Fall tuition has struck our (parents’) bank accounts again, and the crazy cycle begins anew. As we start to haggle over Dining Dollars, sell old Halloween costumes on Free and For Sale to afford textbooks, and panic about that free trial for our online math homework running out, we often wonder: Where is all our money going? Believe it or not, there is an answer to that question. But unfortunately, most students never find it.
Somewhere along the way to graduation, we stop looking around us for opportunities, resources, and free services. We succumb to tunnel vision, seeing only the end goal: escape. We complacently accept that what we know and what we have is just what is. We resign ourselves to the tragic reality that here at UC Scam Diego, only truly excellent Memes for Sleep Deprived Teens will make us feel better about the thousands of dollars extorted from us each quarter.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There actually are resources and services that we pay for with our tuition money and could hypothetically take advantage of. That’s one of the major reasons why I am working as a Discussion Leader for the First Year Experience (FYE) class this quarter. Through this class, I am in the unique position to introduce brand new first years to the massive array of resources at their fingertips on our campus. For at least my 26 students, I want to create a different UC San Diego experience.
I want to create an awareness of the remarkable breadth of opportunities available through our campus. I want them to know about career resources, Greek life, dance groups, religious organizations, UCSD Extension courses, research opportunities, free student legal services, resource centers, discounted student tickets for the arts, community gardens, and so much more. I’m willing to bet that no matter what year you are at this university, you can look at that list and find something you don’t know enough about. And that’s the real tragedy: There is so much our tuition dollars are paying for, and yet we don’t know about any of it.
For instance, when my FYE class asked about career resources, I introduced my students to the typical suggestions of Handshake and the Career Services Center website, but I also found them tons of other resources. I pointed them toward the REAL portal, where they can find “research, internship, international, service learning, entrepreneurial, leadership, and other co-curricular opportunities.” I directed them to the Academic Internship Program, so they can “integrate academic theory and ‘real world’ practice, engage in research that explores the relationship between the two, and gain hands-on experience in professional settings.” I encouraged pre-med and pre-health students to check out Health Beat, the Career Services Center’s subsite tailored directly for those students’ needs. I urged all my students to look at many other resources and opportunities too, from the hundreds of Study Abroad options to the pragmatic interview help offered free to all UCSD students via Big Interview. If you haven’t used a single Dine or Coffee With a Prof voucher in your entire career to grill a professor for as long as it takes to finish their iced mocha (so you can extract precious industry secrets and advice they’ve heard on their way to professor-ship)…well, what are you waiting for?
And even if you exploit all those resources to the max, they only scratch the surface of UCSD’s massive, tuition-funded iceberg. There’s much more to explore on campus than just the practical. In researching my students’ interests, I’ve learned about dozens of fascinating groups and offerings I had never even thought to look for before. I found out about the weekly Philosophy Discussions held on Wednesdays in the Philosophy Department Library. (Did you even know that was a place?) I learned that the Inter-Sustainability Council has 20 member organizations dedicated to various aspects of environmental advocacy and sustainability. I learned that we have a Salsa Society that gives free lessons, an Ocean Lovers Club that organizes beach clean ups, and a Video Game Development Club, in case the UCSD Engineering Department isn’t quite geeky enough for you. We have everything from this incredible website all about skateboarding at UCSD to our very own science fiction and gaming club, Darkstar. Sure, some of these groups aren’t specifically receiving funding from UCSD (although many are). Nonetheless, they represent communities and resources that we can access only because we are paying UCSD students.
So if you’re feeling robbed of your (parents’) hard-earned (FAFSA) money and contemplating making another UC Scam Diego meme, open a new tab instead. Google for something you love, something you’re passionate about, something you’ve always wanted to learn more about but never made the time for. Discover something new at UCSD and get more bang for your buck. After all, tuition isn’t getting any lower. May as well take advantage of the incredible opportunities it’s paying for.
Nora Yagolnitser is a Staff Writer for The Triton.
The positions stated here do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Triton, any of its members, or any of its affiliates. We welcome responses to opinion pieces. If you’d like to submit a response, or comment on a different issue affecting the UC community, please submit here.