Joshua Wang// HIGHLANDER

College is the time for students to find themselves not only academically, but socially. This is difficult when impostor syndrome creeps up while students are trying to make the most of their experience. I have experienced its unpleasant side effects myself. 

Stepping into my first computer science class, I had no idea what coding was. I quickly realized my foundation for education was not geared toward technology as much as my classmates were. Born and raised in a low-income household in Los Angeles, my classrooms were always overpacked and underfunded while students coming from Northern California grew up taking computer science classes. The most embarrassing thing thus far was when I asked my hallmate for help in a lab and he asked what language the code was. I replied “in English,” having no idea what he was referring to when the correct answer was HTML. I recall feeling unworthy of being in the same institution, but luckily, I met new people who convinced me to take this nasty idea out of my mind.

The effects of impostor syndrome were only exacerbated by a plight 57% of the UCR population faces — as a first-generation college student, I have always carried the burden of my parent’s high expectations. The difference between my immigrant parents and myself is that I am actually experiencing these courses, in addition to struggling through the transition from in-person to online classes. 40% of students drop out of college because of how challenging it is. There will be countless times where students feel like they aren’t the smartest or most engaged person in a class, but this is a shared form of trauma and it can actually help you bond with other students and create empowering friendships. I made friends who were in the same position as me, filled with self-doubt; however, we ended up being each other’s support system.

Socializing, maintaining your GPA and juggling being a “real adult” may be difficult, but getting involved in organizations and clubs that catch your attention will surely bring joy to your undergraduate years. It does not always have to be a resume booster, internship or Greek life. You will always have time to try new things as that is the magic of college; you create your own schedule. Your random hobby can possibly become what distinguishes you in the future from other applicants if you choose to pursue graduate school.

I found that immersing myself in my passion allowed me to make college worthwhile and make friends in the process. Although I am a political science major who intends to go into the law field, fashion and photography spark joy in me. By joining CLASSXFASHION, a fashion club with weekly themes that incorporate photography and an annual fashion show, I was able to interact with peers from all different school years; as upperclassmen have traversed the same issues, they’re able to be a resource for me.

College is really expensive, therefore you should get the most bang out of your buck. Although it may be stressful, you are paying not only for education but also to create new memories with new people. It won’t be hard for incoming students to find support networks on campus as I did. They will help you believe in yourself, overcome feelings of doubt and make the most of your time as a Highlander.