University of California-Berkeley Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


Hey kid. Yes, you're still a kid. I know it feels like you are grown up now and should have it all figured out, but relax and enjoy the ride. College will be as awesome as you want it be; you will get out of it what you put into it. Also, sometimes you will find yourself in new, difficult situations. You will get sad, frustrated. Don't let it stop you though, everything is a lesson and a chance for growth. Keep working hard, playing hard, and not taking yourself too seriously. Remember that college does not have to be the "best four years of your life" and that you have a lot of life to live when it's over. Prepare for the future, but do not be afraid to try new things, be open minded, and experiment. Attend class and be deligent about learning, but take risks, and explore your youth. Make real friends, not just party buddies. Step outside your comfort zone with eyes wide open. Be present, be yourself, have fun. Trust me, you will make it through!


I would tell myself to try harder in my classes and to really reasearch what it takes to get into college. I would put more time and effort into my grades and my college reasearch. I would try to figure out what I'm passionate about and I'd make my homework assignments on time and ask for help in the college process. I never really realized how important college is until now, I wish I would have figured it out earlier.


I would tell myself to stay focused and work as hard as I currently am because eventually it will pay off in the end.


High school has given you a foundation of basic knowledge and taught you how to study, but this is only one aspect of college You're going to have to learn how to reach out for help. Chances are your classes are going to be far larger than anything you've had before. Professors will be more difficult to speak with and classmates will be less likely to get to know you. You have to learn to make friends, meet classmates, and form small study groups. A lot of your energy will be an effort to combat the large class size and competition that has been thrust upon you. This can be trying at times, but it's entirely doable. Everyone has the ability to ally themselves with others in their class. It's just that these skills weren't necessarily learned in high school due to the difference in environment. But now that you're aware of this transition, you can do something about it. Be willing to sit next to the mere acquaintance and start a conversation. Join the professional fraternity that relates to your major. Be ready to find others like you.

Martha Reuben

I would say to myself to go as far away from home as possible. It is the only time when you could grow up and learn who you really are. I am still a studious student, but I am having more fun now without worrying about how the family perceives me.


If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior I would probably tell myself to enjoy life and to remember that I have countless years to grow up. My senior year I rarely took time for myself. I was so worried about college acceptance letters, my grades and other extra-curricular activities that I forgot to take time for myself. All I could think about was finally leaving home and becoming " independent". However, now that I am thousands of miles away from home, I miss the simple pleasures that I overlooked during that time in my life. Although I am still relatively young sometimes I feel that I have aged some thirty years these past two years. At times I am extremely overwhelmed with everything that is going on in my life. Taking into consideration that I can not go back in time to my senior year, I need to take the advice now. Pursuing my goals will always be important to me, but I needed to realize that I also need to look out for my well-being.


It is okay to love whoever you like, it will not destroy your life.


Out of the dark, age’s course upturns Already we’re regressing to now sacred moments Already we’re nostalgic for times that have yet to pass. Here, We sink into no man’s land and seize every fading season Blindfolded and unconscious at familiar’s last extremity Until the physical hits and mental denies When your future is now and that person is you-- And you feel no different. The trouble is we think we have time. Your poem is no longer a distant musing. As you transition to college, you're so excited for beginnings and so attatched to idealized visions of your future self that you forget that one day that future self will become you and time will continue as it always has. Dreams of academic success become all-nighters and coffee-stained papers, dreams of extra-curricular involvement become traumatizing interviews and hours of project planning, dreams of boundless social interaction become lonely dinners and desperate phone calls home. The purpose of a dream is to motivate you to create a reality for yourself and to make those dreams happen. Don't make the mistake of waiting around for your dreams to happen to you.


I would tell myself to get involved in many more student organizations and meet new people. Also, use my meal points wisely so that I don't run out on the end.


Relax a little. Don't worry over completing every assignment. Just do the minimum for an A, or even a B. Grades and test scores are ridiculously overrated, and no one will care about them in college. Be ready to shed some bad high school habits. Don't be afraid to keep in touch with friends that you're not super close to. They really do like you. On move in day, stay at the car with your dad when everyone else goes to the bathroom, and make sure he listens to the authorities so the car doesn't get towed away. Be sure to hang out with your floor in the dorms often. You'll have enough time to study, and don't take unncessary textbook notes. Don't worry about getting 6 hours of sleep instead of 9 so you can try more new activities. This is going to be hard, but please try to fight your apathy and feel more enthusiastic about college so you can share stories when you come back. Get to know your professors. Talk. MORE. Try going to lectures in pajamas. Be yourself. And you'll be fine transitioning. You always adapt easily.


I would tell myself to be more involved earlier on, and to be more studious. College is nothing like high school was, and it is important to plan carefully and not take on too much at once.


The advice that I heard most during orientation was to give yourself the first year, or at least semester, to acclimate to college. I would tell myself to forget that noise. I’ve found that I’m happiest when I’m busy with interesting work, and that I loved my college experience the last two years so much because I was taking four classes, working part time, and helping a professor with his research. I was figuring out who I was by stretching myself to my limits, and even though I almost had a nervous breakdown a few times, I preferred it, because I was involved in what I love. You never get anywhere by sitting out of the game, and you don’t figure out who you are by taking it easy. Yes, take the first term slightly easier, because it is an adjustment, but take note of things that you’ll want to do next semester, like interesting classes, research projects, jobs, or clubs. You won’t regret the times when you felt too busy, but you will regret not taking an opportunity when you had time.


To my senior self: Just go for it. I know that right now you just want to play it safe and add commitments slowly but surely, but now as a junior, it seems that time has run out. There's still so many clubs and events I haven't gone to; I still haven't gone to the Big C, run for office, taken those English classes, or tried most of the restuarants right outside my apartment. You're worried about your GPA and extra-curriculars, and trying not to make the same mistakes you made in high school. It is okay to be cautious and spend time planning, but don't take it to the extreme and start stroking and saying "my precious" to your time. Most importantly, you'll find that late night talks about life, religion, and hot-button issues, are few and far between -- happened only once freshman year. Remember that's what college is about: the time to formulate your opinions. Always say yes to the opportunity to talk with your friends. Stop thinking so much about your GPA -- that opportunity that just arrived may only come once. Just go for it.


As a high school student, I recommend that you always leave your comfort zone whenever possible. You should always be aiming to see new sights, live through new experiences, and meet new people. Nothing can be worse than wasting your time on the computer or taking naps. College will be a time where you will meet new people and be exposed to new things. Prepare yourself by learning how to deal with certain situations and how to talk to all types of people. Also, learn to be humble and admit your shortcomings. Never take advice for granted, but at the same time, take it with a grain of salt, so to speak. Only your true friends will speak advice you won’t want to hear. At the same time, you are in charge of your own life. You must make your own decisions. College will be a time where you must make your own decisions, and you must take responsibility for those choices. Start practicing in high school, where you will still have family to watch over you. In the end, college will be an amazing place full of unique people. Be prepared to make life-long friends!


Don't quit. Even though you are at the top of your class, in college you will struggle at times and will likely fail a test or two, but don't give up. Keep pushing on with the "I Think I Can" mental determination of Thomas the Train. Be humble in your successes and learn from your failures, and realize that both inside and outside the classroom will provide a learning opportunity from which you can grow. Don't be intimidated by your peers, but make it a point to learn from them and befriend them. Networking is key and will open many doors for you in the future. You never know, the person next to you in class may be the next Steve Jobs. Be flexible and adaptable. Take classes that you haven't taken in high school to expand your knowledge, however, understand that class registration is a process and don't get frustrated if can't get into a required course every once in a while. Lastly, follow your passions. Major in something that excites you to go to class everyday and makes you want to make a difference in the world. The world is your oyster.


In high school I would try to prepare myself academically, socially and mentally for the rigors of college life. I would take more challenging courses during the last years of high school because otherwise the academic rigor at the university level can really come as a rude awakening. The transition comes much easier if one put in the extra effort and didn't slack off the last year of high school. Time management is key! It's also important to try to imagine all the things one wants to do during university years, as far as picking up new hobbies, sports, skills, languages, community service activities, friendships etc. This is the best time to expand one's horizons, a time like no other, as far as physical and mental capacity. However, there are so many possibilities on most college campuses that it is quite easy to get lost in the excitement of it all. So it's good to have at least somewhat of a plan as well as the right attitude at the outset. Also, expect the unexpected because university opens up so many doors! Go in with an open mind and be ready to grow as a person!


Dear highschool self, I congratulate you for working hard in maintaining high grades and for being involved in so many extra-curricular activities. I believe that thanks to your school, mentors, family, and friends, you are prepared to attend college. Although, if it's not too late I would like to recommend that you take some time aside to apply for scholarships and earn some money. Money isn't everything but your future-self will very much appreciate that you have some money earned up for things you will need in college... like books! Also, sometimes you will get home-sick since you will be hours away from home and sometimes going out with your friends will help you feel better. Caution: be wise with your money. Also take time to apply for scholarships! Financial aid is helping you a lot but you will see that it will not cover it all, which is okay. You are given the options of loans but you must also be cautious of the debt you will graduate with. You are in the perfect position to prepare yourself for the success of your fututre.


I was one of those kids in high school that never had many friends. I wasn't popular or really known by many people untill senior year and was bullied most of my life from elementary school through highschool. As well, I was raised by my grandparents who sheltered me and helped me through life. However, when I got to college, I began being afraid to grow out of my shell. My first semester, I kept more to myself and my studies. I now regret this to an extent because I didn't get involved in clubs because they didn't involve my interest and most of the organizations here were for minority groups which excluded me. In my second semester, I became more involved being in the kendo club, doing research, and trying to meet people; however, the man who raised me, my grandfather, passed away and that fear started to come up again. However after some time, I've been getting involved in clubs and making some close friends. If I had that option to go back in time, I would tell myself to not be afraid of growing up and expanding out of my comforst zone.


Going back in time, I wish I had known more about what it really meant to be a well rounded individual. Before, I thought that with my abundance of clubs and immersion into school would qualify me as "well rounded". Unfortunately, now I see that some of the things that matter most are the events that you partake with outside of school. Now I wish that when I had said that I did not have time more activities, I would have evaluated what was taking up my time. Because, despite my high grades and high rankings in school, I missed out on activities that I could have really flourished in. Rather than focusing my efforts on one big program or event that I could have devoted my time in, I spent my high school senior year worrying about applications and grades. I would advise all students to momentarily forget about attending a small club meeting and venture out into finding their passions.


Don’t be afraid and get involved! If I could go back in time, I would say those two things. It took me a year to be able to talk to people I met in classes and meetings, figure out what I was interested in, and which clubs and organizations I wanted to join. By then, I had wasted so much time. If I was not afraid of trying new things by myself, I would have joined more organizations. For example, I recently discovered that my college has a pro bono consulting group, which is a great way to help the community. I applied as a sophomore and was not accepted because my lack of experience. I could have applied during my first year if I had known. I regret that I did not research what my campus has to offer. I could have entered more prepared and ready for the college life if I had tried. Being confident would have helped me become a better student and fellow classmate because I would have not been afraid of new experiences and challenges. Even now I tell myself to stay strong and try my best at everything I do.


I would tell myself to not limit my search to places that are close to home. I am from New Jersey, and Berkeley is the only school I applied to far from where I lived. Now that I have been here for three years, I realize how much I have grown because of the fact that I am away from home. I have been forced to establish my own life here and to become more independent. I think this is crucial preparation for my life after college. I love attending a school where people are from all over the country and the world. I would also tell myself not to be afraid to quit something if it truly is not making me happy or aiding in my development. While in college, I have learned that as I change, sometimes the things I do also need to change. I have made decisions to stop doing particular activities in favor of trying new ones, which has given me the chance to grow in many different ways and has brought me closer to discovering who I want to spend time with and what I want to do with my life.




Dear 18 year-old Jessica,College is going to be harder than you expect — but you can do it! I believe in you. After all, I’m you! I’m just two years older, a little wiser, and I have a wealth of new experiences to share. So please, young Jessica, listen to my advice. Keep in touch with the people from home that you care about. Call your parents. Video chat with your high school friends. Reply when your sister texts you. Maintain connections with those who matter to you; don’t let them drift away.However, you should not stay in touch with everyone. It’s critical to remove the poisonous people from your life. Surround yourself with people who support you, challenge you, and love you.This may be hard to believe… but your grades might slip. It’s okay to cry if you fail a midterm, but utilize that emotion and negative energy to fuel yourself to study more, work harder, and do better next time.You will get through this. I believe in you. And, though it may be challenging, college will be the best experience of your life. Love,Present-day Jessica


Breathe. It's one simple word, and essential to life, so why did it become something that was often forgotten to do? My senior year of high school put a lot of emphasis on the rapidly approaching deadlines. While trying to juggle my academic workload, varisty tennis, and a million other things, there felt like there was no time to stop, breathe, and think about what I wanted in a college. I got caught up in the frenzy of applying to 20+ different schools in the hopes to defeat the odds presented by the ever declining admission rates. I didn't have much time to research the schools, but what I didn't realize was that ultimately it didn't matter what ranking my school was or how perfect it seemed on paper, it was how I felt about the people I met and the atmosphere of the school that made my freshman year of college. So the advice I would have given myself is: visit colleges, breathe in the atmosphere, meet the people that you will have to spend the next 4 years of your life, and thats how you will find happiness. Not in that ranking.


Never, ever lose site of your priveledge. You are privledged to go to UC Berkeley, priveledged to have supportive parents, and privledged to have a halfway decent head on your shoudlers to make use of it all. You should have taken half a year off after high school to travel and discover some important things about yourself, but then you would have missed out on meeting some of the best people in your life. College will be full of bittersweet moments like that. Learn to expect them and cherish them, because they are some of the most poignant moments you'll experience looking out across Bays, sunsets, and rooms full of friends, you'll know that this will one day end and you will smile knowing it was worth it. Remember to sleep just a little bit more, eat a little bit less, and go on more hikes/do more yoga. All those things will give you the extra energy to do what you really want to, which we both know is meet as many awesome people as possible, reach for the sublime, and have a great story to tell after. I love you, bud. Good luck.


Congradulations High School Graduate! You have made it through the four years of high school, and you graduated at the top of your class. You have made it through all the college applications, the SAT and AP testing, the long nights studying, the hours of community service, working part-time, and that elaborate Senior Project. You have much to be proud of, and you have recieved a well deserved acceptance into the University of California, Berkeley. Do not doubt your ablities and your strengths. You have nothing to fear. Your love for academic learning is all you need to succeed in this university. It is all new to everyone. You are not alone in your learning experience. Remember the professors and the instructors are here to help you succeed. These scholars are egar to built strong scholars like themselves. They understand the new college experience, and they will always offer a helping hand all you have to do is ask! Attend as many office hours as you can, and join as many study groups as possible. You will learn and grow most from others, there is no shame in participating in these learning settings. You define your own success!


Hey Mo! It's Me! I mean, I'm you! Yeah...this is wierd...nevermind...The point is, I am from the future and I gotta say, its not looking too great for you in terms of finances. Yep, should'a saved up that McDonald's money when you had the chance. You'll be piling about $60,000 in in debt in a few months! That's crazy man! Do me/you/us a favor, and apply to as many scholarships as you can! Set a goal for yourself; apply to at least one scholaship each week. Pace yourself. You're doing fine in community service and academics, keep up that great work, but hey! You'll end up paying off those loans for the rest of your life if you don't apply for scholarships! Financial Aid (FAFSA) doesn't cover all tuition!!! Take advantage of free money. Don't just stand there--go apply for a scholaship right now! What are you waiting for? GO!


I would advise myself to take advantage of more opportunities to participate in various groups and events. In particular, I would suggest trying to participate or play a part in each group two times. The reason is that I have learned that sometimes the first time you participate in an event or a grop pactivity, you have a negative experience, but the second time you do so, it can be very positive. Also, I think I would benefit more as a college student if I did not have such rigid ideas about being a non-conformist and instead, being open to groups and activities that might be characterized as mainstream. I have learned that many such popular groups and activities often have great benefits, and I would be close-minded to not at least to try to engage with them. If I do not truly enjoy them, then after I participate in them I can explain wtih greater confidence and more evidence why I do not liek them. I think that if I were open-minded in this way, I would benefit far more greatly from my college expereince, and emerge from it as a far more well-rounded person.


I would go back and tell myself to try harder in everything I should've done. Also to tell my past self that life would be very different and the world is a lot better out of high school. Make stronger connections with my good friends and to gain more experience in the work force because it's a real struggle to find work.


As a college student, I can honestly say that I am learning so much about myself. During my Senior year of high school, I thought that making sacrifices in order to get the best future for myself was the better way to go. Now that I am here, 8 hours away from home, I realize that I should have done what my heart really wanted: to make the choices that would make myself happy. I had always put my happiness aside when it came to what I thought I needed to do for the future. Now, I know that is not the best way to go. I should follow my heart and follow what would make me happy. I should not worry about what others thought of me or what they expect me to be. I should believe in myself and learn how to put myself first when it came to my own future. I should have known myself more and not listened to who I thought I was. If I could re-do it, I would have chosen to go to the college nearest my home and the people that I love and do my very best there.


I know what you might be feeling: a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and most of all anxiety. While all of these feelings are warranted, I have a few tips that may help you out. First of all, never be afraid to pursue lofty goals for insecurity of your capabilities will transform those insecurities into reality. It is here that the axiom “You miss a hundred percent of the shots you never take” holds most true. Although it is good practice to challenge yourself, it is equally important to practice moderation. There will be myriads of clubs, activities, and jobs that you will find interesting however, it is impossible to be part of everything. Thinning your time amongst too many activities leads to impartiality and stress. It is better to parcel your time to a few activities which allows for greater achievement. Finally, it is important to have fun. College isn’t only stress, studying, and tests. It’s a time to explore, make friends, and pick up new hobbies. Furthermore, enjoying yourself will reduce stress which will directly influence your school performance. With a proper mix of moderation, fun, and confidence, college becomes an enjoyable and far less daunting world.


Dear High School Me, Stop. Breathe. Wherever you end up going for college, you're going to be fine! Don't stress out about getting into an Ivy League school, especially when it's just for the brand name. East Coast winters aren't as romantic as portrayed by books, anyway. More substantial factors to consider are the various programs and school cutures that different campuses have to offer. "But what if I don't know what I wanna do in college?!" Honestly, your guess is as good as mine right now. Choosing an Econ major over a major like Biology or Engineering will probably have some impact over my future career prospects, but otherwise the discrepancy in career pathway options may be as inconsequential as a line on my resume. More important are the people you will meet, the memories you will make, and the opportunities you will encounter in a setting you can fluorish, though college is less about where you go than what you do there. As long as you keep an open mind and take the initiative to work hard and have fun, you will do well! Good luck! Your "Wise" College Self


If I could go back and talk to myself in high school I would tell myself to be prepared for many different experiences. I would tell myself to keep having an open-mind and to always be open to suggestions. I would say that there will be many decisions to face, but to always follow your heart and your first instinct. Never look back or say "Sorry" because if you're not comfortable then it's not your fault. Learn how to be patient and compassionate and also stop reading to much in different situations. I would tell myself to plan out the next four years in order to stay on track and achieve your goals. But most of all, I would tell myself to have fun, meet different people, and enjoy life.


Be prepared for a jump. No longer will the teacher hold your hand, all those warnings your teachers told you about being independent will become real soon. Think about your major, dont get distracted, because time flies. Your years of high school probably went by slowly. But, here I am writing this my sophomore year and I can't believe almost two years of college have passed. Use all the academic resources you can in college. Go to office hours, talk to the professors, get ahead in class when you can. Really think and learn about each topic learn it like it is your life. And if you don't enjoy it, well find something you do. College is a small part of the greater part of your life, but it can be something special if you utilize it to its fullest capabilities. Explore what out there subject wise, and fun wise. But... make sure you dont have too much fun because school is important and take school day by day, so life can grow day by day as well.


I would tell myself to take the time in my senior year to look for scholarships, grants, living allowances and internship opportunities for college. I say this because I really struggled financially and found myself homeless on two seperate occassions.That really affected my school work, however, it build my character and made me a stronger person through perserverance. I would tell myself not to live beyond my means and find solid roommates that are like-minded and want to save on expenses. Find people of good character and who are not going to flake out on you, and do this by taking the time to get to know people. Next, I would guide myself through the financial aid process in which I would tell myself to beware of student loans. If I feel pressure by financial aid advisors to accept student loans that will put me in debt talk to my college advisor and seek counsel. Last, I would tell myself to use the Biology Scholars Program to the fullest and balance my life. By that I mean taking time to be fully present in study groups. Then take time to engage in fun yet safe activites with others.


Numbers don't go to college, people do. Don't spend all your time studying and focusing on only school. You need to explore. Being a bookworm is great and all, but it doesn't mean much if you can't communicate. Get up and allocate some of your time to doing what you love. It's time to meet new people, make connections and make a difference in peoples' lives. You want to be a doctor, but you've gotta realize that you can't be a doctor if you only know how to keep your nose in textbooks. Go dance, take a break from studying, set time aside to learn how to cook, and be nice to people. Make friends, never enemies. Trust me, focusing on numbers will make you get a lot of enemies.


Dear High School Self, I would like to offer you some advice for your college years and future. College is quite different than high school, be prepared to work four times as much and struggle every step of the way. I urge you to start exploring your interests as soon as you get to college, find your calling and start working toward that. Do not waste time, meet with a counselor and draw out your plan for the coming semesters. Take advantage of the wonderful school you are going to attend, love and embrace the beautiful struggle that we call life.


If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself the same thing that everyone else told me about college last year: not to worry about a thing, and to look forward for that adventurous college life. The transition from high school to college has taught me more than what anyone could have told me. Experiencing it for yourself is the only great way to understand and learn that transitioning to a new setting is not as bad as many think it is. And not worrying about what college life would be or how hard the transition can be is something that is very helpful because you are able to accept the new atmosphere of college life quicker - and are able to enjoy the independence and freedom.


Focus more on your goals post college than your time in college. My goal as a senior was just to go to college. I didn't understand planning for graduation and beyond.


I had a lot of emotional problems when I was in high school, however, not academic ones. Though, I was always an above average student my focus was never on school. I worked a night job and then graduated early (with honors) to work full time and save enough money to move here in California from Ohio. It took me four years at a junior college to grow enough emotionally and academically to be ready for a real university. I needed time and the right guidence to understand myself, find my passion and work my way up to where I am now. If I could go back to when I was a senior, I would let myself know that in the end everything I felt and went through would ultimatley be worth it. That I was making the right decision for myself despite what others thought and how they tried to hold me back. I spent too much time doubting and degrading myself when I should have been enjoying life. Along with this, I would have told myself how much I love Anthropology and the study of primates so I wouldn't have spent so much time.


The advice I would give myself would be to keep up the good work and to not get discouraged. College is a great place to be--there is so much more opportunity to learn and to focus on what is is you are interested in when you are there. I guess I wouldn't tell myself anything different than I actually had told myself back when I was still in high school. I knew college would be more fun and hold more potential for me. I also knew it would be harder. I guess if anything, I would tell myself that everything I was anticipating for was true! But I would not have wanted to tell myself much more than that, because had I, my experiences may have been different than they were. It is not good to know everything about what it is you are "getting yourself into" so to speak, it takes away all the fun and adventure. And that is what college is to me--an adventure. And at that, it is one that I plan to continue until I get from it what I am going to obtain--music knowledge and degrees.


My biggest piece of advice to any incoming freshman, but especially for myself as a freshman, is don't be afraid of hard work! For many freshmen entering highly-ranked universities, such as myself at the University of California, Berkeley, high school came pretty easily. There is a fairly common mindset among freshman at Berkeley that you are much more intelligent than your classmates, and in my experience, the faster a student frees him- or herself from that mindset, the more successful that student will be. College will be hard, no matter how smart you are. Professors are experts in their fields for a reason, and you should expect to be challenged every time you step into a classroom. Don't let that be disheartening, though. Make an effort to stand out! Work hard and truly understand and love what you're learning, and you will be able to be very successful, even in classes with hundreds of students. But don't expect to cruise by on your natural intelligence. Work for it!


I would tell myself to be more proactive not only at studying and pursuing good grades but also becoming involved in campus activities such as research, academic organizations, volunteer, internships, etc. I also wished that I had done more research before entering my campus, such as how to get more grants/scholarships, which professors are more welcoming to students and which are not; as well as making more graduate student friends in campus. I would also have consulted other ex-students, alumnis and post undergrads at this campus to ask them how campus life is, how competitive school is, academic satisfaction, happiness and social life, etc.


Don't just apply to schools that are in your comfort zone. I know you think you want to apply to schools that are small and student-oriented. I know you think you want to stay in California, close to your family. But that isn't actually what you want. You want to go far away and meet people from different backgrounds and be in a part of the country with a different culture! You want to go to a big school, be a small fish in a big pond, and be continuously inspired and motivated by all the amazing people around you! Bigger schools have more clubs, more new people to meet, more scenes to try. They have cooler concerts and speakers come through. College is the time to challenge you comfort zone. Don't let your fears hold you back. If you do end up attending that small, private liberal arts institution that's an hour away from home, you're going to be miserable for two years and then transfer to a big public school that you'll wish you had had more time to love.


As a first generation college student, applying to college was a very daunting and stressful task. My wheels were constantly turning about how to earn a better ACT score, how to edit my essays, and which colleges to apply to. Even once my applications had been submitted, I questioned my decisions and worried about the results. When letters of acceptance began to arrive in my mailbox, I was surprised to find that I had been accepted to every university that I applied to, with the exception of one. Yet, I decided not to attend any of the universities that were initially at the top of the list. Once I found out that I had been accepted to UC Berkeley, my parents were ecstatic. They insisted we attend “Cal Day,” even though I was not particularly interested. However, the second I stepped foot on the campus I knew that Cal was the place for me. Therefore, I would tell my high school self that at the end of the day you do not choose what college you go to, a college will choose you. Ultimately, keep your eyes open to all possibilities because you never know where life will take you.


Attend office hours even if you’re feeling comfortable with homework. See if there are any seminars reserved for freshmen. Look into clubs that cover stem cells and neuroscience. Explore your artsy side by joining the Cal Literature and Arts Magazine. Indicate that you’re thinking about applying for music camps even if you think your teacher has other plans. Try working out bedtime arrangements with your roommate earlier in the semester rather than suffering in silence for several months. Look up volunteering opportunities over the weekend. Use Sticky Notes to keep track of applications. Create daily to-do lists. Exercise whenever the occasion arises. Select the unlimited access dining plan. Set up a schedule before classes begin with Google Calendar.


Entering college and immersing myself in a distinct social, physical, and academic environment was more difficult than I expected. I yearned for stability, for the comforts of home, for something that did not force me to rediscover myself, or possibly discover myself for the first time. When I first moved to Berkeley, I barraged myself with self-judgment. Early in the year, the young men living down the hall from me in the dorms posted a quiz on their door (marked 100{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c}) with a post-it note that said, “That’s right, we set the curve!” My brain was riddled with doubt. Was a smart enough to be here? Social enough? Driven enough?I would tell the high-school version of myself to celebrate the present moment and celebrate myself. I did not go to Berkeley to compare myself to others, or to pine away for some antiquated, stable version of myself. I went to Berkeley to learn how to adapt to a unique environment, and to become a stronger person. I would encourage my high-school self to embrace herself in the present, accept the things she cannot control, and channel the fearlessness that I now know she possesses.


Dear Past Self, You don't know everything. I know that because you've lived abroad for four years you are open minded and accepting of other cultures and ideas. But you haven't even started to hear about them. When you get to Berkeley, you'll see what I mean. Just wait until you meet your classmates. You won't be the smartest, you won't be the best at everything, you'll make mistakes, and you know what? That's ok - that's good. It's going to give you a new sense of understanding, modesty, and appreciation for others and what you can learn from them. It's going to make you grateful for an involved academic community. You're going to learn things in university that force you to grow up, that force your mind to broaden even more. Let them. You don't know everything now, and you won't know everything four years from now. But you're going to know more, and that's what growing up is about: always learning more. So don't worry about not knowing everything. Just worry about knowing the best you can. Keep learning. Love, Future You


I would tell myself to appreciate my family more. The distance has made me realize how much they mean to me and how much they do for me. I tell myself to spend more time with them and be nicer to them even when my sisters fustrate me. I would also tell myself to save more money because being in the bay area is really important. Last, but not least, I would tell myself to believe in myself because I didn't really believe in myself when I was in high school and that really limited the classes I took and the colleges I applied to. If I could go back I would make myself apply to many schools such as Stanford, Columbia, USC and all those colleges that I probably could have gotten into but didn't apply to because I didn't believe in myself.


I wish I had known how to ask my teachers/instructors for help when I needed it. Because I was always a bit of a workaholic, I always seemed to take on a lot of work, but I was always stubborn when it came to asking for help. Being at a large university where no one is going to hold your hand, I would tell myself to ask teachers and instructors for help and to learn to make it a habit when it came to college. I feel like I have done better in classes where I have attended my professors' office hours and asked questions about class and the material. I would have told myself to be more open to asking questions about things I didn't understand, and to continue this habit into college because I remember being intimidated to go talk to my professors my first year.