Starting Off Your First Semester

Tomorrow is the big day! Congratulations to all UC Berkeley Freshmen: you have made it. And finally, tomorrow you will begin your journey into UC Berkeley. I share with you a word of advice from a previous freshman, regardless of whether you are trying out for Haas or not. Good luck tomorrow, you deserve all the best!

Attend as many events as possible.

Freshman year is the time to explore! Attend as many info sessions to organizations that you can stuff into Welcome Week; audition, interview, socialize. It’s a great way to find out where you fit in at Berkeley, and meet interesting people.

Start something new. Create.

You’re here at one of the best educational institutions in the world! Make your mark, and show the world what you can do.

Check your emails. Frequently.

Your professors, student organizations, and potential employers all use email, and this will be your primary point of contact. You’ll know whether your class is cancelled, see midterm reminders, check out the next event, and know whether you’re interning for a company. Super important; you don’t want to show up to something and realize you’re late, or you’re not supposed to be there.

Don’t purposely miss class in the first couple of weeks.

Professors have the power to drop you from a class if you don’t show up; this includes if you’re on the waitlist. Ensure your position by going to class and participating. If you’re on the waitlist, make sure you go; you have a chance to enroll!

Sometimes, section is more important than lecture.

Section (discussions or labs) gives you the chance to solidify the material you learn in lecture in a smaller setting. This also means participation becomes pretty important, and can make a whole letter grade of a difference.

Get to know your professors, GSIs, and TAs.

On an academic level, they will help you understand concepts that are still unclear to you. On a personal level, these people are overflowing with experience and knowledge; their insight will always be good insight. On a grading level, knowing your professor or GSI puts a semester of activity to a face, which may bump you up to the next letter. Go to office hours! It won’t hurt, only help; no matter the reason.

Know your syllabi inside and out.

If you can’t remember it, write it all down! I have a calendar where I compile all my class syllabi into one, so I know what I have to get done by which day. It’s quite helpful for me, and it’s always nice when you can look at something and be able to cross it off from that giant to-do list. This isn’t high school, no professor is going to remind you all the time when assignments are due, and they aren’t going to be forgiving if you turn in something late. Make sure you’re on top of it.

Focus on your priorities.

Everyone’s priorities are different in college. For some, college is a stepping stone into the next thing: job, graduate school, medical school. For others, it’s a way to learn interesting subjects. For even more, it’s an opportunity to explore and meet new people. While the purpose of a college education may be the courses itself; remember that education is holistic as well. Knowledge may be what one derives from courses, but mentality and strong bonds can only be formed amongst people. Make sure you set some time for them. Also make sure you spend time on your important classes! With good time management, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. Practice it here, in your first semester.

Get to know your floor.

One of my biggest regrets as a freshman was not taking the time to get social in my dorm. Doesn’t really help that I was in a mini-suite, but regardless; make sure you find people you can connect with.

You’re going to make bad decisions. Don’t let it get to you.

Whether it’s drinking the night before a midterm, screwing up on an important test question, forgetting to write a whole paper the day before it’s due, receiving a C in an important course, getting Asian Ghetto at 2 in the morning and gaining freshman 15 in one night; whatever. We all have the little things that we regret, everyone makes mistakes. What’s more important than dwelling on the past is how you deal with it in the future, and learning from the experience.

Have fun!

Of course, what a cliche way to end a post. But there’s a reason why people say that college will be the best four years of your life! You have so much opportunity to try new things, meet the most people, learn anything and everything, and figure out your future. Make the most of it!

Good luck class of 2018! If that 6.0 earthquake didn’t set you off with a bang, then I don’t know what did. You’re going to be great.

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