Thursday, October 1, 2020
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Achieving Academic Success

The rigors of an academic environment require students to complete a myriad of assignments, papers, projects and prepare for long, taxing exams. Nonetheless, all students can rise to the challenge, and not only graduate from college, but also graduate with honors. To dramatically increase the likelihood of reaching this ambitious goal, students should meet with professors during office hours, utilize UCI’s Writing Center and make a conscious effort to produce quality work.

It is absolutely vital to meet with instructors to ask questions and receive feedback on assignments. They make valuable suggestions and provide clarity before we hit the submission button, and as a result, their guidelines lead to a higher grade. Interestingly enough, not many students meet face-to-face with their professors.

There are several explanations as to why students do not engage with their professors outside of the classroom, but an apparent reason seems to be fear. This is understandable. After all, our instructors hold professional degrees from reputable universities and control our grades — this can be intimidating. However, don’t let fear discourage you from reaching out.

It is more than okay to speak with professors and unveil any uncertainties or perplexities. Our job is to learn. We are not expected to enter the room with all the answers. Instructors will not pass judgement or assign poor grades if we ask for help. Teachers hold office hours with the intention to assist students and we are always welcome to drop on by.

Meeting with professors can not only raise our GPAs but also will benefit us in other ways. Students interested in graduate or law programs will need letters of recommendation and professors are excellent references to have. Consistently attending office hours lets professors know we are serious students, and it gives them a better idea of who we are. Conversations during office hours can ultimately lead to exposure of the content of our character, ambitions and long-term goals. These insights help them write strong recommendation letters.

Additionally, the Writing Center makes it easier for students to complete and submit excellent papers. Support offered at the Writing Center strengthens our writing capabilities, and these skills are important to have in both academic and professional circles. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the center offers consultations through Zoom. You can contact the Writing Center and benefit from their services by clicking here.

Lastly, our teachers and the Writing Center only pave part of the way — we have to do our part too. We worked extraordinarily hard to attain admission to UCI and the hard work cannot stop there. Students need to give college everything they have if they aim to graduate with honors, attend graduate or law school or secure a well-paying job. This might mean devoting long hours and late nights studying, reading and writing. This is time well spent because, in addition to a college degree and a successful career, we come out as stronger and wiser versions of ourselves.

I wholeheartedly believe that every student, no matter their background, can pursue and actualize these goals. One year ago, I acquired a profound achievement — an acceptance letter from UCI — in spite of the seemingly intractable obstacles in front of me.

“Never allow adversity to prevent the actualization of aspiration. Moments of adversity require the strongest sense of resilience and determination. If you have a dream, pursue it despite the challenges and difficulties attached to it. Genuine wholehearted dreams can be obtained, it just takes the willingness to try,” I wrote, after earning a spot at one of the best universities in the nation. I continue to write to inspire and motivate others and to help navigate students during their academic and professional journeys. 

All students have the means to achieve academic success by taking advantage of the resources UCI offers. Attending office hours, consulting with the Writing Center and giving college your best shot are actionable steps to attaining academic excellence. Just remember, it is okay to feel confused about course material and make mistakes as long as you’re trying. Professors and the Writing Center are available to remedy these challenging moments and support us in our pursuit of academic goals.

Thomas Solano is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. He can be reached at