I feel fully confident in stating that I did high school well, as the vast majority of everyone at Cal did. I was able to put off studying until the night before an exam and still make it out with an A. I was heavily involved in extracurriculars and was well liked by my teachers. My high school was fairly rigorous for an underfunded, LA public school; however it was still high school—full of meaningless assignments and tests that only required memorization.
Working as a Campus Ambassador, I interact with current high schoolers on a daily basis. They are wide-eyed and ready to hear any information I have to say about Cal, or university in general. Whenever a visitor asks what’s the hardest part about Cal, that’s when I really reflect on my time here so far. For me, the hardest aspect of adjusting to college was learning how to study. I didn’t truly know how to prepare for an exam a week in advance and use my time efficiently and effectively. My first semester here was a lot of trial and error. I learned that for my STEM courses, I needed to shift away from reading the textbook and focus on applying the concepts. I realized that essays can’t be written well overnight and that I need days in-between each draft in order to be the most productive with my edits. However the hardest lesson to learn of all, was that I was no longer one of the “best.”
It was apparent very quickly that I was not the smartest kid in the room, not the most involved, and certainly not the most unique. I had to shift my mindset from my near-perfect high school transcript to getting well below average on exams. And quite frankly, it was difficult. I still feel defeated every time I take a midterm and leave with the feeling of not knowing enough no matter how much I studied. And yet at the same time, I love every one of my courses. I know that I am getting the best education possible and learning more than I ever could at any other university. I could never express how grateful I am for the immense amount of opportunities that Cal has provided me. I would never replace the culture of Berkeley for anything else.
My two years at Cal have humbled me and taught me that I have to work harder to achieve my dreams than I ever thought possible. But by being at Berkeley, I have no doubt that I will achieve them. I’m getting an incredible education from top-tier professors and surrounded by thousands of other highly-motivated students. Attending Berkeley was certainly overwhelming at first, but there is no other university in the world I would rather struggle at than here. Because only at Cal do I have access to the resources necessary for me to grow academically and personally into the person I am meant to be.