Every year incoming students come to college with high expectations and ready to begin a new chapter in their academic careers. However, the adaptation to college life doesn’t always happen too smoothly. Many students struggle with things such as time-management, actually going to class, and finding support for their emotional and physical detachments from friends and families. I can say with confidence that not all students have the best experience their first year.

My own experience included battling with my willpower to actually wake up in the morning and attend class. It’s a lot different than high school when you are always made to go to school. Some may argue that the sheer fact you are now paying for classes should be enough motivation not to miss class. But, it doesn’t really cross many students’ mind when they spent all night out exploring this new and exciting town that they will be spending the next few years in.

Unfortunately, all I wanted was to sleep in every morning. It never crossed my mind that by skipping class, it would affect my grade so much. High school couldn’t be that much different than college right? Boy was I wrong. My GPA dropped after having failed a mandatory English class due to my lack of attendance, and I was forced to retake it over summer. Having to sacrifice my precious summer time to school was a wake up call for me to actually take this college thing seriously. I didn’t want to fall behind on my academics and I didn’t want to give up my summers to schoolwork.

Fortunately, the next semester I forced myself to go to bed early and got up in the morning to attend all my classes. I also learned to discipline myself into getting a hold of my responsibilities as a student. And let me tell you, receiving those passing grades never felt so great in my life. My GPA was rising again and I didn’t plan to stop there!

Now while many students struggle with failing grades, there are still those who struggle with a variety of different things yet are able to turn their experiences around. Take Judy Cruz and Tyler Criss for example! They are just a couple of students that have expressed their struggles they faced their first year but are doing very well now! Read about the experiences they shared below!


(Tyler Criss, Sophomore)

What were some struggles you had your first year?

One of my struggles when I first got to NAU was adjusting to being on my own. My biggest struggle was learning how to manage my time. Also, learning to get up at 6:00AM after having gone to bed at 12AM.

How did that affect your academics?

At the beginning of the semester I didn’t care too much about my work and I procrastinated until the last minute, and by doing that for a few weeks my grades began to plummet due to having to complete the assignments that I didn’t work on originally.  Due to my procrastination I had to retake a math course over the summer.

How did you deal with these situations?

I had to gain the confidence that I would push myself to do better the next semester and never give up.

What is the best advice you could give students?

“Never give up, you’re here now and you can finish school and just don’t lose faith.”


(Judy Cruz, Junior)

What were some struggles you had your first year?

Having 8 am classes is not as easy as it was when attending high school. Being exposed to parties, late night hangouts with friends can totally change the amount of hours someone can have of sleep. As the year continued personal problems started to affect my performance in my classes. Finding how to balance my schoolwork, job, relationship, and social time was not perfect my first year. At times I succeeded in one end I fell short on the others and it just started to make me think if school was really a great fit for me.

How did that affect your academics?

The classes I disliked most ended up taking most of my time. My GPA dropped from a 3.05 to a 2.7. Sometimes even with tutoring and studying that doesn’t really help when someone is not mentally on board with focusing on school

How did you deal with these situations?

I spoke with my professors, got tutoring; pretty much did everything that I could to pass my classes that I was not doing so great in. However, there are still students who struggle with certain classes no matter how much they study, so make sure to ask for help, or go to SI sessions.

What is the best advice you could give students?

“Always go to class and pay attention, no matter how you feel about it. In the end we just don’t know what can happen in a day, so just make the best of what you can give and be proud and satisfied with what you are already accomplishing.”


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