As most of you may or may not know from reading my posts, I have mentioned how this upcoming year will be my third and final year at UCLA. Yes, you read that right. I’m graduating a year early. Why/how would I do that, might you care to ask? Well, to start things off, I went to an amazing high school that allowed me to take both high school and college classes at the same time. It’s called Middle College High School @ Santa Ana College. I had the privilege to attend a high school that would allow me to take college courses for free. Many high school students take college courses throughout their high school experience, but unlike Middle College, it is not part of their high school curriculum. Because I had that immense opportunity, I took well advantage and earned my Associate in Arts (A.A.) Degree before I graduated high school. Imagine that. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my teachers, counselor, principal, and family.
When I entered UCLA, I had already fulfilled most of the G.E. requirements that are required for an incoming freshman to fulfill on top of their major requirements. So in fact, I was a First-Year student with transfer credit. Technically, I could have applied as a transfer student but that would have narrowed me down to only 2 years at UCLA. My experience as a freshmen student was very unique. I did not have to take most of the classes that my friends had to take. I had already taken college level courses in television, math, chemistry, history, english, and foreign language. Therefore, I had already completed most of the GE requirements that span from English to math to Physical Sciences. So what are the negatives and positives of all this you may ask? Are there any negatives? Well, I have thought a lot about this week’s topic and I’m going to do my best to list all of them down… 🙂
– You do not take a lot of classes with people your same age. Since I had most of my GE course credits fulfilled, I started taking major-related courses which are normally taken by students already in their 2nd-4th year. Most of the students in my classes had already had a year of experience as a UCLA student so I did not take most of my first-year classes with my friends who entered UCLA during the same year that I did. However, this can also be twisted into a positive since you make a lot of friends who can give you plenty of advice on which courses are interesting, which teachers are helpful, and on everything else ranging from studying habits to their experience as a Bruin. I personally met A LOT of older students than me that I looked up to and went to for advice. This has made my UCLA experience that much more AMAZING :D.
– UCLA has a unit cap limit of 216 units. If you enter with almost 90 college credits like I did, then you do not have a lot of leeway to take courses in different departments if you are still undecided about your major. This is the biggest negative that I would take from entering with a lot of college credit. As an entering freshman, I was undecided between Philosophy, Psychology, and Sociology. So I did not have a lot of opportunity to really test the waters and really get a feel of what each major was like. A solution I would advise you on to try would be to look into departmental courses that are required as part of the major or look up job-related occupations that have to do with the majors you are looking into. This gives you more of an outlook on what you are facing as a student entering with college credit.
-Let’s be real, you save LOTS of money. I know they say money should not interfere with your education (and I am a true supporter of that statement), but it’s hard to ignore the financial aspect. I saved myself A YEAR of college expenses. YAY!
-I got most of the General Education classes out of the way. Those classes are usually large in comparison to the more major-dedicated courses which are usually smaller. This gives you more of the one on one attention from your professors and teaching assistants that we as college students long for. This is one of the biggest perks that I got as an entering student who did not have big lecture classes as most of my friends did.
-You have more leeway to choose your schedule. Because you are a freshman with college credit, it gives you an earlier registration date. This means A LOT to a college student. As a freshman, I almost had junior standing during my second quarter so my registration date was a day or two before most of my friends. BOY WAS I LUCKY!
-You have the best of both worlds. You have your friends who you met at Orientation, are first-years like you, meet at the dorms, etc. BUT you also have your older friends who are transfer students or are a year into their UCLA academic career and can give you helpful advice. I would say this is one of the biggest benefits that I had. I have had the opportunity to meet wonderful students who are going through completely different experiences from me. When you meet people who come from all walks of life, it helps you better understand the way college works. This is what has helped me become a more competitive and proud Bruin.
Those are some of the negatives and positives that I have taken on coming in to UCLA with college credit. Technically, I could have graduated in 2 years…and I was going to at first until I fell more and more in love with the campus. I decided to stay an extra year and take advantage of the opportunities offered to me at UCLA. I am majoring in Sociology and getting a minor in Public Affairs. As excited as I am to graduate and earn my Bachelor’s Degree, I am sad because this upcoming year is my last. I have met so many amazing people that have helped me grow as a person. College has been amazing to me. These past two years have been life changing. I can just feel that this upcoming year is going to be amazing in so many ways. I’m going in with a positive attitude and I’m going to make the best out of what I have left of my undergrad years! In about two weeks from now, I move into my apartment and start becoming even more independent. Cheers to an amazing and EPIC year!!! 😀