Leonida's Road to and Through College
“College is where you will learn time management” is some advice that I received from many educators I had at Mission High School. As a senior at Mission, I thought I had a good handle on time management because I was taking multiple AP classes, playing varsity sports, and applying to colleges. While that was a lot to balance, I was not prepared for the level of organization and time management I needed for my time at Scripps. During my time in college, I learned how to balance academics, sports, work, and life at home in San Francisco.
My first year at Scripps was difficult for multiple reasons. Adjusting to the rigor of Scripps, trying to navigate being a biochemistry major, being exposed to my elitist and white, more economically-advantaged peers that I encountered at Scripps and the Claremont Colleges, being away from home while having a close relationship with my mom, and managing my finances on my own are just a few examples of what I started to deal with when I began my time at Scripps. Coming from a community like Mission, where many of the students were like me: first-generation, person of color, low-income; to a place like Scripps, where many students, at first glance, were the opposite of that, turned out to impact me more than I thought it would. While I eventually found my community at Scripps, I encountered many microaggressions and macroaggressions from peers and sometimes faculty that alienated me from my peers.
In addition to struggling socially and academically, I often felt inadequate in my biology and chemistry classes. Many of my peers had attended private high schools, and what was considered common knowledge for them were things that I was learning for the first time. This feeling of not being intelligent enough for Scripps compounded with not feeling accepted in my community made me want to transfer out of Scripps after about two months. Not only was my situation at Scripps not ideal, my life back home was also falling apart. Talking with my friends during my junior and senior years at Scripps, many of us have strong ties to our families back home and that is what distracted us from focusing during our time at Scripps. While family anchored us and gave us the tenacity we needed to fight through Scripps, that also meant that when things at home went bad, our hearts went out to them and we wanted to drop everything to help. While we could sustain that kind of lifestyle for a brief period of time, it was not a healthy way to live, especially when we had our own struggles at school.
When I decided to stay at Scripps, I knew that I needed to change something in my life. First, I decided to be more involved in the Scripps community and in the smaller communities that I identified with such as being Black and being first-generation. Second, money has always been a stressor in my family, so I wanted to work to alleviate some costs for my mom. As a result, I got a job starting in my sophomore year, and I had a total of nine jobs in college, all of which aligned with issues and communities that were important to me. Third, I have played sports almost my entire life and I wanted to continue that in college. What I didn’t realize then, was that playing sports was my form of self-care and a major stress reliever. When I made the club volleyball team my freshman year, I was able to carve out about 5 hours each week and some weekends when I didn’t have to think about lab reports, reading I had to do, what was going on at home, etc; I just worried about serving in, getting kills, and blocking the other team.
Adding these three activities into my life actually helped to boost my academic performance, even though they took additional time. Because I was so active, I learned how to be productive when studying and how to use my time efficiently. In addition, these aspects of my life created the balance that I needed. Staying in my room and studying all the time didn’t work well for me, but being able to take breaks and hang out with friends or go to volleyball practice allowed me to take a step back from academics and relax so that when I did study, I would be more focused.
What I would tell many of my mentees and younger friends at Scripps is to not be afraid to take time off for yourself. It’s okay to not call your parents every day. It’s okay to not be studying all the time. When I realized this, my time at Scripps greatly improved.
I can confidently say that even though my first year was rather rough and my four years were not perfect, I do not regretting choosing Scripps, and I would choose it again in a heartbeat.
Leonida Radford is one of ASAP's College Success Advisors, advising seniors one on one with the entire college application process. She graduated Mission High School in 2013 and Scripps College in 2017. Learn more about College Success Advisors here.