I am sorry that this response comes so late! The start of the new quarter has been a little busy, but I finally have time to sit down and write a response about my college experience. So here it goes:
Truthfully, I was really nervous the first day that I started college. There were lots of uncertainties in my head...What would the classes be like?...What if I didn’t get along with anyone there?...How would I be able to stay afloat in all of the students who are at UCLA?...The student body alone has a larger population than my entire suburban community in Hercules. However, now starting the winter quarter in my second year, I’ve learned that although it may not be the easiest thing in the world, overcoming these uncertainties has led me to have some of the greatest experiences.
Academics is the first aspect to consider when making the transition to college. It was a different step to come from classes of 30 students to lecture halls with 200 other classmates. In high school, you become used to having teachers be able to watch over your work individually in class every day. However, in college, I’ve had to learn to be more proactive with my own education. There is plenty of help available to all students, its just becomes your own responsibility to realize when you need it.
Currently I am an Undeclared Life Science major, but have been leaning towards Marine Biology with various options for minors. This means that I have been taking all of the undergraduate science courses such as chemistry, math, physics, and life science in preparation for any of the life science majors. Many of these courses also have lab sections that give a more hands-on learning experience that was only touched on in high school. These classes may have large lecture sessions, but these are supplemented by regular classroom sized discussions of about 20 students that are run by a TA. These additional sections helps to make the material more accessible and make you feel more connected to your courses.
Despite the importance of academics, I think that the true college experience comes from the independence and relationships that are formed on campus. At first, the large number of students was overwhelming, but I soon came to embrace the opportunities this had to offer. I have been able to meet so many people all with different interests, personalities, and goals. Some of my best friends here have the most varied majors possible, ranging from interests like political science, materials science engineering, and ethnomusicology. Currently, I am rooming with a great friend who comes from Delhi who has so many similarities to my own personality that it surprised the both of us. These are just examples of the different types of people that you can easily meet while on campus. I love being able to learn about various cultures and interact with people from all backgrounds.
The best way to make these connections and feel a part of the campus life is to just put yourself out there and try things out. Everyone else is in the same boat as you: in a new environment, willing to make new friends, and wanting to learn. Personally, I have become involved in the Nikkei Student Union which is a club that teaches and promotes Japanese American culture. I started as a general member for the club, but progressed to working backstage for its student-run culture night as well as becoming a staff member for its cultural and community service committee. This year, I have also joined the school newspaper, the Daily Bruin, as an intern copy editor. For this, I have a night shift a week where I go in and fact check and proofread articles for the next day’s paper. These kinds of activities have helped me to extend my circle of friends and make me feel more a part of the community. I love being able to walk on campus and see familiar faces among the rest of the crowd. Other than these outside clubs, the easiest place to meet people is in the dorms. I think that living in the residence-hall style dorms is the best choice to make. Some of my closest friends have come from the floor that I lived on last year. There is a different type of close relationship you can make with people after living with them for an entire year.
Overall, I absolutely love it here at UCLA. College life definitely has its ups and downs, but all of the benefits outweigh the rest. I have been able to learn so much, not just in the classroom, but about myself as well.
I’m glad to share my experience with fellow ILC students. If anyone has any questions or comments about preparing in high school, UCLA, or just college life in general, they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2008 ILC Student