Lessons Learned

My first year of college has been empowering and invigorating. As a college freshman I can say that the most important thing I learned in my fist year was to maintain diligence. As a student there were many times in which I did not feel like doing my assignments; I had to learn how to balance my school life with my personal life, which was a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I found a way to balance my school life with my personal life. With this, I successfully passed all of my classes and made it on the Deans’ List for the 2013 Fall Semester of Contra Costa College. Without diligence I would not have been able to pass my classes. In order to be diligent one has to have their mind set on accomplishing a particular goal. In my case, my goal was to do well in college. Because I set doing well in college as one of my goals I was determined to accomplish it—therefore I had diligence. The Merriam-Webster dictionary, defines diligence as “Steady, earnest and energetic effort”. Without having diligence I would have not accomplished my goal of doing well in college.
In the end, I am happy for what I have accomplished my first two semesters at Contra Costa College. Contra Costa College is an AMAZING institution with great teachers. Sadly while in high school, my decision to apply to Contra Costa College was looked down on by my peers as well as my teachers. I have no regrets in deciding to go to Contra Costa College. I highly recommend for both returning students and incoming freshmen to enroll at CCC. I recommend students to enroll in Contra Costa College because the staff and faculty of CCC are helpful as well as friendly, the classes are inexpensive, and most importantly one will learn how to navigate in a college environment. In conclusion, if one has a desire to do well in college–or do well in anything, just remember to have diligence while perusing your goal(s).

So Far…

So far my college year has been very calm. I’m not as stressed out as many of my peers partially because of the fact that I didn’t choose many of the harder classes like chemistry, calculus or physics. I did this because I wanted to ease into the college life so I will be used to the schedules and activities before taking the more intense class. Diablo Valley College (DVC) is a nice school with a larger campus compared to other community colleges. The campus and its features make my opinion of it more positive despite it not being my first choice of college that I wanted to go to. It was hard getting accustomed to it because it was so big compared to my High school. I eventually settled in and started to make friends and participating in other activities like joining the Rotaract club. DVC offers a wide arrange of clubs like a Chinese club, several performing arts clubs and several community service clubs which help when people are trying to make new friends.

In the beginning, choosing class schedules can be hard for some students. I recommend visiting a school counselor before choosing the random classes that won’t help or classes that can make transferring even harder. Counselors can help students choose their whole schedule up to their last semester which relieves students of the stress of registering for classes. My classes so far have been pretty simple, do the work, study for the test and you would usually get an A. If you are struggling you can visit the many services which help with tutoring. Some professors may be unpredictable so use rate my professor to check them before registering. I have done most of these tips and my semester has been going fine, so far.

The Wonders of College

The transition from high school to college is an exciting experience. Enrolling into a community college is empowering—I feel like I am taking control of my life. I thank the Ed Fund and its donors for the wonderful scholarship I have received. So far I’ve used the money to pay for books and a few school supplies. It was such a relief to know that I had money to pay for my textbooks.
There are many new things you will experience while in college, such as the freedom one has to select her classes. One, you may take courses that you have a personal interest in, two, you can take General Education courses (such as English ,math, and history),and three you can take strictly major courses; four, you can take a combination of all three. Students have the option to select the days and times that they attend classes (one may have to work or participate in extracurricular activities she may need to schedule around.) In essence, college represents freedom of choice.

All of the new responsibilities first-year students encounter causes us to mature. In order to succeed in classes you should find a compatible tutor (by compatible, I mean a tutor that understands your learning style.) I knew college was going to be a challenge, but the work is not really difficult. The challenging aspect is TIME MANAGEMENT. Let’s face it, one doesn’t spend all of her time studying. We have other things in our lives that we need to accomplish. We have to create a BALANCE. I am currently learning how to balance and manage things in my life: me time, social activities, relaxation, and homework. In order to balance things I set aside certain days to study for specific classes, and certain days to relax. I am going to see how this method works. My next issue is to discover my prospective career. I am unsure about my future occupation; my next step may be career counseling.

College Isn’t So Bad After All…

My first few weeks of school have been amazing! I love college already. My classes are interesting, and my teachers are laid back. I am taking English, psychology, U.S. History, and philosophy. My English teacher gives us a lot of work, and we have already done four essays. My psychology teacher is young and full of energy. I get excited to go to her class every Monday and Wednesday. My history class is even more interesting than I imagined it would be. I’ve already learned so much that it’s hard to imagine how much I will know when the semester is over. My philosophy class is a little harder to follow along with, because instead of learning about philosophers like I thought the class was, we’re learning how to think philosophically. Our essays are difficult to write because my teacher wants it in a totally unnatural format than is typical of essays.

Overall, beginning college is how I hoped so I could get used to it. My first impression of college was that it was a lot like high school, just with more work. The work is not hard, but it is time consuming. I was expecting that college would be insanely difficult work that would be impossible to finish. I have turned in every assignment on time in my classes so far, and am feeling very proud of myself. There is no better feeling than turning in an assignment you slaved on for a while. I am looking forward to going to football games and meeting new people in class. It is harder to make friends in college because people don’t really talk to each other, but I’m sure if I join a sports team or club, I will make friends much easier. I think that these next four years really will be the best years of my life.

Lessons Learned from the First Semester

My first semester in San Francisco State was intense and a life-changing experience. Because of it, I have a different view about college and life. This semester I faced adversity, but I never gave up because I knew that if I did, I would not make it through college. Calculus was a challenging subject; there was a point where I thought that I could not get trough it and frustration was in every corner.

What I like about San Francisco State is the diversity; I met a lot of people from different backgrounds. A lot of students face the same struggles as me, such as finding financial aid and having to commute to San Francisco. I am glad that I made a lot of friends because at the end of the semester they helped to understand some of the material in my classes and thanks to them I did well in my classes.

If I could go back to last summer I would advice myself to not procrastinate because most of the time on this past semester I used to do my homework at the last minute and there were cases that I could not turn in my homework because it was too late to turn them in. By the end of the semester I had learned to do my homework well in advance of the deadline. People learn from their mistakes and believe me, I have learned a lot. This upcoming semester I will try my best and redeem myself from what I did and did not do last semester.

– Jose, SFSU ’15

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

First Semester at Sonoma State

Being the first in my family to attend a four year university was a challenge not only academically, but also mentally and emotionally. Something that I enjoyed about my first semester in Sonoma State University was meeting new people. I am a very outgoing and outspoken person so getting to know a lot of people was not much of a challenge. I told myself that I wanted to start fresh and hang out only with positive people. Making the decision to surround myself with optimistic people has definitely made a positive difference on my work ethic. I also really enjoy the independence that I have in college because it is a constant reminder that my parents are not always going to be by my side, and even though it sounds sad to say I take advantage of the situation and because I know that it is going benefit me in the future.

Something that I see myself doing differently this semester is getting more organized and getting my homework done as soon as I can. Socially, I plan to stay involved with the Queer Straight Alliance at the school, the TRUST fellows in San Quentin, MOSIC and all of my other extracurricular activities that I am involved in.

Finally, the advice that I would give myself back in August 2011 as I was starting school is to not worry as much because even though college is something that you can work towards, you can never get fully prepared because you cannot ready yourself for the unexpected.

– Yadira, Sonoma State ’15

College Life in Berkeley

My first few months’ part of the long journey I will have of my college life was unimaginably easy actually. I didn’t think it was going to be anything like that, I was very lucky though. I know it will get harder for my next semester because I took the easy way out for my first semester. I chose easy classes and I recommend that it’s better to take at least one difficult one first. Yeah it was easy and I had a lot of fun actually because I go to Berkeley and the environment is wonderful but all my spring classes are hard. I unfortunately didn’t really bond with my campus which as I think the down fall of going to the college I went to since it is a community college and the building is very small. I loved that it is nothing like high school though! It is so much better, you have more liberty but have to manage your time very well because I still battle with that. College is something everyone has to go to, for education, social bonding and personal growth reasons I believe. I hope and want to be more involved in school for next semester, for example in clubs or volunteering.

If I could speak to myself again in August of 2011 I would tell myself that time will be very scare now that your life is going to change and you have to learn how to manage it and balance everything in your life. Also that to not give up your dreams, my hope one day is to live in campus when I transfer since right now I am still at home. I would love and really want to experience that because it really helps you to grow up and just be away for a little. I can’t stress enough how happy I am to have graduated high school, yeah it was easy but we all have to mature at some point. You will feel really special when you get to take to your laptop and even use it in a class, different experience worth going through.

– Janeth, Berkeley City College ’13

What I Like About Santa Cruz

I liked the community UC Santa Cruz has. It’s not just one big campus; it’s split into lots of colleges. For example, I had a lecture with my whole college and it’s pretty cool doing homework with your building and going to class with your new friends. I loved how it was really hot the first month of the quarter, there was a beach near by and trees for shade. I liked how my writing teacher gave me a whole page of what she wanted specifically from her students because I thought professors were going to be hard on us. I also like how there are academic advisors at every college who are going to be there for you until you graduate.

I would not do anything differently if I had to do my first quarter again because I took advantage of everything available to me. I attended a lot of tutoring sessions to get the grades I needed. Especially when it came to 3 hours review sessions before midterms and finals, I turned down plans with friends to make sure I had everything reviewed and covered. All the time I put into going to tutoring and review sessions paid off because I got more than I expected from my grades. I’m very proud of myself.

I met my myspace friend in my writing class. Her name is Stephanie, and I believe it is fate that we ended up in the same university, college and class. Because of her, I met her roommate. I’ve met 3 awesome trustworthy girls that I believe will be by my side until the day I graduate.

If I could give myself advice, I would say to not go home as often. Next quarter, I am planning to only go home 2-3 times a quarter or less. During Fall 2011 quarter I went home almost every other weekend and for a moment, it was every weekend due to a death in my family. Although I should be there for my family, I want to focus on my studies. I also want to stay in Santa Cruz more because it is such a hassle to transfer to 3 different buses then BART home. Although it is cheaper than driving, the cost adds up. So staying in Santa Cruz will help me focus more and save a lot of money. I am attending every event my college put for the students to make sure I am enjoying every moment of my first year. So with that, I already feel successful and I am also very joyful with my experience.

– Stacy, UC Santa Cruz ’15

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