First Year College Update

We recently caught up with DTS college student Gabby, a freshman at Occidental College. Here’s what she had to say about college life.

What was your transition to college life like?
My college transition hasn’t actually ended yet, but so far it has been more positive than not. I have fallen in love with the academic aspect of college. All the professors I have had so far are extremely passionate about their field, and their enthusiasm helps me get immersed in the material. The challenge has been mostly internal. I am very close to my family and not being with them on a day-to-day basis just feels odd. It has also been a bit tough finding new friends. Everyone’s schedule is so different; you actually have to find and create the time to hang out with people. For me, that has been quite the challenge due to my reservedness. One thing that has helped me is to refer back to the transition to college workshop that DTS provided during the summer. We were forewarned that we were more than likely going to feel these emotions and we were assured that it’s completely normal.  It is all part of the process.

Did DTS help prepare you for the transition?
Yes! DTS painted a very accurate image of what the transition to college would be like. It really helped that during the summer workshop they invited other DTS college students to share their experiences with us. The program emphasized that college is not easy. At all. For anyone. But that even so, people graduate, so it’s definitely doable. DTS is also constantly reminding us that we’re not alone; the program is there to help us with anything we need to keep our motivation going. That reassurance alone, just knowing that we have that support, is already fuel enough to keep persevering. 

Are your weekly check-ins with College Access and Success Counselor Stephanie beneficial?
My check-ins with Stephanie have helped me immensely in that speaking with her once a week forces me to self-reflect. Since I know she’ll ask me how I’m doing, I actually have to know the answer in order to give her a response. Needing that response has taught me how to pause, check-in with myself and figure out how I’m feeling because life gets so busy sometimes that you don’t really know how you’re doing. 

How does Wellness Counselor Carmen help?  
Carmen has been extremely helpful in my transition. Before moving in, she helped me feel less stressed about my worries coming into college, like wondering if I’ll get along with my roommate and if I’ll be able to handle having so much freedom. She has taught me how to re-create my thoughts in ways that make my worries less frightening and more manageable. She has also helped me remain healthy especially in maintaining a good sleep schedule despite the busyness that college introduces to our lives.

What do you like best about being in college?
Knowing how many people actually value education! Seeing that most kids here are genuinely interested in learning is just wonderful. My particular college is also very, very passionate about serving the community. There is an immense amount of opportunities for people to get involved. 

How did you choose your college? Was DTS helpful in that process?
This may sound a bit silly, but I selected Occidental due to a gut feeling. Applying to college, I never really had a dream school. When I received my acceptance letters, it was only Occidental’s that drew joyful tears from my eyes. I figured maybe that was a sign that Oxy was where I wanted to go. Before the application process, DTS personalized a college list for every one of us based on who we were.  That relieved lots of stress from the college search process. They also had us conduct deep research on the colleges we were considering applying to.  This helped me figure out what it was that I wanted in a college in the first place. That was a very helpful activity that I personally would not have done on my own. 

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