The Chronicle of Post-Education: Be True to Your School – Learning to Love Everything About UC Irvine

We face limited options as June nears. For some, certainty comes in the form of graduate school; for others, it’s moving back home with mom and dad. Either way, our college days are coming to an end. My co-worker and friend Christina said something to me the other week that made me think: as a kid, we all had this idea of what high school and then college would be like because we knew we’d someday get there. Now that college is over for me, all of the memories I’ll have to look back on have been made. So did it meet my expectations? Did I even have many expectations at all?

Of course I had expectations. We all do, whether we want to admit it or not. Everything I saw about high school and college when I was a kid came from “Boy Meets World” and “Clueless,” so my expectations were far from realistic. But now that college is done and there’s no excuse for being reckless and irresponsible anymore (not that I’m condoning reckless and irresponsible behavior, but if you’re going to engage in questionable behavior, now’s the time to do it), I’m wondering if I got to do everything I wanted to do.

Which further begs the question: what did I want to do? Is there some grand list all college students should be striving to complete? Recently, I found my list of “101 things to do in 1001 days” that I began back in January 2009. By Oct. 5 this year, I supposedly wanted to complete 101 random and slightly ridiculous tasks. To this day, I’ve completed less than half of those things. (Watch the sunrise, and not because I was forced to pull an all-nighter? Check. Pet a panda? Not yet. Any suggestions on that one, guys?)

In my time at UCI, I’ve done a lot of things I’ve wanted to do, whether I came into college knowing I wanted to do them or not. And, while here, I’ve discovered new and interesting things to do as well. What I didn’t learn at SPOP (among many, many other things) was about the various clubs to join, the plays to see or the games to watch. The majority of the advice given to me at SPOP was to “go Greek,” and I tried it for a brief time in my second year and discovered it wasn’t something I enjoyed. At the same time, I know plenty of people who love the Greek system. Whether fraternities and sororities are for you or not, there’s a way to get a “full” college experience no matter what extracurricular activities you try — college is about finding things and making them yours. Join the communities and groups you want to join because UCI has plenty of opportunities.

I wouldn’t have known much about the productions at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts if I hadn’t begun working there my freshman year and I didn’t learn about getting involved with the New U or Alternative Media until my second year in college through recommendations from friends I met in my journalism classes. While working at the New U, I learned more about ASUCI, UCI Athletics, club sports and other campus events that most people overlook because they bypass the signs on the Humanities Bridge.

People will often complain about how boring UCI is, but there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. The campus is always more exciting and diverse after I see a show at the School of the Arts or I attend a lecture at the Cross-Cultural Center. The ASUCI elections are a lesson in small-scale politics that are both frustrating and fascinating. Watching a protest and seeing the passion in the eyes of the speakers is invigorating. I felt more school spirit than ever when I was rooting for the men’s volleyball team back in 2009 or for women’s soccer this past fall. I learn more and more about the campus every time I talk to my friends who are campus tour guides (or when I crash one of their tours).

My suggestion: avoid making a list. Don’t confine your college experience to what you can fit on a piece of paper. Keep your eyes open all the time because college will be over faster than you’ll realize. It doesn’t matter if we did everything we said we wanted to do or if we got more involved and passionate about something completely different, what matters is that these years – your “college days” – are unique (your very own experience!) and shorter than they may sometimes feel.

I feel like I should end this all with an inspirational quote, so in the immortal words of Mr. Feeny, “Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.”