Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reflections from Hercules High Student at Cal

I have only one word to describe college: refreshing.

In the classroom, it is refreshing to see students attending of their own volition, rather than under pressure of an attendance count. Back in high school, the common state of thinking included, “I have to go or else I’ll get in trouble.” Here, they know they will need the information for the future, or they actually enjoy the subject. It is pleasing to freely discuss academic subjects without being interrupted by exclamations of “You’re such a nerd,” or “Why do you like that?” All the students here value most of the material offered to them in the classroom. If not the knowledge, then they pay respect to the importance of actually attending class for a satisfactory grade. If not the important of attendance, then they understand the sacrifices they or their parents made to pay the money for these classes. In any situation, the students here are motivated, and their drive helps to fuel my own drive. I feel constantly challenged in the Berkeley setting. Although it can be daunting at times, it allows me to push myself and truly grow as a student, which I do not feel I was able to do as a high school student. Though I fear the amount of work I must endure, I welcome the knowledge and self-improvement it will provide me.

In the dorms, the independence is refreshing. I fare better at taking care of myself in college than at home. Living in a residential hall can teach a student how to live and survive outside of his or her comfort zone. In my case, I found myself cleaning more, becoming more aware of my living habits, and disciplining myself. At some point during the semester, prioritizing stopped being a struggle - it is easy when being surrounded by the university and by so many focused people. Furthermore, I was able to maintain a social life while staying on top of my work and sleeping enough. Once I settled into the rhythm of college life, time management became much easier.

But that isn’t to say that I never struggled in that area. The interesting aspect about the pace of college life is that it is not only quick in itself, but quick in its transitions. If students doesn’t look ahead, they will find themselves missing the change in pace and falling behind. It is vital for a student to learn how to adapt – in time management, but also in living with other people, living away from home, and living in such a free environment. If a student walks on campus with obstinacy, whether it is about living habits or perspective, then he or she will not be able to progress in college. The adjustment to the college pace was the most difficult for me, but I learned from my mistakes in time and am determined to do better in the future.

With so much to think about and to be concerned with, I am pleased with how my first college semester turned out. Stepping out of the high school world and into the university universe has been a true challenge, but it is safe to say that I survived and am ready for next semester.


Jacqueline Cuevas

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