Word from the Real World: Samantha Calpo Reply

As I sit still waiting for my Psychology lecture to begin, my professor holds out his hands, wiggles his hips and sings, “Now, let’s get this show on the road!” How familiar a dance it was, as it was the same little movement that Jim Napolitano used to do during Math SL.

“When picking your sources, make sure there is no bias,” my Writing teacher says.  I can almost see Jennifer cringing all the way in BSGE at the sound of that.

“I like to make the answers to quizzes all the same letter, and watch students squirm,” my Chemistry professor gleefully admits. (No one likes him.)

“I am a tutor, an upper year, a friend, and a resource. I only want you guys to exceed in what you do and carry on that selflessness to the next generation,” writes my Physics tutor in his two-page email.

These are just some of the lines that I constantly hear throughout my days as a freshman in college.

My name is Samantha and I am from BSGE’s Class of 2014.  I am a current first-year student at The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (I must have a thing for schools with long names), which is part of the City College of New York.  Sophie Davis is a seven-year medical program that aims to do two things: medically serve the underserved communities, and increase the presence of primary care physicians.

For sure a bunch of you have heard from many BSGE alum that the first year-ish of college will be nothing compared to IB. At least, I was told many times that the beginning of college will comparatively be a breeze. But I’m here to say: IT’S A LIE. Well, for me.

My experience during first semester was honestly pretty rough. BSGE and IB have really really tough curricula, but sometimes you can barely try and still manage to get the 4, 5, or even 6, am I right?  Maybe at the time it wasn’t easy (a.k.a. I wanted to pull my hair out sometimes), but, in all cases, higher education shouldn’t be easier (especially after “senioritis”)!

Even though BSGE does not rank, people are pretty well aware who’s “the best” in the class. Well, Sophie is FULL of “the best,” which means there can be times when I personally feel like I’m lagging behind and – dare I say it – sometimes I feel stupid! But it’s really not that. It’s just that I’m surrounded by some of the smartest 17-23 year olds and being bombarded with such demanding expectations.

The one thing that caught me off guard about Sophie is that you really cannot float your way through it. If you don’t try your hardest, your grades will reflect that – quite unlike BSGE sometimes – and you will lag behind.  Far too often, my peers and I agree that even when we study our hardest, we may not necessarily get the A we strive for.

So that leads me to one thing I have learned: when you’re first starting off in college, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Take some time to really find out how to adjust to your specific university and your different classes.  As with any journey, do not compare yourself to others, especially when you’re surrounded by some of the wisest people from all different walks of earth.

Now into my second semester, I have learned how to study more efficiently, but I know learning to adjust will continue to be a constant process.  The concept of group study has become more inviting to me, and seeking help from tutors and peers is definitely less daunting.  In fact, all of the above is encouraged in Sophie.  I am also far more interested in my classes this semester; it always helps to actually enjoy what you are studying! My professors are also a lot more passionate, and many actually care about their students’ success…

But I digress! Aside from being in the Sophie Davis program, another facet of my college identity is that I am a commuter.  I do not dorm (CCNY dorm prices are higher than tuition), and I go back home every night.  There is a negative stigma about staying in the city for college, and many people fear being stuck with their parents, not having the stereotypical college experience, and being bored.  Honestly, it is true sometimes.  When I see pictures, see videos, or hear of other BSGE alum who went away for college, a lot of the time they’re partying or going out to eat or joining x, y, and z clubs, and doing so many “fun” things, so I get kind of jealous! With Sophie schedules (they’re mainly preset), you really have to hone in on your time management skills (BSGE’s “motto”).

However, I don’t get discouraged.  I force myself to (try to) do my work early in the week so that I can leave my Thursdays, Fridays, and weekends to hang out with the Filipino Club I’ve joined, spend time with the Sophie Davis Biograph newspaper staff (The Bacc Rag functions more smoothly than the Biograph, if you can believe that), go out to eat with my friends or family, or squeeze in a much-needed nap.  Or, more realistically, work at my job all weekend. (Come to Elmhurst on weekends for 25% off your Chatime bubble tea!)

Anyway, staying at home for college is only boring if you make it so.  If you do what you have to, academically, none of you should have any problem joining a sorority or fraternity, going to college parties (trust me, they happen all the time), or doing whatever else it is that people deem essential to “the college experience.”

You have to work hard to get to your goal – and college is a tough process, don’t get me wrong, but “all work and no play” shouldn’t be anyone’s motto.  Inspiration to work harder, excel, and remain happy can and will come from anywhere.  For me, it came from my Physics tutor and a Sophie alum who works in Family Medicine now.  If you take learn one thing from what I have written, it should be that my advice is: work hard first, then play hard, kiddos.

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