Something that can difficult about adjusting to freshman year is realizing that you may not necessarily be at the top of your class anymore. USC is a very selective institution, so we will be taking classes with an intellectual group of students, which is an excellent thing but can be intimidating. It was certainly scary for me, and it can be a difficult thing to cope with at first. In the beginning of last semester, I was extremely anxious about my academic standing among my peers because everyone is so smart, and I psyched myself into thinking that I was not on their level. I had to constantly remind myself that I was accepted to USC for a reason, and I just had to do my best. Ultimately, I ended up making Dean’s List, studying harder than I ever had before, and I was grateful for being pushed past my comfort zone. The premise of this article is not to advertise my accomplishment but remind my fellow freshmen is that it is OK not be the academic star anymore but to do your best because that is all you can do. College is a time in our lives when we need to remind ourselves that we are here to learn, not just to get a 4.0.
I went to an extremely competitive high school, so that drive to be the best had just been ingrained in my mind for so long that my love for learning was often compromised for all the wrong reasons. Tracking my growth as a student since the beginning of my first semester until now helped me see that being immersed in such an academically stimulating environment was ultimately the best thing for me. My advice is to take a breath and allow yourself to learn for your own enjoyment because college is much too short to get caught up in the craziness of numbers and perfectionism. We must learn from our mistakes and take advantage of the opportunities we have here: incredible professors, a myriad of courses across so many disciplines, fellow students who will challenge us to unlock our potential. As my political science professor repeatedly says, being pushed in the classroom is like eating our intellectual spinach. It is not always pleasant or easy, but it is in our own benefit and brings the most returns.
Vineet Chauhan is a freshman majoring in economics and English. His column, The Genuine Freshman, runs every week on Tuesday.