I’m going to Hartnell: How did I get here?


Since grade school, I was always asked what I wanted to do in the future. My response was like many other elementary schoolers “I want to go to college.” 

Going to college meant going to a four-year institution and getting a degree in a chosen major. How we got there didn’t matter, as long as we went away to school. 

12 years later and the expectations were met: I am going to college. However, it’s not to a four year school, yet. Next year I will be attending Hartnell. 

That isn’t bad of course I’m still accomplishing the goal I set for myself so many years ago.  I plan on going to Hartnell and then transferring to UC Santa Cruz to finish my Bachelor’s and then transferring to UC Davis to become a lawyer. 

In the last few years, like many other students, I viewed Hartnell as a last resort. During my freshman year, however, I had this idea in my head that I would go to junior college and then transfer to UCSC. This mentality stood until my counselor told me I had a chance to head straight to UCSC due to my extracurriculars and grades. After that, I set my sights on a four year and Hartnell became an afterthought. Though the pandemic changed some things around. 

I was lost both during and after the pandemic. I began to lose academic discipline as I had little to no support for some time and then by the beginning of my junior year I was struggling to maintain a 3.0 GPA. 

The dream of going to UCSC felt more unattainable once I started struggling.  I was eating myself away, I would take 4-hour naps straight after I got home from practice and woke up in a haze. I would eat and then do an hour of homework and then doom scroll through clothes that I couldn’t afford. My mental health was somewhere stuck in a bipolar turbulence of perpetual ups and downs. I wasn’t able to focus on tutorials, no matter how hard I tried. I felt jittery and jumpy when I should’ve been attentive. 

This effort, or lack of it, culminated in me not being able to be eligible for UCs or CSUs by the end of my senior year. By then Hartnell was my only option. 

Yet, I started to realize some of the benefits that it could actually bring to me. The average student in America carries around $37,574 of debt to pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

The first two years at a UC carry what are known as GE, or General Education, classes. These are classes that cover the basics of their respective subjects (English, math, science). These classes fill up most, if not all, of the first two years. It’s only around junior year that you take your major classes. 

Thanks to the Salinas Valley Promise grant, my tuition (and the tuition for anyone else) would pay for the first two years of my community college, as well as other perks. Other student resources like TRIO (Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds) and Transfer admission guarantee (TAG) would support me in both transfer help and student mentorship. TAG is probably the most important resource for me, because it literally guarantees admission to UCSC, if I follow the prerequisites.

Now, I’ll still have to succeed in order to maintain a decent GPA. You don’t magically become a better student overnight by enrolling in a different school. There’ll be some actions I will be taking to reverse the inactions that I let pass. For example, I learned that study groups motivate me to do the work I’m assigned, so that will be one of the main strategies I will use at Hartnell. 

A schedule with later start times, 10 or 11, could help me alleviate some of the problems of waking up in the morning. Getting help with how I feel at the Hartnell Crisis Center when I need it will give me the comfort to keep on going when it gets rough. Holding myself accountable for my actions will be a must as this is a plan that can only work if I’m truthful. Basically, I will make sure I get help when I need it. 

To be honest I’m not okay with how my high school years turned out, I am a person who regrets a lot, but I recognize I’m not down for the count. Going forward, I will have to be responsible for my actions, as I haven’t necessarily been the last few years, and realize that I let certain things pass me by. I wasn’t ready for my ambition, but I feel Hartnell can be a great way of shaping and understanding what it takes to realize it.