Underclassman Years at SFSU

My name is Claudia, I am a sophomore and currently attending San Francisco State University. I graduated from Richmond High school in 2009. My first year in college had a lot of ups and downs but overall it was a good year. Prior to my freshman year in college i attended a summer bridge program at SF State that would help prepare me for my classes during the fall. i believe that if it wasn’t for this program, i would have been struggling a lot during my first semester of college. although, i had no vacation all throughout summer, i enjoyed this program a lot. Not only did it help me achieve academically, but it allowed me to make really good friends and it exposed me to college life. I took 3 classes, freshman English, math and another class that introduced incoming freshmen to services on campus. My English class was my favorite. It took me a while to get used to it because in high school we are taught to write an essay in a 5 paragraph structure. When i got to college, all of this changed. The teacher would constantly tell me to break away from that structure since it was no longer necessary, but it was hard for me because that was what i had learned for 4 years. Eventually i did break away, my writing was stronger at the end and it prepared me for my fall classes. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in this program and I would recommend that every incoming freshman takes it to get a glimpse of what college life is all about.

During my freshman year I was living in the dorms. This was a crazy experience. I really liked my roommate, we were a lot like each other and we got along really good which was perfect since I had heard a lot of crazy stories about bad roommates. I was very fortunate to find this person, we are still living together. My room was not big at all. It was your typical dorm, two beds, two desks,two closets, and no bathroom. We had to share our bathroom with 20 + girls that lived in our same floor. It was not a pleasant experience. My floor was co-ed so our neighbors were guys and fortunately they were really nice and we turned out to be really good friends. I would say that the dorms allowed me to make new friends since you practically had to live with everyone that was in our floor. Resident life was also very good and fun. The RA’s would plan a lot of fun events that brought everyone together as well as informed you about things that were going on around campus and the community. The only downside to living in the dorms was that you had no privacy at all. Also, it was really hard to do any homework. Our floor was really noisy so it was hard to get any work done. I would go to the library and finish my homework there which was great because it allowed me to concentrate better and get my work done.

My classes during my freshman year were alright. I believe that the first two years of college are not so interesting since you have to take random classes that have nothing to do with your major. I did find some classes that I really liked during my first year. I took a couple of Raza classes that were really interesting. The amount of homework that was assigned was a lot. I had a lot of reading which was overwhelming at times since i was not used to it. I was taking 16 units every semester so i think that played a role into the amount of stress that i had during my first year. Along with a full load of classes I was also working part time at a pre-school in the mission district. I love my job. I began working with Jumpstart for young children during my freshman year. Here, we go into pre-schools twice a week and work with children to develop their literacy and print knowledge. I really enjoy working here because it allows me to take my mind off of school and focus on my kids. It makes me very happy to know that I am helping these kids prepare for kindergarten. I am currently still working with Jumpstart but I am now doing my service in a pre-school in the Hunters Point area. Although my job requires a lot of my time, I would not trade it for anything.

During my second semester of my Freshman year, I also had an internship with Associated Students Project Connect. Here, i worked with elementary and high school students to promote the idea of going to college. Although elementary and middle school might seem like a young age to start thinking about college, the idea of planting the seed of higher education was important. I really enjoyed working with Project connect because it allowed me to learn about different resources that were on campus. This helped me out a lot because i no longer felt lost in college. I now knew that there was help out there and that if I ever felt lost I could go to any of these resources for help. During my spring semester i took a class on Latino health care perspectives, this has been one of my favorite class that i have taken so far. it showed me a lot about the health problems that affect the Latino community and it really motivated me to do something that would allow me to help those who are going through these problems. The teacher that taught this class also ran a clinic in the mission district that was a partnership with UCSF and it served immigrants and those who did not have health care. his mission was to provide free basic health care services to those who could not afford them. I started attending the meetings and i was really interested in this project. i soon became a volunteer and before i knew it i got trained and i have been working in the clinic ever since as a pharmacy assistant and patient advocate. the work is very hard and time consuming but I know that at the end it pays off since I am helping those who are unable to get health care.

Overall my freshman year was very good. I learned that college is not like the movies and that it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. College allowed me to grow as a person and it helped me find out what i really wanted to do in my life. In the beginning I felt overwhelmed with the amount of work that I had but with time management I found that not only could I do all of this but I could also have fun with my friends and relax.
My second year of college is great! I decided that I want to become a social worker and I am currently taking classes for this major as well as working on my minor in counseling. I decided to pursue my career in Social Work because it was something that i found appealing and it had all of the components that I was looking for. My classes are going really good, I am taking 17 units and I have learned to manage my time fairly well which allows me to not feel as stressed out. I am still working with Jumpstart and the Clinic and have recently began an internship with the CEASE place which is a counseling program that deals with alcohol and substance abuse. I enjoy working here because it is something that I would like to do in the future as a career. Overall i feel comfortable where I am at right now and I am looking forward to my next year of college were i will begin to take all of my major classes and hopefully graduate within the next two years. College life is great, the people, the city life and the memories that will last you a lifetime are worth every single moment.

– Claudia, San Francisco State ’13

Looking Back: Second Year in College vs First Year in College

My name is Nyree and I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 2009. When I first left off for college I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought it might be tough but I was mostly excited to be going off on my own and getting started on my education. Back in high school I was sort of tired of seeing the same people for four years and I thought as soon as I got to college everything would change. I’d have a bunch of friends, life would be fun, and things would over all be great. I wasn’t entirely wrong.

After starting my first semester I realized college wasn’t so different from high school. The only real difference is that some classes (like in high school) can be more challenging than others, you have to be independent, meaning you must turn your work in on time, get to class on time, remember to look at your syllabus for assignments, and you have more freedom. I also realized that you don’t instantly make friends in college. Just like high school, there are different people all around you and it’s up to you to find people to interact with. Personally, it was difficult for me because I’m a shy person but it has taught me to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Academically, I learned to change my sense of time management and organization, which is one to the most important things you need in college. It’s not too different from what you’ve been doing all of your life, but you have to get it down in a way that works for you in order to manage your classes and your personal life. For instance, in a week you may have to read 20 or more pages for a class discussion. Instead of reading all of the pages at once, I break all of the pages up over a few days so that I don’t overwhelm myself. A few other things I do is buy a 5 subject notebook so that all of my class notes are always together, use a laptop to take notes in class where it’s acceptable because it’s easier and more time efficient to study from, and investing in technology. I own an Amazon Kindle not only for leisure, but because I can buy some of my textbooks cheaper and be able to download my notes to it and study on the go.

Now that I’m in my second year of college I feel more comfortable with myself, my capabilities, and the direction I’m headed. I know my campus pretty well, I know the best ways for me to study, I know where to go for help when I need it, and if I make a mistake I don’t stress myself out over it. In school I’ve always been one of the brightest students in my class so I take any type of failure pretty harshly. Last semester I took a really challenging course and I failed it. At first I was really down about it because I tried so hard. However I realized my failure wasn’t necessarily important. What was important was that after leaving that class at the end of the semester I learned a ton of things that I didn’t know coming in. My mind was challenged in so many ways and I’m appreciative of the things I learned. I also learned that that class subject doesn’t interest me the way I thought it did. That’ s one of the beautiful things about college. This is the time to learn anything and everything and make mistakes so that you can learn and grow.

Most of things I know now about college I had to learn myself. It’s not a bad thing but I do wish somebody would’ve painted me a more realistic picture of what it would be like. I would’ve liked to know exactly how financial aid works, what picking classes would be like, and hearing more about other’s first time in college so I could get a better perspective. Through out school adults always tell you that when you get to college no one is going to hold your hand. That’s true, but there are many people that are wiling to walk beside you. Professors and counselors want to see you succeed but it’s up to you to reach out to them and do what needs to be done. That’s another thing I wished I would’ve learned. That there are people that will help you.

My spring semester will be ending in about three months and for the summer I would like to do something I haven’t done before. I would love to travel somewhere far or even close to home. I just want to see more than my usual surroundings. I also plan on taking a few classes at a community college for leisure and possibly doing community service. Last summer I relaxed the whole time. It was nice having a break but this summer I don’t want to waste it. College is the only time in life you have so much freedom to change and learn, I plan on taking full advantage of it and creating lasting memories.

– Nyree, Sacramento State ’13