When Darrell Horn, an ambitious 17-year-old freshman at Cal State Northridge, sets out on his college journey, he quickly discovers an unexpected dilemma: the challenge of managing his newfound freedom.
"I learned the only way to get around procrastination is if you just do it right away rather than just sit on it and let it stew for a couple of days." - Darrell Horn
Darrell Horn is an entertainer, majoring in Cinema and Television Arts, with a focus on screenwriting. He's passionate about learning, he's overcoming procrastination, and he's mastering the art of balancing preferences and priorities. He has discovered that balancing his three priorities of being a student, pursuing his ambitious goals, and having a personal life is tricky but necessary. He has also learned that he is good at communicating and convincing others. On his first night of college, he got locked out of his dorm room, which was quite the reality check.
In this episode, you will learn about Darrell’s experiences in the following areas:
Other episodes you'll enjoy:
Episode 1. Academic Endurance, Overcoming Challenges, and Self-Reflection with Ahmara Watson
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Darrell Horn is a freshman at California State University, Northridge. His major is cinema and television arts, which is a film major. He is in the screenwriting division, where he writes scripts. He also wants to be an entertainer.
In terms of high school, I will say that it prepared me more mentally and socially rather than academically. What has taken you by surprise in terms of college? I can do basically almost anything I want at any time without repercussions.
My biggest weakness right now is trying to balance. On one side, I have myself as a student, which I hold that top priority. The other side, I have my personal, ambitious goals. When you mix want with have, it's kind of tricky.
College has taught him that he's good at socializing with people. It also made him realize that he can convince people to help him achieve his aims. If you want to get far in life, you have to know how to get people to say yes.
On my first night of moving in, I got locked out of my dorm room. That's when I really started to think, I'm really on my own with this. It's one of the quickest eye openers I've ever had. How did it feel knowing that you had the liberty to come and go as you please?
Is this experience what you thought it would be? Kind of and kind of not at the same time. Has it been what you expected? It did kind of open my eyes as to what I really need to prioritize.
Where do you turn for emotional support? Really? I don't really turn to anybody. I know how to control my emotion and how to filter it to a point. At least my roommate has helped me in that sort of way.
In dorms, do they do any kind of personality profile to match you up? Where do you like to study mainly? The dorms have a study room in here, and I studied in the library. Have you had an experience where you felt overwhelmed? If so, how did you handle it?
Darrell has started his own entertainment and record label. "I find more successes from my ambitious side rather than my student side," he says. Do you do anything to celebrate your wins?
Are there any students who you went to high school with that are at the same university that you're at? If you were to go back to your high school and give a presentation, what would you say to that audience? Think about what you'll be doing ten years from now.
Darrell: You're definitely going to make mistakes. The only thing you can really control is how you bounce back from those mistakes. That's really the deciding factor in who you become.
Shandra: Maybe at the end of your freshman year, you can come back and let us know how the entire first year went.
That's it for today on Academic Survival. If you want to share your story on how you survived your freshman year of college, you can reach me at info at shandralmcdonald.com. Back next week for more ways to survive your academic journey.
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This is the Academic Survival Podcast, and I'm your host, Dr. Shandra McDonald. Statistics show that approximately 40% of students drop out of college every year. In fact, nearly 30% drop out their first year. Well, I am on a mission to improve these stats.
. . .but there's a difference between a preference and a priority, you know? As far as my ambitions go, that's more my preference. [With] me being an entertainer, I know that's what I want to do, and that's what I have to do. But in terms of my priority, which is me being a student and trying to graduate to the fullest extent of my potential, I know that's just something I have to do.
That's Darrell Horn, a freshman at Cal State Northridge. He'll be talking about the concept of learning, overcoming procrastination, and balancing preferences and priorities. Coming up next on Academic Survival, with me, Dr. Shandra McDonald. So welcome to another episode of Academic Survival.
Today I am bringing to the stage, or I should say to the mic, Darrell. Darrell is a 1st-year student, a freshman, and he is going to tell you a little bit about himself. So, Darrell, welcome to Academic Survival. Thank you, Ms. Shandra.
How are you doing today? I'm doing pretty good. No complaints. Well, first off, you can't get anywhere without knowing somebody's name, so my name is Darrell Horn.
I'm a freshman at California State University of Northridge. And this may come as a surprise to you. I'm a freshman, but I'm only 17 years old. I just turned 17 in June. Oh, wow. So how did that happen? It's more like it was done for me. When I was really little I skipped [a grade].
What grade did you skip? I think it was kindergarten. So that makes you a little bit younger than most of your classmates, then, huh?
Try all of them. Okay. So, tell us what your major is and why. Well, my major is cinema and television arts, which is a film major, and I'm in the screenwriting division, where I write scripts, and I tell stories throughout my writing.
And that's only one piece of what I want to pursue as a career in the general term. Alright, so what are you working on now? Are you working on any scripts? Are you getting any practice? Yes, every day I'm working on scripts.
But also, it's not just that I write scripts. I'm an entertainer. What I want to talk to you a little bit about today is your high school experience. So, can you tell us in what way your high school actually prepared you for college? Well, in terms of high school, I will say that it prepared me more mentally and socially rather than academically. Well, it did prepare me academically, but it was greatly out ruled by the mental and social aspect when it comes to being in a public setting at school.
Okay, so you said socially and mentally. Yes. Okay, that helped you? Yes, in more ways than one . . . not only was I able to get prepared for meeting new people . . . (or just interacting with different people) . . .You never know who you're going to meet when you go outside of your house or whenever you go to school. . . .It's always different every single day. But it also just gave me preparation for going somewhere by myself and figuring it out on my own, without having to go home and go tell mom or dad what happened.
I mean, I could still do that when I talk to them on the phone, but it's just not the same because I'm just going to have to deal with it as I get older. What about lack of preparation? In what way do you think your high school maybe did not prepare you for college? What it didn't prepare me for was . . . [academics].
My Africana Studies professor broke down the concept of learning in general. [Learning] is not memorizing or just regurgitating information that a teacher has assigned to you, but rather retaining information that should help you out in the long run. . . . From that one class, I got more in terms of mental retainment than my entire 4 year experience in high school, when it came to getting the stuff I needed just to graduate. What has taken you by surprise in terms of college?
What took me by surprise is that I can do basically almost anything I want, at any time, without repercussions. I mean, granted, there is repercussions, but as long as I played in my field, I just be responsible. With the power that I now have, I can really do anything I want and whenever I want. Do you mean . . .basically being able to come and go as you please? Basically.
Alright, so that's taken you by surprise. Now, have you discovered any academic strengths? . . . Any ability that you have that you didn't know that you had before you got to college? One thing that I picked up on my first few weeks of studying is that I was able to really get my time management down really early. A lot of first-year students struggle with their time management. And granted, I struggle with this a little bit too, because I'm a procrastinator.
But I learned the only way to get around it is if you just do it right away, rather than just sit on it and let it stew for a couple of days. So really, I know how my brain and my body works in terms of giving me something that I'm assigned. And what's worse is [if] I don't care about it and [I’m] just letting it sit there for, like, a day or two. But, rather, in comparison, I get it done [and] out the way so I don't have to think about it ever again. So, tell me a little bit about the time management piece of it. Okay.
It's more of an amalgamation of your personal schedule as a college student, your work ethic as a person, and what factors play into the success of the first two working together. Okay, so you've been able to, I guess, obviously apply that to all your courses. Absolutely. How many courses are you taking this semester? I'm taking five courses as we speak.
And what are they? Well, I've already mentioned Africana studies, but I'm also taking advanced level English. I'm taking a Mathematical Ideas class, which is pretty confusing, I will say to the least, but I've learned to make my way around it. I'm also taking my major, my CTVA major, which is really not doing anything for me right now because it's more of getting the most out of the way, before they actually get to the good stuff, which is next semester.
I was complaining, but it was more of, I knew I had to be patient if I wanted to see this thing all the way through. And finally, I'm also taking at my school, . . . a seminar class for freshmen. It's called University 100, and basically all freshmen have to take it as a general ed course before they move on to their second semester in their freshman year. I remember taking University 100.
Oh, my gosh. When I took University 100, I thought I was going to drop out. I was like, okay, maybe I'm not cut out for this. I am lost.
You could take it as a class, or for me, you could have taken it in summer school, like the week before school started. So, I opted for the crash course of taking it for a week before school started. And that class, it felt like a scavenger hunt of how to use the library.
I was literally in tears, and I was like, Maybe I'm not cut out for this. Why am I having such a hard time with University 100?
In my University 100 class, it's not really about the difficulties. I’d say it's more . . . informational. It's like so much, to the point where you have to take a step back to actually clear up what they're giving you. . . .They're trying to give you all the information that they want, [in order for] you to be successful, then watch as many resources as you can. But they're dropping a whole bunch of knowledge in one class period. . . . You got to know when to listen and when you can just let stuff float on by. Okay. Yeah.
Because it can be pretty overwhelming. . . . Have you discovered any weaknesses since you've been in college? Weaknesses? My biggest weakness right now is trying to balance, because right now, I see my life is kind of a dichotomy because it's more of, like, dividing my life into three separate parts.
On one side, I have myself as a student, which I hold that top priority. The other side, I have my personal, ambitious goals [that] I have to get started on. I'm working as a student right now in order to make sure that my craft and my business potential in the future will be to the point where I desire and I aspire it to be in the future. And in between, I have kind of a medium where . . . we can compromise. We can do this at this point in time, and then when you're done, you can jump to this other side, because I got to know how to balance all three in my head.
Okay. Otherwise, I'm just going to go crazy.
You're balancing all three. Do you find yourself having a tendency to want to cater toward one versus the other or the other? I definitely have a preference, but there's a difference between a preference and a priority. As far as my ambitions go, that's more my preference because [with] me being an entertainer, I know that's what I want to do, and that's what I have to do.
But in terms of my priority, which is me being a student and trying to graduate to the fullest extent of my potential, I know that's just something I have to do. So when you mix want with have, it's kind of tricky. So, I just deal with the havefirst. Alright. I like it.
So what about what college has taught you about yourself? Is there anything that you didn't know that you now know? Has it taught you anything about yourself? What it taught me was that I'm really good at . . . socializing with people.
Flight attendant personality type. [This is a reference to the Flight Assessment] Yes.
Okay. I mean, even if they like it or not, it doesn't matter. Because I just know I'm good at talking to people and getting an emotion out of them. Because if we're going to really take it back, if we're going to talk about . . . COVID really turned off a lot of people's social skills prior to coming to college. Right now, everywhere I look, people are just like, why is that guy looking at me?
Or like, why is this guy talking to me? And then I'm just like, because we're people. That's what we do. What else do you want me to do? You want me to sit there and stare?
That's even creepier if you really want to think about it. Yeah, but it also made me realize that I'm good at convincing people of, not only just to help me with my aims, but I can return the favor and just help them with their aims, whatever they are. Because when you want to get far in life, or if you want to get to where you want to be (as far as financial, mental, social or just in a stable term), as my mom puts it, you have to know how to get people to say yes.
It's kind of something I picked up from her, but I'm just good at telling people what they need and what they want at the same time. And then it's like I reel them in, and because I get them in their head, I get them. Awesome. I'm going to go back a bit. I want to hear a little bit about the day that you were first dropped off at college. Tell me a little bit about that experience.
How did it feel knowing that you had the liberty to come and go as you please? Okay, well, number one, what I remember from that day is that I didn't get my complete independence until 7:00 at night, because my mom was there the whole entire day trying to help me move in. But it's actually a funny story. So on my first night of moving in, I got locked out of my dorm room. Oh, no.
Yeah. That's when it really started to sink in, and I'm just like, oh, man, I'm really on my own with this.
I was about to be like, oh, let me call my mom.
She don't have the key. Exactly. That's when it really sinks in. I'm sure my roommate did come a few minutes later to bail me out of this situation. Right.
But it's more of my first night of getting dropped off. It's more of the quickest eye openers I've ever had.
Okay, so you got locked out, and then was that on the first night? Yes, it was. Okay, and then anything else about that day? You said your mom was there for several hours. Yes, because she wanted to make sure I was completely set in stone, ready to go, make sure my situation was as comfortable as she could make it.
But at the same time, she wanted to make sure that I wasn't completely left out in the cold when it comes to not having the stuff I needed. So, she gave me the tools of what I needed, both mentally and physically. Alright, so then now that you've been away on campus in the dorms, how many weeks has it been now? It's been well over 7 weeks.
Is this experience what you thought it would be? Kind of and kind of not at the same time. Has it been what you expected? Well, number one, I knew I was going to be able to manage my own schedule from here on out because I didn't have mom or teachers to tell me to do otherwise. They recommended certain things, but I was really going to take them with a grain of salt because at the end, I'm going to do what I'm going to do.
But at the same time, it did kind of open my eyes as to what I really need to prioritize in terms of present day and the day to come. Because if you don't really have a layout of that, then you're really going to start tripping over your own feet. Okay, so what about the emotional part? So, you’re away at school, how far are you from home? I'm a good 45 minutes to an hour drive away.
Where do you turn for emotional support? Really, I don't really turn to anybody. I know how to control my emotion and how to filter it to a point where I'm just like, okay, do I really need to be acting on this right now or can this wait? I'm really good at balancing it out to a point.
I'm not saying it's good. Right. I mean, everybody needs somebody to vent to. At least my roommate has helped me in that sort of way. I didn't vent too much.
It's just that I would tell them about a few frustrations I'd had. Right. But at the same time, I kept it to a bare minimum. Okay, so you mentioned roommate. So, tell me a little bit about that experience living with someone whom you've never met before.
Well, it's fun actually, because neither of us knew what to expect from the other person. We could only get what we could get from a description and a bio and a picture. We didn't really get to start connecting until we first started to walk in. So, you mentioned roommate.
Tell me a little bit about the roommate experience. It's fun. I'll just say for the most part it's fun because, one, you're used to only living with your family, only living with people who you've known since you were born. And it's just kind of a nice, and sort of a frightening, change of pace. [However,] you don't want to step on any toes. But at the same time, it's just more of finding what you have in common with a complete stranger and seeing if that friendship is actually good and beneficial for who you are becoming as a person.
Do they do any kind of personality profile to match you up [with a dormmate]? I think so. Let me tell you something that I've noticed in terms of my building versus all the other dorm buildings around campus. . . . [In] my building, everybody who lives here knows everybody by a first name basis, and we all hang out with each other on a daily basis. I think, if I'm not mistaken, when they set us up to pick our roommates, in terms of what we value [when] . . . rooming with somebody else, I'm pretty sure they use an algorithm to justify who would be best with whom, in terms of social setting.
When I picked my roommate and he picked me, we didn't know what to expect. We just saw that we were compatible. And then when we actually started to get to talking, that's when we started to say, okay, we get it now. We get it. Yeah.
So you feel that the school did a pretty good job with matching you up? Yes, I would believe so. Maybe they should start a dating service.
You have no idea how many times I heard that.
Okay, so you haven't really had a need to reach out for emotional support. In the course of being there these past few weeks, have you had an experience where you felt overwhelmed? One, have you had that experience, and then two, if so, how did you handle it? Yes, in a nutshell, yes. I've had at least one of those experiences ever since I've been out here.
Okay. But in terms of me handling it, it's just how my mind works. It's just like, I know I can't do everything at once. That's just not how I roll. But how I roll is . . . I take things step by step.
It's not checkers, it's chess with me. It's more of I can make one move, but it may be the wrong move. But I know if I just plan it out correctly, then I know I can have time for everything once I get it all together. Where do you like to study mainly? Well, one, the dorms have a study room in here.
And two, I studied in the library. It was just always the best place for me to go . . . if I really wanted to get down to business and get stuff done. Yeah, I would definitely stay on campus a little bit longer after my classes are done to get stuff done before I head back to my bedroom. Okay, you said stay on campus a little bit longer. Is your housing off campus?
No, it's not off campus, but it's definitely a divided section from where the classes are. . . It depends on what I'm studying [and] the amount of time I put into it. Because, for each subject that I take in this semester, it has a different study method to it. . . . I have to set a certain amount of time for myself, I really just take 2 hours of every day just to do homework. And that's really what helped get stuff done in terms of what I needed to get done for my General Ed.
Classes this semester, for the most part, it's really just been effective time management. And which subject did I find most important? Do you have a favorite class? I do not because okay. I'll just say now, nothing, no shade to any of the teachers or professors that have taught me in the General Ed.
Class that I've been in for the past month or so, or month or two, but there's a lot more cons than pros in their classes. Okay. In terms of what I've noticed, because there are certain classes where, I'll just name like one by one, number one, my African Studies class. While the teacher is very effective with her teaching method, she sometimes can be enigmatic because sometimes it gets to a point where you're just like, can you say that again?
It's supposed to be packaged in a knowledgeable way, but you just can't seem to get the unpackaged piece off it. And for my CTVA class, I expected to learn something about screenwriting that I never thought of before in my entire 17 years of life or, since I've been writing scripts. But really, it's just been the teacher just telling us facts that I didn't know or didn't care about. . . . Everybody has that one class where . . . you expected something and then it turned out to be something you really just could not care less about.
And then for my mathematics class, it's a different topic from any of the math class I've taken in my entire life. It's definitely a weirder math class than I've ever had.
It was something I had never heard of before. You said mathematical ideas? Yeah, I can't even explain it myself because she teaches different theories and different methods of numbers and stuff that nobody in their right mind, unless they're a mathematician, would ever think to look at. But in any case, it's just something that is new to me, something that is probably going to brush over me by the time of next semester, something that is just utterly confusing that I have to figure out for myself for the most part. Okay, and how is that coming along?
Not bad, because I've done it before. . . . Alright. And then were there other classes you wanted to dissect before I move on?
No, everything else is cool. Over the past few weeks, you've had an opportunity to have various experiences. Tell me about some wins. Tell me about some successes that you've had so far this year.
I find more successes from my ambitious side rather than my student side. I learned how to network the entire time I've been out here because I'm trying to get, sounds kind of broad when I say this, but I'm trying to get an empire going. Explain this to me, Darrell's empire. Tell me a little bit more about this. Well, for one, I started my own entertainment and record label. Unofficially, it's called Boldshock Records and Entertainment.
And so the idea behind it is to take artists, actors, writers, whatever a person is in the entertainment industry [wants to pursue] and to either make their talents known to the world or brush or polish up what can be. Because we don't just take the best of the best, we also take what could be the best of the best. Because it's not just about seeing the gold, like the diamond in the rough. It's more about just polishing off all the dirt on the rock to get the diamond. Okay, so that's been a win as far as starting that.
Starting that and getting people to actually want to work with me. Because a lot of people who have come to the school are really out for the same goal that I am. I'm more organized with how I plan it rather than how they do it, because they're really independent with it. And I'm just like, hey, man, nobody gets to the top by themselves. Okay, you need to collaborate.
Yes. As far as I've been here, I've collaborated with or at least been able to get people to agree with me. I've gotten over a dozen people to agree to work with me in terms of reaching that goal, of making our careers and our goals reality. That's good. Check you out, freshman.
Networking and starting a collab and all that. Exciting. Yeah. Okay, so do you do anything to celebrate your wins? Mainly I just appreciate the little moments where I'm just not working, whether it's just talking to my friends, going to parties or whatever. . . . I just appreciate the little moments that I have while I still got them.
Okay, cool. Now, what about your people who you went to high school with? Are there any students who you went to high school with that are at the same university that you're at? I'm pretty sure, but I'm not definite. But I'm pretty sure.
One of my friends from high school who played on the basketball team got here on a basketball scholarship. I'm not going to say his name because I don't want to put him on the spot. Okay. As far as he told me, he said he got here on a basketball scholarship. Okay, and what about the students that you were at school with?
Are there any of your friends from high school that you keep in touch with that perhaps went to different universities? Yes, absolutely. Because some of the people who I've talked to in high school were actually some of the first people who inspired me to actually start my company to get more of a business mindset. It's more of, like, working with them and kind of collaborating with them kind of just made me . . . put the nail in the coffin and . . . the decision is final. I'm going to do this.
I love it. I love it. It's good to see that you have the ambition and the energy to follow your dreams. If you were to go back to your high school and [were] giving a presentation? I don't know, maybe there was, like, a general assembly and it was only of high school seniors, and they just wanted to know what to expect the freshman year of college.
Or maybe they were feeling a little bit nervous about what's to come. The year to come after graduation. Tell me a little bit about what you would say to that audience. What would be your advice to that type of audience? . . .Okay, well, if I had to say anything to seniors who I was with or the seniors who are there now, I would say, number one, just enjoy where you're at right now, because all that other stuff will come in time.
There's no rush to it. Number two, I would say while at that, you also need to just have kind of in your head, okay, I know there's something beyond school that I can do. You got to have that one word in your head always, purpose. What is my purpose? Because it's really, purpose.
That kind of keeps me going in terms of my ambitions, my career as an entertainer, my networking skills, me talking to people in general. That's what keeps me going. . . . it's kind of the driving force of everything that I hold a value to as far as what I've built so far. And so, if I were to just give them one sentence in terms of advice, appreciate where you're at, but think about where you can go. Okay. And then one final question.
Let's think ten years from now . . . what you believe you'll be doing ten years from now. Okay, you got it? I just want you to think about it. I don't want you to answer yet.
Think about what you'll be doing ten years from now. Everything turns out exactly the way you want it to. Okay. What does the 27 year old Darrell say to the 17 year old Darrell now? I think he would say something like, hey, look, I know you feel like you don't fit in always.
I know you feel . . . that you need to be a part of a group to feel like you're of any value, but that's just an illusion, because the only real value can come from who you are and what you're capable of. Life is more of a game, and you have to play to win. It's not pessimistic, so to say, . . . He would give me a reality check. Alright, I love it. Okay, so I. Think I said the last question was the final question.
But in closing, what I want to know from you is if you have any final parting words, if there's anything that you feel like other freshmen need to know that I haven't asked you. Okay, well, if I have to say anything to any co-freshman as myself, it's just you're going to make mistakes. I'll just say that right now. Don't even sweat it. You're definitely going to make mistakes.
As much as you try to control the outcome, you can't control what's going to happen. But the only thing you can really control is how you bounce back from those mistakes or how you bounce back from those failures. Because that's really the deciding factor in who you become as far as when you graduate, or ten years from now, or even 30 years from now. Because the amount of times you're willing to get back up and keep going after what you want just determines what kind of person you are. Love it.
Awesome. Well, Darrell, that's it for today. If you don't mind, maybe sometime at the end of your freshman year, maybe coming back and kind of just letting us know how the entire first year went. Absolutely. Okay.
Alright, well, thank you so much for joining us on Academic Survival, and we’ll be in touch with you soon. Alright, peace-out, you guys. That's it for today on Academic Survival. If you want to share your story on how you survived your freshman year of college, you can reach me at email@example.com. We'll be back next week with more ways to survive your academic journey.
Until then, happy studying.
A freshman student at California State University Northridge who majors in film screenwriting that also has talents in acting and music.