It dawned on me that I spend so much time talking about Amber, but you don’t get to hear too many things in her exact words. With her never-ending support (so true!) and her extreme enthusiasm at doing this (semi true!), I am super excited to share Amber’s thoughts on being a college student.
The Q&A session with Amber was really a lot of fun, and I want to encourage other parents to ask these questions of their college students. Although Amber and I are very close there were still a few things that I learned that I didn’t already know. Asking specific questions should garner you specific answers and information, and it will also serve as a moment when you can simply listen to hear what going on in their lives.
Enjoy this conversation then take a moment to leave a comment with a question you would ask your college student.
What is your biggest day-to-day challenge as a student?
“Managing my time so I have long enough to study and study the right things. For instance, I’ll map out time to study for three of my classes and I’m studying, but I go over the time I allotted for it then run out of time to study for one class. By the time I get to the class there’s not enough time left, or I can’t concentrate, or my bed is calling me. The other challenge is getting involved with things that go toward your profession. It’s not the same with everybody, but my advisor really cares about her students so when I have my advisor meeting she always makes a big thing about doing all this stuff for your profession. It’s hard to do things in your professions ‘cause you’re just trying to make it through your classes.”
If you could create your own continuing education course and make it required for your advisor, what would it be?
“I don’t know what it would be called, but it would be a course to teach them how to be realistic. My advisor is understanding to an extent… you know that standard thing that some parents say? The whole thing of ‘I was young once….’ She does the whole thing of ‘I’ve been in college once so I know how it is,’ but she has a photographic memory so she doesn’t know. And there should be a class just for nothingness – should be naptime or a field trip or something. No seriously, a field trip going to a hospital for pre-meds and visit other things to make that can be a requirement for a class. Not just something we do in the pre-med club. When are you going to have time to do all of that when you’re in school so it should be a part of class not extracurricular.”
If you could magically conjure up one thing that made life easier for college students, what would it be?
“Giving us more time. I feel like a semester should be a year long and classes should meet every other week. You have classes five days one week and that way a week to do the work, study and get some sleep. There’s never enough time.”
What are the biggest reasons you decided to go to college and choose your major?
“I’m not really sure why I decided to go to college. (We both laughed about that one!) I don’t recall having a specific moment where I was like ‘I really want to go to college.’ It just seemed like the next step to take, I guess. It just seems natural to flow into that. I was talking to one of my friends and we were excited to be out of high school and then we were like we’re out to go right back. It just kind of happened. I chose my major, chemistry over biology because I figured I wouldn’t enjoy biology as much and at the same time I remember hearing that if you are applying for med school then they look at chemistry majors. Then I find out you can be any major and apply for med school ‘cause you have to still take the medical entrance exam. If I could, I would be a chemistry major with a culinary arts minor.”
What do you find are some of the biggest challenges students face in making it through four years of college?
“The biggest challenge is keeping your motivation ‘cause I feel like every student goes through a period where they’re like ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ The feeling can last a week, a month or an entire semester. You’ll be okay for an hour, but then the feeling comes back. You question why you’re in college and you’re trying not to get discouraged. It can be really discouraging especially for really smart kids who were making straight A’s in high school and you get a C in college and you don’t understand why. If you have a support system it helps, but it’s hard to stay motivated. First semester of school, I was studying the same amount I was in high school, which wasn’t much, then having to go from that and doing the same thing and realize it’s not working and wondering why it’s not working. In high school I worked my butt off to get my GPA over a 3.0 after I missed an entire semester due to health issue. Now it’s below again and I’m just not liking it. It’s stressful because I need above a 3.0 to keep hope. They track every 30, 60 and 90 hours and I have ‘til the end of the next semester before they check my GPA. It was hard in high school and it’s even harder in college.”
What do you think are the three must-have qualities of a successful student?
“All the things that some students don’t have; 1. time management skills; 2. never-ending motivation and 3. just to be able to put your pride to the side and learn how to ask for help and not feel like you’re bugging someone else. Also realizing you can’t do it by yourself and you need somebody there to study with a lot of the time.”
What do you think are the three must-have qualities for a successful student advisor?
“One, being realistic. It’s unrealistic to be a student advisor to tell someone it’s so easy once you get going and there will be a day when you won’t be upset and overwhelmed. Two, honesty, but not brutally honest. And three, being encouraging. I have my mentee from the club I’m in, The Catalyst Network, and sometimes she’ll ask me how I did in a class. I’m not going to tell her I made a B and then I made an A… just go and go and go, WOOHOOO! I would be honest to tell her I failed my first test, but let her know that it can get better.”
What’s the best thing about being a student on your campus?
“I have the best thing for being a chemistry major. I live in Herty, the science building. The third floor is where it’s at. Some people sleep there… it’s sad… For me as a student the best thing is having that support system at least on the chemistry floor. I heard it’s not like that with other departments. I love the department I’m in. Here and other schools, according to my friends, my professors are much more willing to help you and listen. Our professors make it a point to know your name and if you need help their door is open, but at the same time they’re honest and try to help you as much as they can. Once you move out of their class they’re still there. My general chemistry professor from last year still talks to me when I go to her for encouragement and she gives me a pep talk. It’s pretty cool to have that in college. Friends complain about their instructors really not caring.”
What are you going to do with your major when you get out of school?
“My first degree will be a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. I’m planning on applying for med school. That’s my current plan, but that is so much more school. After I get the degree and apply I hope I make it in the first time. Hopefully I’ll be working in a pediatric office or something like that and dabbling in the field a little bit more. I haven’t looked into what jobs are available – some people are getting straight chemistry degrees and want to do research, and some people want to be straight chemist (I’d be interested in doing that). Some people are going into teaching. I don’t think I would mind teaching on a high school level, but only while I’m trying to get my med degree. I think there’s more that I can do ‘cause I’ve never seen myself as a teacher. I know there’s more that I can do so I have to do more research on it. My happy plan: work on opening a bakery.”
If you could give your younger siblings some advice before entering college, what would it be?
“One of the things I would say is to stay on top of their junk. Some of my friends I’ve talked to are so dependent on their parents or on other people at the school that they don’t do enough to check on themselves. I don’t understand how you go to college and not understand what’s going on with your financial aid and then are surprised something is going on. You have to stay on top of the people who are supposed to have your business in check. Instead of being blindsided and then you talk to someone they’re not going to do as much to help you when you don’t do enough to know what’s going on with your own situation.”
What are the things that make you feel the best about the future?
“Probably my support system. I have my mother and let me tell you she is awesome! (She enjoyed that little joke immensely) My mom, my best friend from middle school, my boyfriend, professors who I’m close with, clubs that I’m in and my roommate from last year, Rachel, she’s awesome.”
What are your major fears as it relates to your future job prospects?
“I guess that I’ll just give up and be so discouraged and be in a rut. I’m not naive enough to think that as soon as I get out of school there’s going to be a job there. I’m nervous about that process, I don’t want to get so discouraged that I want to give up and not try or anything. I’m nervous that I won’t be as successful as I want to be when I first start out.”
Tell us about something important you want to do in your life?
“I’d like to get married and have children … have a family. I feel like getting a job is important, but I feel like I’m a family person. I feel like I’m supposed to be a pediatrician, but that I should have somebody of my own to take care. I think it’s important to have a family.”
If you could set a Guinness World Record at something, what would it be?
“The most cupcakes ever made or the biggest cupcake or biggest cake or something like that. It’d be awesome.”
Would you rather be a leader, a follower or just get the heck out of the way?
“I’d rather get out of the way. I’d rather be an observer. I’ve never been a follower, but I’ve always wanted to do the opposite. Sometimes I get chosen to be the leader and I don’t mind. There’s a part of me that wants to be a leader, but it really depends on what it is. Fundraising, scholarships or service projects ‘cause that’s stuff I really like to do. Overall I would rather observe.”
What’s the one tech gadget you just can’t do without?
“It’s probably my phone just because if I’m having a bad day I can someone to call. I feel empty without my phone.”
There’s a new CampusTalkBlog contributor who is an expert in relationships, if you could ask her your toughest question, what would it be?
“Do I have to always be the bigger person in any relationship? How often should you be the bigger person? ‘cause sometimes I just don’t’ want to be.”
Fast facts about Amber
- Favorite color: Pink
- Favorite gem: Amber
- Birth month: June
- Favorite pastime: Baking
- Major: Chemistry
- Favorite food(s): Pancakes and eggs
- Favorite thing about college: Opportunity
There ya have it. The thoughts of my college student.
First-time college mom