Your First Quarter

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Getting Adjusted

Your selection to one of the leading research universities in the world was based on a number of criteria that included overall academic excellence and a well-balanced profile that identified you as someone who can succeed in a challenging intellectual environment. Although your experience in high school prepared you for much of what you will encounter, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of important decisions that must be made on a regular basis. You should expect to feel some stress and homesickness that come with your new-found independence. However, if you plan accordingly and engage in the university experience, you will find that these uncomfortable feelings will soon pass.

Your first week on campus will be filled with activities that are geared towards helping you to know the university and the myriad of academic and extracurricular programs that are available to you. You should plan on actively engaging in these activities, which will also introduce you to your classmates for the next four years. One event that you should definitely attend is Convocation – the university’s official welcome to the incoming class that is officiated by our chancellor, Kim Wilcox. You should use your first few days to get to know this wonderful campus and all that it has to offer you during your time here.

Bell Tower and UCR sign Field trip Commencement 2011

Study After Lectures

A key to your early success will be devoting enough time to focus on your studies. In your senior year in high school you perhaps took five or more classes five days a week. In college, the amount of time that you spend in formal instruction will be much less. In the first quarter a typical CNAS freshman will take four classes such as English Composition, Precalculus or Calculus, General Chemistry, and a breadth class in humanities or social sciences. The total amount of time spent in lecture for this sequence is only 12 hours per week! This will be supplemented with discussion and lab sections that will add another 6 to 8 hours. In short, a university student spends 20 hours or less in classroom settings each week, an amount that is substantially less than what you were used to in high school. However, as a full-time student you should be prepared to put at least three times the amount of time studying outside of lecture as you spend in it. In other words, if you are in lecture 12 hours per week, you should plan on at least 36 hours studying outside of the classroom. If you need additional help or guidance, seek out your professors, academic advisors, or peers in the Learning Center. All of these individuals are here to help you find your way.

For CNAS students, introductory classes tend to be very large and lectures can be from 300 to 500 students. Information will come at you at a dizzying pace and you will be responsible for much of your own learning through textbooks, online material, and other resources made available to you. You will consistently hear that prepared students have a much better chance of succeeding in their first year. A little work up-front on your part, including responsibly managing your time, reading the required material ahead of class, and seeking help from your professors or teaching assistants when you don’t understand something, will greatly improve your chances for success.

You will find that, on a campus like this, you can be easily distracted by all of the activities that are available. However, constantly remind yourself why you are here, and if you can keep to a plan you will find the transition from high school to be much easier. In the words of John Wooden, the late UCLA basketball coach and inspirational educator, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

You are embarking on a new journey, one that will ultimately guide you for many of the adventures that will define your adult life. Although it may seem daunting at first, you will find this to be a supportive and nurturing environment that will make your journey a fruitful one.

—Dr. Richard Cardullo, Professor of Biology

P.S.  There are a number of resources that will provide you with valuable tips for surviving your first year in college. One that I find particularly useful is by Dr. Randall Hansen, entitled “Your first year of college: 25 tips to help you survive and thrive your freshman year and beyond." You can find this article online by clicking HERE. Check it out!

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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College Information

CNAS Dean's Office
Geology Building, Room 2258
Tel: (951) 827-6555
Fax: (951) 827-5104

Personnel Services
College Building North