The term “average” is thrown around a lot on a college campus. Professors laud 70 percent exam average. In math you discuss finding the average of a sequence of numbers. Students calculate the average score they’ll need to earn for grade. And most things just seem to be average—not at the top and not at the bottom but surely and unmovingly right in the middle. Average is a term I’ve feared for a long time. It is something I associated with laziness, lack of motivation and just skating through. But it terrified me when the realization hit that I may be just an average student. Not at the top, not at the bottom, but thoroughly and unmovingly in the middle.
It is not uncommon for high achieving high school students to experience a bit of whiplash when they reach their college campus. It definitely happened to me. All of a sudden I was reading a book a week, taking classes in subjects I had never tried before and trying to maintain a mildly presentable appearance and social presence. But how does a fresh faced, hasn’t-gone-through-the-ringer-of-a-Seth-Fogarty-class freshman go from a top notch high school student to an aggressively average one, and more importantly why?
These are questions that have been swirling around in my brain as I approach the mid-point of my spring semester sophomore year.
Honestly I do not think I can point to a particular moment when I decided to give fewer fucks. There was no assignment, no class and no mind-blowing moment of epiphany that screamed “Care less!” I think it started for me when I realized no one was going to care about my grades or my success more than me.
No one was going to pull me out of class and say “Wow, you should really study more.” And on top of that, when I approached my professors about my performance the overwhelming answer I received was “Why are you so concerned with your number grade?” I didn’t realize it then, but high school did not teach me how to learn but rather how to get an A—and those are wildly different things.
It was not until the spring semester of my sophomore year that I has the ability to reflect on my past three semesters and realize there was a trend. As my semesters progressed not only was my sleep cycle improving, my happiness was improving. I was enjoying my classes. I was enjoying my social circle. I was getting more than four hours of sleep every night. But I was performing averagely in my classes. I was pulling a high B (something that this time last year would have had me in tears) in almost all of my classes but I was on great terms with my professors—something I had previously considered not possible.
Having been at Trinity for a little over three semesters I’ve heard a lot about students dropping from top notch high schoolers to middle of the road college students, and I dreaded the day when that was me. But now I embrace it. I do not want to face everyday only concerned with getting an A. I do not want to approach my classes with a fine tooth comb picking up every miniscule piece of extra credit available. I’ve been able to identify what is healthy and smart for me as a student and for me as a young adult figuring it all out. I am I proud to call myself an aggressively average student.