To kick off the academic school year, we interviewed our exceptional Business Operations and Product Advisor, William Wang, about his journey transitioning into college and beyond. As a former intern at successful companies and an incoming freshman at the University of Washington, William has plenty of insight on study habits and emotional intelligence. Read on to learn more about his experiences and goals for the future!
What are your academic and personal goals for your college journey?
Although grades are important, it is important to understand that they are just numbers printed onto a transcript. That said, one of my goals in college is to soak in as much knowledge as I can simply for the sheer enjoyment I can gain from doing so. As I become more curious about the ever-complex world around me, I can only imagine the learning that awaits me during my four short years at the University of Washington. Whether it be talking to a professor about their passion for social equity, exploring the rich (and devastating) history of indigenous tribes at a nearby museum, or creating a prototype of an app for a UX/UI class, my motivations for learning will be about developing a profound curiosity for everything I learn about.
What was your biggest challenge when transitioning from high school to college?
For the first few weeks, I was pretty overwhelmed connecting with new people and establishing a community that I felt I could fully be myself. With 50,000 other students attending, there's a lot of uncertainty about the students you want to spend time with and become close friends. However, I was reassured knowing that everyone was in the same boat as I was -- most first-years experience this social dilemma.
Even though talking with new people might seem intimidating, I can't stress how important it is to take advantage of the many opportunities there are to get involved in your campus. Once you attend one event, you'll find yourself more comfortable attending more and talking to other students on campus. Who knows -- the event might offer free food (!) and the people you meet for the first time may soon become your best friends.
Were there any surprises or unexpected experiences during your first semester in college?
Since all of my classes have had at least 150 students in them (one of them has over 500), it can feel impossible to feel personally known and seen by your professor. However, I was taken by surprise with how much professors truly want to know each of their students despite knowing classes are only ten weeks long (we use the quarter system). Professors do want you to take advantage of their office hours, even if you don't have a question directly related to homework or the course content. In fact, one of my professors teaching Information Design invited me to visit him in his office simply so he can share his fascination for old comic books and give me a few kitchen recipes he's made himself!
Can you share your study habits and techniques that have worked well for you in college?
One of the most effective study habits I've used is so simple yet incredibly effective: I study in a quiet space with a peer or two who can keep me accountable. While studying in bigger groups can largely be a distraction, having the presence of one or two other people with similar work ethic can motivate you to stay focused and complete your tasks. If you're studying with another student in your major/concentration, you can work with each other to work through problem sets and homework or keep each other focused on the tasks you need done.
College can be stressful. How do you manage stress and practice self-care to maintain your well-being?
In order to manage stress, I make decisions that help me avoid experiencing stress in the first place. Stress can be a helpful motivator, but too much can lead to burnout and poor mental health, both of which you should avoid if you want to be successful in every facet of your life at college. Instead of having activities during every hour of your day, set small chunks of time aside to take care of yourself and your well-being; this can be a twenty minute walk around campus, an hour on Netflix in your dorm, or a thirty-minute power nap. However you choose to spend your time, small moments like these can give you the energy to fully engage and appreciate every moment of your day.
Have you encountered situations where emotional intelligence played a role in resolving conflicts or building relationships with classmates or roommates?
I am beyond thankful that I have roommates that I know and have great relationships with; however, I recognize that this may not be the case for many other students. When resolving conflicts, it is important to take ownership of your feelings and say "I feel" statements. This candid style of communication openly demonstrates to others how their choices positively or negatively affect you. The vast majority of people are approachable and willing to listen, so never be afraid to let others know how you feel when you need to!