Curated by Amy Hammer
One of the best parts of working with soon-to-be college students is sharing personal experiences to help illustrate the experience they are about to have. This month the contributors were asked, “What is your favorite college memory that you like sharing with prospective students?”
JULIO MATA – MIAMI UNIVERSITY
I love sharing the story of the first time I visited my alma mater, Bowling Green State University, when I am talking to students about the college search.
This tour that had all of the potential of scaring me away from leaving the comfort of South Texas. It was a cold day in December and my parents were less than thrilled at the idea of walking around a college campus in freezing temperatures. As we ventured out with the tour, I noticed that it was starting to snow. After that, I think I caught 30 seconds of what the tour guide talked about because I was so enamored by the falling snow on the BGSU campus. By the end of the tour, maybe half an inch of snow had accumulated and I was rolling around in it with my friends that were on the tour with me. Afterwards, it seemed like everywhere we went in Bowling Green, we were recognized as the visiting Texans who were playing in the “snow”. To this day, I have no idea how word spread so fast in the small town without social media. Regardless, that visit showed me how much I wanted to be a part of a college town community, something I had never considered up until that point in my college search.
JOEL ONTIVEROS – UCLA
My college years were scattered with football games at the Rose Bowl, celebrity sightings around Westwood, spontaneous trips from Arizona to New York, and some of the best memories with lifelong friends. However, my favorite story I share with students will always be how I entered UCLA as a Mechanical Engineering student and left as a double major in Communication Studies and World Arts & Cultures/Dance.
During high school, I always loved my math and physics classes more than anything else, and I felt confident to pursue engineering when I was applying to colleges. After starting at UCLA, the classes surely were tough and challenged me more than my high school curriculum, but the great part about college is being able to engage with your studies outside of the classroom.
I was lucky enough to start working in a Materials Science lab my second quarter as a Freshman on campus. Alongside a few other undergraduates and mentored by graduate students, we were able to bend, pull, and break various metal types to calculate their stress and strain potentials. At first thought, this sounded very fun and engaging! Getting to use machines to pull and break copper, aluminum, titanium, and other metals seemed like a great way to build a foundation in materials engineering. However, after just two quarters of working in the lab, I could tell that I wasn’t enjoying engineering as much as I hoped by being involved with research.
It was after I stopped working in my engineering lab that I applied to be a UCLA campus tour guide. The rest was history, as I haven’t stopped my work with prospective students and their families visiting campus and learning about the admissions process. After realizing my passion lied in higher education, I applied to the Communication Studies program and then later into the Dance program (to satisfy my academic interests alongside my personal interests).
The average college student will change their major 2 to 3 times, and for a student just graduating high school, it is very unlikely they will know EXACTLY what they want to do for years to come (whether that be a passion, major, or career field). To all my students, take your time in college to explore the vast realm of academics (both in and outside of the classroom) to find exactly what you enjoy learning or love to do. Classes will give you great insight into any given area, but be sure to get involved in an internship, research, or part-time job to understand what it will be like to live that passion of yours day in and day out once your university experience has ended.