Accepting Defeat

Accepting defeat

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.

Author: Rachel Marcus

Hi all! I'm a junior from sunny Los Angeles, CA. I'm a Molecular and Cell Biology major emphasizing in Genetics and planning on becoming a genetic counselor. I've always been passionate about advocacy and have fallen in love with Cal's Public Policy minor. Most people recognize my loud, slightly raspy voice on campus before they see me walking backwards giving a tour of Cal. If you can't find me there, then I'm probably on the lacrosse field, in the lab, or at Alpha Phi (of which I'm the VP of Campus Affairs--go student involvement!) I'm absolutely in love with UC Berkeley and feel so lucky every day to be exposed to the immense amount of opportunities that we have here.