A Triton is Born

This past Triton Day, The Guardian spoke with our #FutureTritons about why they decided to commit to UCSD.

For many of us students, summer is like a refresh button. Fresh graduates are out seeking jobs or continuing their studies, and a wave of newly admitted students prepare to come to UC San Diego.

Some of these newly admitted students excitedly accepted their offer to UCSD, taking to Twitter to beam about committing to their dream school.

However, the decision of where to spend the next four years may not be so clear cut for others. 20 percent of high school students apply to more than nine colleges, and more often than not, they get accepted into more than one. When choosing schools, students not only have to consider their academics, but also the location, finances, opportunities provided by the school, and reputation.

UCSD applicants get to take part in the annual Triton Day, where newly admitted freshmen and their families are invited to visit the school and learn about the university’s academic departments, hear about campus services, and tour the dorms. This year’s Triton Day had an estimated 15,000 attendees. The school was buzzing with excitement, with organizations and departments setting up booths in Town Plaza in front of Price Center. Students who were ready to commit to UCSD could go to the “Accept Your Offer Tent,” where volunteers met them with chants and cheers. Committed students also got a chance to take pictures with their families as a #FutureTriton.

UCSD has prided itself for its diverse student body in the past, and this year was no different. This year’s turnout included more non-STEM majors and California residents than previous years.

As a renowned research university, UCSD is a popular choice among students who want to conduct research. Going to a highly-esteemed research university also provides opportunities to network and learn from mentors, professors, and researchers currently doing work in their fields. It may even land connections that could be useful in professional career development.

For example, one John Muir College admit majoring in structural engineering said it was the reputation of the engineering department that convinced him to commit to UCSD.

“The engineering department here has a high ranking, and I wanted to do engineering, so this seemed to be the best choice,” he said.

Aside from offering opportunities in career development, the faculty at UCSD also promotes a learning environment that is “student-centered.” The resources extend outside of professors and teaching assistants; there are also librarians, Teaching and Learning Commons tutors, and supplemental instruction hours for students who need extra help.

“I heard from friends who go here that the professors are really good, and that they’re close to their students,” one admitted student from Thurgood Marshall College said. “If I ever need help, I’ll know that I have someone to go to.”

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UCSD is in an ideal location, especially for those who love the sun, sand, and surf. In fact, more than half of the incoming freshmen mentioned their excitement of studying so close to the beach. Living a mere ten minutes from the beach means that it’s accessible any time, whether it’s for relaxation or for a different setting to do work —not to mention the sunsets.

UCSD is unique among other universities for not only having departments but also for its college system. The different colleges, which fosters a smaller, tight-knit community at a large university, have different general education requirements . The college that students get into eventually become part of their identity and pride.

Admitted into John Muir College, one committed freshman said, “I love the social justice focus of this college, and how every college is different.”

Organizations and extracurricular activities are other aspects of the college experience. Some students decide to attend universities because of a renowned organization that has made a name for itself. The activities that some of the admitted students mentioned varied from professional fraternities to dance and from academic science organizations to lacrosse.

“I’m very excited about joining debate or a political org,” one student said. “Back in high school, there weren’t many opportunities to talk about [these topics], so I want to find that community in college.”

In addition to the excitement of going to college, many of the students also confessed their fears of starting this new chapter of their lives.

Most of them were worried about academics, with one student jokingly stating that he “hopes he doesn’t get rescinded” before he even gets to start his freshman year. The course work at UCSD is challenging, and on top of that, there are only 10 weeks to master the material. The quarter system is no joke. Orientation leaders warn first-year students of the 10-week schedule before classes even start.

“I’m worried about the courses. I’ve heard that they’re really challenging,” one general biology student said.

The transition from high school academics to university level academics is drastic, and part of that comes from having to balance the responsibilities on our plate. It’s one of the main sources of stress for students, especially for those who have to maintain a good grade point average for graduate-level schooling. Despite worries about academia, UCSD students have kept up a mean cumulative GPA of 3.00 for the past 18 years.

Many of the incoming freshmen were also curious and nervous about dorm life.

For most of us students, we’ve never had to share a room with someone else, let alone strangers. We’ve all heard of roommate horror stories from friends or online confessions. This change could be especially hard for introverts or those who prefer to have their own space. The nervousness of having to be conscious of your living habits and being surrounded by the same people for one year can be challenging.

“I think what I’m most nervous about is living away from my mom,” said a math and economics student. “I’m really close to her and I’m scared to get bad roommates.”

Aside from the academics, location, and opportunities, most of the students came to get the college experience, which is different for every person. College is a time to be away from home for the first time, which could be both exciting and daunting. For all of us, college is what we will make it out to be.

Welcome to UCSD, class of 2023.

All student responses were noted anonymously.

Photo courtesy of Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego.

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