Even before I began my freshman year, SFA’s beautiful scenery, friendly environment and great atmosphere captured my heart. Many freshmen hear horror stories about what to expect in college: the infamous freshman 15, tales of awesome parties and everything in between. But in all honesty, college is what you make of it.

I was anxious about starting this new chapter in my life, however, summer Orientation melted away my concerns. Orientation was a fun way to familiarize myself with campus, learn SFA’s traditions, discover ways to join the many organizations and gain answers to first-year student questions. It also was an avenue for me to meet people and develop friendships before school started in the fall.

The Orientation leaders were genuine and personable, and it was helpful and refreshing to learn about SFA life from current student leaders’ perspectives.

My first day of classes came, and despite sitting in the wrong class for an hour and a half, I’d say everything went well. As the semester progressed, my classes became increasingly challenging, especially college algebra, but I received help from tutors in SFA’s Academic Assistance and Resource Center. This helped me better understand my classwork and improve my grades.

Time management also can be a problem for college students, and I quickly began to understand that time is a student’s most precious resource. It’s true that many college students often refer to this as “the best time of their lives.” This statement may be true regarding the social aspects of college, but students must plan for the other areas—like studying and completing classwork—to stay in college and be successful. Another tool I used to keep me organized was my student planner, which was handed out to all freshmen during Orientation. This helped me a great deal with managing my time and staying on task.

As I began joining various campus organizations, my social life blossomed. But after a while, it became hard to balance coursework, basketball and social activities. I recall being told at Orientation, “You won’t have time to sleep, study and socialize. You will have to choose two.” At the time, this statement meant little to me, but as my freshman year continued, I began to grasp the concept. I had to prioritize.

As an SFA freshman, it was a surreal experience being a member of the conference-championship-winning Ladyjack basketball team. This basketball season helped me understand what it takes to earn what you want from life. Winning a conference championship was far from easy. Although we had an extremely talented team, we all knew that talent would only take us so far, but hard work could take us all the way.

Whether it was on the court or in the weight room, every day was more challenging than the day before. Daily practices guarding Porsha Roberts, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, not only helped me improve my game but also aided me in gaining toughness.

My teammates and I were coached to be the best athletes and students we could be. We were dedicated on and off the court, which developed us into a championship team.

In retrospect, my first year of college fell nothing short of exciting, challenging and nerve-racking.

All students face difficult times at some point during their college lives. It is okay to enter college not knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life. College is a time for growth and self-discovery. Although I still am uncertain about a lot of things, I’m absolutely certain I made the right decision in coming to SFA.

Axe ’em, Jacks!