I recently interviewed my friend, Jose, about his pursuit of a college education and plans after he earns his Bachelors degree. Jose is a senior at UC Davis pursuing a degree in the Biological Sciences. Before attending UC Davis, Jose attended Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, CA.
Hometown: Bakersfield, California
Favorite Color: Blue & Gold
Dream Job: Doctor
Favorite Animal: Dog
1. What were your top college picks & why?
I only really knew about UCLA and so I wanted to go there, but they didn’t really teach us how to go to college or how to pay for it. I just talked to my football coaches about it. They were also Biology professors so I asked one of them and he said, “There is CSUB and Bakersfield College, so why don’t you just try out football because you’re really good, so you can get a scholarship so you can go to a university. Try it out for one or two years and if you don’t like it, then you can transfer out”. I kinda wanted to go to CSUB and I got in, but I didn’t take my SATs, so I just went to Bakersfield College.
2. What were your top picks while you were transferring?
I think UCLA and Davis were my top picks. UCLA just because of the name and it was associated with medicine, but I was hearing lots of bad things about it. I heard that everyone was really mean and that if you ask someone what the day of a test is, then they will give you the wrong date. I went to the Davis campus and everyone was super nice. I applied to Santa Barbara, Davis, UCLA, and maybe Irvine. I got accepted by UCLA and Davis.
3. Why did you choose UC Davis?
Because of the things that I heard and I liked the campus and everything. I got to know the campus really well.
4. When you applied to UC Davis, did you think you’d get in?
I was hoping, but had no idea because my GPA wasn’t great. I had a lot extracurricular activities, so I don’t know if they balanced each other out.
5. What did you do in high school to prepare for college?
I tried to get into as many clubs as I could because I thought that would help. I joined the French club and Cross club, which was a Christian club. I did a lot of sports, football, wrestling, and track for a little bit. I joined the CSF program.
**CSF is short for the California Scholarship Federation.
6. What drew you to your current career goal or field instead of others?
I wanted to [become a doctor] since I was in high school. When I got to Bakersfield College in my first year, I thought this is taking too long, I’m going to be a nurse. There was this guy who was super smart and me and him were friends. His dad was a doctor, so he wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a nurse. He was talking to me and said, “no you should be a doctor”. Later on, I don’t know how I changed my mind, but I think I just said F***k it I will just be a doctor. I wanted to help people anyway and might as well get paid more, so I decided to become a doctor. I was working on the prerequisites for nursing school instead of medical school, so I changed that. Later that guy ended up not wanting to be a doctor anymore because it’s too hard. I wanted to help people directly and the medical field is a direct way of helping them.
7. How important is happiness in your future career?
I think it’s one of the most important things, because part of the reason I chose it is because I thought I would be happy with it. If I end up being a doctor and after 10 years hating life, then I’d probably stop being a doctor.
8. What do you expect to get out of college?
A degree, to prepare myself for becoming a doctor, and just having fun. I don’t really care about the degree because I need it for medical school. If I didn’t need it for medical school, then I probably wouldn’t have gone. A degree is just a paper saying that you took these classes, but I don’t think it separates you that much. I think you should get a degree for what you want. Don’t just go to school just to get a degree. If your field requires you to get a degree and that’s what you want to do, then get a degree, but don’t just go to school just to get a degree.
9. Before you started college, what was your vision of life after attaining a college degree and how has that vision changed?
In high school I thought [college] would be a lot easier than it turned out to be, but college is a lot harder than high school. High school was pretty easy, so I figured I’m a pretty smart guy, so college shouldn’t be that much harder, but it was pretty hard. Then I realized more about being a doctor and it doesn’t seem as easy. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it might be worth it. Like, when you’re in high school you’re like “oh that guy is a doctor, he helps people, he makes a lot of money, and he seems like he has a great life”. But when you go to college, you learn more about being a doctor, you get internships and talk to doctors and see how their lives are and you go “Oh he’s working like 80 hrs a week, that doesn’t seem fun, and he’s in a bunch of debt”. Going into college gave me more of a realistic view.
10. What is the greatest challenge that you’ve faced in your efforts to gain an education?
The hardest thing was money. Even now, I’m taking loans and I have financial aid, but even then toward the end of the quarter I’m eating cup of noodles for the last 2 weeks. That sucks. So it sucks stressing out over money and stressing out over school. There’s free tutoring, but it would have been nice to have a private tutor. It’s a good thing and a bad thing, because it made the education more valuable to me. I’m working to pay for school and I’ll take almost any money from my parents. It’s not easy for me sometimes, I have to struggle for it. So I don’t take it for granted. I have to do well. I can’t go another year because I can’t afford another year. I can’t fail my classes. I have to study a lot more because I don’t have any tutors. I have to learn it on my own, so that takes a little more time. For me it’s more do or die. I just have to have to do this. There is pressure. The pressure helps, but it’s also really sh*tty.
I also feel pressure because my dad is older and he has health issues. Eventually he is not going to be able to support anybody and it’s going to be up to the kids. I will have to help my mom out and my younger brother and sister. I want to get thru everything as soon as I can, but I can’t because I have to take my time.
11. If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I’d say study even more. I don’t think I have any regrets. It took me longer than I thought it would, but I also had more time to enjoy myself.
12. Has your pursuit of a higher education been worth it?
Not yet because I’m still in the process. I think college is worth it for different fields. You are seen as more valuable with a degree and get experience and can start working. It is different for different fields. Fro example, being an actor. A lot of people go to college for it, but that doesn’t guarantee you a job, so you could do it the nontraditional way. College is where you get connections, like internships, research opportunities, and professors.
13. Do you think you would have been better off just getting a job or skipping college altogether?
No, because it’s really hard and then it’s impossible as a doctor.
14. Are you optimistic about finding a job after college?
Yeah, for a doctor it’s almost guaranteed.
15. What if you don’t get into medical school the first time you apply? Are you optimistic about finding a job then?
If I don’t get in, I will work. I [am already planning to] take a year off because I couldn’t finish my MCAT on time, and I talked to a peer adviser at Bakersfield College, and I would get a job there. I could find stuff around Davis. I feel like there is a lot of jobs, not good jobs, but enough to help me.
As always, I hope you all enjoyed this interview and gained something from it. Stay tuned for my next interview!
I’ll keep you posted.