University Advice from a (Former) Dropout

It’s come to my attention that those who have applied to university for this coming school year are getting their offers. So I thought I would share a bit of my wisdom, if you can call it that.

Around this time in 2011, it all came down to UCLA and UC Berkeley. I visited both campuses, experienced the dorm life, and attended a class or two; and ended up loving both of them. However I felt much more at home in Los Angeles, maybe because I’m a child of Southern California and I was used to the general environment. Even though I liked Berkeley, I felt so out of place and a little uncomfortable. In the end I ended up choosing the later.

You wanna know why?

Because it was Berkeley, one of the highest-ranked universities in the world. I thought that if I went to such a renowned university I’d be set. What a complete mistake that was because when I was actually there, I hated it. After the first few months, I was completely miserable and flew back to San Diego every single month. And maybe it had to do with my depression and anxiety, but even when they were dormant I was indifferent at best.

Roadtrip to UC Berkeley, Oct 2013
Roadtrip to UC Berkeley, Oct 2013

And so I’ll tell you something that’s probably obvious: Don’t ever ever ever ever ever choose a university because of the glory that’s associated with the name. In fact, don’t choose a university because a good friend of yours is going or your parents want you to. I know that some parents have had a university picked out for their child since he/she was born and were dead set on their child going, but the parents aren’t the ones attending the school.

You’re going to be spending the next four, or maybe five, years at that school so it’s important you choose the right one for you even if it’s not your first choice. My first choice was actually Stanford but I visited the campus, spent some time there and realized that I didn’t like it at all. The campus was gorgeous and the professors seemed knowledgable and interesting, but it just wasn’t for me. At least I made the right decision there.

I’m no counselor but I hope I did help a little. I don’t want anyone to make the same mistakes I made when choosing a university. I have a lot more advice but I guess I’ll save that for when uni actually begins.

One last thing: go with your gut.


3 thoughts on “University Advice from a (Former) Dropout

  1. Good advice. Although I went to a UC just to be able to say I went to a UC. Out of curiosity, what didn’t you like about Berkeley? I grew up in the Bay Area and my dad works in Berkeley, so I’m familiar with the area.

    1. Hello!

      I just felt completely out of place while I was there. I didn’t feel as comfortable as I thought I would. So I ended up feeling quite alienated after my first few weeks. I mean academic-wise it was just challenging enough that it kept me on my feet and interested, but even after two years I just couldn’t find a way to make the environment feel at least a little like home. Days there felt like weeks and I could never wait to leave.

      When I spent about a week or so in UCLA, I immediately found a place where I fit in. I found friends who had similar personalities and interests. I actually still talk to those people I met. The professors were also quite knowledgeable and interesting; and classes were challenging as well. So… I completely regret not choosing to go there.

      By the way, I liked San Francisco! Every once in a while I’d find the time to go and visit a friend who went to SFSU. It was so lovely there and I liked the weather.

      – Deirdre

      1. I can see it being hard to find a crowd if you aren’t into the whole, umm, “hippie” scene (can’t think of how else to describe it). I’m sure there are other types of crowds there, as there are in any University, but I bet it’s tough if you don’t like the city all that much.
        I don’t like San Francisco or Berkeley too much. They’re nice to visit, because they have awesome used book stores, record stores, places to eat, and venues, but I wouldn’t be able to live there. Same goes for LA, except I don’t even like to visit that city, really.
        Interesting to get an outsiders perspective on Berkeley.

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