Arvin High School alumni who are currently college freshmen share their college experience and their first semester at college
During their first semester in college, current freshmen have an experience that differs from their years in high school. Not only school life, but many of their hobbies and daily lifestyle may change due to being in a new place.
“I am majoring in Art with an emphasis on Studio Art. I was late with applying so I had to apply for an appeal and wait for that to get accepted then get a chance to apply for the school itself. Overall, I had to make sure that I didn’t lose this opportunity given to me,” stated Willoe Leon, Arvin High Class of 2022, who currently attends California State University Bakersfield.
Like Leon, many students in Kern County attend CSUB, as it is the closest CSU and close to home. It is also considered a “safety college” to apply to by students, meaning that it is a backup school that students can attend when their educational plans change.
Leon shares his first-semester experience by saying, “I fake it till I make it. I feel that having a confident mindset has made me realize the goals I want to achieve. I am on it most of the time since I make sure to give time to myself. My goals are to balance my self-health and school. This includes going to the gym and making time to draw. Later on, I want to transfer to CSU Northridge and start looking into animation internships or work for a big animation studio like Disney or Dreamworks. “
For those in the college application process, Leon recommended keeping your options open.
“I was so set for one school that I didn’t even know I could attend another. I didn’t look at other schools that could help me with more affordable tuition. Not only that, but you shouldn’t be missing out on opportunities like going to unexpected places and trying new things. Just be prepared to adapt to college life because you’re going to be there for a while,” Leon commented.
Andres Salgado, also Arvin High Class of 2022, attends a college further away than Bakersfield. Salgado currently attends the University of California, Berkeley, more commonly known as UC Berkeley.
UC Berkeley is known as one of the top public schools in the state, even in the country, with an admission rate of 11 percent. He is an applied mathematics major.
“First semester was a shift from my old lifestyle”, says Salgado. “My first semester was really about finding new habits and strategies that work for me. It was harder than high school for sure but still worthwhile. I say that applying to college was the hardest part. For me, I attended a few programs meant to help me write my application essays. For the UC personal insight questions specifically, I had to write four drafts for them, but it gave me time to improve them. I would recommend at least revising those essays at least twice. But overall, getting accepted to college is neat.”
Salgado went on to share his goals, stating that he plans on expanding his horizons and taking classes that aren’t strictly related to his major. He also stated that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do once he gets his degree, but anticipates that the next few years will help him find his answer to that. For those in the college process, Salgado wants those to know that education is not dependent on where you go but on what you do with the time.
“There are people here from high schools better off, but that shouldn’t be discouraging. The reason many of my pals and I can keep up is because of the passion we put into what we do,” Salgado commented.
These college freshmen are really trying their best in their new environment, and that can also be said for Alessandra Ela, Arvin High Class of 2022 alumni and student at Harvey Mudd College. Harvey Mudd is one of the 5 Claremont Colleges, a series of private colleges ranked high in the state and country.
“I have not declared my major yet, but I am planning on majoring in engineering. My first semester of college ended up being a lot less stressful than high school. While the work is more intellectually challenging, there is more time to complete it and there is more teamwork. I have never learned so many things so quickly,” stated Ela. “I did get homesick, but eventually, I found really great friends that helped me get used to college.”
Ela continued by stating that the college application process was difficult for her because she wasn’t sure where she wanted to apply to and had trouble writing so many essays about herself.
Despite the adversities Ela has faced, she is still determined to achieve her goals.
“My goals for college so far are to hopefully maintain a decent GPA. I am also hoping to do some research this summer. One day, I hope to become the proctor of a dorm, which is basically the person who handles certain emergencies and overall helps to support the students in the dorm,” Ela shared. “Overall, I just hope to develop more resilience and have a more open mind about things. After graduating with my degree, I would like to hopefully get a government job related to public health or work in a hospital on medical equipment.”
For those in the college process, Ela’s advice to current seniors was not to take anything too personally and to find comfort in knowing that they will end up somewhere where they can learn and grow.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where you go to college and you should go to the college where you feel that you can be the most happy and comfy,” Ela stated.
Hearing the voices of current college freshmen can give hope to everyone that things turn out alright. College is a big chapter to complete, but fear should not stop anyone from enjoying their life here. To the high school class of 2023, may you get into a college that is the right fit for you.