on his research. It’s not about trying to complete all of your work at once, but working steadily and giving yourself a daily end-goal as an incentive.
Setting priorities: O’Neill presented the rock-sand analogy. You’re trying to fill a bottle with rocks and sand. Which do you put first? The students chorused in unison, “The rocks.” Then the sand can settle around them. Applying this analogy to time, there’s a clear connection — it’s important to give first priority to your big responsibilities, and then schedule your smaller tasks around those larger duties. Students took this advice in stride, discussing how they’ll plan their weekly schedules around their big midterms rather than their scheduled boba runs!
Juggling school, work, and a social life can be demanding. That difficulty is there even before the added stress of transitioning to a new environment! Remember, you are not alone–your fellow students are going through the same struggles. However, with these helpful pieces of advice, hopefully you’ll be able to feel more comfortable with new experiences and know how to organize your time. The Berkeley community is here for you; Berkeley Connect is here for you. #YouBelongHere
Written by Melody Niv, Berkeley Connect Communications Assistant