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Life as a University of Colorado Buff – From Dublin Hills to Boulder Mountains

December 8, 2013
Tristan Elias

Tristan Elias recently spoke with Tristan Elias (Dublin High School Class of 2013 and University of Colorado – Boulder freshman) to talk about his first few months in college and the transition from Dublin to Boulder, Colorado. During his time at Dublin High, Tristan was an accomplished athlete playing both varsity football and baseball, and served as student body secretary. What led you to choose the University of Colorado – Boulder over other options?

Tristan Elias: “I knew the direction I wanted to go, studying biological sciences, so I Googled ‘biological sciences schools’ when researching options. Boulder came back as an option and since I love to snowboard, it looked like a cool fit. I started looking more into what Boulder had to offer and attended a local event run by the school with my parents to learn more about the campus and the programs, and fell in love with the school. While I hadn’t heard back from the UC [University of California] applications, I was set on attending the University of Colorado. While I felt confident I would be admitted, I didn’t know what to expect.” Describe the feeling of receiving your first acceptance notification.

Elias: “I was down in Arizona for a baseball tournament with my mom and received an email from Boulder congratulating me and inviting me to an on campus accepted student event. It was a huge relief getting that first acceptance notice, knowing that I was actually going to college, and that I would be going to an amazing school. The first acceptance letter makes going to college real. I was also considering UC Santa Barbara but after flying out to the admitted students day in Boulder I fell in love with the campus and accepted the offer during the trip.” Have Dublin High School AP (Advanced Placement) classes helped you?

Elias: “AP classes definitely helped. I entered Colorado with 26 credits, 4 credits away from being a sophomore, which opened the door to pursuing a double major in integrated physiology and neurosciences. AP credit is also opening up the possibility for me to study abroad for a semester, allowing me to get all of the core classes done at Boulder so that I can take electives during a semester abroad.” How do college courses compare with high school courses?

Elias: “So far my college classes have been easier than Dublin High AP classes, because AP classes have a higher volume of mandatory assignments; in college, studying is the responsibility of the student. There are very few assignments in college and doing homework is up to the student, and I’ve found that suits my study habits really well. I’m part of study groups – once you get to class you make friends – and studying in a group makes it easier.

“One of the best studying techniques I’ve found so far is teaching the material I know well to other students in the group, which helps me grasp the material even more. It also helps to hear concepts explained a different way by fellow students. In a study group we draw from each other’s strengths.” Describe the transition of living a plane ride away from home in a dorm.

Tristan with his parents

Tristan with his parents

Elias: “I love the dorm I’m in and the people I’m living with. While there is one other Dublin High School student from my class attending Boulder, we didn’t know each other during high school so I’ve started over, meeting new people. I have a ‘randomized roommate’, someone I didn’t know anything about entering college, and he’s one of my best friends now. On the floor of my dorm our doors are always open so the entire floor is really one dorm room which is great. You have people all around you, supporting you, understanding what you are going through. You never feel alone or isolated.” What about your college experience so far has been different from what you expected or assumed?

Elias: “I went in hearing horrors stories from students at other colleges about professors that are just there for research and don’t focus on teaching or care about the students. I was expecting to have professors where I’d have to teach the class to myself but that hasn’t been the case. I sit in the front row for as many classes as I can, and have personally met with all of my professors. It makes college classes so much easier if you know your professors, if you can go in before or after class and get questions answered. It surprised me how caring Boulder professors are after hearing stories from students at other schools.” What is campus life like at Boulder outside of the classroom?

Elias: “The people at Boulder are some of the most welcoming and nice people I’ve ever met. Boulder is a big athletic school, which I was looking for, with a big football team, basketball team, and all the school spirit that going to games brings. I’ve met some awesome people at Boulder and made a lot of new friends.” Did you experience ‘senioritis’ during your last year of high school or is that a myth?

Elias: “I was a victim of senioritis to a degree; I wanted to establish study habits in my senior year that would prepare me for entering college but I also didn’t want to overwhelm myself with classes to the point where I couldn’t enjoy my last year of high school and all the senior events. My advice to Dublin High seniors is enjoy your senior year but be careful not to throw away the year academically because most college look at your final grades. Going into the fourth quarter of high school my GPA was slipping and it was a wake-up call to balance senior year events with academics, and keep up my study habits.” Hove you joined any clubs on campus?

University of Colorado - BoulderElias: “I started playing club baseball in the fall and met a new group of guys with the same interests. I also joined a fraternity (Chi Psi) which has been a terrific experience. Earlier this fall, Boulder fraternities held BBQ meet and greets, followed by Rush Week, where fraternities and students get to know each other. After those events, the fraternities decide which students they’d like to call back for Preference Night, which is a formal dinner for all the students the fraternity would like to join, and another opportunity to get to know the students. After that fraternities hand out ‘bids’ and if you accept the bid you become a Pledge. The first semester is about learning about the fraternity and at the end there is a secret initiation ceremony where you officially become a Brother. What I’ve found about Chi Psi is the focus is on brotherhood, it’s known as the gentleman’s fraternity, creating friendships for life.” Are there any Dublin High School teachers you’d like to thank?

Elias: “Too many to name and I don’t want to forget anyone! Definitely Ms. McDonald was there for me, providing advice on writing admission essays, and she wrote a wonderful recommendation letter. Mr. MacDougall, who taught expository writing, definitely helped me with college essays. Mr. Sbranti was an inspirational figure throughout high school. Ms. Lewis’ physics class completely saved my life this semester, and has made my college physics class one hundred times clearer. Every single teacher I had at Dublin High has played an important role in getting me where I am and I can’t express my gratitude enough.”

At the Dublin High School 2013 Senior Awards Night Tristan Elias was named U.S. Army Reserve – National Scholar/Athlete (along with Megan Zummo), was a Dublin Lions Club Student of the Month (October), was awarded a Dublin/San Ramon Women’s Club (GFWC) Scholarship, earned a University of Colorado scholarship, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, earned a Gael Scholar and President’s Gold Award for Education Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.

Other articles in the Life in College series: