My First Quarter as a College Freshman at a UC | UC Davis

Zoe Vollmer sits at Philz Coffee and smiles for the camera.
Zoe Vollmer

While waiting for your college decisions to come, you might start thinking about what college will be like. What will it be like living in the residence halls? How will you make friends? How will you make the transition from high school to college? Fear not, because first-year Zoe Vollmer is here to tell you all about her first quarter at UC Davis!

College Bound

My family has always been a college-bound family. Ever since sixth grade, around the time my brother went off to college, my mom was super supportive when it came to figuring out where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to do. When I visited UC Davis on Aggie Day, I thought that I just had to go to school here. I always say it's because I saw the bike parking lots, but it's also because the campus was so nice, there was perfect weather, and when I saw all the students around campus, I realized that I loved it here. 

When I got my admission letter, I was really nervous. I was so scared that I wasn’t going to get in because I had some struggles during my sophomore year of high school that impacted my grades. I remember opening the email too, and afterwards I just called all my friends and family to let them know I got in. I was so excited, because I knew that UC Davis was the best school for me.

The summer before my freshman year was filled with a lot of excitement and anxiety. While I was super excited to live on my own, I was also nervous. It would be the first time that I would be living on my own, and I wasn’t sure what to expect! I was also really excited to take history classes. Ever since I was little, my dad and I would watch the History Channel, and I would fake being sick so I could stay home and keep watching it. Currently, I want to work as a historian at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and understand more about how the Holocaust occurred, so studying at Davis as a history major was really exciting for me.

Transitioning from High School to College

During my first quarter, I had to work really hard to adjust to the college course load. I had never had this much work and felt overwhelmed. I was taking a math class and would spend hours on the homework because I felt like I didn’t get it. My self-esteem took a pretty big hit and I felt frustrated. I was worried that everything was just too much for me to handle. But eventually, things got easier. 

Zoe Vollmer and friend Lee stand in front of a mirror at an art exhibit.
My suite-mate Lee and I went to a friend's art exhibit! Photo Credit: Zoe Vollmer

I started studying with my suite-mate and also reached out to my First-Year Aggie Connections leader, Teddi. Aggie Connections are small-group programs for first-year students that help you build community and adjust to UC Davis life. Our group was themed around developing confidence. Teddi helped me find the courage to ask my TA's for help and attend campus’s free tutoring sessions.

Honestly, my Aggie Connections experience was a little bit awkward at first, but once we all got to know each other, we really bonded and grew closer. I was able to come out of my shell and realize that I’m not the only one going through this! Other people were also adjusting to college life and struggling with their classes, and it made me feel less alone. Learning how to ask for help, reach out to people and make friends helped a lot.

Living in the residence halls was a big change for me, but I found that it was really nice to live “on my own” in the residence halls. Whenever I am craving a soda or something at midnight, I can just go over to the store and get it. I was also able to make lots of friends: I started to talk with my neighbors and my suite-mates, and we started eating together, doing homework together, and talking about homesickness.

My College Experience So Far

So far, I feel really good about my college experience. Obviously it is a huge change from high school, but college is feeling more natural to me. There are so many ways that I can get involved, and I am so excited to start taking upper division classes and learn more about European History and World War II. There are so many research and internship opportunities available, and I’ll be applying to work at the Museum of Tolerance soon!

The future is still scary, but I feel more confident everyday. I wake up knowing that I need to be here and that I am on the right path. Something that always keeps me going is asking myself, “I am already here, so what is a little more?”

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