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It’s week 10 of spring quarter: the week of burnouts, senioritis and wakeup calls for those who have been slacking off since week one. The school year is coming to an end, and summer is blocked by just one more round of finals. Suddenly, the thought that next year Ring Road will be missing some familiar faces and the title of “freshman” won’t apply to me anymore is one that’s all too real.

To many UC Irvine students who have climbed their way to the top as seniors, graduation marks the end of an era and the beginning of “real life.” It’s time to pack up your bags, say goodbye to things like class projects and un-curved midterms, and trade in your scantrons for professional resumes. To be sure, what the seniors are leaving behind isn’t just a distant alma mater, but a place full of memories (the successful feats and the foolish mistakes). They’re leaving behind a legacy, and what a better way to end a college career than by knowing you’ve taught the younger students well? Here are a few things I want to thank the class of 2012 for teaching me and the rest of the freshmen this year; things we can pass down too when it’s our turn to grab that diploma and toss our caps in the air.

Thank you for planning my schedule for me.

Forget scheduling an appointment with your guidance counselor to decide which classes to take. The seniors have acted as everyone’s counselors, whether by spreading the word through friends or by submitting insider information on ratemyprofessors.com. They’ve learned firsthand which professors give out tests that look like they’re written in another language, and which professors dole out A’s and grade generously. The graduating seniors have braved the storms so us underclassmen wouldn’t have to. Thanks to the wisdom of my elders, I know which classes to take for an easy A and which to take if I want a challenge and more units.

Thank you for teaching me how to excel in college (and how to fail).

If you’ve befriended a few fourth-years like me, then at one point or another they’ve shared success stories (and horror stories) from their four years with you. Now, following their examples, I know which sororities to rush for, how to score a great internship, and which summer school classes are worth it. However, I’ve also learned from their mistakes: I now know to set at least three alarms the night before an important midterm or final so I don’t sleep in, to always try to be on time to lectures (there may be surprise pop quizzes at the beginning of class), and to save the partying for the very beginning and very end of the quarter so I don’t slack off. Sometimes, those “When I was a freshman” stories are useful after all.

Thank you for showing me that grades aren’t everything.

Like many other freshmen, I entered college last year with what I like to call the “high school mindset”: the idea that I need to get straight A’s in order to be considered intelligent. After all, I needed exceptional grades to even get into college. But after getting to know a few older students and spending time observing those who didn’t achieve perfect GPAs but worked hard to land some amazing jobs out of college, I gradually learned that college is so much different from high school. Yes, grades are important, but a couple of B’s (and the occasional C+) won’t set your future in stone. The seniors have taught me that if you want a bright future, you need to work hard and show drive, in and out of the lecture hall.

Thank you for welcoming me to UCI.

The seniors were the SPOP staffers who changed my mind about dreading UC Irvine and instead got me pumped for my very first year of college. They were the club members who reached out to me during Welcome Week and made sure I found a few organizations that suited my interests. They were the ones who gave me directions on my first day of classes when I embarrassingly found myself lost in the middle of Aldrich Park. And they were the ones who shared campus secrets like the underground tunnels and the best places to study. The seniors made lonely freshmen like me feel welcomed and made UCI feel like a home away from home.

And so without further ado, I would like to bid farewell to the class of 2012: you’re on to bigger and better things, but you’ve done some pretty big things here at UC Irvine that will impact students lives like you’ve impacted mine for years to come.

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