Similar struggles: Freshmen versus Graduating Students


Between lining up for elevators in Andrew to preparing for your OJT and thesis, a lot can change in the few years in the university, especially in terms of the problems we face. It doesn’t seem like there is much in common between the freshmen, who are just starting their college experience, and the graduating students, who are getting ready to say goodbye. But just how different are the struggles of first year students in comparison to the struggles of students on their way out? How do the two problems compare? We asked both freshmen and graduating students for their thoughts.


Frosh: A new campus, a new culture

For freshmen, perhaps the hardest part is the adjustment from high school into college. For first year engineering student Illiana Tan, the hardest part of the transition was the grading system of the professors. She talks about the strict nature of the grading system in the university, something she is not used to. “It’s the grading system of the professors, its structured in such a way where one mistake in a quiz can make your GPA go from 4.0 to 3.5.”

Fellow freshman Claro Manzano instead cites the difficulty he had adjusting to the large and imposing campus of De La Salle University. He comments, “I am not used to moving from one classroom to another throughout the day, and we have to time our trips to make sure that we are not late for any of our classes.” He further shares, “On our first day of school, we found out at the last minute that our classes on the 8th floor in Andrew Building had been moved to Mutien Marie and we had no idea on where to go!”

It’s easy to see how first year students still lose their way around campus. The freshmen were acquainted with the layout of the school during LPEP, and in general, they have a good sense of where everything is. Still, there remain times when they get lost. “Buildings that we haven’t used as much like LS and Miguel still confuse me,” shares Iliana.


Grad: Finishing strong

Graduating students face a different kind of stress during their last few terms. Between OJT, thesis, and other similar challenges, they face the pressure of finishing on a high note.

Samantha Co, a fourth year student on her last term, has always wanted to graduate with honors. Whenever she got a lower grade than what she wanted, she would say to herself, “bawi na lang next time” or “there is always next time.”

On her current grades, she says, “I guess what was most stressful about my last few terms was realising that with each passing term, I was running out of ‘next times.’ It was really stressful for me to think that I couldn’t really afford to fall short, even the slightest, if I wanted to fulfil the dream I’ve planted in my heart since the beginning.”

Sometimes it’s hard enough just saying goodbye. For some people, the sudden realization that they are graduating can put a certain stress on their lives. Kyawi Medina, a fourth year student working on her thesis, says that, “Stress would be dealing with the realization that I’m actually graduating soon.” Concerning her expectations of graduating, she shares, “I always thought that graduating would be the easiest part of college ’cause all you have to do is not mess up, and you’re outta here!”


Frosh: Blocks and orgs

Another challenge freshmen face is looking for their own set of friends as well as their own niche in the university. Most first year students have their block section as their first group of friends, although this can come with its own set of problems. Iliana shares, “In block sections, there are usually barkadas because not everyone can get along with everyone. There’s a division between barkadas in a block. Besides that, I also think that being too attached to the block is hard since you’ll separate during third term anyway.”

Claro instead mentions a very different kind of problem that blocks face, saying “What’s most difficult about being in a block is that it tends to get quite rowdy like in high school, making it hard to focus in class and listen to the prof.”

While most freshmen are accustomed to sticking with their block section, there are a few who also try joining orgs. While these organizations can be seen by some as a source of pressure, Iliana disagrees. “I believe that organizations were established because of interest, and it should not in any way pressure me.” Claro agrees with the sentiment, saying that it was looking for a good learning experience and adventure that eventually brought him to join organizations.


Grad: Saying goodbye

One of the biggest hurdles for graduating students is to leave what has been their home for around 3 to 4 years. The places and the people are what make their college experience memorable. As Samantha Co shares, “The biggest difficulty in leaving college would be leaving behind what has, for over 3 years, become my comfort zone, and with it all the already familiar people, places, and moments that have made it so worthwhile and meaningful.”

Another one of the challenges that graduating students have to face is the fear of going into the “real world.”  This means maturing from the mind-set of a college kid to that of an adult. Survival out there is very different from survival in school. “In school, they tell you what to do, what not to do, go here, go there. But when you’re out of these walls, you’d have no reason to slack off. You’d have to take responsibility for yourself. If you don’t, you’d have a really hard time surviving. I just don’t wanna end up settling for having to work for my family’s business. I’d wanna make a name for myself… by myself! ” says Kyawi Medina.


At first glance, it seems that the problems we face as we enter the university differ extremely from the problems we face as we leave. However, whether it’s adjusting from high school to college or from college to ‘the real world’, the transitions we go through are both similar and vastly different at the same time. They involve leaving the familiar and entering a whole new area in their life. If college is a race, then the challenge of leaving the starting line is not too different from the final push to reach the finish.


Wilhelm Tan

By Wilhelm Tan

Alex Diaz de Rivera

By Alex Diaz de Rivera

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