Skip to content

Life at UC Davis: From The Hills of Dublin to the Flats of Davis

October 27, 2010

by Kevin Cappa (Dublin High Class of 2010, University of California – Davis Freshman)

Kevin Cappa (right)

I graduated Dublin High School in 2010 and started my college journey this Fall at the University of California – Davis.  My major is biomedical engineering and as a result I’m going to be taking lots of math, science and engineering courses. Not surprisingly, I like numbers and facts, so let’s start with some:

  • About half of the people who live in Davis are students.
  • Davis invented the bike lane, and has bike lanes or bike paths everywhere. And if there is somewhere too far away to bike there is an amazing bus system that is free to UC Davis students.
  • Davis is as flat as a pancake, making it even more bicycle friendly.
  • One out of every 315 Californians is a UCD Alumnus.
  • Davis is (geographically) the largest UC.

When you put all of these things together, you get a complete college immersion experience. It seems like everything in Davis is college. You go downtown and all of the restaurants have lunch buffets, and all of the cafes are filled with students on computers studying away. In the dining commons, a lot of the food is grown locally, moved as little as possible to maximize freshness and minimize the carbon footprint. Davis is a world where everyone is young, and striving to learn. A world of freedom.

This freedom is probably the hardest part about college life. You are in class a lot less, and you become your own supervisor. There is no one to tell you what to do or when to do it. When you are in high school, every day is (more or less) the same. You wake up and go to school at eight o’clock. You eat lunch around 12:15 and at 2:40 you go home and start your homework until your parents feed you dinner. When you come to college that all changes. For starters, every day is different. You might have four classes one after the other on Monday, and then only one class on Tuesday. And on Wednesday you might have all the same lectures as Monday but different discussions. Every day requires you to create a unique schedule, and you have to keep to that schedule and remember what time you need to wake up and what time you need to be places, because your classes might not lie right next to each other – you can have an hour break in between, a two-hour break or even an eight-hour break between a morning class and a night class.

And in all of this time management, you actually have more time to yourself. In high school, you are in school for about six hours (if you take out lunch) every day. In college, you might be in class for six hours one day, but not every day. You are in class a lot less than in high school. The question is what do you do with your time. No one (except maybe your more responsible friends) will tell you to do your homework or study. No one will remind you about assignments, you have to take total control of your responsibilities and time. You have to manage everything, or no one will even make you go to class.

Not only do you have to manage your time, you have to manage your budget. Unless you have unlimited money from your parents, there are a lot more things you need to focus on spending. In high school, all you really have to spend money on is going out with friends or maybe buying clothes. In college, you have that to budget for plus laundry detergent, soap, trash bags, groceries, books, testing supplies, and you need to keep money in case of an emergency, like when your bike breaks down or something else unexpected comes up.

You have to manage everything. You need to be aware of what you are doing, how you are spending your time and money, You need to seek out any help you need because it won’t be spoon-fed to you. If you are failing all of your quizzes in chemistry, no one will have a meeting with you and your parents talking about what can be done to help you. YOU need to attend an extra set of lectures, YOU need to study and do all of your homework, YOU need to go to office hours of your professor and TA. No one is helping you any more.

My professor told me that the difference between K-12 and university is that K-12 is all about fitting in. You learn to fit in socially, you learn to fit in academically, you learn to become part of society, you learn what is and what is not okay, you learn how to interact, you learn how to make friends, you learn how to fit in.

In university, you learn how to stand out. You learn how to take control of your life, you learn how be academically individualistic, you take chances, you stand out. In the real world, you don’t get a job by fitting in, you get a job by standing out.

That is what you learn in university.

Other articles in the Life in College series: