By Sohn Suk-joo, Assistant Professor of English
When I was a freshman about two decades ago I made a list of things to do. First, I wanted to join several clubs so I could have various experiences outside my chosen department. I joined the college newspaper, a singing club, and a social studies club after checking a dozen. However, I withdrew from them just a few months later. Second, I hoped to have a girlfriend. Fresh from a boys' high school, however, I had a hard time plucking up the courage to ask them out or was a bit too brusque even when doing so. Third, I made a resolution to read as many books as possible, say 50, per semester. Pressed for time in class, tests, and other activities, however, I could hardly spend time in the library to say nothing of borrowing close to 50 books.
Yes, my first semester in college was a flop. Looking back on those days, I realize my failure was mainly because of the poor management of time in a completely different setting from high school where teachers had supervised and controlled almost everything. I just heard and believed everything will be better in college, and it led to the naive idea that it will be possible to do so many different things as a first-year student. As I mentioned above, however, things were beginning to fall apart in the first few months of my college life.
Since I have been there and done that, I have a few pieces of advice for freshmen. First of all, choose only a few goals and concentrate on them. Soon after starting the first semester, you will mostly likely find yourself juggling with too many balls. It would be wise to prioritize your goals before you carry them out. Second, don't give up after a series of possible failures. There are more semesters ahead of you, so don't lose hope of getting better. In fact, my misfortune in the first semester served as a crucial lesson for the rest of my college years. Last but not least, what really matters is direction, not speed. Persist in the right direction, and you will see the results slowly but surely. In other words, strive to reach a destination in the long term rather than staying at a way-station!
Life is a long journey full of surprises, sometimes totally unexpected boons. If I can turn back the clock and go back to those days, what I really wish to do as a freshman is not to be afraid and try everything possible. Yes, failure lies in wait for you. That's obvious. If you really learn how to fail and learn from it, however, you will know you have better chances ahead. (end)