The freshman transition: From pond to lake

ANDREA GONZALEZ / AGGIE

How freshmen find their footing at this point in the quarter

For many freshmen, making the transition from high school to college is a big step forward. Some are first-generation college goers, while others have a long history of college in their family. Regardless of the situation, it can be quite intimidating to step on to a college campus for the first time, but many students don’t allow this image to halt their progress.

Lawrence Tolentino, a first-year communication major, came from a small charter high school of only 630 students across all grade levels. In this small community, Tolentino was constantly searching for a way to find new people and make connections with them.

“I remember I would join clubs, go to a bunch of events, join swimming, travel a lot; just [trying to] meet new people,” Tolentino said.

Though only a handful of his friends from home came to UC Davis with him, he acknowledged how getting himself involved in high school has helped him find ways to meet people at a campus with a student body much larger than he has experienced. Tolentino also noted the difference between having a rigid high school schedule of an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. day with seven classes to a more flexible environment, consisting of only three classes for his Fall Quarter.

“I’m starting off better in classes here than I did in high school,” Tolentino said. “In high school, you’re in class the whole time, all throughout the day. Here, it’s all spaced out. I don’t feel the urge to procrastinate as much; my motivation isn’t going down.”

With a wide range of classes to choose from, Tolentino found classes he enjoys to take instead of finding himself burned out in the middle of the day. While the quarter system lends itself to sneaky midterms creeping up on students by their third week, Tolentino found confidence, knowing his professors take the time necessary to walk through a midterm review session and assist the students in multiple ways. Aside from academics, Tolentino described his enjoyment in the many clubs around campus that allow him to meet others and stay engaged while focusing on schoolwork.

“Here, everyone is active and everyone is into [clubs],” Tolentino said. “The people in high school, a lot of them [joined clubs] just so they could get into college. The people that join clubs here, they’re joining because they want to.”

It is a refreshing scene for Tolentino, finding himself around like-minded individuals with the same motivation he carries with him.

Sven Kuhne, a computer science major, found himself in similar shoes as Lawrence Tolentino coming from a small charter school. While Kuhne knew everyone in his graduating class, he described the difficulty of meeting people outside of his high school.

“Because we were a charter school and we had students from all around the area, it was hard to hang out with other people,” Kuhne said. “You can’t just bike to them, it involves a lot of driving, or, if you are biking, it takes about 20 minutes.”

Now entering his first year at Davis, Kuhne has come to grips with the fact that it is quite difficult to try and meet all of his contemporaries.

“I’ve been dealing with [the transition] by accepting that I can’t get to know everyone,” Kuhne said. “I get to know mostly the people on my floor because I do spend most of my time studying. Also, people that are in my classes because I want to be able to form study groups with them later.”

Forming study groups is certainly essential to anyone who has never been introduced to the quarter system. Kuhne acknowledged how fast the quarter system can move after a few weeks of classes.

“[The quarter system] goes a lot faster,” Kuhne said. “For me, it’s not necessarily a problem. In fact, high school always felt a little bit slow to me. Right now, it’s actually pretty good. Even though in high school I had seven courses per year, I feel like the workload in the end is around the same. You have to be a lot more engaged with the material.”

In terms of socializing with others, Kuhne finds it much more convenient and easier to find others who have similar interests and goals in mind.

“I feel like the college atmosphere, social-wise, [allows you] to get to know a lot more people, and you can do more with them,” Kuhne said. “Because everyone is so close by, it’s easy to say ‘Hey, do you want to eat lunch with me?’ or ‘Oh, do you remember that math homework? Can we work on that together?’ That’s one of the cool things about college.”

Sriharish Bellamkonda, a first-year biochemistry major, attended a high school that emphasized academic proficiency for its students. Bellamkonda shed light on the academic rigor his high school implemented.

“[My school] was very academic oriented,” Bellamkonda said. “That meant a lot more focus into how to study, what to study, taking AP classes and trying to push yourself into the next level. It was that kind of high school where you went there and then you felt really [good] because you knew everyone around you, and it sure is a feeling that I miss right now.”

Bellamkonda is currently taking only 12 units, and has found that to be a pleasant surprise in terms of workload and down time.

“The workload is pretty nice,” Bellamkonda said. “It’s actually left me with more free time than I know what to do with. I’ve been warned of that, so I’ve been trying to find ways to fill that up as much as possible. If you’re there in your dorm and you’re not doing anything are you really in college, and are you really interacting with people?”

While Bellamkonda has experienced the same hurdle of trying to meet new people and getting comfortable with new surroundings, his decision to come to Davis was vested deeply in his confidence of finding lasting friendships.

“I chose Davis because I felt that I could come here and I could be certain that I would make some really good friends,” Bellamkonda said. “In that sense, Davis has been an amazing experience.”

 

Written by: Vincent Sanchez — features@theaggie.org

 

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