Throughout high school I was involved in programs like AVID and Upward Bound, both of which are meant to prepare students for higher education. As helpful as they were, they could not have prepared me for some of the harsh realities I’d encounter. Here, I’ve listed four things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Realizing that Universities are Run Like a Business: After enrolling in all of my classes for the 2016 Spring Semester at CSUN, I received an email notifying me that I had been disenrolled from the courses because my financial aid did not cover all of my tuition and I had failed to pay the difference by the deadline. I have always been proactive when it comes to my education, but I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t given at least a warning email. I was frustrated because this meant that I had to pay the difference ASAP in order to re-register for classes, but what was most stressful was knowing that most of them would be closed and I’d be wait-listed. For me it was a huge eye opener because it showed me how much money speaks. At the end of the day American universities are a huge business, I mean the cost of tuition is proof of that alone. I’m just saying it would be nice to see the university take a genuine interest in its students, but maybe that’s just idealistic thinking.
2. Classes Get Full . . . Quick: We’ve all heard about the horrors of late registration and how that can minimize your ability to get the classes you want . . . not to mention potentially delay your graduation date. After taking the introduction class to Coms Studies in Spring 2014, I was convinced that I wanted to declare my minor in this field. I had always been intrigued by the power of language (whether it be verbal, nonverbal, in music, poetry or literature), so to find that there was a whole study that emphasized in human communication was nothing short of a dream. One area that I was interested in learning more about was gender-related communication behavior, which is why I was looking forward to taking Coms 360 (Communication & The Sexes). Little did I know it would take me a year later to finally enroll in the class, here’s hoping it was worth the wait!
3. The Prominence of Sexual Abuse on Campus: While I have never been directly affected by this, hearing about two reported cases of sexual abuse on and off campus during the Fall 2015 semester alone, definitely made me more conscious of my surroundings (note: something I really struggle with) while on campus, particularly during late hours. It was upsetting to me as a young woman and student to see the way the administration handled the aftermath of this. I expected a timely response from the president regarding how the issue would be handled, but students didn’t receive an email from the administration until several days later.
4. Life Changing Experience: Although a lot of what I’ve written above is negative I have to say that looking back on my experience now that this is my last year in college, there have also been plenty of fruitful memories. The classes that I’ve taken, the professors I’ve met and friends I’ve made a long the way have helped me grow into the person I am today. I’ve become a more critical individual and have largely my Coms Studies courses to thank for that. I learned a lot not only from professors, but also from my peers. Hearing different perspectives and considering how someone’s position in life brought them to those conclusions was absolutely interesting. I also learned a lot about myself. Though at times I was super stressed, knowing that I was capable of dealing with everything on my plate was so invigorating. Tuning out other’s opinions about my academic desires was probably the biggest win for me overall. It’s these types of life lessons that I will always take with me.
Words by Zaida Diaz