10 lessons you’ll learn in your first year at UC Berkeley

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By now,  you’ve probably formed some expectations of what you will gain from college or have decided to come into college with no expectations at all. Either way, you will learn things in your freshman year that you might or might not have expected to learn. We at the Clog want to share with you some of these important things that you might realize, because at one point during your first year, you will find yourself thinking about them.

1. You might not find your “best friends” right away.

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And that’s OK. Most people in their first year all have at least one common goal: to make friends. This means people will be friendly and looking for a group to make new memories with. But it’s OK if you don’t find “your group” or even “that one friend” you know you will spend college with. Don’t waste time trying to force yourself into places you know you don’t really want to be.

2. Using time wisely is important — it goes by really fast. 

All of a sudden, you will be halfway through the year, and you’ll wonder what happened to five months of your life. It’s what happens when your days are planned out by lectures and club meetings. Thirty minutes may not seem like much to spend time lying around, but those 30 minutes could have been used to read for your next lecture. Literally every minute in college counts, so how you use that time is crucial.

3. Eating copious amounts of unhealthy foods and not exercising will affect your success in school.

Everything has a domino effect in college. For example, you choose to eat junk, you get lazy from the “food coma,” you decide not to go to lecture but rather to stay in bed and watch Netflix, you miss a pop quiz, your grade suffers. There is nowhere else you can have unlimited access to a great gym for $10 a semester and have a salad bar every day at your disposal, so taking advantage of these is a good idea.

4. You need to know how to get along with people you’d generally avoid.

College will put you in environments every day with people who are different from you. Whether it’s in your dorm building or someone you have to work with in your lab, you will be a better person if you learn to get along with these people. It will be one of the greatest life skills you will learn.

5. You shouldn’t settle for less. 

You hear all the time that high school is different from college and you won’t get good grades as easily as you might have in high school — this is true. But that doesn’t give you an excuse to be content with your grades if you know that you can do better if you try a bit harder.

6. What and who you want to associate yourself with in college matters.

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In order to figure this out, you will have to go and try out new things, even if you’re just a tiny bit curious. It’s the most effective way to figure out what you like and don’t like. You will find yourself gravitating toward certain people — these are the people you will enjoy spending your time with in college.

7. Schoolwork should still be your top priority in your first year.

No matter how important it is to adjust and make new friends, getting good grades and studying for your classes are still crucial for academic success. Your first year is not always your easiest year in terms of academics — so start off on the right foot. When you’re looking for internships or jobs, your grades will be the first thing employers see on your resume.

8. You will have to do better than what you’re doing if you want to improve.
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This sounds obvious, but it is actually not as easy to do as it sounds. But this will factor into everything you do, whether it’s your grades on essays or moving up in positions in a club. You will have to study more or put yourself out there more and do new things to gain more skills and be better at whatever you’ve set out to do.

9. Finding the method of studying that works best for you is a worthwhile endeavor.

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You might work well in a study group, or you might work best studying alone. You might focus best in the daytime, or you might get your work done at night. Your first year will be the time to figure that out.

10. You get what you put in. 

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UC Berkeley will be a place filled with great resources and opportunities, but in the end, you will receive what and how much you decide to put into it. From using the free computer programs to office hours, utilizing these resources will require time and effort, but they can change your life. College will be a place for you to broaden your mind and have experiences to help you find a place in the world, but it’s up to you to go out and make it happen.

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Contact Sujin Shin at [email protected].