Editorial: Dear First-Year Highlander: The Water’s Fine

Courtesy of UCR Today
Courtesy of UCR Today

A student’s first week on campus can be summed up as a sensory overload-induced daze. If it weren’t for some merciful professors’ generous first-day-of-class syllabus review to buffer the summer slog from the quarter system’s staccato assault of midterms and papers, you’d find a pile of overwhelmed, exhausted first-years on the HUB lawn stacked as high as the Box Springs Mountains.

In the spirit of honesty, we’ll put it plainly: the first quarter is tough. Regardless of where you come from—high school, community college, another university, a career or some time taken off—life at the University of California, Riverside takes an adjustment. Being a Highlander takes effort.

Give yourself some time to adapt. A 12 unit quarter will feel like a lot, at first. Between lectures, discussions, labs, office hours, studies and papers, a freshman’s plate, however small now, is pretty full. But if there is one message an upperclassman may give to the class of newcomers, it’s don’t delay.

Whomever you may be, whichever path you end up taking, the university offers a stunning array of opportunities to pursue your goals, achieve them and create new ones.

However, the single greatest obstacle that will keep you from succeeding at UCR is yourself.

It can be very easy to settle into a routine and develop a comfort zone based upon familiarity. It’s just as easy to coast through college without having soaked up everything it has to offer. Don’t find yourself putting on your cap and gown on commencement day, wondering what else you could have done or where else your education could have led you.

The responsibility of realizing your potential at UCR lies solely in your hands.

Join a club or organization, paint your face at an athletic event, go to an open-mic night, climb to the “C,” write a thesis, learn to play an instrument, start a band, volunteer, take the bus downtown, make an idea become a reality, do research, participate in the democratic process, go to parties, get to know your professors, make new friends, do an internship, read a book written by a UCR professor, study abroad, ask out that attractive classmate across the room, get a job, attend guest lectures, change your major, add a major, join an intramural sports team, be a peer mentor, try new things.

UCR is a wide, shimmering pool of possibility, risk, growth and progress. You can convince yourself it’s too cold, or too deep. You can wade in the shallow end as long as you like. But there will come a time when the lifeguard will blow the whistle, and you’ll have to get out and dry off.

At some point during the next few years, take a step back, get a running start and make the leap. Tuck your knees under your arms and do the biggest cannonball you possibly can. Send those waves so far they dampen carpets from Hinderaker to Glen Mor.

And once you have, leave yourself enough time to splash those still standing on the edge and tell them the water’s fine. Once they’ve taken the plunge, they’ll be glad you did.

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