Yasmin Gupta, '18 as part of Cornell College's basketball team. (Photo used by permission of Gupta)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Yasmin Gupta, ’18, has 18 straight days of each course at Cornell College

Yasmin Gupta, ‘18, is majoring in pre-medicine and minoring in both kinesiology and psychology at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, to which she was accepted on a full-ride basketball scholarship. 

Q: How do you like college?

A: It’s very stressful, but I like the fact that I feel so independent here. You have a lot of freedom in college. I get to choose what time I eat and shower, what classes I take, what clubs I join — that’s all under my control.

Q: What clubs are you in?

A: I am part of the Chemistry Club, the Lunch Buddy program, BACO — Black Awareness Cultural Organization — and a book club for pre-health students.

Q: What are you reading in book club?

A: We are reading “The Poisoner’s Handbook,” and there’s around 20 kids in the club.

Q: How is college basketball?

A: It’s very difficult. We usually have morning workouts and then three-hour practices in the afternoon. And sometimes after we finish our afternoon workout, we have conditioning training.

We also have to find time to train outside of practice and put up shots on our own time.

Q: What are your favorite and least favorite classes?

A: Well, this question doesn’t really apply to me; my school is a little different from others. We have what’s called a block plan. This means that you take the same class for 18 days. In those 18 days, you learn a year’s worth of material in that subject.

Currently I am taking Accelerated Chemistry for 18 days. This class is a combination of two general chemistry classes.

Since I’m only taking one class, I can’t really say if it’s my favorite or not yet because I have not taken enough subjects to be able to compare them.

Q: Have you made any mistakes as a freshman?

A: I haven’t been getting enough sleep, and that’s hard since I have morning practice from 6 to 8 (a.m.) then class from 9 to 11 (a.m.) and labs from 12 to 3 (p.m.).

And then in between all of that, I have to find time to eat and shower. After labs I have my afternoon basketball practice from 3 to 6, and then I still have all my homework that’s due the next day, so I don’t end up going to bed until really late!

Q: What is one of the most recent challenges you have faced in college?

A: Probably trying to come home. Basketball complicates things the most. For basketball we have practice the day right after Thanksgiving, and for Christmas we only get five days off. So if I were to come home during Thanksgiving, I would only get to spend one day at home, and then I would have to go all the way back to Iowa. I don’t think that the trip back home would be worth it.

Q: What is one of your greatest accomplishments in college so far?

A: I received A’s in both of my first two blocks, and I’ve been working at Zamora’s, a cafe on campus, four days a week. I try to work up to 20 hours a week.

And on top of all of that, I have still been able to do basketball for five hours a day every day. One of my biggest accomplishments, though, would be learning how to manage my time.

Q: How do you like the campus?

A: It’s all right. Our campus is on a hill, and it’s a bit of a struggle getting to class (since) I live closer to the sports center because of basketball. Most of my classes are on the opposite side, and the hill makes it complicated to walk all the way from the sports center to my class.

But it is very beautiful up here in Iowa right now. It’s just starting to snow.

Q: How do you like your living space?

A: My dorm is one of the smaller living spaces compared to some of the other dorms. It’s a lot different from staying at home, though. The beds aren’t as big, and the mattresses aren’t as nice. It took a little bit of time to adjust to my dorm, but I do like it because of how close I am to school.

I used to have to drive about 30 minutes to get to school, but now it’s nice to be right on campus because the commute isn’t as long.

Q: How are your roommates?

A: I have one roommate. She is from Texas and is also on the basketball team. She is super awesome at basketball, and we get along really well. We have a very similar schedule, and we of course always see each other at practice.

One thing I think is ironic, though, is that we never really get to spend time together inside our dorm. We always see each other at practice or while studying in the library.

Q: Have you made any close friends?

A: Coming from Country Day, (I felt) weird not being so tight-knit with everyone like (I was) in high school. In college, you have to realize that you have to put yourself out there and get to know more people since it’s not such a small community. Most of my friends are on the basketball team, and I consider them like family. We all take care of each other, and that made it a lot easier for me to make friends. I do have good friends outside the basketball team, but my closest friends are on the basketball team because of how much time we spend together.

Q: Did Country Day prepare you for college?

A: In some ways it did. It is very easy for me to go and talk to teachers and ask for help because I am used to doing that at Country Day.

Q: Was the transition from high school to college smooth?

A: It was fairly smooth, but college is so different. I am so far away from home, and there are so many challenges I have to face on my own.

It took me some time to get the hang of things, but for the most part I managed to survive transitioning to college.

Q: In what ways is college similar to high school? How is it different?

A: The class sizes are similar to Country Day’s, but I feel like mostly everything is different. Even the little things — like not having a car here and not having to drive to school — have been major changes.

You also don’t have someone telling you what you should be doing all the time or where you should be. Everything is always up to you.

The weather is a small but significant change as well.

Q: What advice would you give to the class of 2019?

A: You should choose where you want to go based on how you feel about yourself. You shouldn’t really base your college decision on what a bunch of other people tell you will be best for you or books that tell you where you should go.

You should choose the place that you really enjoy and feel like you fit in. You should really consider touring schools — I toured the campus here three times.

Also, don’t always look at the big schools because there are some really good smaller schools.

Five-star or subpar?

Food: ☆☆☆☆

School spirit: ☆☆☆☆☆

Location: ☆☆☆

Clubs: ☆☆☆

Student-teacher interaction: ☆☆☆☆☆

—By Hailey Fesai

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