12 March 2013
Second term of first year can in many ways be a different beat from first term. One area indeed where the difference can be somewhat jarring is in terms of workload. That is not to say that the first term of the first year is a cake-walk, it certainly is not by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, the lack of academic workload in first term is more than made up by the sometimes stressful mission of acclimatizing yourself to university life. That being said, academically there are some training wheels put on in the first term that are taken off in the second term.
For one, by the second term of your first year, you are expected to know how to write a half-decent and half-coherent essay. Whilst the training wheels in terms of writing may have been in place during your first term in order to acclimatize you to essay-writing in university, in second term these wheels are gradually taken off, and you are expected to write longer papers with a greater frequency. Moreover, midterms and other forms of testing start to play a greater role than before.
With any luck you will have had a successful first term and be well-settled in to university life, such that you will have adequate time and skill to devote to a somewhat increased academic workload. By this point you will hopefully have involved yourself in some extracurriculars in the university that have piqued your interest, as well as made a few friends and the like. With these bases set down, the hope in your second term would be that you begin to set down some more concrete terms as to what you hope to accomplish at university.
University goes by amazingly quickly, similarly to high school, the university undergraduate degree on average takes only 4-5 years. In this short period of time it serves you well to have clear objectives in your own mind as what you hope to accomplish at university. It goes without saying that you should endeavor to prioritize your academics the most, but by this time you should also have some idea of extracurriculars in which you would like to involve yourself on a deeper level.
It is worth remembering that as important as academics are, academics alone won’t carry you into a graduate school or the job market. Especially in this highly competitive era, successful individuals will have a broad range of involvement. The Humanities, with its emphasis on clear, lucid writing as well as strong argumentation and confidence in speaking, will provide you with an excellent basis to take forward into all your endeavors both in university and outside. But it is ultimately up to you to choose where you will take yourself in this university. The wonderful thing about Carleton is that age does not hold you back. As a first year, the entire university is not only open and welcome to you, but can be your canvas if you choose it to be.