Reflecting on My First Semester at Cal

I knew that I had not been challenged enough in high school and that transitioning into college would be hard. Classes at the university level require much more time, effort, and tutoring. Back in high school I hardly ever needed help with my homework and I never had trouble with learning the material taught in class. In fact, I was the one helping other students understand the material. I knew that in order to succeed in college I had to get into the habit of taking advantage of tutoring, office hours with my professors, and group-study sessions with my peers. This approach would allow me to learn the material and also teach it to others. This hard work and persistence resulted in me doing well on my midterm examinations.

I wish I had learned good study habits in high school because I received failing grades on my first essays. In high school all you could do is go to class, pay attention, take notes, and pass quizzes. In high school, unlike college, I was allowed to turn in work late, and I was lucky enough to get enough extra credit to end up with a good grade in my classes. Going into college with this mindset was not a good approach. You have to learn the material or else you will not do well on your papers or exams—and you cannot count on extra credit. I also felt that most learning in college is done by students reading the book and attending lecture. Homework problems are not done by looking at examples in the book; instead, solving them requires knowing the concepts and applying them. As far as reading goes, I read a lot! I would sometimes complain about the amount of readings that was assigned in high school, which were about less than 20 pages per week. This semester per class I would get double the amount.

If I could talk to myself back in the fall I would have set up my schedule differently. Having 8 AM classes everyday can be brutal since I didn’t sleep enough. Also, having classes 8 AM to 1 PM back-to-back 3 times a week was not a good idea. This upcoming semester I plan to set up my schedule so I have a break in between my classes.

Yeah, transitioning from Richmond High School to Cal has been difficult but I’m learning to adjust. It has been a struggle but Berkeley made me realize that with hard work and determination si se puede! Round two awaits next semester and I’m going to continue to work hard and take advantage of the resources available to me.

– Maria, UC Berkeley ’15