It’s been a whole year since I started here at Illinois Tech, and I’m going to be honest, I didn’t expect to make it this far. After all, no one in my family had even ever been to college, so this all new to me.
I didn’t exactly come from the best of high schools. There was never really much going on for me after being rejected from the best high schools in the city, so I figured that if I was going to go to school, I was going to get some technical training as something to fall back on. And that’s how I ended up at a vocational academy. Here, there were two groups of students - the International Baccalaureate (IB) students, and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) students. The students in the IB program weren’t exactly the nicest, so I avoided them like the plague, even though they were the most academically advantaged at my school. I stuck through normal advanced placement (AP) and honors classes (fun fact: I took pre-calculus twice because AP calculus was cut), and by that, I mean whatever I was allowed to take. A total of four AP classes were offered at my high school, and I only took two, because I opted to gain transfer credit from dual-enrollment classes instead. AP classes weren’t known for being the best chance of earning credit either. For example, my AP Language class was full of students that were below the average writing standard, so our teacher accommodated the class around them, and that hindered me and a few other students because we weren't learning anything new. Sad thing was, these students didn’t care to learn. To them, school was a joke. Respect for the instructors was never displayed, ditching school to smoke was an everyday thing, and D marks were celebrated. Everyday in school was sort of personal torture, filled with below standard teaching and social drama. That’s not to say it didn’t have it’s fun moments - some of my fondest memories and best relationships were formed there - but high school wasn’t helping me. A lot of the time, I ended up studying after class on my own with the help of some teachers that were nice enough to stick around. I joined a college readiness program my sophomore year to help me even get into college, all while dealing with the standard problems that come with growing up.
I was accepted into nearly all the colleges I applied to (not top 20 colleges - I knew I had no chance), but it all came down to money, as is usually the case. Thankfully, Illinois Tech gave me just enough to make it possible to come here.
That summer before the first day was a doozy - I had just gotten out of a toxic relationship so I was all sorts of messed up. One day I’d be partying and having the time of my life, the next, I was curled up on the couch binge watching “New Girl” on Netflix.
And just like that, my first semester started.
As a commuter, it took a little while to get used to going to school. 76 Bus to Logan Square Blue Line, then transfer to the Green Line. Almost three hours everyday round trip, but honestly that was least of my problems. I was taking Calculus-I here, and while initially it was going well, I realised I was getting my behind kicked at every weekly quiz. The standard of education here was MUCH higher than what I was used to, and it caught me off guard. I remember getting a 37 percent on my first midterm and having a full-on mental breakdown (in a Dunkin’ Donuts of all places) because I felt inferior to everyone else. I was seriously considering leaving. But, after I calmed down, I contacted my program director from my college readiness program and asked if there was anyway I could receive extra help on calculus (outside of the Academic Resource Center (ARC) here). Within a week, I was receiving roughly an extra eight hours of calculus tutoring every week for the rest of the semester though two tutors - my old high school teachers. The results of my next couple quizzes and second midterm spoke for themselves - nearly perfect scores. It took over half the semester, but I was finally able to get into the groove of things, and realized that I had to work harder than normal to keep up with the rest of the students here. I finished my first semester completely worn out, but ready for the next. I’d say my only real regret was not being able to write for TechNews as much as I wanted to. I believe I only submitted three articles the whole semester, so I wasn’t really showing much desire to stay as an editor here. Sorry, Ethan.
This semester is going smoother than the last, mostly because I know what I was getting into. Thus, I’m focusing more on getting involved and improving my social relationships that I had neglected last semester. I made it a goal to submit at least one article a week and joined WIIT as a radio host (shameless self plug - Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.). And while things aren’t completely perfect, I never expected to be in the position that I am in now. A year ago, I was lost and confused whilst entering a weird transition period. Now, I have a clearer grasp on my future plans, and am excited to see what I can do this summer.
So, to all you TechNews readers, thank you for being a loyal audience. I’ve always loved writing as a hobby, and TechNews provides a way for it to not just random ideas in a journal. I love this organization, I love this team, and I love what I do.
Have a great summer. I’ll see you all next semester.