Working as a congressional page, I was given the ability to manage my academic success through my own initiative. Dealing with independence was a revealing experience for me, giving me new responsibilities and shaping my work ethics. I didn’t have my parents, now 5,000 miles away, to urge me to finish my homework or to nag about my less than perfect grades, and I couldn’t depend on the support of the teachers or counselor that I knew so well to look after my academic well-being. There was a realization that I was alone in my struggle to succeed and become a responsible student.
This independence allowed me to take the situation into my own hands and to work out my own problems, knowing I was the dictator of my consequences and decisions. In this situation, I learned how to set my priorities, a skill that has taken me a step toward preparing for college. Knowing that education would provide the foundation for my future in college and beyond, I placed it at the top of my values, so even in the excitement of new friends and complete independence, I had to maintain it as my first priority.
Though it proved difficult to discipline myself without support and accountability alone, I managed to succeed. I’d invite friends over to my room to study, and it eventually became a custom to for us hold study sessions in my room every Monday night and before test days. The entire night was devoted to completing our assignments, studying for exams, and tutoring each other. After the strenuous study session, we’d reward ourselves with a movie and light conversations. These study sessions were an efficient way in which I could balance two of my important priorities, friends and academics.
Living on my own and balancing a hectic load of school, work, and dorm life, I gained insight in effectively managing my own time, which was essential in preparing myself for academic success. It wasn’t a rare occurrence for Congress to stay into the thick hours of the morning, debating over a controversial issue, such as the budget or immigration. During these nights, I was required to wait on congressman on the Floor and carry out errands late into the night. Working late did not give us amnesty from the school’s assignments, so we had to make the most use of whatever time we had.
Working as a page obviously cut into the precious time I had to concentrate on my school work, forcing me to partition my time wisely. It became an unsaid rule for me to sign myself into an hour of study hall every week night, so that I wouldn’t be distracted by roommates or requests to go out. I had an excuse to delay my friends’ invitations to the movies or to the mall until I felt confident I could do my best on the pre-calculus or history test we would have on Friday.
With my packed schedule, I spent my time wisely to get the most out of my experience in Washington, while maintaining my grades and academics. The independence that I was fortunate enough to experience for the first time exposed me to responsibilities has helped me to prepare for college. It has disciplined me to set my priorities and manage my time to be the most effective student possible. Like a young eagle learning to fly, I learned to steer myself in the right direction. And so, I landed a more prepared and experienced person.