by Skye Bork
College felt like summer camp. Attending clubs fairs and signing up for classes, it was just like choosing a sport or arts and crafts session on a carefree summer day as a kid. From student council to ballet class, I was meeting fascinating new people, and trying my hand at new and old passions.
But then midterms rolled around.
The air turned chilly and suddenly people spent their weeknights and weekends hoveled up in the recesses of Columbia’s libraries, studying with the intensity of a dog eyeing a delectable treat. The relatively carefree feel of the beginning of the year was replaced with high levels of stress and anxiety as test dates neared.
I had my own fair share of stress as I prepared for two midterms on the same day: Principles of Economics at 8:40 am, and Columbia’s required literature course, Literature Humanities, lasting until 8 pm. With a day of testing ahead of me, I had my work cut out for me.
I spent three days in a library cubicle re-reading notes, textbooks, and countless pages of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. When exam day rolled around I was exhausted, my mind filled to the brim with memorized facts and theories. I was anxious and excited to finally reach the culmination of my efforts. Yet something felt strange. How could an hour and fifteen minute test adequately measure the weeks I had spent learning the material for the class? For me, the answer is that it cannot.
Walking away from midterms, I really have found that the worth of my efforts is in my accumulation of knowledge in fields that I am passionate about. Spending my days studying for the exam, learning in beautiful libraries, I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to be able to take time to study the subjects and topics that I love.
For those of you who are planning on heading to college soon, or thinking of participating in DYW, know that it is not the number at the end of the test, or the award at the end of the program, but the new insight and experiences stirring in your mind that encourage you to think and ask questions about our world that matters. It can be challenging to look beyond the grades and prizes, but it is so important to remember that each success and each failure is just a stepping stone on the path to a dream or goal that is much greater. So do not stress too much, but focus on the fun and excitement of new experiences!