In what way(s) did you personally grow this year? How did you demonstrate or rebuild the resilience needed to move forward? How will you utilize resources and your support network to hold yourself accountable in continuing this growth?
When we were initially called off school due the pandemic in 2020, I was honestly excited to do online school and get to create my own schedule. It felt so much more convenient to just open my laptop and ‘go to class’, and it felt like I could easily get decent grades without doing too much work. However, I didn’t expect the downsides of remote learning and quickly realized that I’d lost so much of my motivation to succeed academically. I noticed that my attention span was much shorter than high school, and I couldn’t go ten minutes without checking my phone or my mind wandering. When in-person classes started back up again this year, I felt a disconnect from my studies. It was the first time I truly struggled in school.
I didn’t know how to react when I saw I had received a 42% on an important chemistry exam. My parents were extremely upset that they were paying for my college when I wasn’t even trying to do well, and I felt guilty for letting them down. I realized that I couldn’t keep carrying on the way I had been - submitting homework late, taking naps instead of studying, and skipping lectures. I felt truly hopeless.
The solution to my problem seemed very simple; go to every class, study, and do my homework. However, I realized I had to completely rewire my brain to encourage myself to do this. I had to first focus on my mental health in order to rebuild resilience to do my work. I discovered I was suffering from depression, as are many other people my age. Once I was able to get medication and openly discuss the issue with my parents, I could begin channeling more of my energy toward my academics. I utilized the resources that UC provided to me by attending my recitations, meeting with my TA’s, and using study materials given by my professors. At times, I felt so unmotivated. I didn’t immediately get my grades up, and I still had a rather low GPA. But, I started to feel a passion for school again and kept a positive mindset throughout the second semester. I noticed that I was actually enjoying what I was learning, especially in my honors seminars, and that I could focus for much longer periods of time.
I’m extremely proud of myself for ending this past semester with a higher GPA and grades. Even though the 2021-2022 school year was the most difficult academic experience I’ve ever had, I learned many things from it. I now know to always focus on my mental health first, and everything will fall into place. I realized that students need to feel safe and openly communicate about their mental health. I haven’t taken most of my hardest classes yet and I know that I will feel unmotivated at times, but I’ve learned that I am capable of anything that I want to accomplish. I’m excited to continue to grow as a stronger student and to heighten my love for learning.