After finishing my first quarter at UCLA, the first word that comes to mind is relief. I'm so relieved that I've survived the most intense 10 weeks where I was incredibly busy getting lost on campus, reading hundreds of pages for my classes (procrastinating the readings a little too), making new friends and adjusting to being away from home. One thing that I'm sure just about everyone starting college would say is important is time management. To be a good student, and person in general, you have to be able to balance academics, clubs and other school affairs and your social life-- and you need a social life to maintain your sanity.
Something I'm happy to have done this quarter is arrange an appointment with an academic counselor. Together we decided which classes would be best for me to take in the upcoming quarter, figure out which classes I've taken at Contra Costa College that qualify as a General Education--or GE--requirement, and discuss my potential major. As of now, I'm considering double majoring in International Development Studies and Economics. Because I attended Middle College High School, most of my GEs are already completed, so taking just three classes each quarter without counting summers, I can still graduate in four years. Without the direction and motivating words from my counselor, I don't think I would be as confident as I am to continue with my UCLA education.
Even though I go to a university where large classes with notable professors comes are common, I've been blessed to have very caring, humble professors who regularly invited students to office hours. Like Brandon said, it's possible to make a big school feel small, you just have to be assertive. And having family, friends, and community members, like those from the ILC, behind you is a big motivator.
No matter what the school, you can't expect to just automatically belong. You have to work at it by networking, persisting and being involved. However, UCLA is a pretty cool place to do those things.