By Brittany Solomon, Fellow Class of 2015
Colorado State University
College, while rewarding, has not been an easy journey for me for several reasons. I began college as an International Studies major with a concentration in Asia, through which I studied Chinese; I have since changed my concentration to Europe, where I now study French. I went from having a job that I only worked at during my vacations to having three jobs: one for vacations, one for weekdays primarily, and one for weekends and occasionally weekdays. I learned what it means to be spread so thin that even finding a moment of free time can be difficult. Along the way I learned exactly why I want to finish and earn a college degree. College has taught me that I can handle almost anything, but even I have my limits.
When I first began college, I was doing really well, with the exception of my Chinese, but as the school year progressed, I found it increasingly more difficult to find a balance between my social life and school. At the start of my freshman year I was doing well with balancing homework, my social life, and attending classes. I even visited my Chinese professor’s office hours regularly, spending hours with her ensuring I understood the material. First semester was an adjustment for me, but overall successful, when second semester hit, everything changed. It was not immediate, but my social life began impacting my school life, then I ended up on crutches for a few weeks and found myself trying to maneuver getting to all my classes on crutches. Overall, I believe I let my social life impact my school life more than I should have and I lost sight of what was really important, the entire reason I was in Fort Collins, my education. Once I realized I had lost sight of why I was at Colorado State, I started spending more time focused on my studies. I dedicated more time to my assignments and ensured all of my assignments were completed prior to doing extracurricular activities. Additionally, I started spending time with more supportive people who were willing to study with me and help to better me.
Sophomore year, I began struggling with school primarily because I had a desire not to disappoint anyone, specifically my family. Around this time, I was still studying Chinese and struggling more than ever before. I was no longer enjoying school and I found myself constantly stressed, especially with my time being diminished due to work. I realized life would only become more stressful moving forward, so I decided to call my dad, who I often go to when I am stressed, and in need of help or advice. I explained my growing frustration with a concentration for my degree that I had no interest in and how difficult it ad been for me, primarily because I was not able to truly connect with the courses I was taking and the topics being discussed. He told me I should stop trying to please him and do what I wanted. He asked me what would make me happy, and I knew I would be happier if I switched to a European concentration and changed my foreign language to French. Realizing that I had the support of my family to choose any path that I felt was the right fit for my future, led to my success the remainder of my sophomore year and got me through a lot of struggle my junior year.
I am currently in my final semester at Colorado State University and I have never felt as much stress during my time at CSU as I am experiencing now. Part of that stress stemmed from the idea that I needed to go straight to law school. I have learned, however, that I do not need to take this next step immediately if I am not ready. Therefore, I have decided to take a gap year between my undergraduate and law school.
The stress of my senior year began last May when I made a commitment to myself that I would graduate from college on time in May 2019, but in order to do so, I had to take three summer courses, while working full time to pay off my previous semester. Thanks to Law School…Si Se Puede, I was able to work part time towards the end of the summer while I was preparing to take the LSAT. Throughout the summer, as I have been during most of my college experience, I found myself stressed most of the time. I had to find time during family vacations to complete my assignments, often leaving events to get home early. I missed out on a lot of experiences that I will never get back, but I learned that it is worth the sacrifice now if I do not have to sacrifice my livelihood in the future.
Immediately after completing my online summer courses, I began my LSAT prep course, which was even more time consuming. During that time, I worked part time at my summer job and would go into work early and leave in the middle of the day to return home for my online class, afterwards I would have to return to work. I started to feel the stress once more as I tried to find the time to finish a hundred pages of studying before the next class session. It was not a difficult balance in the beginning; however, it became increasingly difficult when I returned to school in the fall. My class schedule coincided with my online class session and I had to speak to my teacher about missing a few classes during the first couple weeks, in order to attend my online course. Thankfully I had a very supportive and understanding professor who excused me from a few classes and excused me from both classes the week of my LSAT exam so that I had additional time to prepare before taking it.
After this I returned to normal life again, working and attending classes, but once I realized I needed to find another job if I wanted to stay at Colorado State, I immediately began my search. That is when I found my third job and felt my days begin to blend together. It was not until Winter Break that I finally thought that I might see some relief from my busy life, but it did not come. Over the break I was still concerned with my inability to pay for the prior semester’s tuition. As such, I spent my weekdays back home with my parents working at my job that is for vacations and every weekend I drove or took the bus up to Fort Collins in order to work at my other job. The break flew by for me and before I knew it school was starting again.
With all the stress I have faced this year and my desire to put my best foot forward when preparing for law school, I concluded that I need to take a gap year. I want to be fully prepared and in the right mindset to go to law school. I learned that it is acceptable to not be ready, if this means that I will have a better chance at success when I finally do make it to law school, then I am all for it.