Graduation is here. After all the late nights, early mornings and endless study sessions, the graduating classes of 2018 will walk the stage June 8-10.
A quick Google search of CSU East Bay shows that the campus receives average scores from undergraduate students on college review websites like Niche.com and Cappex.com. The positive reviews talk about the dedicated staff, public transportation services and the proximity to cities like San Francisco and Oakland. Most of the complaints are related to student life, housing and parking.
My experience at CSUEB has been a productive one. I am leaving with a passion to pursue a job in the real world and confidence that I’ve been taught the right tools to do so. I do agree that parking any time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is difficult and the commute from the South Bay is unpredictable and tiring. But this is a small inconvenience for the overall knowledge and experience I’ve gained.
CSUEB is known for being a commuter school; 85 percent of students live off-campus and 95 percent of them own cars, according to the California State University official website. It is also known for its diverse student population. This year, it was ranked first for ethnic diversity in regional universities of the West by U.S. News & World Report.
This makes East Bay the ideal campus for non-traditional college students like myself. A non-traditional college student is anyone that does not attend a four-year university directly after high school, works full or part-time, has financial dependents other than a spouse or did not receive a traditional high-school diploma, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
I did not attend a four-year university directly after college and will receive my bachelor’s degree after 10 years of school. I’ve worked both parttime and fulltime at a local restaurant and I’ve lived off-campus with my family to contribute financially.
After my first year at CSUEB, I struggled academically as a speech pathology major and I decided to change my focus. At the time, I did not know what that change would be. The transition was made easier with resources from the Academic Advising and Career Education (AACE) Center.
I was able to take a few career assessment tests and meet with two different academic advisers. These resources helped me narrow down my choices based on my personality and possible career options. I ended up choosing to study communication and it has been the best decision I’ve made in my educational career.
My personal and living situation has made it difficult for me to participate in extracurricular activities outside of my academic work. I come to campus to attend class, study and go home.
My professors in the communication department have made my hours here well worth the investment. While I’ve learned the theoretical frameworks of communication, I’ve also developed a love for writing, journalism and media.
This love combined with encouragement from my professors lead me to start working for The Pioneer, our campus newspaper. It is the one extracurricular activity I’ve made fit in my schedule. I’ve found like-minded peers who have both helped and challenged me to develop my communication skills.
Although there are complaints that the student life on campus is lacking, I got many emails and saw flyers about events both on and off campus. I felt that I’ve missed out on a lot of fun activities like movie nights, concerts, game nights and career development opportunities.
Maintaining a social life was difficult and on the bottom of my priority list but I was able to make friends with peers who have similar class schedules and interests. However, managing work, school and home life was challenging. At times when I felt overwhelmed, I found help in the counseling services here on campus.
I attended both private and group counseling sessions. In the sessions, I learned valuable and useful coping skills for stress and anxiety. All students receive these counseling services as part of their tuition and it’s well worth taking advantage of them. Managing my mental health made me more focused and productive.
My time here at East Bay has been more than average. I’ve changed as a person for the better. I’ve found a career path that I’m passionate about and I’ve found healthy ways to manage my mental health. If I could do it all over again, including the terrible commute and hectic parking situation, then I would. But I won’t, because I’m done and I’m graduating.
Thank you, CSUEB.