The College Clock; Why Some of Us Aren’t Ready for College Right Out of High School

As I sit behind the help desk at my universities’ Communication and Technology Center, typing in short spurts while simultaneously answering any and all concerns of those who use the lab’s services, I observe. At my job, I help anyone who uses our facility with questions and problems that concern desktop support, web and computer applications, printing, scanning, yaddah yaddah yaddah… even professors, who often hold class in our two classrooms located within the lab, come to us with technical support concerns, whether it’s a projector that’s not working or a computer that’s not playing sound out of the correct device.

My point here is that I talk to a lot of different people every day; some of them are young, some are old. Some are students, some are professors. Some are girls, some boys, and some neither or both, or somewhere in between. In college, you come to realize that there aren’t any more social hierarchies like there where in secondary or high school. You aren’t necessarily the top of the food chain when you’re a senior, or the bottom of it when you’re a freshmen. In fact, sometimes the class statuses get blurred; you can graduate college in three years, or you can do it in six. You can be a senior at 20, or a freshman at 35.

I made the choice to go to a four-year accredited university the semester following my high school graduation. I was one of the youngest in my graduating class at seventeen when I walked on stage to receive my high school diploma, and one of the youngest students at my college the following fall. From a young age, I knew that in my family, college wasn’t an option; it was a requirement. A necessity. A well-known, “you can study what you want, but you have to go, no questions asked” unavoidable rule. And I didn’t try to avoid it– in fact, I looked forward to it. My parents looked at and spoke of college as one of the best things that had ever happened to them. My mom and dad left their home country of Brazil to further their education. My dad, after receiving a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and working for a few years in the industry, earned a scholarship for his graduate studies at Texas Tech University. He and my mother married, and not a week later they packed up two suitcases of their belongings and traveled to a country of which they knew nothing of and nobody from. My mother, the absolute bad-ass that she is, decided to pursue her Masters in Business Administration just because she had the time and the opportunity to study alongside her new husband.

The pursuit of knowledge is in my blood. But now, at 21 and four years into my duel degree program at the University of Houston, I’ve come to a difficult realization; I wasn’t ready for college at 18.

According to a survey analysed in detail on edsource.org, “Fewer than half of high school students across the country feel they’re ready for college and careers, even though these remain top goals for students.”  The multi-year College and Career Readiness survey of 165,000 high school students that was conducted and administered by YouthTruth, a  nonprofit based in San Francisco, found that 45 percent of students feel positive about their college and career readiness. That leaves a majority 65 percent with doubts about their capabilities in regards to post-secondary studies.

There can be many different reasons for this phenomena; the educational system may be lacking certain programs or support services for students looking to prepare for college. Schools may not be preparing students for the path to further education. But the one factor I want to focus on, as a girl who graduated with a 4.0 from a nationally acclaimed magnet school, is maturity and emotional preparedness. Are we, at the ages of 17 and 18, truly prepared mentally for the culture shock, independence, and demand of self-reliance college requires from us?

If you take a moment to look at the science, our frontal lobes aren’t even fully developed until roughly the age of 25. The university of Rochester’s Medical Center writes that “Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.” That’s not to say that we don’t mature at different paces, but one must consider the hard evidence behind mental development and the pressure we are put under to decide many major life choices seven years before our brains can truly work for us.

This last year, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t ready for college when I graduated high school at seventeen. If I could go back, I would have most definitely have gone to community college (which gets a bad rep all on its own, but that’s a post for a different time) first. I would have spent my first two years taking basic classes at my local community college, spending about 1/4th of what I spent at my university and using my precious free time working on my personal development. But I can’t change the past, so what I ask of you all is that you do not hold yourself to the exceedingly high standards many high schools hold their students to.

If you are a high school senior and you haven’t gotten into your dream school- don’t panic! You can do a few years at your local community college and apply again with a new opportunity to boost your GPA and knock out the core curriculum. Hell, you can even take the time to figure out what it truly is you want to study. Above all else, go to college because that’s what you want to do, not what is wanted of you.

 

Where I’ve Been… 2014 to 2020

I’m back!

I’m sure all 2 of you who read this blog (should you still be here) have missed me! This blog has been on quite a hiatus for the last half-decade or so, and so much has occurred within this time frame. I can safely and securely say that the girl who created this blog in 2014 no longer exists; she is missed, and I honor her every day in the choices I make, the chances I take, and the people I surround myself with. She is loved by many, including the woman she has become, because she has made it possible for me to become who I am today. She is special, because she taught me valuable lessons about what it truly means to hope; for a brighter future, for the return of ambition, and for dreams to come true.

But she’s gone. She had to go, and in many ways I’m glad she did; it made room for a newer, more improved version of her to take her place.

I want to start off this new post by coming clean; when I first started this blog, it was intended to be a healthy lifestyle and fitness blog. I wanted to create a safe space for myself to collect and create “health-conscious” content, but the reality of the situation was that I was in the beginning stages of a long journey in recovery from an enervating eating disorder that consumed most of my life and played a large part in everything I did. Even after regaining the weight I lost during the worst of it, my thought process and the way I lived should have been a clear indication of how far from “recovered” I really was. I would enable my unsoundness in ways I don’t necessarily want to voice, partly because I don’t want to diverge from the intended subject of this little update.

In essence, I have been able to get to a mental and spiritual place that I truly could never have fathomed arriving at- especially not as early as the age of 21- and for this, I am eternally grateful and proud of myself for.

This blog will no longer be a “healthy lifestyle” blog, but a WHOLESOME lifestyle blog. The focus is no longer just how much of what I eat or what shape I’m in. No more will I try and justify consuming and intrusive thoughts about food and exercise.

From today onward, I am hoping to use this blog as a place to talk about many different things; as a business and communications student, I hope to write pieces that provoke thought regarding what I’ve learned in the past four years in and outside of school. I would like to share meaningful stories, provide helpful anecdotes, and practice my hand in all kinds of writing. There is even a hopeful part of me what would love to one day answer any questions or provide advice to readers.

As I publish this entry, I celebrate the start to a new and exciting journey in self-exploration. I hope you can join me on this journey.

 

Review; Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter

One thing that will become quite obvious on this blog, Is that I, Julia Chamon, adore peanut butter.

I haven’t always been this way- in fact, if you told me I would have a collection of favorite nut butters I would have laughed in your face. I truely only started taking a liking to it a year or so ago.

I am NOT a picky eater, but I don’t kid around when it comes to my spreads!

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When I first came across this brand, it was on a young girls’ tumblr account. She is at the moment recovering from a restrictive eating disorder, and once I saw her beautiful creations using these spreads (mostly bagels and sandwiches, but her reviews seemed to resonate with adoration for the product, and I’m a carboholic!)

I squealed when I located it at my local H.E.B., causing my poor mother to jump at my sudden excitement. I’ve learned the hard way that you should never buy too much of a product, in case you dislike it- hearing the rave about Trader Joe’s cookie butter, I made that mistake with something I personally did not like much!

I take after my father- loving everything that has to do with white chocolate.

I've made my share of White Chocolate goodies- and sold a few, nonetheless!
I’ve made my share of White Chocolate goodies- and sold a few, nonetheless!

So I chose to first attempt this flavor- logically, it’d be the one I’d appreciate the most, yeah?

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The peanut butter, when first opened, releases an aroma that can only be described as dense and nutty. I sniffed a hint of coco, and vanilla was present as well- it smelled of the bakery I dreamed of having as a young girl!

I tried this spread on a cracker, and alone. Let me tell you, I love peanut butter, but it scares the living day lights out of me.

The cracker, though salted, was a nice compliment to the sweetness of the peanut butter, but I would recommend using a much less distinguishable carb such as bread or a bagel.

Alone, this spread is decadent. Wonderful. I enjoyed every second of it. Like most peanut butters, is is very dense, but one spoonful of this is enough to satisfy any hunger- any craving.

I give Peanut Butter and Co.‘s White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter 4.8 stars out of 5! I highly recommend them and their nut butters- as they have the best variety imaginable!

First Thing’s First

Realistically, changes can’t be made (at least not for any average human being) and people can’t be improved all at once. It simple logic, if you will, that a being adapts to steady and comfortable change, rather than panicked and rushed shifts exercised all at once.

Speaking of which, comes my main topic, and possibly a statement topic for this blog- exercise.

Well, not entirely exercise, more the synchronized relationship it has, or should have,  with your life.

Growing up, I did taekwondo with my siblings, three days a week. As I would jump around with my clumpy white Gi and terrible, terrible bob hair cut, I thought little of calories being burned, or food being used; I simply enjoyed a vigorous sport I had the pleasure of taking part in- eventually this positive mindset of my early childhood led me to receive my black belt in the martial art.

As I matured and calories and nutrition seemed to cloud my mind more and more, I found taekowndo no longer enjoyable, and would skip out on classes (and rollerskating dates with friends, and jogging with my mother- exercise in general during my pre-teens and early teenage years) and eat frequently. I do not call this period of overeating “binging”, because I was, one, not aware of the term, and two, staying at a moderate, not severely drastic intake. Still, the weight piled on.

The more I overate, the most likely it was I would attempt to restrict the day after said food fest. What I learned the hard way was, though, that a body demands to be fed. Each reactive eating session got more and more difficult to control, and by december of my sophomore year of highschool, I found myself not only jumping from 200 to 3500 calories unsteadily a day, but also suffering from early signs of depression and anxiety issues. I self-harmed that winter for the first time.

I dared not disturb my mother if father with said issues, and kept my disordered eating and self-inflicted pain hidden for many months.

I feel that as a human being matures, so can their eating disorder. At first, my habits were simply reactive and restrictive eating, and vise versa. After a brief period of being completely blissfully content with my body (those three weeks were pure joy, and whatever had made me relapse needs to seriously see a light), my non-specified disordered eating had returned.

Let’s get one thing out in the open here; I. Love. To. Bake. I do it all the time, whenever I can. It’s simply my job, and my hobby. I make staple goods as well as healthy alternatives, but I’m always in the kitchen. Ironic, no?

Birthday cupcakes my mother's friend requested; I made a small fortune off of them, as I originally pitched the idea to her!
Birthday cupcakes my mother’s friend requested; I made a small fortune off of them, as I originally pitched the idea to her!

Throughout the year, I struggled to keep my academic average above par, as it usually stood. I struggled with not only my own restrictive thoughts, but a gained low self-esteem. I would fail an assignment, and turn to food for comfort- or more, baking.

Panda fondunt cake! Red velvet and cream-filled, I named him Pando.
Panda fondunt cake! Red velvet and cream-filled, I named him Pando.

As the school year came to a close, and I watched as each of my intelligent colleagues lined up and set their incoming schedule up perfectly, I came to a conclusion; I needed to keep myself from falling apart. I have never wanted to stay at home for college, and I always dreamed of owning my own business. I was never going to get anywhere without upping my game tremendously. Recovery is the most difficult thing anyone with a disordered mindset can live through, but to me, it’s a necessity.

Getting back on topic, what I truly wanted to cover in this post, my first post, is that exercise should not be a punishment. Eating is not a reward. I remember once signing on to my account on Tumblr, and seeing a young woman write “Food for thought; you literally need food for thought.”

For some reason, this intelligent phrase coming from the mind of a girl so close to my age, hit home.

Imagine a world where health and fitness were not so strongly correlated with diet and restriction.

Because realistically, the large majority of human beings do not succeed under deficit-based dietary plans. It has nothing to do with luck, genetics (though eating disorders, yes, are genetically sound- blog post coming up on that soon), or mindset. Your body is an intelligent, instinct-driven machine. Those who honor it live in their highest-functioning bodies. Those who abuse or neglect are in need of getting back in touch with their “machines”

Basis of theory stated, I hope to adduce this controversial topic and being into detail the specific details of this theory- one of many I hope to discuss.

Thank you for reading, and have a happy August!

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