UCI Was Not My First Choice but I Do Not Regret It

When I dreamt of college as a little girl, I always envisioned myself in those old architecture colleges you see in many movies. Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elle Woods, in legally blonde gave me the hope to one day go to a college that looked like Harvard Law. Innocent as I was, I had yet to learn how difficult and competitive getting into Harvard Law is and, to my misfortune, any Ivy League school. Turns out that all the nice, old campuses I saw in movies and hoped to attend one day were prestigious Ivy League schools that accept students nothing less than perfect and what they like to call “well-rounded.”

Once in high school, I realized that my best bet would be getting into one of the UC schools around California, which are prestigious on their own way and the best there are in the state. My sophomore English teacher was kind enough in helping me look at my different options for college and, being a UCLA alumni herself, encouraged me to try my best to get into UCLA’s English department which is known as one of the best. Full of new hopes and dreams, I worked myself to the bone with classes and as many extracurricular activities as I could fit in my schedule. When the time came to apply, I applied to UCLA and three other random UCs since my applications were free. Plus, I had already done the application for one so I thought I might as well apply to more.

UCI was the first acceptance letter I received through mail. I still remember opening up the letter and reading the words that, without knowing right then and there, had just defined my future for the next four years. I was happy...but that was it. UCI was not only not my first choice but it was by far my last. It was the back-up of the back-up of the back-up. I had never visited the campus, did not know anything about the school and had no intention of coming. It was not until the same English teacher that had gotten me excited for UCLA told me that UCI had a really good English program and was a great school overall that I decided to visit the campus. Of course, I had already visited UCLA and had been surprised at how disappointed I had felt during the time I was there. It is a beautiful campus (I am not saying its not), but there was something missing that made me feel as if I did not belong. Confused, I was driven to visit other campuses and compare.

March 25, 2017 was the day I visited UCI for the first time. I was in love. I knew the moment my foot stepped onto the entrance of the student center that this was where I wanted to be. I walked all around campus with my sister, no tour guide, no guidance, not even students since it was Spring Break. I went home that day and submitted my SIR. I did not care about the rest of the schools I had yet to hear back from. UCI was the one. I visited campus a second time for Celebrate UCI, exactly two years ago, where I confirmed further that I had made the right decision. The people, the campus and the environment were exactly what I needed for my first solo adventure. Looking back now. I do not regret  how I didn’t wait for the rest of my acceptance letters, nor have I ever wondered what would have happened if I had gone somewhere else. The friends I have made, the memories I hold dear and the growth I’ve experienced here at UCI remind me of why I am so proud to be an anteater. Zot Zot Zot!

All photos were taken by Emily Flores