Freshman year as a Baylor student — expectations vs. reality

Spring Lake, N.C. freshman Gabriella Villa lifts her hand in a ‘Sic em’ with the stone-faced statue of Judge Baylor, a tradition for many students on campus. Photo courtesy of Gabriella Villa

By Meredith Howard | Staff Writer

Many high school seniors can enter college with lofty expectations, but Baylor students have their own unique perspective on balancing these expectations with reality.

Spring Lake, N.C., freshman Gabriella Villa said she made an effort to come into college with a realistic assumption of what life in higher education looks like, despite hearing stories or stereotypes.

“I thought I would be super stressed – that it would be so bad. But when I came here, it was a lot better than I thought, honestly,” Villa said. “A lot of people would tell you to study way more than I think you need to. Of course you need to study, but I think you also need to find that balance.”

Villa is a biology major on the pre-med track, and she said she was often told that her major would require her to prioritize studying over everything else. She said she found it important to still go to football games and have a social life.

“I think I’m doing OK finding that balance,” Villa said.

Villa said one of her college expectations that was exceeded was the social community Baylor offers its students.

“I knew they had activities and things like that, so in that aspect I was kind of expecting some, but not expecting as many opportunities to meet so many different people,” Villa said.

Sweeny freshman Heaven Cranford also said that Baylor’s community has been one of the best parts of her first semester.

“I’m in BIC, the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core; it’s team-taught by professors from all around the university, and those professors are some of the most caring, insightful, loving professors I have. The kindness and insight make it a lot easier to learn and a lot more enjoyable,” Cranford said.

Cranford is a first-generation college student, and she said one assumption she wishes she hadn’t brought into Baylor was that she had to achieve the similar grades to the ones she received in high school.

“When I came to college, because of my performance in high school and my lack of expectations for college, I came here dead-set on getting really good grades. I wanted a 4.0, which I didn’t know isn’t really as attainable as I thought it was,” Cranford said.

According to ACT Research and Policy, “students tend to earn lower GPAs in college than in high school. On average, high school GPA was 0.66 points higher than first-year college GPA (3.36 versus 2.70).”

For more information about making the adjustment from high school to college, reference Baylor’s online resources.