Do you ever feel, like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? Because I do. This semester has taken its toll on me quite a bit, and I really can't wait for it to be over. Let's examine what went wrong this semester!
1. I took too many STEM courses
- Calculus II has actually been a pretty good course. My professor explains the concepts pretty well and is eager to help students. Problem is, the exams are on the difficult side– and the grading is rather sadistic. For instance, on one exam, I forgot to put my answers (which were clearly shown on the paper) on a specific part of the exam, and the graders gave me 0 credit for it. I had to fight for myself to be fairly graded at all, which is messed up IMO. 7/10 class overall, pretty difficult but has its fun aspects.
- CS bored me to death this semester. I had the same CS professor that I had this semester, but this time around the quality of his teaching was far worse (he had never taught this course before, so makes sense). Fortunately, lectures were optional, so after struggling to focus two lectures in, I never went back. The projects for this class have been really annoying; the instructions are too wordy and sort of cryptic, so I've wasted tons of time chasing trivial things. Office hours have been very helpful though! The nice thing about college is that the course revolves less around one person, the teacher/professor, and supplemental help is pretty accessible. 4/10 class, taught badly but since the course is required for upper lever classes I sort of understand why I have to take it.
- General chemistry is the worst STEM class I've ever taken. The content is so eclectic and badly taught... this course was a pathetic attempt at an introduction to chemistry. My professor was supposed to be the best at teaching intro chem, but they were terrible at it. There's no intuition that's developed for chemistry in intro chem; it's all memorization and plug n' chug. For every "pattern" or "formula" I learned, there were always numerous exceptions that needed to be known for it (that's just how chemistry works, I know... but I feel like needing to memorize exceptions is a huge waste of time on top of learning the concept). Also, the homework software for this class was ancient and incredibly frustrating to use as well... I spent way too much time trying to format my answers in just the right way so it wouldn't mark everything wrong. 2/10 class, would not recommend. I understand that the incentives for research faculty are not to teach intro chem excellently, but I feel like there should be a baseline of quality that doesn't exist right now.
- Biology was solidly meh this semester. My professor was an alright lecturer, but I felt like the lectures lacked some of the pizzaz that my instructor from last semester had. This semester's biology course was less molecular/cell based and more into "look at this graph and decipher it", so I didn't find it all that interesting. 6/10, not bad.
2. I was kind of a shut in
3. I didn't know how to use the ambient time I had
Okay, so did anything good happen to you at all this semester, Alex?!
- I came to UMass solely for the quality of its CS program.
- I realized I don't want to be a CS major anymore, and I don't want to spend my entire undergraduate experience working towards becoming a programmer, since that's not what I'm interested in doing after college.
What's next in store for me
Things I'm kinda anxious about for the future
- Debt. The University of Michigan offered my family $0 in financial aid, so attending UMich will definitely be more stressful for me in some ways since doing research isn't the most lucrative thing while I'm in the red.
- Burn out. I've been pretty burned out here at UMass from this semester, and I hope it doesn't continue over to Michigan. Definitely going to try to take a lighter course load next semester so I'm not swamped with work.
- Loneliness and losing touch with people :(
- Transferring universities is notoriously difficult on people's social lives, so I'm kind of worried I'll be lonelier in a new place.
- Black swan events. Super Covid. Death of a family member. Political turmoil. Aren't these always things to worry about?