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What I Wish I Knew Before Attending UCI

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

If you were recently accepted to UCI, congratulations and welcome to the Anteater class of 2028! College admissions season is an exciting, yet emotionally exhausting time. Even though the hardest part seems to be over, the true challenge is picking the school you’ll be attending for the next four years. It’s easy to get wrapped up in rankings when weighing your options, but there are many more elements to consider. My first year at UCI has been really great so far but there are some things I wish I had known before making my decision. 


UCI and every other UC (except UC Berkeley and UC Merced) run on the quarter system. A typical school year on the quarter system is split up into 3 terms. Each quarter has 10 weeks of instruction and 1 week dedicated for final exams. If you’ve never experienced the quarter system before this may sound totally doable but in reality, it is a huge adjustment that makes classes very difficult. To succeed I recommend creating study groups, using a planner, and actually attending your lectures! It is important to do everything in your power to not fall behind, which means staying on top of schoolwork and your physical health. Any UC student will tell you that getting sick and having to miss class is not the miracle it once was in high school. On the bright side, the fast pace of the quarter system means that classes you dislike will be over much sooner. 


One thing that I really love about UCI is the wide range of student clubs and organizations we have on campus. During week 0 of Fall quarter, UCI hosts an event called the Anteater Involvement Fair where every school-affiliated club and organization booths in Aldrich Park to make students aware of their presence on campus. There are hundreds of organizations to choose from so there truly is a space for everyone. If there somehow isn’t a club for your niche, anybody can create their own! If you put in the effort to make genuine connections with people, results will come. I find that the people here are always looking to make more connections so it is quite common for people to start attending club meetings in the middle of the quarter!  


If you’re dorming and don’t see yourself going home often, campus can feel really lonely on the weekends because of how much of the student body is from Southern California. While a car is not a necessity, sometimes you just need to get away from campus for a bit. The majority of first-year students do not have cars on campus, so finding somebody who does is like winning the lottery. If you’re itching to grab a late-night donut from Seaside Donuts Bakery like most UCI students, one option is to use Zipcar, a service that lets you rent cars near campus. Do not feel discouraged if you can’t bring a car to campus because UCI has a bridge that connects us to University Town Center where there is a Target, Trader Joe’s, and countless food places. We also have several OC Bus stops located around campus if you are looking to save money on Ubers. 


UCI has its flaws just like every other school, but I truly believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. No amount of advice will ever truly be able to prepare you for the transition that you are about to face. Your first quarter of college is going to be exciting and freeing but it can also be difficult and lonely. It is perfectly normal to feel homesick and even have some imposter syndrome as you adjust to college life. Remember that your loved ones are always a phone call away and that everybody else likely feels the same way. No matter how cliche it is, you will be okay in the end. If any part of you is considering going to UCI in the fall, I really hope you do!

Gia Marbella

UC Irvine '27

Gia Marbella is a first year environmental science and policy major at UC Irvine. Outside of class you can find her either watching movies, reading romance, or on a walk with coffee in her hand.