Making the most of your time in college is key, says CSULB alumna

Published September 9, 2020

The timeline of a college freshman

Day one: excited, absolutely terrified.

Week one: terrified, seemingly confused about everything.

Month one: definitely confused about everything, searching for someone or something to help.

Student on campus

You spend so much time getting to this moment: your first day at The Beach. You climbed the social hierarchy of high school, keeping your eyes on the prize of adulthood. It truly is a blank page, and when you set your foot on campus (literally, or digitally in these days), the blank page can be pretty daunting. Who are you in this new world? Who do you want to be, and the never-ending question: what do you want to do with your life? 

I spent my first semester at Cal State Long Beach “focusing on academics.” It’s not a bad thing, but looking back, I realize that approach not only defeats one of the core principles of college, but also lacks balance. Sure, college is laying the foundation to our professional future. College, however, is also about forging our truest sense of ourselves. College is where we find the friendships that last through graduate school, marriages, children, divorces, career changes, cross-country moves, etc.

So, where do you find those people – your tribe? Where do you find the people that are your kind of weird (the best kind of weird)? 

Get involved. Cliché, sure, but cliches have their basis in truth. That first semester, I went to class, did my homework, went to work – rinse and repeat. I remember thinking to myself, this can’t be it? This is what my parents raved about all these years?

Desperate to figure this college thing out, I thought back on the things that made me happy in high school. Sports, Model UN, debate (again, on the theme of your kind of weird). So, I started poking my head around the political science department and found information for the Model UN class and team. At the first club meeting, held at a diner in Seal Beach, I met my then-arch-nemesis-now-best-friend. Sitting next to her, I found my other best friend, who not only ensured we survived college, but was my sanity throughout law school, and my moral support as a lawyer to this day.

By meeting my tribe in that one club, I was introduced to intramural sports, Moot Court, Associated Students, Inc., and many other on campus activities. I had best friends to study with, to make lunch plans with, and to figure out college with. Classes turned into Thursday night rituals of venting about the week over cookie dough and wine. In this digital age we live in, the three of us still get together over cookie dough and wine, just now over Zoom.

Long Beach is now your second home, and if you do it right, will forever be home in your heart. As you find yourself, be fearless in the face of friendship. Find your tribe – the fastest, easiest, and most fun way is to get involved! Nothing is “dorky” or frowned upon in the company of the people who get you and love you; the people who will be your tribe for the next four years, and really, for a lifetime.

Welcome to the Beach – be fearless, find your tribe.

The timeline of a college graduate

Day one: so excited to be done with school.

Week one: terrified, seemingly confused about everything.

Month one: definitely confused about everything but has the tribe of friends to get her through for a lifetime.

CSULB grad Alex Lohman received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in May of 2011. She attended Northwestern Law (JD ‘14) and is an Assistant Public Defender in West Palm Beach, Florida. In her spare time, she writes on a personal blog, Half of my Heart [Has a Real Good Imagination], and is self-publishing a collection of short stories online, Herstory: A Woman in History.

Beach Voices is an occasional feature that allows members of the Beach community – students, faculty, staff and alumni – to share their personal experiences. If you’d like to be considered, email submissions labeled “Beach Voices” to Strategic Communications.