I just graduated in January from UCSD, Sixth College, and am working as a programmer in San Diego. I want to give a good perspective on what college was like for me to maybe help out the kids out there who have just got accepted. I know, like a lot of good advice, that people will want to take it in but it still won’t make a difference because everyone has to make their own mistakes before truly understanding. I just hope this helps.
I graduated from a small town in the middle of California in between Fresno and Bakersfield. I was pretty smart at school but I didn’t really try because I didn’t really care where I went. I knew I wanted to be a programmer but that was pretty much it. I sort of knew my GPA would be good enough to get me into San Jose State but I didn’t expect much. I can’t even remember my “stats” because, really, those don’t matter since once you’re in, you’re in as they say it. I probably had a 3.7 GPA? Took a few AP Classes: Chemistry, Calculus, Physics, and a few others I don’t remember.
I applied to SJSU, UC Merced, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego. I was rejected from UCLA and Cal. Got into Merced, UCSD and SJSU. I had no clue what UC San Diego even was and didn’t realize how lucky I was to be going there. I chose UCSD before ever even seeing what the campus looked like. The first day I saw the school was the first day of orientation. I also chose Sixth College not because of any informed decision, but because it had the word “technology” in it. Note: Warren is the technology/engineering college, Sixth is not. I should have chosen Warren but I don’t regret Sixth one bit.
All I knew was it was ranked decently high, had a good computer science program, and it seemed nice enough. I was disappointed about not getting into UCLA and UC San Diego like a lot of UCSD freshmen are but I realized now that it was the best choice for me because I love driving and LA traffic/Cal streets just wasn’t up for it.
I lived in the on campus apartments my freshmen year. I bonded with my house mates but I was constantly trying to branch out. I walked over to the residential halls, called “Camp Snoopy” and just invited myself into places through friends I sorta knew. The one thing that bonded all of us was our love of Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I was awesome at it so I played and bonded with one of the res halls and they became some of my greatest friends through my four years at UCSD.
Point is, you just need to meet people. I avoided joining clubs for the first two years so I could focus on academia but just find a group of people you enjoy and stick with them. Find something in common and do it with them.
I had my car freshmen year since I love driving and was able to go with close friends and eat out every weekend. This was a horrible idea in hindsight since I blew away $20 a week as a college student living on loans but again, I don’t regret it. I bonded with people and made close friends.
Living Like a College Kid
You will find that after living at home and only being around people who are like you makes it very difficult to transition to a place where you will have conflicts with people. Don’t run away from it, and use it as a way to grow. It’s better to learn how to confront people, talk to people, and work with people now then when you have to do it in real life.
Eat as much free food as you can. Go to all the free food events and meet people. I blew away all my dining dollars by Winter Quarter and had to use my Textbook money to eat.
Go to class. Seriously. Go to class, sit in the front row and learn. 10% of you will listen to this advice but I am still going to say it. Don’t bring your laptop, don’t play on your phone. Try to hold you attention for 50 or 80 minutes and you won’t regret it. I spent way too much time paying Tetris and reading Reddit on my phone and I regret it now.
Do your homework and surround yourself with smart people. Make friends with people who are acing the class. They probably do awesome in Calculus but wouldn’t mind some company.
To be continued..