Throughout high school, college admissions was the light at the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the paycheck at the end of the grueling four year term. My admissions letters were more important to me than my diploma. I dreamt about the Instagram post and the sweatshirt that would announce what all of my hard work had amounted to.
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When all of my cards were laid out on the table, be them tarot cards or letters of financial aid, they all pointed towards UC Davis. Initially, I was hotly disappointed and frustrated. I felt that Davis was a school in which I wouldn’t be able to reach my full potential. I perceived it as a small town school for small town people. I felt like my four years of hard work had not come to fruition; UCD was a sweatshirt I never envisioned myself wearing.
Since then, I have come to realize that though Davis is a small town, the UC Davis campus is a vibrant, rich microcosm. In every corner and every circle of people, there is a whole world of interesting ideas and individuals. Having an open mind and willingness to try things is all it takes to write your own campus experience.
College is a clean slate where you can try anything and be anyone. I have tried rushing greek life, model UN, ultimate frisbee, ski or snowboard club, women in business, countless friend groups, all three dining commons, and so much more. I have tried being aloof and “cool”, I have put on my quirky artsy facade, I have put on a tightly wound academic exterior. There is so much to try on this campus, there are so many people to meet, and so many people you can be. It does take some growing pains, trial and error, and awkward experiences to get there, but anyone can find their niche.
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The year spanning the end of senior year through graduation through starting college is an odd time in life, and no one really tells you that going into it. There are so many firsts and so many lasts; you simultaneously have to push full speed ahead into the future, while saying goodbye to your childhood. You get whiplash between looking back and looking forward. You feel like you should know exactly who you are and exactly where you are going, all while not actually having any idea of it. And that is okay. Through trying different things and fully engaging on campus, you can find your niche. There, you will be able to find who you are and the resources it takes for to thrive. There is something for everyone at UCD, and that is true of any college. There is something for you.
The day of my braggadocious sweatshirt and Instagram post never came, but I have gained things so much more valuable than that; resilience, adaptability, and an open mind to find where I belong, even in this small town. I was wrong about what I thought I needed to thrive. You can find what you need no matter where you go. You can be an interesting, smart, successful, engaged citizen and member of the workforce no matter what university you attend. It’s not a matter of the school; it’s a matter of the individual and their attitude.