Throughout my first year of college, I learned several lessons. I would have to say that the most important lessons were the academic ones. The difference in the difficulty level from high school to college is quite noticeable, especially when transitioning into the fast-paced quarter system. At first, I believed that my studying habits were under control, but I was soon overwhelmed by my first quarter chemistry class. Since I didn’t get the grade I wanted, I reflected on my mistakes and decided to put in a greater effort in my future classes. I also realized that class syllabi are extremely useful because professors clearly let students know what is expected from them. In addition, I didn’t go to office hours during high school, but that totally changed this year. Teacher’s assistants are usually quite helpful, and they are valuable resources that are available most of the time. Last but not least, it was nearly impossible for me to study in the dorms since I tended to procrastinate by socializing. As for studying in my room, that was usually a bad idea because I just wanted to play online games or take naps. Luckily, UC Davis is huge and there are several comfortable places to study.
I admit that I was a bit arrogant after graduating high school. The reason being that my GPA was relatively high and I owed it to my superb individual studying skills. As a result, I was reluctant to participate in study groups and socialize with other people in general. I came to realize, though, that it was fairly easy meeting other people and establishing connections. Ironically, I also performed better on exams when I studied with friends. The concept behind this is rather simple. It’s different from thinking you know something, and explaining it to someone without using notes/books. If someone cannot articulate concepts into words, chances are that they do not fully understand the material. This was something that I loved about college. As the saying goes, I killed two birds with one stone- made friends and acquired better studying habits.
I don’t know much about my community back at home but in Davis, there are several interesting clubs and organizations that specialize in different areas. The best part is that there are both academic and personal interest clubs. Next quarter, I will join JASS (Japanese American Student Society). I took Japanese classes my freshmen year of college, and I might as well join JASS. As for my sophomore year, I probably won’t join a fraternity, but I do plan on being more active within my community. Some community service activities are fun, such as planting trees on campus. Overall, I really enjoyed my first year of college, and I am looking to my second year of college even more.
-Miguel, UC Davis, Class of 2016