By Carly Lanning
Coming here as a freshman, I was pretty clueless about college. Being an only child, there wasn’t an older sibling to fill me in on what to expect. After signing up for my first set of classes at orientation, I thought everyone took 20 units a quarter. I didn’t know where to look for classes to fulfill my GE requirements. I could barely make it to my first couple of classes without getting completely lost. In fact, the only thing I seemed to know for certain was where all of the coffee shops were around the campus. But as time moved on and the campus became more and more of a home to me, the transition from wide-eyed freshman to competent college student commenced. Not to sound like your crazy Granny passing along her tales of, “When I was a girl … ” or Ted from “How I Met Your Mother,” cornering you on my couch to listen to my tales of life, but there is advice I wish someone had told me four years ago that would have made my time at UCI that much better.
1. They will drop your classes if you do not pay your tuition on time.
For those of you that laugh in the face of this danger, I assure you it is real. One winter break, after it was later discovered there was a miscommunication about my tuition payments, I logged onto EEE to find that I wasn’t signed up for any classes. Funny, I remember waking up early to register, fighting for a spot in a photo class I wanted and begrudgingly checking out spaces for the chemistry class I was dreading. But now, before me was a blank screen. Due to my own forgetfulness and paying half an hour late of the 4 p.m. deadline, I had been dropped from all of my classes for the quarter. In a panic, I then had to sign up again for what classes I could get into and losing spots in classes that were already full. In short, it was horrible. Moral of this story: pay your tuition on time.
2. Take the GE classes your dislike for Pass/No Pass.
The pass/no pass option could quite possibly be the greatest gift given to students. When I heard about the pass/ no pass option, I never understood what it applied to or when I could use it. Classes can be taken pass/no pass as long as they are for classes that do not directly apply to your major. As an English major, it would have been a dream to take all of my math classes for pass/no pass. This option does not count into your GPA but will fulfill your requirements. Visit your student access account and talk with your counselor about how to make this option best suited for your needs.
3. Take GE classes at a local community college.
As you would come to know from either reading number two on this list or if you have ever been at a dinner in which I was in charge of splitting up the bill, math is not my strong suit. Coming into college, I had only completed up to precalculus in high school before giving mathematics the heave-ho out of my schedule. After taking two math classes at UCI, I talked with my counselor about taking a math class at Irvine Valley College in the summer. That summer I took computer science at IVC, which was easier for me to understand, fulfilled my last GE requirement and was cheaper by hundreds of dollars than if I had waited and taken it at UCI. With many GE classes being transferable between community colleges and universities, this is a great option to consider when planning your schedule. If you are going to be around Irvine for the summer and thinking about picking up a few extra classes, check with your counselor to find out where and what classes are accepted by UCI from the local community colleges around campus.
4. It is OK to change your major.
At the first biology freshman orientation, sitting in the sun at Anteater Stadium with the other 5,000 freshmen, the professor giving the first speech asked us to look around. Looking at each other with puzzled looks, his speech continued, “Look at how many of you there are right now, because after this year, half of you will have changed majors,” he confidently announced. Little did I know that after two quarters of chemistry, biology and math, I would happily be skipping into the Humanities office with my change of major form. After two quarters of hating my classes and the prospects of medical school seeming less and less appealing, I took a good look at what I really enjoyed. I realized that in my spare time I was constantly reading and at times ditched my biology classes to finish my Humanities Core books in the park and was on top of my English classes while my science grades continued to suffer. For a long time I believed that being a doctor would be the only way to truly influence and change the world. Looking back at all the choices I have made, adding an English major and then deciding to double with journalism, joining the school paper and taking summer journalism internships, I realized I would only make change with something I was passionate about. Four years later from that orientation, I am proud to be one of the kids that didn’t make it in biology because I know I have made it in something I love so much more.
With your time left at UCI, I wish you the best in your studies, clubs, organizations and challenges. Push yourself to be involved, try things you would never have thought to before, go to events, talk with people in classes and never take any moment for granted. Because before you know it, you will be ordering your cap and gown, excited for the future and eternally grateful for the life lessons, memories and love UCI has given you.