Intg 2: Prompt 1
Throughout my time in high school and college, I have come to notice that my performance on tests can vary greatly. I used to believe that my performance on tests were directly correlated to the amount of time I spent studying and my attitude going into the exam, but recent test results have made me realize that my initial hypothesis may not be true. For example, I studied for about the same amount of time for my chemistry and mathematics midterms, but I performed significantly better on my mathematics midterm than on my chemistry exam. I considering attributing this to my disdain for chemistry, but I noticed another factor that I did not consider before: sleep.
I noticed that I went to bed early for my math test, unlike my chemistry test. At the time, I didn’t think that my sleep schedule would affect my performance significantly, but my chemistry test proved otherwise. With this realization, I knew that a change would be necessary for my future academic success, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. I attempted to set up a rigid sleep schedule for myself that allowed for eight hours of sleep daily, but I was inconsistent at maintaining the schedule, making my good intentions virtually pointless. I had reached a significant obstacle in my pursuit of higher education, and I was unsure about how I could overcome it until recently.
When creating a sleep schedule for myself, I took the course content from Week 5 of my Moreau course into account, as it emphasized the influence sleep can have on academic performance. However, the course did not offer me much in terms of sleeping well. Because of this, I simply attempted to do my best to create my own sleep schedule. However, because my approach did not work well, I looked for outside help with my sleep. I looked online and read a variety of articles about sleeping well, and I even attended a recent event at Notre Dame called “Somni.”
Somni is an initiative by a senior Notre Dame engineer in collaboration with Dr. Payne, a professor at Notre Dame, to improve the sleep of Notre Dame students. I attended their kickoff event because it seemed like what I needed to improve my academic performance, and my hopes were realized. Dr. Payne presented a comprehensive overview of wellness and the role sleep plays in human health to the attendees The organizers of Somni provided everyone at the event with a box of tools that they claimed would help facilitate high-quality sleep. In addition to this, all attendees were also given access to a free program that they claimed would help develop healthy sleeping habits within 21 days. By the end of the presentation, I was ecstatic.
My enthusiasm was not misguided, either. I used two of the tools they provided – a sleeping mask and a bottle of lavender spray – on the night after the event. I had never slept better; I still feel a similar level of sleep quality as I continue to use these two tools, and I still have yet to even touch the other devices they provided. I am only a week into the 21 day program, but I am happy to have found and been grateful enough to partake in it so far. I am certain that it will result in an improvement of my overall health and academic performance.
As I look back on my difficulties with adequate sleep and my attempts at overcoming it, I have found that it relates to a few of the Pillars of the Holy Cross, even though I consider it to be a mundane issue. I have found that it relates to the pillars of Zeal and Mind. Because my attempts to improve my sleep were motivated by my desire to get the most out of my education and prompted reflection, I consider my struggles with my sleep to be connected to the pillar of Mind. The resources I utilized to find and make use of the solutions to my issues can be directly related to Zeal, and the fact that these resources were provided to me by the University further corroborates this conclusion.
Here's a video about sleep from Somni:
Intg 2: Prompt 2
In my previous response, I discussed my less than satisfactory chemistry grade and attributed my poor performance to a lack of sleep. While sleep is my current attempt at a solution to this issue, I have adopted other techniques for my other challenging course, Honors Calculus, and my initial physics course. In high school, I never needed to develop a schedule for myself. My classes were easy, and I never felt the need to rigorously manage my time because of the relative ease of my school’s academics. If there were other obligations that I was involved in, I was usually able to remember them with ease. I realized that this was not the case when I did my first homework assignments.
When I came into Notre Dame, I assumed that I could easily complete all of my assignments and still have time to myself. I quickly came to the realization that this would not be the case. While my liberal arts courses were not difficult, my more scientific classes had massive amounts of assignments that needed to be done weekly. This was especially the case with my calculus and physics courses. For me, each physics assignment took roughly two to three hours to complete, while my calculus homework took my more than 5 hours to complete. At first, I was not sure what to attribute my difficulties with the assignments to; I went to office hours, I took notes, and was attentive in class. I struggled with finding time to finish everything, and I attempted something that I had never done before in order to more effectively manage my time: create a schedule for myself.
I set aside extensive blocks of time dedicated to just my homework on both weekdays and weekends, but I had to sacrifice some of my free time as a result. I didn’t mind, though. I rationalized the sacrifice with a potential improvement in my academic performance. And, for a bit, it seemed as if my strategy had worked. I understood the class material and I did well on my homework. However, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to keep up with the schedule I had developed. Tests were on the horizon, and I didn’t have any extra time to set aside to study for them. I began to worry and I didn’t know how I would manage to pass them, but I managed to find a way out of my predicament.
I came into Notre Dame as a prospective physics major, but I quickly lost my interest in the subject after realizing that the topics did not interest me in the slightest. However, my calculus course absolutely captivated me. I spoke to my counselor about my change of heart and the academic struggles I was going through, and I asked her if I could drop my physics course out of a lack of interest and difficulty. While it took some convincing on my part and a testimony from my peer advisor (shoutout to Emily), I was eventually able to drop my physics course and change my major to mathematics.
Because of the changes I made to my schedule, I am now able to attend cultural events, spend time with friends in my dorm, and participate in my favorite hobby: video games. I have also had time to put more time into my study of mathematics, and I have begun reading books based on my professors’ recommendation to begin research. Even though I’ll have to make up for the credits elsewhere, I have already begun planning to make up for the deficit. As I look back, I am glad that I dropped my physics course, as it allowed me to better enjoy the aspects of college outside of academics.
The balancing of my academic life was a long and arduous process that called for significant introspection. During my time contemplating my challenges, I looked back at the course material for my Moreau course that discussed academic goal setting (Week 6) and the module concerning well-being (Week 4). I also consider my challenges to be connected to the pillar of Hope because of the confidence I have in my decision; and the power of Zeal, as others helped me find balance in my academic life.
Here's a picture of my schedule. It came out kind of blurry because of file size restrictions, but I like to think of the artifacting as a metaphor for how confused I was about my schedule during the beginning of the semester.