Thursday, January 16, 2014

Selene Calderon - UC Berkeley

ILC Scholars,

My name is Selene and I graduated from Richmond High School in 2011. I am currently in my third year at UC Berkeley majoring in Social Welfare with a minor in Education. I would like to offer all of you two brief pieces of advice about your soon to start college journey.
First of all, remember your passions outside of the classroom. It can be hard especially when your term is in full swing with papers and tests to find time to relax. However, if you spend all your time on your school work you will eventually be too tired to finish the term. Remember to take study breaks and even if you can’t take a whole day off take half an hour off from studying to do something that makes you happy and helps you release your stress. If your way of spending your down time right now is to listen to music, watch movies, go for a hike, go to the gym, draw, etc. don’t simply quit doing these things because of your busy college schedules.Continuing to do these things will help you stay focused and motivated. Part of succeeding in college is taking care of yourself not just GPA or being on the Deans List. You won’t be able to perform your best in class if you are not feeling good. Plus hobbies are great ways to bond with new friends, meet new people, and even get involved with student groups on campus.
Second, I suggest you explore other departments other than your own major or concentration. Don't restrict yourself to just one area. I think one thing I try to do when I plan my class schedule each semester is to find one class out of my major to further enrich my education. You might love your major but there is so much other knowledge available on your campuses so take advantage of it. Even if it might seem pointless to take some class that won’t fulfill any of the many requirements you have to meet to graduate taking it can only help your academics. During a hard school term having one class to lay back and refresh your focus can make all the difference. Whether it will motivate you to go to class every day or even point you into a different career path the experience will be worth it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore different areas of studies. I suggest humanity courses to be especially good choices because of their variety. Take advantage of being able to take classes for something other than a grade, if that is an option available to you. At UC Berkeley you are allowed to take some classes for a pass or no pass, with no effect on your GPA. However, if you feel very confident in the area take it for a grade and boost your GPA.  Classes out of your department will add some variety to your college transcript. I have found my own major advisor to be a great source of knowledge as to what classes out of my department would be good options. Major advisors might seem in some cases really busy or just not approachable but they might actually be really nice people and don’t forget they hold their job position for a reason. Also they have tons of experience and connections within your department to help you during your college career and after. Try to visit your major advisor at least once a semester, if not more.
Lastly, remember that college will be a learning experience and its okay if you make mistakes. Seek help when you need it, take care of yourself in every aspect, and stay motivated. Don’t get too caught up about grades that you miss other opportunities to enrich your life. Most of all don't forget you made it into your university or college for a reason.

If you have any questions about UC Berkeley I would feel more than happy to help you where I can. Feel free to email me at

Best wishes to you all and good luck with your college decisions,

Selene Calderon

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