What Can Crystal Structures Teach Us About the College Experience?

“What Can Crystal Structures Teach Us About the College Experience?” was written by SWE member Ozioma Ozigbo.


As the semester began, there was an influx of posts like “tips to succeed in online classes” or “study strategies for success” on my social media. I read a couple of the posts, took notes and made plans to thrive this semester.

It’s a few weeks in and I’ve already made some mistakes. This may be the situation for some of my fellow college students.

For some reason, we expect perfection from ourselves or from others; surprised at our own weakness or that of others. We think to ourselves, if I do [insert word] then I’ll finally stop [insert word]. If we don’t reach that goal due to some weakness we have, we get frustrated. It’s almost like we forgot that a weakness is actually weak. I guess that could be due to the amount of times we’ve practiced the question “tell me about your biggest weakness” before an interview. We try to make the weakness look not so bad; cover it in gift wrap and tie it in a bow. If we are able to turn it into a strength in the end, even better!

In regular life, we all have real imperfections. We are working on them, but it probably isn’t tied up in a pretty bow yet.

This is to my fellow college students already feeling the weight of the semester and maybe beating yourself up for your imperfections. As we work through our imperfections, it builds character. In our classes, when the imperfection of procrastination rears its head, we use strategies to help stop it. However, that doesn’t mean we’ll never procrastinate again. In our relationships, when the imperfection of cancelling plans last minute show up, we inculcate better planning strategies. That doesn’t mean that imperfection is or will be completely fixed.

What can crystalline structures teach us about the college experience?

“Crystals are like people, it is the defects in them which tend to make them interesting!”

– Colin Humphreys

I heard this quote on the first day of my Material Science class, a couple of years ago. In taking that course, I quickly realized the role defects play in the properties of crystal structures. Today, this quote comes to mind again as I think about the struggles in college life, pursuing a degree in engineering, and simply how we relate to each other in today’s society. We expect perfection and are surprised by our weakness.

Crystals have well defined edges and faces, closely packed and organized! That’s the goal for most of us during our college experience; structure and organization. Crystals also have defects which give them different structures and properties. The goal may be structure and organization, but imperfections show up and cause some kinks along the way and that’s okay. The college experience isn’t straightforward for anyone. However, the kinks and imperfections make it interesting. We must remember to enjoy the college journey even though it may come with point, linear or planar defects – just like crystal structures.


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Author(s) Information

  • What Can Crystal Structures Teach Us About the College Experience? crystal structure Ozioma Ozigbo

    Ozioma Ozigbo is a junior studying mechanical and energy engineering at the University of North Texas. She was born and raised in Nigeria. In 2020, she is serving the SWE section at UNT as the Vice-President. She hopes to work as an energy engineer after graduation. Her goal is to create an environment where innovation equals safety, and safety equals cost effectiveness. Ozioma enjoys reading, going out with friends, writing, dancing, singing and acting. Sometime in the future, she would love to start a blog and podcast.

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