When I was a freshman, I continually had 8 a.m. classes each quarter, so my day would begin with waking up so early the bathrooms were not even crowded yet. I would get dressed in the dark as to not awaken my lucky roommates who had later classes. So sometimes, my clothes would be awfully mismatched.
Then I would go to Bruin Café to get either the fruit cup, yogurt parfait or sometimes indulge in sweetness with an iced vanilla latte and mocha chocolate muffin (so, so good!). I lived at Hedrick Hall, so I preferred to take the route towards Sunset Boulevard to get to campus instead of walking through the busy and hilly Bruin Walk. Strolling to class, usually at Haines Hall or Anderson School for my economics and management classes, I looked ahead at the campus to see Royce and Powell peeking out and thought, “wow, I cannot believe I am actually here.” As all these cheesy thoughts ran through my mind, I slowly forgot about how I was struggling in classes.
Sitting in a lecture hall with 200 other students while the professor is talking so fast was extremely overwhelming. All the statistics and relationships between models being thrown at me was like drowning in quicksand of information. While everyone else was feverishly jotting down notes and asking brilliant questions, I was completely lost. Why did I choose this class with this professor? What do I need to do to absorb this information more effectively? Where do I get tutoring?
Learning how to enroll in good classes with great professors and creating a schedule that best suits me (like knowing which time of day my brain is most productively thoughtful and making time for a workstudy job and more fun activities) has become a skill. So many times, I have been late for my enrollment time. I do check on URSA to know when my time is, but I always forget to write the time down and hence, I enroll later by 30 minutes or so. It is very important to take advantage of your enrollment time because good classes fill up the quickest.
Before choosing a class, I would do a bit of research on the professor and class by logging onto BruinWalk to read the reviews of that specific professor from previous students who took the class. While these reviews are biased, sometimes they reveal the syllabus and grading scheme. I know that I like to do homework to improve my grade, so I am scared of classes that just have one midterm and one final. I would stray away from those classes. I tend to pick classes where the final grade is separated into more than just two categories. Also, BruinWalk is helpful for buying used books from students who already took the classes. I can even post listings of my own books to sell.
After doing a bit of research on the classes and professors, I would create a schedule that best suits me. I always have back-up classes just in case I do not get one of the classes I really wanted. Lastly, I talk to others about the classes I like and look around to see if anyone else will take them too. Having study buddies is the best way to earn good grades: You have someone to sit with in class so you do not fall asleep; you can do homework and study together.
Once I enroll for classes, I do not buy my books until I attend those classes to make sure I really want to commit a whole quarter to them. It is always good to know the syllabus and grade scheme before committing to a class. If I cannot be available for the midterms and finals, I cannot take those classes.
For fall quarter, I tend to buy a book or two at the UCLA student store just so I can get the little booklet of coupons to use around the stores on campus. Previous coupons were for free candy or free chips or one-dollar coffee or 25 percent off this and that.
But where I mostly buy my books is the little textbook store in Westwood called Textbook Plus. All the books there are used and at least 10 dollars cheaper. But these days Amazon has free two-day shipping for students! Some professors will require course readers that are only sold on Broxton in Westwood so remember that if you have cash to buy these course readers, you will move very quickly to the cash line instead of waiting for an hour in the credit card line. Other course readers will be sold at the UCLA bookstore.
Enrolling in classes and buying books are relatively easy compared to studying and earning As. Luckily, if you are a “south” (the sciences such as math, biology, physics, chemistry) campus major, there are tutoring opportunities everywhere. In Campbell Hall first floor, AAP is where students can sign up for tutoring. Some students are part of the Academic Advancement Placement program and hence reap all the benefits that AAP offers, so make sure to find out if you are part of AAP to take advantage of free tutoring and counseling.
If you live in the dorms, Covel Commons has tutoring for the sciences too. Make sure to attend professor and TA office hours to get additional help. If you are an English or History major or any major that requires lots of essay writing, make sure you run your ideas and thesis by your professors and TAs beforehand.
The libraries Powell, Young, and Anderson are great for serious studying and cramming, but there are so many other places such as the Art Library that is attached to Public Affairs building, the homework room in Physics and Astronomy Building, the Student Math Center in the Math Sciences Building and my favorite: the English Reading Room in Humanities Building. Many students become involved at the Student Activities Center too. It is a great resource for everything you need whether pertaining to academics or community services. Pretty much any building you walk into, you will find a quiet spot to study or just to sit and think.
In addition to academics, work experience is heavily significant too. Many students have the option to apply for a workstudy job. Edit your resume and go onto fao.ucla.edu and apply for as many jobs as you can. Study conventional interview questions and remember to dress business casual and you are set to score a job! If you do not have workstudy, you can look around on campus for job listings or go to the UCLA store to ask if they are hiring. If you are looking for an internship, depend on BruinView for listings.
One of the most important buildings on campus is Murphy Hall, so familiarize yourself with it. Murphy Hall is where you can talk to general counselors, order transcripts, pay bills, sign up for scholarships or travel abroad. The financial office is located in Murphy (but closed on Thursdays). The Students with Disabilities office is there too where you can sign up to be a notetaker and earn a stipend of 100 dollars for each course. The workstudy office is at Murphy if you have urgent questions.
If you venture outside of campus into Westwood, you will have lots of fun too. You can eat at In-n-Out, Diddy Reese (ice cream sandwiches for $1.50), Red Mango (frozen yogurt for 30 cents an ounce), Gushi (my favorite), Yamato (fancy) and Noodle Planet. You can shop at Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and Top Shoes. There is the farmer’s market each Wednesday too!
I have too many favorite spots on campus to relax with friends or to read. When I think of UCLA, images of the fresh grass all around Janss Steps, the cool breezes at the sculpture garden, the sounds of water hitting rocks at the inverted fountain, the roof of Physics and Astronomy and the balconies at Royce come to mind.
Every spot at UCLA is picturesque. No matter where I settle down to relax, it will be the perfect spot because UCLA is just so beautiful. Sometimes I will sit on benches around the North Campus Student Store or Lu Valle or Ackerman to watch people go by. Other times I will sit under a tree at Janss Steps. If I want sunrays, I will lay on the edges of the inverted fountain and hear the fountain run.
UCLA even has its own botanical gardens near the Denistry School. In one of my first English classes, the teacher took us there to read our poetry out loud. I think that I could walk with my eyes closed from Campbell Hall where I work to Dodd Hall for Economics classes to Haines Hall for discussion classes and past Powell Library towards Janss Steps to head back to my dorm room.
As I am writing about UCLA, I cannot help smiling because life at UCLA is wonderful. I am about to embark on my last year at UCLA and already am feeling nostalgic. UCLA is easily the best thing that has happened in my life, thus far.
Blogs: Spirited Bruin
Life as a Bruin
By Tien Thuy Ho
Article posted on 9/13/2011
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