It’s been almost a year since we’ve graduated from college and became real ~ p r o f e s s i o n a l s ~. We thought that this would be the perfect time to reflect on how far we’ve come, how college and life were like us, and hopefully sharing our experiences will help someone else out there!
What colleges did you decide to apply to and why?
A: I applied to way more than I should have and unfortunately I also did it pretty recklessly. Deep down, I knew I wanted to stay within California but nowhere super close to home. Despite that, I ended up applying to all of the UCs except for UC Merced. I knew I didn’t have the stats to get into Ivy Leagues, but coming from a high school of high-achievers who placed immense emphasis on getting into a good school, I applied to some top-ranking schools in the East Coast just because I heard about them from my peers. Those schools included the likes of Emory University, New York University, University of Virginia, and University of Pennsylvania. I based my picks around colleges who offered a strong business program because I knew I wanted to go into that field. I also applied to some private schools in California who had good business programs like USC and Santa Clara University. Lastly, I applied to a few CSUs as a back-up such as Cal Poly SLO, Cal Poly Pomona, and San Jose State.
P: Ah I took the opposite approach and played it way too safe. In my defense, I had a pretty bad stats from high school because of my grades transferred poorly, so really the essays were the one that carried me over. Anyway, I was also based in California so I mainly applied to four UCs including UCSB, UC Davis, UC Riverside, and UC Merced. I also applied to some CSUs like Anna, although I cannot seem to remember which of them other than CSU Long Beach.
What do college admissions look for? How did you find out?
A: To find out what college admission teams were looking for I used Collegeboard and this college admissions blog authored by Ms. Sun a lot. Collegeboard was like the Reddit of college admissions back then (idk if this is still a thing now) where admitted students would post their academic stats and involved extracurriculars to give prospective students an idea of how close they would be to the college’s “ideal” student. It was both bad and good. It gave me a good idea of what college admission teams were looking for but it also gave me a lot of self-doubt because I started comparing myself to other people’s stats and it made me think negative thoughts like “oh there’s no way I’m going to get in”. I would say a better and more mentally healthy way to find out what college admissions is looking for is to directly go to them! Pretty much all of the colleges share the profile of their last admitted group of students. Many also have blog pieces where they would invite their admission advisors and admitted students talk about qualities that the school looks for.
P: As an antsy high schooler, I also did a lot of research on forums (high five on Ms. Sun) especially during the waiting period. It was a way for me to feel like other people are also on the same boat and it gave the illusion that I can predict what is going to happen to me and which colleges will accept me. Which is really not true. I learned that everyone’s case is unique, and just because you have a certain statistics doesn’t mean that you will get the same result. Agree with Anna, those forums also made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and checking those boards became an unhealthy obsession. I would suggest using these as a baseline while you are applying, but try to not obsess over them like I did. College decisions are one of the most unpredictable things there is, and the result can surprise you so why stress yourself out?
Where did you end up going to?
A: I ended up not getting into any of the East Coast schools nor private schools and half of the UCs. My top UC pick was UCLA since it was one of the higher-ranking UCs and it was in SoCal, which was far away enough from my home in NorCal for me to become my own person (lol). Unfortunately, I didn’t get into UCLA (sorry mom and pops lmaoo), but I did get into UC Santa Barbara! UCSB was never a school that I imagined myself going to or wanting to go to, but after I got the news of getting accepted, I went on a tour on campus and truly fell in love with the school. My mom and I got endlessly lost and all the students we asked for directions from were incredibly friendly and easy to talk to. That aside, it hit all my main marks I was looking for in a university: it was in California but far away enough from home and held its own in rankings. The rest was history.
P: I too, end up going to UCSB which was actually what I wanted! I toured the campus as well, and my tour guide (I think his name was Miles?) was super nice and helpful. Pro tip he gave me is to choose a special floor in order to guarantee your choice of building. We were on the substance-free floor (lol innocent kids) and I did that so I could live in Santa Cruz hall.
As you may or may not know, Anna and I met during freshman year at UCSB (more on this later), BUT I did transfer to USC on my third year of college mostly for financial reasons, so really I’m half a Gaucho and half Trojan.
What was it like being away from home your freshman year?
A: I’m going to sound like such a terrible child (sorry mom and pops part 2) but I freaking LOVED it lol. For context, I’m the only child born to parents who are older than most of my peers’ parents because my mom and dad had me late. Growing up, my parents were very much THOSE helicopter parents and were extremely strict with me. I rarely stayed out late, never partied, and was trained to feel guilty whenever I was having fun because I felt like I was wasting time that could be spent studying. When I started my first year in college, I honestly relished in the newfound freedom I didn’t have at home and I really loved the opportunity to just set my own schedule, do whatever I want, and to learn a little more about what I liked/disliked at my own pace.
P: Ugh yes, freshman year was so fun!! I remember it was just full of excitement, from meeting new people to feeling independent to learning (seemingly) interesting courses in a new setting, it was all so new and exciting! However, unlike Anna, I had been living away from home since high school so the change wasn’t as drastic. It was definitely nice to be completely alone though and having a life that is just mine alone.
What’s dorm life like?
A: So. Freaking. Fun. Again — maybe biased because I’m an only child but it felt like a gigantic sleepover with your friends for the entire year. Happy? Pop into your friend’s room two doors down. Sad? Pop into your friend’s room two doors down. Bored? Pop into your friend’s room two doors down. Bored again? Make mac and cheese at 2am why not. Bored yet again? Take a walk by the beach. Bored yet AGAIN? Go down to the rec room and play pool with some strangers. From learning how to use the washing machines to brushing your teeth with strangers turned sisters to dancing in the hallways to waking up to “you got this” notes on your room door…. Honestly just lots of amazing memories made in the moment without me realizing then that I will treasure forever.
P: O my yes to everything Anna said. I thrive off social interactions like the super extrovert person I was, so having my friends around me literally allll the time was super fun! We were both in a triple room which means our tiny box room was filled with 3 people so privacy was not really a thing and we had to share bathrooms with the rest of the floor, but I honestly didn’t mind! It was part of the fun and it’s the kind of things that you’d only experience once in your life so it was pretty great!
How did you find friends?
A: For me it happened rather organically, which I’m really grateful about. Going into my first week, I remember being super nervous about not being able to make friends or finding a group of people who I could click with. I was surprised when I ended up not only becoming friends with some cool people, but also forming a tight friend group whom I’m still super close with today. I met Praisella, actually, in our dorm hallway on our way to an event. I was waiting for one of my roommates when Praisella approached me out of the blue and asked me where the event was. From there, I had dinner with Praisella and her roommate, Katie, who also became friends with me. We were playing cards together one night during the first week with their room door open when a girl shyly poked her head in and asked if she could join — her name was Rachel and we became friends.
I met another girl on our floor at a soccer game who I clicked with and asked to exchange numbers with. I kept inviting her to have lunch with us until she finally joined — hi Clementine hehe. Our last addition to our friend group was Anna (yes her name is also Anna), and she was Katie’s bio classmate. They started hanging out a lot to study (we were lowkey jealous lol. We were so childish back then), but then Anna stole our hearts away with her sweet and caring nature and that solidified our group of 6 friends in college 🙂
I think it really helped that people I chatted with were already very friendly and open to becoming new friends. If you ever find yourself debating whether or not to strike a conversation with someone or to exchange contact info, don’t forget that they’re in the same boat as you and are also nervous about making friends in college! It was uncomfortable putting myself out there and asking to add people on Facebook or to exchange numbers but I was so glad I did because it led to a lot of meals and study sessions together that led to friendships.
P: Ah yes, the beginning of Da Crew. I think one of the main reasons why I fell in love with college and UCSB was the fact that I had my solid group of friends from early on that we were there with me through all the ups and downs. I missed this so much when I transferred to USC and had to find friends all over again. I remember feeling so lonely and wanting to go back to UCSB, but I had to stick it out. I think USC was also harder because I came in on the third year while everyone else already found their people so more effort was needed to find friends. Luckily, I randomly went to this one club event I saw on Facebook and ended up meeting my closest friends through that organization. My advice is, if you feel lonely or you feel like you don’t belong, give yourself some time to get adjusted. It may take a few weeks, but with a bit of effort and pushing yourself to socialize, you’ll soon enough find your people.
Figuring out what you want to do
How did you like your major? Did you switch majors?
P: I was a communication major through and through and I didn’t change my major at all throughout which is pretty uncommon. I don’t know if I loved it, as in I didn’t feel like I learned much from my major as I had anticipated, it was mostly just a bunch of theories that weren’t really related to what I am trying to do career-wise. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life but I do know that I like people and writing and communication seems broad enough that I can use for anything in the future. In hindsight, I wish I explored more major wise, think a business major could have been more practical and useful, but things worked out anyway.
A: I first started as a double major in Economics Accounting and in Communication. I knew I wanted to work in the business field but I didn’t know what. And to satisfy my very Asian parents who wanted me to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer, or accountant, I compromised by going in the Economics major that focused on Accounting (lol this is coming from a person who historically had bad grades in math). I decided to double major with Communication when I first heard about the field from a popular YouTuber, Jenn Im, who talked about her major in college. I never knew this major was a thing until then and from how she described it, it sounded like a major that utilized all my strengths with writing and reading. In the back of my mind though, I was thinking that if my Accounting major didn’t work out, then I can always fall back on my Communication major and use it to get a job in something like marketing. And what do ya know, accounting did NOT work out (lol sorry mom and pops part ??).
I honestly just could not get myself to enjoy my accounting classes. I’m the type of person that needs to like what I’m doing or be passionate about it, otherwise, I stop caring and stop trying which leads to me performing pretty averagely. Unfortunately, average doesn’t cut it in the accounting major at UCSB. It’s a curved major due to high competition — this means that only a certain % of students can get A’s, another % for B’s, another % for C’s and so on. This means that even if you typically would have been a B student, in this curved major situation, if you’re not in the top 20%, then you get grouped to the next % grade segment, which would be a C.
At the start of my sophomore year, I already knew that I wasn’t connecting with the accounting major and ended up dropping that major before I invested any more time in those classes. In the meantime, I was excelling in my Comm classes and really loved my class material. But at the same time, I had this guilt building up inside of me towards my parents. I felt like I had failed their expectations of me by not following the path to becoming an accountant. So in order to compensate (lol I know, great idea), I decided to ADD on the global studies major and to switch my focus to becoming a lawyer. My logic was that there were enough political science classes in global studies that could open up the career option of becoming a lawyer to me. Or if becoming a lawyer doesn’t work out, I was hoping that the ~ global ~ part of global studies would help me get jobs in global marketing or something.
In the end, I ended up dropping my new goal of becoming an attorney after I took a law class. Even though I did really well in it, I couldn’t imagine spending a whole life like that — researching cases in depth to support my arguments and writing defenses for whoever. I kept my Global Studies major for fun because I ended up really enjoying all the things I was learning about the world/international politics and I like that it made me a more educated global citizen. It definitely led to more interesting dinner discussions with my housemates. And I actually began to understand the debates on CNN and other news channels haha.
What were your favorite classes in college?
A: Two of my favorite classes were both in my Comm major: they were Power Communication and the Diffusion of Innovation. Power Communication was taught by Professor Abra and it was SUCH a good class. I learned so much about all the power dynamics at play in the world, in our everyday lives and it was just a really interesting topic to study that you never really think about. I would have to say that Abra really makes the class. He’s an incredibly engaging instructor and has a way of leading the lecture that keeps your eyes and ears glued to him from start to finish. Diffusion of Innovation was also amazing but I would say this was more driven by the course material rather than the professor.
The class was centered around this one book of the same name (that’s also an amazing read) and it describes how people adopt new ideas or products and how certain people are more prone to accepting new ideas/products over other people. The book was a great read and it was filled with real-life examples of both products we’re familiar with today and studies of social phenomena that makes it easy to follow along. Really terrific class (or read) for anybody interested in business (especially in marketing).
P: My memory is failing me but I recall really liking this class called Deception at UCSB. The professor used to work with federal agencies in the states so she had a lot of stories to share about the methods of investigation, interviews and just really cool insights on how to detect people’s lies. It was a non-requirement for my major but I loved it so much I’d take it again.
End of ~ Part 1 ~
So that about wraps up our trip down memory lane for today! This was a super nostalgic piece to write about. For you incoming college students, we hope that this was somewhat insightful. If you found this post, you’re probably worried about moving to a new place, making new friends, and getting situated. Don’t overthink it! This is all part of the magic of starting a new chapter in your life — sit back and enjoy the ride 🙂 And if you’re past that point, then we hope this inspires you to reflect on your journey too! Would love to hear how everybody else’s experience was.
Stay tuned for a part 2 of our college recap, where we’ll talk about what we did outside of class with extracurriculars and PT jobs, alternate academic paths (like transferring and studying abroad), and our biggest takeaways from our college experience.