Recent Grad Offers Glimpse Into College Life

Rachel LinRachel Lin served as the Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) last school year when she was a Howard High School senior. As a product of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), Lin took with her the work ethic and confidence necessary to thrive in college. She is now a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley and intends to double major in political science and business. Here she shares how HCPSS prepared her for college and describes some of her early experiences.

One year ago I was sitting in my home in Ellicott City, Maryland writing a post for Dr. Foose’s blog about being elected as the Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) and my ideas for the future of Howard County students. Today, I am sitting in my dorm room in Berkeley, California writing a post for Dr. Foose’s blog about my college experiences at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).

Flying across the country to attend college was something I was nervous about. I didn’t have restless nights about choosing a college, but I did cry in my guidance counselor’s office the day college decisions needed to be made because I didn’t know what choice to make. I was scared to attend a school so far away from my lifelong childhood home because I knew I would have to be independent coming to California, and generally I did not know how to handle being an “adult.” Having spent three months at UC Berkeley, I can say that I am having an awesome time here. I have made a bunch of friends from different parts of California as well as out of state and international students. I even met a guy from Loyola Blakefield, a private school in Baltimore. As fellow Marylanders, we know some of the same people, which is super neat because it is a taste of home.

While making my college decision choice, I went in with the mindset that I could be successful anywhere. I had a strong work ethic and desire to be involved in high school, and knew this would continue into college. I am an intern in the Office of ASUC Senator Jay Choi. ASUC stands for the Associated Students of the University of California, which is basically the student government for the entire school. In addition to ASUC, I was also elected as my Residence Hall’s Residence Hall Assembly (RHA) representative. As RHA rep for my building, I bring my constituents’ voices and issues to the larger assembly where we vote on different sponsorship and legislation bills. In addition, I was selected to attend a leadership conference at the University of Southern California. The conference is called Pacific Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (PACURH) and many different west coast schools attended.

For high school students who plan on attending college: develop your study habits now and listen to the advice of your teachers and parents. In college, you will have midterms, a final and an essay, and these basically determine your entire grade for the course. Along with this there are a ton of new distractions. Instead of having weekends where you can do homework, you’re in the dorm with other people and having club meetings. Time management is the key to success: you can have a great college experience while balancing studying, friends and having fun. My 12 years in HCPSS has engrained a serious work ethic within me that has helped me in high school and college.

Overall, I feel like college has helped me become more independent and learn how to handle responsibilities. I can no longer rely on my parents because I am not going back to Maryland until winter break. I do miss my family, friends, cats and Maryland in general, but on the west coast I am becoming the person I want to be, while having a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Very soon l I am flying back to the east coast and will be done with my first semester at UC Berkeley. Oh how time flies!