A first year at college is full of lessons and mistakes that stick with you and help your growth later in life. The City on a Hill Press staff put together a list of some of the experiences they wish they knew about before they began their four-year trek through UC Santa Cruz.


11. Think Twice About That Pizza

Dining halls are notorious for their constant supply of french fries, pizza and other junk food. Eating that stuff everyday will definitely cost you a few pounds and a couple sick days down the road. Try not to skip the fruits and vegetables too often.


10. Forget the Bus, Try a Hike

Living on campus or in the city during your first year at UCSC can be a gift. The campus is surrounded by gorgeous forests, rivers, mountains and wildlife. While you’re waiting for the bus to take you from Biology 20A to your core course, consider taking the time between classes to get some exercise, explore the campus and enjoy the walk. If you’re going somewhere exceeding the distance of a walk, make sure you know the bus schedule. And remember, the 20D route does not go downtown.


9. Chore Wheels Help

Having roommates is a new, and sometimes aggravating, addition to many first-year students’ lives. A poor start to your shared room’s cleanliness can lead to a year of passive aggressive notes about dishes, laundry and personal space. Create a chore wheel to delegate who does what tasks to get ahead of the mess.


8. Enjoy UCSC’s Views

If you took a tour of the campus you likely stopped in front of the Stevenson/Cowell dining hall to see the wondrous view of the Monterey Bay. Campus is full of those beautiful views at the East Field, Family Student Housing, College Eight and Oakes. Take a little time to appreciate that a simple look to the left or right usually meets you with the Central Coast.


7. Dorm Life has Problems and Perks

You’ll likely get frustrated with the communal bathroom, tired of your roommates’ late night gaming tendencies or a little put off by floorwide movie viewings of Finding Nemo. These downsides come with the upsides of living right next to your friends and living down the street from your classes and food.


6. Look Elsewhere for Textbooks

Textbooks are expensive and that extra cost can blindside students who are already spending a fortune to study at UCSC. That’s why you should take advantage of alternate sources for textbooks. Buy from your friends, Amazon or local bookstores such as the Literary Guillotine and Bookshop Santa Cruz. Do so ahead of time. It’s only bad news when you have to choose the most expensive option because you needed your book yesterday.


5. Keep Food in your Dorm Room

Dining halls are not open 24 hours a day, and some are barely open half that time. That’s why you should definitely consider keeping other sources of nourishment for times of emergency hunger. You don’t need a mini fridge next to your dresser, just some apples, cinnamon Pop-Tarts and some delicious vanilla granola. All foods are a plus, but it doesn’t hurt to be healthy.


4. Higher Library Floors, Quietest Study Spaces

If you need a quiet place to put eyes to books and pen to paper you should look no further than McHenry Library. Even during midterms and finals, the fourth floor is the place to go for the silence necessary to take in every province and region of China for that Politics of East Asia test at 10 a.m. the next morning. The library also has a great media center and a basement floor that allows for a really focused study session.


3. Make Use of the Gym

You’ll have a list of obstacles that will stand between you and a healthy dose of exercise throughout your life, but during your time at Santa Cruz a gym membership will not be one of those things. Part of your student fees are allocated for the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS), so take advantage of it. Play racquetball, run the track, lift weights or whatever may tickle your active fancy.


2. Go to Office Hours

Lecture, section and those hours in the middle of the night and early in the morning when you finish homework are not the only times in your college career that you should be ready to learn. Professors are paid to hold office hours as a chance for you to tap into their years of experience in whatever field you’re interested in. Take that opportunity to see what they have to say — it might make this whole college thing worth it.


1. Take Advantage of Campus Resources

College is about so much more than just attending class. There are cultural groups, fraternities, sororities and identity-based organizations, activist groups, film organizations, intramural and club sports teams, as well as employment, writing and internship opportunities. These groups are how many students find their friends, fun, and passion. Classes only take up so much of your time, so make sure to spend the rest of it wisely.


Have any advice you wish you would have known your first year? Add it in the comments section below!