Many students show up for their first day of college wide-eyed and unaware of what will happen during the next four years. Prowl talked to five seniors who have survived the four years of frat parties, horror story roommates, scary professors and the terror of midterms and finals to tell the tale — and give college advice, share experiences and reveal what they wish they had known or done differently.
Jonathan Hernandez, senior business administration major, Captain of Chapman Men’s baseball team.
From: San Mateo, California
My one regret is that I never got to study abroad, but as a college athlete I knew I could never do it. I never thought it would be something I wanted to do but after hearing friends experiences I would have loved to immerse myself in a new culture.
College is a learning experience, but not all my lessons came from the classroom. I became more independent learning how to cook, clean and budget money.
I never had a problem getting classes. It helped being a student athlete, and all the teachers were very understanding. So I would find a friend who has the same major and take your classes together so you have a study buddy and keep each other accountable.
I would tell freshman that you can treat these four years as party years and waste your time and be screwed for the real world or you can take classes seriously and be in a position after school to make good money and have fun for the rest of your life. You have to have a balance. If you want, you can find a party pretty much every day of the week, but you don’t need that. Get your work done and have fun on the weekend.
Sara Utsugi, communication major, libero on Chapman Women’s Volleyball team.
From: Aiea, Hawaii
I wish I had opened myself up sooner and taken advantage of more opportunities. I was pretty closed off my freshman year, so I wish I had let more people in sooner. I also wish that I stopped using volleyball as an excuse not to do things. I told myself that I was tired and didn’t have time to get involved, but if I had really made time to, I could have done so many more things.
I learned that seasons of life come and go so to not be upset or discouraged when things don’t go to plan because there is always something around the corner. I also learned that friendships — the true, lasting, tough-love friendships — are precious and require care and nurturing. And finally, I learned that it’s okay to be selfish. In fact, it’s necessary to be selfish when it comes to the love you show yourself and time you pour into your own growth because in the end, without self love and self respect it’s really hard to live your version of a full and meaningful life.
One reason I came to a smaller school was to avoid the scramble for classes and teacher attention. I would suggest creating at least two or three class schedule options just in case you can’t get in. Also, in the days leading up to your registration date, it’s a good idea to check back in on classes and see which ones are filling up. As for doing well in classes, my best tip is to show up for class both physically and mentally.
It was tempting to blow off homework and studying for hanging with friends, but I am the type of person who will always get my work done — it just might get done at 2 a.m. Find a balance between saying yes and no to invitations but do say yes. The late night runs to Pizza Press and 3 a.m. dorm room hangouts are the memories that you’ll take with you after college is over.
Henry Miller Mein, senior creative writing major
From: San Jose, California
I learned to be more of a people person. A college like Chapman brings with it hundreds of outlets of students and organizations and I was able to build many different connections with diverse students. Whether planning a concert or selling pickles at Picklefest, I managed to influence a lot of people.
Getting to know your professors is always important. This way you can develop a relationship early on. My plan in picking classes has always been to try to be early in registering, but if I’m waitlisted for a class I’ll try to go in and talk to the professor because it is likely you’ll be able to get in.
Try to make a connection with everyone you meet. Some might be small and end up not leading to anything, but a small interaction could also blossom into a long lasting friendship. Knowing a handful of people can help you work through college in times of need.
Serena Steele, senior communication studies major
From: Ontario, California
I wasn’t as involved on campus as much as I would’ve liked to, in part due to that I work a lot during the week.
I learned that my worldview is capable of changing every now and then. Classes and people here have challenged the way I think about myself and life. I come from a low-income, single mother household. There are so many different types of people here with a dissimilar background from mine. I’ve learned that I can’t change some people’s conceptions about welfare or low-income areas, but I can take what they taught me and grow from that.
Learning to ask for help when needed really helps. If you’re struggling with mental health or having familial issues, talk to your professors. Most of them will care and try to help. Also, don’t take any classes before 9 a.m.
You will probably never find the perfect balance. Some weeks, you will probably go out and party every night. Sometimes you’ll be stuck in the library for hours, eyes straining and fingers pounding away at your keyboard trying to make that 11:59 p.m. deadline. Don’t punish yourself over going out, because you need a good story to tell years down the line about that crazy thing you did as a freshman.
Reed Nakakihara, senior double major in accounting and business administration,
From: Santa Ana, California
I’ve learned a lot in college and one of the biggest is time management. From having to study, to going to basketball practice, to hanging out with friends, to doing laundry and cooking food, there is just so much to do. I’m thankful that I had to struggle with all of these things because it made me appreciate and respect what other people endure in life that have way more going on.
My best advice would be to take the classes that interest you. Don’t be so obsessed with the letter grade, rather, focus on understanding the big concepts and how you can use it to help you in the future.
Balance is a big part of freshmen year. You don’t want to have too much of one or the other. Obviously, your academics are important and should come first. My best advice is to work hard in the classroom and then reward yourself by having a good time with your friends whenever you can. As long as that doesn’t become a priority over academics, you will be just fine.