When applying to colleges, it is often hard to get an authentic feel for the school before you have to make that crucial decision to attend. There is only so much one can discern from those generic college tours and even during orientation weekends. However, part of the college experience is that steep learning curve; living away from home for the first time is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. While California State University, Long Beach was definitely not my first choice school when applying, my time there far surpassed my initial expectations. Here are five things I wish I knew before attending California State University, Long Beach.
The friends you meet in the dorms, most likely during that whirlwind first week, are so important there is a good chance they become the friends you maintain throughout your college career. Because CSULB is a commuter school, on campus housing is really competitive, and therefore it is often wise to apply for housing even if you aren’t certain you are going to attend. Once you get there, be that shameless person who knocks on your neighbor’s door asking to go to the dining hall or to that party together. It may feel embarrassing, but you are likely to meet people that you will keep with you for the next four years and beyond.
You don’t need to listen to everything (or anything) your advisors during orientation tell you. When signing up for your first semester classes, they will advise incoming freshmen to sign up only for the classes that fulfill the most basic general educational requirements. In my experience, this was the worst advice I received. Once you get into upper division courses in your junior and senior years, a lot of these classes fulfill more than one requirement, so you end up taking fewer classes/units, while finishing your degree quicker.
While I was lucky enough to circumvent their advice because I was a dance major and had to take classes for my major, some of my friends didn’t fare so well and ultimately ended up taking more general education units than they needed, and it was boring. Be smart and save some of your “GE” classes for later on in your school career. The advisors may tell you not to take this class or that but it’s your education be stubborn, and maybe even take a few electives your freshman year! You will be thankful that you didn’t have to sit through English 101 or Comparative Literature 132 and could instead enjoy some of the more interesting upper division courses that fulfilled multiple GE categories.
Avoid the hot food bar in the back corner of the dining hall especially when its taco night. Just don’t do it. Your stomach will thank you. And although there is no shortage of unidentifiable/disgusting looking dishes and junk offered at all meals, try to make the most of the dining hall experience and the healthy food options that are offered. The salad bar, with a lot of fresh produce and healthier protein options, was vastly underappreciated. Once I moved off campus, I quickly realized how inconvenient and expensive grocery shopping could be as a student.
If you’re interested in CSULB, check out our article on 5 Things to Avoid at California State University, Long Beach.
Take advantage of all the resources that the campus and the university have to offer before your senior year! This one was a big one for me, and there is hardly a day in my post-graduate life that I don’t regret not being more involved in what my school/department had to offer. For example, the dance department at CSULB had an amazing state of the art clinic where we could get treatment, use expensive exercise equipment, learn how to workout and maintain our health, and talk one on one with a professional physical therapist/sports trainer. It was open everyday of the week and I didn’t start going until the end of my junior year what a waste!
Bottom line: there are so many programs and resources that are readily available to help you in your school career and once you graduate, and real life is just not as forgiving.
Choosing a state school where I could graduate without student loans was the best decision I made. CSULB may not have been the fancy, private, liberal arts college, with its own chicken coop and sustainable garden (like Pitzer, another Southern California school) but damn, it feels really good to graduate without being TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars in debt. Going into my freshman year of college at California State University, Long Beach. I was a little resentful that I didn’t have the option to go to a small private school.
Regrettably, this was a feeling that persisted to some degree throughout my four years there, despite the fact that I loved the dance department and what I was doing. Looking back, I wish I had known earlier how lucky I was to get the education I did because I would have appreciated it more. No matter how many complaints I had about large class sizes, brainwashing advisors, or the quality of the food in the dining hall, I would never trade my less than perfect experiences for a post graduate life that was dictated by debt.
Isabel Rosenstock graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2012 with a B.F.A. in Dance/Performance. Based in San Francisco, she is working as a freelance dance artist and a figurative model for painters/sculptors. In addition to her work as a dancer/model, Isabel enjoys writing, traveling, and working with children.