The first time you glimpsed those magic words on your screen, you probably couldn’t believe it, especially if you were part of the admitted class of 2021.
“Congratulations, Regina! You have been admitted to the University of California, Davis, for fall quarter 2017.”
Okay, so maybe part of the disbelief was you shaking your head at the screen and confirming that your name wasn’t Regina. But regardless, being admitted to any UC, most likely felt like a huge accomplishment.
However, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of excitement at heading to UC Davis. As a result, the grades you’ve worked so hard to maintain? They won’t look anything like your first quarter grades, and not in a good way.
Here are some tips to avoid the dreaded first quarter slump.
1) Don’t overload on units.
UC Davis requires that students take a minimum of 12 units to be considered a full-time student, but you usually need 13 units to stay on track to graduate in four years. Four years. You have four years, and another eleven quarters, to overload on units. Just don’t do it your first quarter, because it’s already a task adjusting to the speed of the quarter system. Add on finding new friends and social groups, exploring (and yes, that includes partying), and making time for your hobbies, and you won’t sleep at all. Use the first quarter to find your place at UC Davis, so you can feel better equipped – both friend and grade-wise – to buckle down next quarter and knock out your classes.
2) Don’t take a science class unless you absolutely have to.
A word of caution: this might not be the most popular or touted piece of advice.
The UC Davis crowning glory, followed closely by its College of Agricultural Sciences.If you only have to take a few intro science courses as a prereq for your major or as for your science GE requirement, do not take a science class your first quarter.
First off, getting into one is a hassle, to say the least.
Second of all, if you do get into one, you will most likely be left with the most unpalatable – unless you are one of the rarest of our kind: a morning person – option, a.k.a. the dreaded 7:30 a.m.
Lastly, the introductory science, especially chem and physics, teachers put students through the wringer, (see RateMyProfessor, and you’ll find out why); maybe struggling in a subject will light a fire under your ass, but it’s also extremely disheartening and being disappointed in yourself is definitely not the best way to start off your Davis career.
3) Be careful with the general ed class you take.
Speaking of GEs, they are the silent and unexpected GPA killers. During orientation, you get a list of recommended GEs: ask people on the UC Davis Reddit or in the UCD Facebook groups about their experiences. Just gather others’ stories before picking any old GE that looks good.
Check out the professors on RateMyProfessor, which will become your best friend.
Then be prepared to struggle, even if all sources say otherwise: A lot of GEs, such as MUS 10, seem deceptively easy, but are not, so choose wisely!
4) Go to office hours.
Ah, the tried and true four words you will hear again and again and again. There’s a reason why, though: because office hours are a godsend. Professors suddenly become twice as nice as they were in lecture, and answers, or at the very least hints, will rain down on you in bucketloads, which is particularly important to keep you sane if you’re struggling in any of your classes.
Plus, it’s a lot easier to talk to professors one on one than it is to raise your hand in a three-hundred person lecture hall, and getting to know them as people also furthers your chances of landing a research position or snagging a well-written, detailed letter of recommendation should you need it.
5) Explore the city and try, try, try to make friends.
Some of your best college moments will be spontaneous trips to downtown with friends or late night study sessions that are really 90% personal conversation and lame jokes, 10% actual studying.
If you’re an introvert, meeting people is daunting, especially given the overwhelming size of Davis. It’s all about putting yourself into situations where you’re forced to talk to people and show off your personality, whether that means going to a midterm study group, joining a Facebook messenger group for your dorm or apartment, or rushing.
Davis is a walking and biking-friendly city, and public transportation – the Unitrans bus, free for all students with their Aggie ID – runs pretty much everywhere in the area. There are a lot of ways to get around the area, and doing so not only provides a welcome break from putting your nose in books and inhaling dining commons food all day, but also helps you find your place faster.
Though adjusting to the quarter system and to college life can be difficult, hopefully these tips provide a helpful glimpse into what you can do to have a successful start to your first quarter at UC Davis!