Monday, December 17, 2012

From ILC Alum Selene Calderon

Dear ILC community,

Finishing the first half of my second year at UC Berkeley was a very difficult but at the same time a very rewarding experience. It was completely different from my previous year at Cal and it allowed me to grow so much more. For one, I was neither living in the dorms nor did I have a meal plan. Also, since the previous year I dedicated myself solely to my academics and did not participate in many extracurricular activities. This fall semester I decided to get more involved like I had been in high school. Additionally, I ended up changing my future career goals and even my major.

This semester I lived in an apartment off campus. Depending on the college you attend the availability of off campus housing might be different but my main advice is to start looking as early as possible. I found my apartment through the UC Berkeley FB Housing group but I do know craigslist and the listing of local apartments that UC Berkeley offers online are also really useful. When it comes to housing you really have to make sure to do the right paperwork, check out the place and area it is located in, meet your roommates, and also set house/apartment rules. Live with people you know you will able to get work done and if not find places nearby that you can go to. Another part of being off campus and off a meal plan is to find and explore the local grocery stores. Having a healthy diet is one way that you can make sure to be ready for class and your other obligations.

The best part of being in school for me has always been doing community service having to do with the things I am learning in class. I noted that this semester having more things to do allowed me to balance my coursework a lot better. Sometimes just being busy all the time gives you really little chances to slack off. I think when considering what and how many extracurricular activities to do in college the most important things to take into account are your interest in the subject and your time availability. I suggest mapping out a weekly schedule, first placing your classes and then finding things you can do in your spare time that fit that schedule. It’s important to not forget that your primary role in your college community is as a student and you shouldn’t neglect your academics for other activities. It might seem really easy and without any consequence missing a lecture or discussion that isn’t mandatory, but every single one of these is coming out of your tuition and you never know when your professor might present material that’s critical to your grade or make changes to the course.  Furthermore, using a weekly schedule of the times for every meeting or event plus all your homework and class times is essential. I could not have survived this semester without my planner. When you have a lot going on there isn’t really any way for you to remember every single thing on your own. I definitely suggest that even if you are not taking a large course load or doing other activities on the side you keep a planner or some sort of schedule to help you navigate each week of your quarter/semester.

Moreover, like I mentioned previously, this semester I definitely made a lot of changes to both my educational and career goals. I entered UC Berkeley in the Fall of 2011 as intended Psychology Pre-med and I left this semester as an intended double major in Social Welfare and Gender & Women Studies looking towards pursuing a career in Education. My changes are because being in college has allowed to explore different fields and I feel a greater passion towards my new choices in major than I ever did for psychology. When it comes to being Pre-med I think it is critical to really want it. Not only are the classes difficult but they are very time consuming not that education isn’t but personally I rather be in an education class than in a Pre-med requirement. Though I did sacrifice some things for others I feel that now I am looking more at what I want and what I am passionate about than expectations. I think there is nothing wrong with either the psychology or health field, but the person I am now is much more passionate about education. I think deep down I always knew, I just hadn’t realized it. Therefore, my advice to any incoming college student is to keep your options open and try different fields. You shouldn’t restraint yourself to any field of study but you should take advantage of the fact you are in college and most colleges have many different types of classes. Explore any topic you are curious about because that only enriches your college experience and your personal knowledge. You might find fields that don’t appeal to you in any way but unless you take the chance to explore them you will never know.

Don’t feel intimidated by the idea of starting college and making it through. College is hard but it’s doable as long as you reach out for help when you need it and you stay on top of things. Concentrate on finishing high school, learning new things each day, and ultimately preparing for your future.

Hope everyone has a great holiday break


Selene Calderon
Richmond High School ‘11
UC Berkeley ‘15

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