So far, my experience with college has been a continuous cycle of pain and growth. I was apart of a summer program here at UCSB, which allowed to to take classes over the summer and get a jumpstart on learning the ins and outs of the campus. At first, I hated the thought of shortening my summer and was saddened by the idea of “wasting” my time in classes. This was the painful stage. Upon arriving in Santa Barbara, I realized that the entire college experience was something I had to see to believe. I thought I was mentally prepared and would adjust to the college living and learning environments with ease; I was terribly wrong. I soon learned that college offered me a nearly complete freedom to make productive or destructive life choices on my own. The work load was heavy at first, but I slowly began to find a system of studying and reading that worked for me. This, I feel, is the key to succeeding at a competitive four-year university. No matter who your friends are and what they are doing, you must always remember to do what is best for you! In the end, if you don’t study because you wanted to hang with friends, you will be the one nervously avoiding being called on in section. Trust me, I should know. Studying over the summer gave me the confidence I needed to be able to thrive academically and socially in the Fall. Today, I scowl at the immature and unmotivated attitude I had about taking summer classes. It turned out to be one of my greatest life decisions to date. I was able to get gain some extra units and boost my GPA early on. I also became well acquainted with the campus and am able to help other freshmen who are in despair. Finally, I have a sense of confidence while on campus, which enables me to dive head first into the many opportunities that UCSB has placed before me. I am looking forward to maturing even more this year and continuing to evolve into a more refined Derrick.