Is a different process for everyone! For some, it might be the amount of work, for others it may be the type of work, and for a good number of students, it may just be learning to practice self-discipline because professors are not going to constantly remind you of your assignments or readings. I personally work best when I have a lot on my plate and am under a certain amount of stress – in high school, I went to school 6 days a week, 5 days at my regular high school and Saturdays at a Japanese immersion school where I studied humanities, history, science and math in Japanese, played the piano and the violin, and participated in high school swimming and tennis. For me, the stress and pressure keeps me focused and without them, I tend to overestimate my free time and end up getting nothing done.
At Whitman, I found my challenge in Encounters and other reading and discussion heavy classes because I like to memorize facts and demonstrate my knowledge on a test rather than analyze what different passages infer and build a discussion around that (can you tell that I am a science major yet?). First semester of sophomore year, I took organic chemistry, physics, genetics and calculus III, a course load many had advised against, but I actually found it to be pretty manageable because I was able to stay in the cramming mode the entire semester. But this is not to say that I avoided all reading and discussion based classes and I would definitely discourage others from trying to do so. I have chosen to take reading and discussion based courses on international politics, classical Chinese literature, cultural politics of science, Chinese film, and there are other discussion based courses like medical anthropology that I was dying to take but could not fit into my schedule. I guess my point is that a major component of adjusting to college work is finding your own learning style and identifying your strengths as well as your weaknesses. And if you had to focus on one thing to work on, I would recommend identifying your weaknesses early on because there are so many resources at Whitman that can help you succeed, whether it is the writing center, the foreign language learning center, professors’ multiple office hours, student academic advisors, the academic resource center or free tutors on various subjects. So take advantage of your resources, don’t be too intimidated by what you hear about college work load, and enjoy the four years at Whitman because pretty soon you will be a senior and wonder where all of the time went!