A Fresh View: Stayin’ Alive with College Academics

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Hello friends! I am Yuzuka Akasaka, the ineffably ecstatic first-year blogger for A Fresh View. As I happily stumble through the beautiful hot mess that is the first chapter of my college life, I hope y’all will enjoy the Brown experience with me through the blog posts. I am sending love and good vibes to every single one of you from my new home, Providence, Rhode Island. 

A question I had as a high school senior was, “How are college academics different from high school academics?” Now that I have been taking courses at Brown for about three weeks, I feel that I have a better grasp of the answer to the question I once had. Also, yesterday (Friday the 26th) marks my one month anniversary since arriving to Brown, so YAY (I attended an amazingly fun and educational pre-orientation program, the Third World Transition Program, also known as TWTP, so I arrived a little earlier than the rest of my peers).

Here are several academic aspects of high school and college; I will focus mainly on personal differences I have experienced between my high school and Brown, but the experiences I have had should be fairly similar to those of other high school students/college freshmen around the country.

  • Self-discipline in preparing for class- In high school, many classes have assigned homework. Some college courses do have assigned homework, but the majority of the preparation for class is independent, such as readings. There may not be reading quizzes (though there may be, depending on the course/professor). Also, if a student is struggling in class, it is the student’s responsibility to take advantage of the abundance of wonderful resources, including, but not limited to attending a professor’s office hours and receiving tutoring, both of which I have done (and will continue to do) and highly recommend.
  • Attendance responsibility- In high school, students are considered truant if they do not attend class without an excuse that the school deems as legitimate, but in college, lectures and recitations/conferences/labs are not mandatory to attend. Students are responsible for their own educations, including deciding whether to show up to class or not. However, attending these are usually in the best interest for the student. Furthermore, my professors are engaging and comical, so I personally could not imagine missing an opportunity to expand my mind and audibly chuckle, and my TAs are so kind and helpful that I do not want to miss reinforcing material learned in class with them.
  • Time-management- In high school, I was in school from 9:20-2:30, and then I rushed off to golf practice, which usually ended around 5:30 or 6:00. In college, students are in class for lesser amount of time, and the schedules vary between individuals. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have classes at 10:00-10:50 and 11:00-11:50, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have classes at 9:00-10:20 and 1:00-2:20. At first, I was not sure how to handle the free time, but I have worked out a routine of when I eat lunch on weekdays and when and where I study. The abundance of free time can be shocking, and adjusting to it is crucial to succeeding in college.
  • Textbooks- When I was in high school, I had heard my older friends complain about purchasing textbooks, but I did not fully understand the struggle until I had to purchase/rent fourteen books a few weeks ago. The difficulty in this process comes from scouring the internet (including a Facebook group for Brown students to buy and sell books) and the local textbook store (in my case, the Brown Bookstore) to find the best prices, and then hope that the books required at the time would be shipped in time (I could have paid for express shipping, but as a college student with no job, I cannot afford such luxuries).
  • Freedom in course selection- This is the first time in my life that I have not had fairly standard course selection requirements. In high school, the progression in courses was pretty linear (ex. in social studies, take world history sophomore year, U.S. history junior year, and economics and government senior year), but here, I had the choice to select courses from any of the departments, which I found quite beneficial, because I do not know what I want to concentrate (Brown terminology for major) in right now. With Brown’s open curriculum, I am responsible for shaping my college education, but the school provides guidance, such as with advisors and Meiklejohns (Brown terminology for peer advisor). My advisor and Meiklejohn have been very supportive and caring, and I feel that under their guidance, I have been able to start off my first semester well. Though the freedom of the open curriculum can be overwhelming, I love the independence I have in selecting what courses I will dive into that semester.

Since coming to college, I have been making an active effort to adhere to a general schedule (such as having designated times for studying, study breaks, chores, relaxing on the Main Green, etc.), not procrastinate as much as I did before, and reach out for help before I drastically fall behind. I believe these efforts have allowed me to stay afloat in the somewhat turbulent sea of freshman year.


Yuzuka Akasaka

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for my next blog post, feel free to email me at yuzuka_akasaka@brown.edu. Have a lovely day!


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