My Growing Responsibilities

Well, it’s finally here: finals week. I’d like to say that college is no sweat and that I haven’t changed much at all since I started back in late September. But I will have to be honest here, college is no joke.

I started out my career here hoping that the rumors were just rumors. “I don’t really have to study all that much, I never did that in high school,” I reassured myself. The first week went by smoothly. I met new people, established a route to my classes, and even found some down time for myself. “Easy,” I naively thought. I was pretty confident that I could manage all of the work I was given, so I decided that I could run for some type of leadership role in my community. The next week, I became the community representative for my apartment complex on campus.

“I can do more!”

The next week, I join a career club: the Computer Engineering Society (CPES), where I am assigned mentors and attend weekly meetings and events. Another week passed, and I was a part of three programs (CP Scholars, SSS, MEP), two clubs (one social, one career-based), and a representative in of the Inter-housing Counsel. To be honest, I was still fearless. It was three weeks into school, and I was handling it all.

Now unlike most other schools, Cal Poly runs on a quarter system, so we have midterms as early as 2 weeks in. So when the next week finally came around, I had midterms to worry about. All of a sudden, my commitments were hard to upkeep. The work seemed impossible, so I had to study for these tests. The material in class got worse, and my responsibilities seemed to bury me, so I decided to get away from them for the rest of the week, so that I could study.

I did well on the exam, but I had to get back to my commitments. But a problem arose: my professors announced midterms every week. For the next 5 weeks, I had at least one midterm every week. And if I did the same thing as the week before, I would be totally ignoring my responsibilities, which would be, well, irresponsible.

I reevaluated my schedule, and I made room for studying and my duties. But my free time was completely gone. It’s finals week now, and I’ve learned to better manage my time. So much so, that I’ve decided to apply to become an RA next year.

It’s finals week, and now I study more than 30 hours a week, I am preoccupied with over 12 hours a week on duty, and I spend time with my friends for over 10 hours a week. It’s a lot of stuff to do in a week, but it’s manageable.

Becoming a Mustang

If I could ever describe my first few weeks of school, the correct word for it would be astonishing. I was very amazed at the new beginning I was receiving. I could not hold in the excitement any longer, I was a college student. I was a Cal Poly Mustang. If I could ever relieve that feeling, I would probably want to stay with that happiness.

I decided to go a day early, before Fall Quarter began, to see where my classes were in what building and room number I would be. I found out that all of my classes were in short distance of each other, so no need for a bike! The only place that was far away from all my classes was my dorm. I live in the Sierra Madre dorms of Cal Poly SLO and the walking distance is about ten minutes from everything. I would have loved to be somewhere close, but just being here was good enough for me.

My roommate is an international student from India and her name is Nikki. Nikki and I got along right from the start. She’s an Environmental Engineer and I am a History major, wanting to switch into Biochemistry. Nikki was very shocked and excited at the same time to be back in the United States, especially in California, a place where she had never lived. She’s originally from Massachusetts which is completely different weather from California. Nikki and I were ready to begin a new journey together.

College life was a little something what I expected and something I didn’t expect at all. I expected my first quarter to be relaxing and not much studying. Of course, I was very wrong. I did not expect to annotate to excessive amount as I do for my History class, or be giving 5-7 minute speeches during my Public Speaking class on why water was healthy for you. The only class that I was excited about was Calculus. I had taken Calculus in high school, but I didn’t really understand it the first time around; my college calculus was very similar. I felt very confident about taking this calculus class, and thankfully I’m proud to say I have an A in the class.

After taking the first leap into college, I am definitely looking forward to more. I’m looking forward to changing my major and taking Chemistry classes, since I’ve found out I have a passion for it. I’m looking forward to meeting tons of new people, creating more networks and joining more clubs. I cannot wait for spring and summer to get here. I plan to take summer courses, I feel the need to keep studying and keep seeing how much potential I have to myself and to others.

-Julissa, Cal Poly ’16

My First Quarter at Cal Poly

My first quarter at Cal Poly was more difficult than I have imagined. Giving adequate time for every class was a challenge. Sometimes when I focus on a specific class too much, I paid less attention to other classes. I also realized that some classes needed more attention than others. The biggest cause for this difficulty was due to the lack of organization, as well as adapting to a whole new environment.

This quarter I was focused in academics, but not too much socially. I was involved in Team Tech within Society of Women Engineering (SWE) that relates to my major because it allows me to interact with more engineering majors. I also joined SlOpers, a club that involves in bouldering, because it relates to my interests.

If there was one thing I could tell myself back in August 2011, I would tell myself to join more clubs of my interest, explore San Luis Obispo, and learn how to effectively take notes and study. I missed out on a lot of events and activities trying to improve my grades. I should have given myself more breaks to relax and enjoy the outdoor activities around San Luis Obispo.

Although these were some of the difficulties, I also enjoyed the college environment. College gave me more freedom to control myself and I was able to find what I wanted to do. Next quarter, I would study harder with the skills I learned from Fall 2011 quarter, and know when to give myself a break.

– Lisa, Cal Poly ’15

What I’ve Learned After One Quarter at Cal Poly

Finishing first quarter of college was quite an eye-opener and difficult but it was also very exciting. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, being a small university, makes it very easy for me to move from one destination to the other. For example, I can stay up late at night doing my homework at the library. My dorm is quite close to the library, which makes it very convenient. I also enjoy the environment very much. It is usually quite sunny. This makes it very fun to study outside closed walls. However, I do believe that there is a great support system in the campus. First of all, I am a participant of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Whenever, I have difficulties or questions regarding academics or the campus, I consult my EOP counselor. It is also very easy to communicate with the student body and the instructors. I really liked Cal Poly’s rule of mandatory office hours by the instructors.

There are many things that I will do differently next quarter to succeed academically and socially. One of the most important factors to succeed in college is time management. Next quarter, I will manage my time better by using a planner. I will also try to gain at least eight hours of sleep per night because if I do not gain enough sleep, it will very difficult to function efficiently. This means that on the weekdays, I will go to bed at 11 pm. I also plan to exercise at least forty five minutes every day. Consuming the junk food and not exercising has made me quite unhealthy. I plan on eating healthy food like fresh vegetables and avoiding junk food, like soda and french-fries. I will train my mind to work on avoiding distractions as well.

If I had the chance to speak to myself back in August 2011, then I will emphasize the importance of time management, getting enough sleep, and getting enough exercise.

– Utsav, Cal Poly ’15

Preparing for College

This summer I was given the opportunity to travel. Not only was I able to go to Mexico to to visit my father, but I was also given the opportunity to participated in a pre-college program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The purpose of the program is to prepare students coming in from low-income families for the college environment. It was an intense Psychology course that prepared me mentally and physically for this quarter. I had an idea of study techniques I could use and the pressure I would face entering this Fall. I was excited to start my first quarter I am still not sure what to expect.

During the time I was in Cal Poly I met new people in different fields of study and connections with people who can help later on in my career here at Cal Poly. I discoverer resources that I could use to guide me my first quarter in order to stay on track;such as: free tutoring, counseling, academic advisers, and so forth. As preparing me, the course challenged me with a heavy work load of material that was completely new to me. I learned through trial and error of the best setting and study habits worked for me. The course was at a much higher grade-level than I was accustomed to, however I was aware that I would face this problem soon I did what I could to understand and taught myself most of the material.

In addition to adapting to a different environment and habits I was able to open up more. Thus enabling to network and interact with my fellow peers, as well as my professor. I learned how to become less afraid because of my professor’s ability to motivate me through his lectures. I was able to prepare for the college routine I would soon face. However I am really excited for this quarter because I will begin to take introductory architecture classes, I will meet new people with common interest and I will finally be able to receive a proper education.

– Beatriz, Cal Poly ’15

First Quarter at Cal Poly

When I applied to the California State University, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, I also applied to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) of the school. I was lucky enough to get in the program for it has already provided many resources that have been very helpful in my college career.

During the summer, I attended the summer program by the EOP called the Summer Institute. There were approximately sixty students, and about seven staff members that run the program. During the three week program, I lived on campus on the Cerro Vista Apartments and took Psychology and English Preparation Class. Although it was only three weeks, the Psychology was very fast paced and provided the students with four units just like in the fall quarter. We were also graded on the course. On the contrary, the English course was just a preview of how a college English would be like. Instead of the letter grade, we received pass or no pass.
The main objective of the program was to provide the first generation college students a preview of the college intensity and also build the student’s confidence in them. My Psychology instructor Don Ryujin was particularly helpful in that department. He first set the stage in which all of the students were comfortable enough to interact with each other and the instructor. He made us believe that anyone who really wants to finish college can do it, no matter the color, or their income level. He identified with us that some days were going to be difficult without any doubt but on the long run, it is always better fight through that phase.

The summer program really boosted my confidence and I am looking forward to working very hard in college. I know that even though taking Psychology over just three weeks was quite intense, the college courses will challenge my mental toughness even more, even more so without the structural supported provided by the summer program. I am also looking forward to learn as much as I can, enjoy it and apply it on practical life. I truly want to enjoy the Cal Poly SLO philosophy, “Learn by Doing”.

– Utsav, Cal Poly ’15

Transitioning to San Luis Obispo

I am Lisa, a 2011 alumni of El Cerrito High School. I am currently studying for my Bachelor’s degree for Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. After a few weeks of being here at Cal Poly, my nervousness has gone away by now. My transition to this college was fairly smooth. During the summer, I attended a summer program called the Summer Institute, or known as SI for short. SI was a six unit, three week course that involved in a lot of bonding activities. Everyone was low-income, we had similar classes together, and I might have even found a new best friend! These three weeks passed by so quickly and I had a blast. I was able to grasp that studying is important, but not without having fun.

Just when I thought SI allowed me to become ready once fall quarter starts, there was also the Week of Welcome, or known as WOW, for first year and transfer students. While SI was academic based, WOW was just pure abundance of fun and laughter. WOW showed me that I can have fun without drinking. We went indoor rock climbing, kayaking, and even to the beach; we saw presentations about diversity, alcohol, and being responsible is important. This was week amazing because everyone in the group lost their “cool card” by the end of the week and we got close to each other.

With this SI and Week of Welcome in mind, I was able to hit the ground running, knowing that I can study and have fun at the same time. So far, as of September 28, 2011, my first two weeks of the fall quarter has been treating me fairly well. I am currently taking fifteen units and my classes are Calculus III (4 units), English (4 units), Introduction to Computing (4 units), Computer Engineering Orientation (1 unit), First Year Seminar (1 Unit), and a Calculus III Workshop (1 unit). I still believe that I have some adjusting to do in terms of sleeping, studying and determining what I should give priority for, such academic programs and clubs but I believe that I have what it takes for Fall 2011.

– Lisa, Cal Poly SLO ’15