Letter to a Freshman

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Minh Hua
Campus Beat Reporter

Dear freshman student,

If you are reading this letter, then there is a high chance that you are quivering in fear of your daunting future at UCSB. However, as a seasoned veteran of college life, I will try to offer some words of advice to you. If you choose to heed my words, then you might just make it out alive.

Getting involved is the name of the game. Playing an active role in the community not only fosters your professional development but also can be fun and rewarding. Check out the club fair and the Office of Student Life (OSL) website to discover volunteering opportunities and social events to immerse yourself in. You can also find your niche by meeting the clubs tabling in front of the Arbor and around campus.

Additionally, as a research-oriented institution, UCSB offers a diverse selection of opportunities for undergraduates to engage in independent and collaborative research. Getting involved with research is as easy as emailing professors about projects that you find interesting, going to their office hours, or even asking professors directly after lectures. Most professors are eager to connect with students who come to their office hours and welcome students who show interest in their research.

As a quick tip, check out the Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP) directory, which provides information about current research projects, the faculty conducting the research, and their contact information.

I didn’t get involved my freshman year because I considered it a chore and didn’t feel like I fit in. My first year at UCSB consisted of me attending class and retreating to my dorm room to watch Netflix once class was over. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have watched Friends” for the seventh time because the irony was that by the end of my first year, I had no friends. I simply didn’t try hard enough to find a place where I felt comfortable.

As a result, when second year rolled around, I bid farewell to my Netflix account and I embarked on a path towards my true destiny. A year later, I’ve found a home at The Bottom Line as the Campus Beat Reporter and as a member in the Data Science at UCSB club.

Try your best to find an involvement that is right for you. Cast a wider net by going to general meetings for several different clubs, and then narrowing it down to one or two that really speak to your interests. It is at these organizations where you will be able to make friends and expand your social network.

College is a great place to cultivate your social network, and a bigger network equals more professional and personal opportunities. If you thrive off social interaction, make the effort to talk to your fellow Gauchos at parties or stay a few minutes after class to chat with your professor or TA.  

If you’re on the shyer side, there are still plenty of ways to forge close bonds. It can be as easy as attending floor events hosted by your RA, dropping into a club meeting, or even saying a quick hello to the person sitting next to you in class. 

Meeting a variety of diverse people will not only enrich your experience at UCSB but also open up new and exciting doors.

Before I end, I would like to detail some miscellaneous tips, as a Gaucho-style reference guide:

  • Our rival is Cal Poly SLO.
  • Our mascot is a Gaucho but our spirit animal is a raccoon.
  • Our drunk food of choice is buffalo chicken cheese fries.
  • We’ve survived fires, floods, earthquakes, and more.
  • Our Lord and savior is Chancellor Yang.
  • We are beer die (and Gaucho Ball) champions.
  • Couch burning is considered arson.

I know that it may seem cliché to say that your time at college will pass in the blink of an eye, but I say it as someone who regrets losing that time. These are the last few years of real freedom that any of us will experience before we lose ourselves to the shackles of adult life. So take the time to make time!

I’ve said all that I can; the rest is in your hands. Good luck, fresh meat!


A Helpful Gaucho