TALLAHASSEE — Taking responsibility for her own life has been the biggest lesson so far for Florida State University freshman Jessica Motlow. Like most freshmen, she is away from home for the first time and trying to manage her schedule.
“Teachers don’t care if you come to class, but it’s still your job to get everything done and study,” said Motlow, 19, of Tampa. “The class length is only a semester, so study time is very condensed.”
An exercise science major, Motlow plans to become a physical therapist. She considered becoming a doctor but couldn’t see herself going through the long process required; she finds exercise science and physical therapy more interesting and appealing.
“I’ve worked out my whole life and have always done some type of sport,” said Motlow, who was on the rowing team in high school – she attended the prestigious Academy of the Holy Names – and did gymnastics and played soccer before that.
Motlow’s dream job is to be a physical therapist for a professional or college-level football team. She was inspired by going to her brother Justin’s football games and practices at Tampa Catholic High School.
“Seeing kids get hurt made me want to be involved and to help them,” she said.
Motlow plans to attend graduate school before embarking on her career. Family has always played an important role in her life, but she sees the benefits of living away from home to learn independence. She would like to go out of state for post-graduate studies, possibly to California, to also have the experience of living elsewhere.
Until then, she will do what it takes to graduate from FSU, including learning everyday skills. Motlow takes advantage of all the university has to offer pertaining to time management, including meeting with her academic counselor to figure out the best schedule to suit her needs and her major. Next semester she plans to take classes that are scheduled closer together for more convenience.
Although Motlow’s parents never went to college, they pushed her to strive for excellence and inspired her hunger for success.
“Freedom and independence is the best thing,” she said. “But it’s also one of the hardest things about being away from home. Doing everything on my own and starting my life without my parents trying to control things for me is really nice, but that’s also what I miss at the same time.”
Motlow advises high school students to do all they can to get a firsthand look at the college experience in order to make sure they know what it takes to be responsible and self-sufficient.
“Being on your own is the biggest challenge, besides the academics,” she said. “If kids have any friends in college, they should go visit them and get a feel for what it’s like. It’s a much different experience than spending a night with a friend back home. At school you are completely on your own and are responsible for everything you do.”