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Life in College at UCLA – Pursuing Collegiate Dreams in the City of Angels

May 8, 2013

by Ronil Bhatia (Dublin High School Class of 2012 and UCLA freshman)

Ronil (right) and friends

Ronil (right) and friends

Making the decision to attend UCLA for my undergraduate degree came pretty easily for me. I remember walking onto the campus, looking around at all the beautiful architecture and innately knowing this is where I would want to spend my next four years. The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly (and mostly attractive), the food was delicious – it just felt right. I have always loved the city of Los Angeles and something told me it was the place I needed to be in order to pursue my dreams to their maximum potential.

Life at UCLA is pretty great. The food is almost always ranked among the top 5 if not top 3 in studies done regarding dining at public universities throughout the country. There are good dining halls, a couple of cafes which serve different sandwiches, wraps and even personal pizzas, as well as my personal favorite, Rendezvous, a restaurant that serves a good variety of Mexican food along with Panda Express style Asian food. The weather is great throughout most of the year making it popular for students to go kick a soccer ball or relax in the pool at Sunset Recreation Center. One of the things that has made my experience at UCLA really great was getting to join the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity the first week I got to school. Doing so allowed me to immediately surround myself with brothers who I held similar values with and jump into all the action at UCLA, from socializing with sororities to enjoying brotherhood tailgates before the big football games. One of my favorite memories since I’ve come to UCLA has to be the moment when we beat USC at the Rose Bowl and all the craziness that ensued afterwards (censored for the purposes of this article).

I have had good and bad experiences with classes since I’ve come to UCLA. While some of the lectures I’ve had to attend have been extremely mundane and boring others have been fascinating and thought-provoking. Some assignments I’ve had to do have felt like a complete waste of time whereas others have been valuable and enjoyable. One option that freshman students at UCLA have is to take a year-long general education cluster which will fulfill 4 of your GE requirements as well as a Writing II requirement. I chose to take a cluster about the city of Los Angeles and while I found the lecture of this class to be excruciating at times, a lot of the assignments were very interesting as they involved exploring the vast and dynamic city through means of public transportation. What’s incredible is that you can attend college at UCLA for 4 years and never actually see LA. UCLA is located in a part of Los Angeles called Westwood, and while it is a cool town to explore with a lot of great different places to eat, simply exploring Westwood does not give you a true picture of Los Angeles, one of the most diverse and dynamic cities in the world. This class allowed me to gain a more in-depth understanding of Los Angeles and how it came to be the city it is today.

Since coming to UCLA I have learned so much. College is really a transition from the dependent stage of your life, where you rely on your parents for most things, to an independent stage where you really have to be on top of everything and be able to get things done on your own. When clean clothes didn’t magically keep appearing in my drawers I realized that I was probably being a little too lazy about doing my laundry. When I consistently missed my 9am math lecture I realized that I should start being a little bit more responsible about when and how much I am sleeping. It is really easy to get lazy in college with no one telling you what to do and for a while I had fallen into a trap of not doing anything until it absolutely had to be done which ultimately made my life a lot more stressful than it had to be. You really don’t notice how much some people do until they stop doing it, and being on my own in college definitely made me realize and have a greater appreciation for the care my parents took of me.

The main point I want to get across with this article and the biggest advice I have for any high school student planning on attending college is to understand that what you learn in college goes far beyond what is taught in the classroom. Yes it’s important to pay attention in class and make an effort to get good grades, but that is not the ONLY thing that matters. The people you meet and the opportunities you come across during your 4 years are what will really shape you. When it comes to the real world and actually going out and creating a life yourself, the relationships you build and the things you do while in college are going to be much more valuable than your GPA. And understand that it’s not just WHAT you do but WHY you do it. When life gets rough (and it will at times), it’s your why, the reason you do something, which will push you through it. Really think about why you’re going to college and what your goals are.

Most people, when asked why they attend college, will answer something along the lines of “Because I want to get a degree so I can get a good job after college.” To me, that statement is absolutely ridiculous. College is about defining and pursuing your passions – a degree is something that is attained and reflects on the success of that pursuit. Figure out what your dream in life is, paint a mental image in your head and stop at nothing until that image comes to fruition. Remember, a career and a job are two VERY different things. By making decisions based on what you want you will define yourself and as you grow you will find the right career for yourself. By making decisions based on what will get you the highest GPA or what you think will look best on your resume you will find yourself begging an employer for a job you will probably end up hating.

Here are my top 10 tips for kids about to go to college:

  • Understand that a degree does not magically make a job appear before your eyes. Life is about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people and being able to seize opportunities when they are presented.
  • You have to go out and get the life you want – so pray for rain, but remember to water your seeds too.
  • Opportunity surrounds you in college so make sure to take advantage of it.
  • Go out of your comfort zone – get comfortable with uncomfortable situations.
  • Meet and talk to as many people as you can.
  • Don’t be afraid if you don’t find all your best friends immediately
  • Don’t let the amount of free time you get in college destroy your work ethic. The idea of doing nothing all day sounds awesome until it becomes regular and you just become really lazy.
  • Have fun, take risks, do something you never would have done before.
  • Set up a daily routine and impose discipline on yourself to make sure you follow it.
  • Explore the city around your college as much as you can – make an effort to not just stay on campus your whole 4 years.

Going to college is going to be one of the most exciting yet scary times in your life – you finally get to be independent but you’re leaving your comfort zone and have a whole lot more responsibility. The good thing is, you are going to meet a lot of people and as long as you put yourself out there I can guarantee you will find the right people and slowly start to see a real direction in your life. So get excited, be confident as you take your first steps in your new home, and remember – work hard, play hard.

At the Dublin High School 2012 Senior Awards Night Ronil Bhatia was awarded a Dublin High PFSO Scholarship, was named an Outstanding DECA Senior, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, won a President’s Gold Award for Education Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar DiplomaRonil was also awarded a scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Other articles in the Life in College series:

UCLA Lambda Chi Alpha 2013 Fall AM Class with Ronil Bhatia

UCLA Lambda Chi Alpha 2013 Fall AM Class with Ronil Bhatia (middle row, center)

UCLA Lambda Chi Alpha's Great Gatsby Quarterly with Ronil Bhatia

UCLA Lambda Chi Alpha’s Great Gatsby Quarterly with Ronil Bhatia (second from left)

  1. Bowen Chan permalink
    May 8, 2013 9:47 am

    I would just like to say, Props Ronil. You really hit all the points about college :). I’m glad you are doing well and I can’t wait to see you in the future as a grown man :3

  2. Charlene Beasley permalink
    May 8, 2013 5:58 pm

    I am so proud of you, Ronil. I had the pleasure of working with this fine young man in the Every 15 minute program. I look forward to hearing about your future successes!


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