Back in the day, when I was an all-knowing senior in high school, I thought getting into college meant you were grown up.

A committee of people had read all the information you could cram about yourself onto an application, and then they decided if you were smart enough, mature enough, qualified enough to come to their school. And there, presto, you joined the ranks of hundreds of other likewise adults with whom you would share in the joy of furthering your education.

OK, I didn't think college would be exactly like that. Nonetheless, I thought living on my own, in a strange state, meeting new people, and managing to occasionally remember to feed myself and do my own laundry made me kind of cool, kind of all grown up.

Wrong. That makes me self-sufficient. Growing up, as my roommate Jasmine and I realized this week, sometimes means doing things you don't want to do and refraining from doing the ones you desperately want to.

We both bit the bullet and went to see our math professors about our less than awe-inspiring test grades.

I came out of my meeting disappointed at how cold my professor had been - he had told me the information I needed to know about my grades but offered no suggestions on how I could improve on my test taking. Jasmine came out of her meeting with the graduate student who teaches her calculus section happy and smiling, for he had offered extra help going over her test, told her they could meet weekly if need be before the final, etc.


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And thus I was forced to reluctantly revise my opinion of grad students: While there are some who have no clue what's going on and no inclination to get a clue, some are actually really good professors in the making and more helpful than the professors themselves.

Jasmine and I have also had to contend with refraining from doing some of the things we really want to such as, for me, eating dessert with every meal or allowing myself to procrastinate on homework just because I'm taking a class pass-fail. Jasmine has been battling the urge to call her ex-boyfriend.

Both of us slipped up these past weeks: I found myself indulging in the ever-present cake and ice cream in the cafeteria in an effort to calm myself during midterms, and putting off homework assignments until 2 in the morning. I then had to contend with the results when I stepped on a scale at the doctor's office and realized the shocking truth that, indeed, the Freshman 15 does exist; and when I received a C-minus on homework worth 10 percent of my grade. Not a high point of my college career.

Jasmine indulged in her desire to call and yell at her ex-boyfriend last weekend but instead drunk-dialed his mother. Not a high point of her college career.

I still don't feel like an adult. But I do feel kind of grown up for admitting that.

I flew home for Thanksgiving break since my family on the East Coast decided to trek up to Canada for the holiday and couldn't house me.

Before my trip, I worried on some level that I'd hear my friends' stories about college and how amazing their times have been and all the interests they have cultivated, and find that I'm the only one who seems to have less of a clue of who she is than when she started.

But then again, I love having no clue.

My comparative literature professor asked my class an important question last week: "Are you a bigger person now than when you were 11, 15, 17, or smaller?"

My initial reaction was smaller. The more I learn of the world, I explained, the smaller I seem in comparison to it. But nowadays, I'm unlearning many of the things I thought about myself.

I'm not an adult yet; I don't know when it's advisable to indulge in life and when it's smarter to withhold. But college is wiping the slate clean for me.

Some days I feel like I know less than I've ever known before, and I'm a larger person because of it.

Riley Davis, a graduate of Vistamar School in El Segundo, is writing about her freshman year at Brown University in Providence, R.I. She can be reached at radriley@earthlink.net.