Emily Strassburger

College is supposed to be the best four years of your life. Well, that’s what everyone says anyway. I started my college career with this mentality that everything would be just fine.

I learned the difficulties of college the hard way, all within the first couple of weeks. I didn’t join a sorority after I failed to get into the one I wanted. I received my first college exam back with more errors than correct answers. And soon after moving in, my roommate and I weren’t on speaking terms.

It wasn’t until over halfway through the semester I realized college doesn’t have to be a series of miserable events. There will inevitably be tough times in college, but ultimately what matters is that you make the effort to learn from and change your situation.

Initially, I was crushed I didn’t get into what I thought was the ideal sorority on campus. Instead of searching for alternatives to being involved, I sat around and sulked. But eventually, I realized there is more than one way to be active at UNL.

You don’t have to be a part of Greek life to make your college experience feel meaningful and worthwhile. There are numerous organizations students can join, and it’s hard to not find something even remotely interesting. In fact, I ended up joining The Daily Nebraskan on a whim, and it turned out to be something I really enjoy and plan on doing for the rest of my college career.

Similarly, I came into my Calculus II class fall semester of freshman year feeling well-prepared. I received a perfect score on my AP Calculus I exam my senior year of high school, and I was recommended to take the honors section. Yet, come time for the first exam, I failed. I remember my stomach dropping and a wave of panic overwhelming me.

I knew I had to improve. However, instead of going to my professor’s office hours and asking for help, I decided I would simply “study harder” for the next exam. And though I did study harder, I ended up doing worse on my second exam. It took several failed calculus exams to make me understand that I needed to reach out for help if I was ever going to succeed. I finally went and talked to one of the math academic advisors, and she was primarily upset that I didn’t come and talk to her sooner. In many respects, college classes are much more difficult than the ones high school offers, so I knew I needed to adjust my approach rather than try to “study harder.”

There’s an assumption that all college professors are too busy to help a struggling student, but I’ve found they are usually more than willing, if not eager, to help their students. Professors aren’t as scary as you’d think. On numerous occasions, I’ve witnessed professors going out of their way to ensure the success of their students. I’ve had some professors personally hold review sessions before midterms or hold extra office hours when they realize their students are in need of extra practice. All I needed to do, and all anyone else needs to do, is reach.

As my first semester went on, I realized my roommate situation just wasn’t going to work out. This was yet another problem that instead of addressing, I tried to put it off for as long as I could. I had an idea in my head that not getting along with your roommate is normal, and everyone experiences it at some point or another. But simply avoiding the situation is easily the worst thing you can do. Instead of reaching for support to address the problem, I took time off school to visit friends out of state, and spent almost every other weekend with family in Omaha. It’s easy to say I wish I handled the situation better.

Even if situations take a turn for the worse, it’s important that you don’t just sit around and hope things will get better. You need to reach out for support when you need it, before the problems drag on and become horrendous. Whether this be talking to professors or residence advisors, UNL provides an incredible support network for its students.

College certainly comes with a steep learning curve, and some lessons are learned the hard way. But after learning to adjust to the demands of college, I feel more successful and eager to continue with my education. Although college might not always be what you expect, what’s important is you learn how to adapt and make the best of a situation. Instead of trying to figure things out on your own, or avoiding problems completely, you need to take initiative on your own to be successful in college.

Emily Strassburger is a sophomore math and English double major. Reach her at opinion@dailynebraskan.com or via @DNOpinion.