Bellevue College was my first college experience. Walking leisurely through the gray halls, eating overpriced pasta by the fountain and studying in the library were not as picturesque and exciting as the models in college brochures, but they still are engrained in my memory and remind me of why I decided to transfer. Now, as a junior in my second quarter at the University of Washington, I do wish I could change a few things, which may have made my transition into UW better.
As a four-year or two-year higher academic institution, depending on how one looks at it, BC allows students to take classes for their major if they decide to transfer. With the 90-credit associate’s degree is one’s back pocket, students are able to either apply to four-year school to complete their major or start their lives in an entry level position – the former is preferred. Because of this system, it’s possible many BC students feel the need to rush their courses here in order to transfer immediately into a university. Although this method is completely acceptable, it prevents students from appreciating the breadth of opportunities at BC and the potential BC has in helping one find what they truly enjoy.
If I were to restart my two years at BC, I would first decide to take my time and enroll in a variety of classes. I quickly decided to go into a STEM field which helped me finish my classes earlier, but limited my mind to predominantly think objectively and quantifiably. I was more focused on my GPA and my chances of getting into a biochemistry program rather than appreciating the different subjects I could put my mind to. It’s important to have an ideal major in mind, but as a college freshman or sophomore, it’s equally valuable to take a variety of classes as possible. That’s what the college experience should be – learning about things that make one uncomfortable and thinking in a new area of knowledge. By exploring the unknown, it’s amazing how one can find connections in different subjects.
In addition, I would’ve made more time to involve myself in the community by joining different student organizations and programs. In my first year, I was part of an engineering club and the debate team. I made connections and learned new things that I could apply today. For example, I practiced public speaking and argument analysis from the debate club. I traveled to different colleges in the Pacific Northwest to compete with other teams. The great thing about these clubs, however, is that most of them are student run and every year, they try to make their events better, connect more students and involve more cultures of the community into their mission. At first, the clubs seem intimidating because most of the members seem well connected, but that shouldn’t shy anyone away from joining. Just step into one of the clubs’ meetings and have an open mind.
This advice may sound cliche and repetitive, but they are methods that can help with one’s transition into a four-year university. Start making friends and connections now, because it’s harder when one starts as a junior. Take harder classes and don’t judge an instructor’s knowledge of the material based on their Ratemyprofessor.com score. If one really takes a look at those comments, they’re from students who complain that the instructor gives too much work and is bad at explaining material. BC is a college institution. Learn to self-study material and take time out of the day to meet with the instructor. There are people at this institution who are willing to help students if one takes the initiative to seek that assistance. It’s important to learn these skills now because it is significantly harder in a cutthroat class of 700 or more students.
In the end, my advice boils down to one thing – take the time to explore. Bellevue College is a higher academic institution with opportunities abound. As everyone may know already, for the price, BC’s academic rigor and its available extracurricular activities are worth it.