Hello Mr. Ramsey and fellow ILC cohorts,
My name is Chris Habash and I am preparing to enter my second year at UC Berkeley. Even two years after my experience at Cornell in the Hotel Management course, I still hold in my mind the great memories I carved out for myself, the people I met, and the friends I made.
As my freshman year in college came to a close a few months ago, I was absolutely overwhelmed that already 25% of my undergraduate career has passed. I would just like to share a few things that I had realized are important to do in my future time in college, and hopefully they will prove to be useful for you, the incoming freshmen as you soon begin your own college experiences.
I admit that during my first two semesters, I dedicated my time almost 24/7 to my classes and to my grades. If there was any opportunity for me to do something outside of studying, like join a club or even go to an introductory meeting about joining a club, I completely blocked that out of my mind, with the dominating thought: “that would mean wasted time I could have used to study.” There will, hopefully, come a time in your college experience when you realize that grades and classes are not the most important thing in the world, and how detrimental that thought is for your college experience and as a growing person.
I learned that what is also important is making memories and lasting connections with people that you like, because that’s what you will carry with you years after you graduate. I think you start making friends and meeting new people when you make the effort to do something that you like. I guess that’s what being in the ILC also taught me.
The change of heart came after realizing that a whole year of college has passed and that I could not think of a memorable moment or experience that I had because I made an effort to. In my mind, I had accomplished my goal of getting really good grades, but a few months later, I wasn’t as happy as I imagined I would be. I could have joined a club I was thinking about and made new friends.
Don't get me wrong, I wholeheartedly encourage you to challenge yourselves by taking a rigorous course load and exercising your mind in the process, while at the same time opening up to new experiences. However, I believe that if you don’t engage in something that you like or want to do for the fear of wasting your time, or failing at it, then you have already failed. Your time in college and onward will go faster than you think, whether because of work or personal circumstances, that you owe it to yourself to explore your interests.
As a final word, take a breather before you enter college. It can be overwhelming, but always try your best, and always put things in perspective. Putting things in perspective is such an important lesson that I learned. When something went wrong, my method was to think of being in a worse situation, something silly like being on the Titanic as it sank or losing an arm; something that would remind me that things aren’t that bad. That worked, but I also learned that you should not underestimate your own misfortune just because something else seems worse relative to your situation.
Lastly, I want to say congratulations again to the incoming freshmen this fall. I personally know some of my friends (that I made via the ILC, of course), who are entering amazing universities this fall, and always, thank you Mr. Ramsey, Don, Ms. Kronenberg, and the rest of the ILC team.
If anyone has any questions about Cal or college in general, don’t hesitate to ask.
Hercules High School 2011
UC Berkeley 2015