Before I came to Exeter, I thought I had it all figured out. Homework was a no-brainer, I never studied for quizzes, and very often I only wrote one draft for an English paper. In essence, school was a breeze. But after my first day at the Harkness table, and especially after seeing how brilliant my peers and teachers were, I realized that Exeter was far from a walk in the park.

I soon found myself drowning in work, unable to stay above the constant flow of new material. How do the kids here do it? I thought day in and day out, struggling to keep up. Surely there had to be some secret, some sort of trick I hadn’t learned.

After my first term grades came back, I was disappointed not just with the grades themselves, but with my own individual performance. My level of effort at my grammar school barely amounted to anything, and I had grown accustomed to not working hard. After receiving my first grades, however, I decided that I would improve. I started listening to my advisors and my teachers, who had been stressing time management skills all year. I took studying more seriously, and enforced an early curfew on myself every night. Then, something very interesting happened. Not only did my grades begin to improve, but my lifestyle did as well. I started to exercise more.  I kept track of how long I slept each night, and made a conscious effort to get as much sleep as possible. I worked on a schedule and wrote myself notes so as to not forget appointments and meetings.

At the end of spring term, my act had really begun to come together. My grades had gotten a lot better, my life was more organized, and by and large, I was just happier. I was working harder than I ever had in my life, but I was enjoying it.

Now, as I come towards the end of my sophomore year, I make my bed every day. I live on a very efficient schedule, am a part of several clubs, and wake up with a smile even on Monday mornings. I have fundamentally changed as a person through my experience and now reap the benefits of success. I learned that what feels way better than hanging out with your friends for a few hours is finishing a project that spanned a whole month. I value the grind and the difficulty of my studies, and rather than drowning in them, I am immersing myself in them. I feel more enlightened every day, and I know that if I hadn’t come to Exeter, I would never have become the student and person that I am now.