Charlie Johnson, '14, attempts a handstand on the CSU Chico sign.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Charlie Johnson enjoys Chico, advises seniors not to get caught up in school labels

Charlie Johnson, ’14, is a freshman at Chico State University.

Q: How was orientation?

A: I had my orientation at the beginning of summer. It made it feel like school was right around the corner, but I still had most of the summer. They gave a tour of campus and we made our class selections; it was well planned out, though.

Q: What was your first impression?

A: Move-in day, I felt like I was thrown into a really long summer camp. I found the transition really easy; it was smooth. It’s a big change, but it was never an overwhelming experience. That first week was super fun; we did things that didn’t involve school work.

On the first day of class, I noticed that all my teachers are pretty cool. The classes are appropriately difficult, and the classes that I am taking are pretty cool. We are building an automated battery sorter in one of my classes. It’s supposed to test whether a battery is good or bad, and then (a person can) toss them if they aren’t good. My team is looking for at least a three-battery sorter machine.

Q: How are your classes?

A: Mechanics 140 is my favorite class because it’s by far the most interesting. I have a class called Sustainable Manufacturing; we are building a hoist winch and all the parts that go into it. Since we are building most of the parts, we get to work in the metal shop lab area, and we got to weld and cast the parts out of aluminum. When it’s work time, they blast rock ’n’ roll over the speakers.

Q: Any classes you hate?

A: Nope! My communications class is not as interesting as a class where you build something or where you get to do more hands-on interesting things. It’s not a bad class, just not particularly interesting.

Q: Was there anything that surprised you?

A: I never really imagined college too clearly, so if you don’t set up preconceptions, you can roll with it. Nothing shocking, just different. My older sister Jamie, ’10, was able to give me the rundown on how schedules work and how you have to take a different approach to studying—like at college it is more about the studying on your own and less about just getting the homework done.

Q: How about the professors?

A: Besides my communications class, all my classes are taught by the professor, not by TAs. But my communications professor has online lectures; when I go to class, it is with the grad student. So far, all the teachers have been really fair and honest about grading and teaching. It’s definitely an advantage to be taught by your professors rather than grad students.

Q: How’s the roommate situation?

A: I have a good roommate. I don’t think that we have had any disagreements. It’s been a great experience. We filled out a small form with a bunch of lifestyle questions; I think that that is the main basis.

Q: Now is the most important question – how is the food?

A: I’m in honors housing for people who are in the honors program. You get priority registration and different classes.  I’m in a “house” that has 14 people in it, and we have a kitchen, but we only get four meals a week. The food at the cafeteria isn’t that good to be honest, and it’s great to be able to eat how you want to. I personally haven’t cooked too much, mainly sandwiches, but a few people have been cooking a lot, and usually they just share it with the rest of us.

Q: How is the honors program? Would you recommend others to sign up for it?

A: I would sign up for the honors program, because other than maintaining a 3.5 GPA in the honors program, there aren’t any repercussions other than losing your honors status. You don’t even have to live in honors housing if you don’t want to. The classes are better, and you get priority in selecting classes.

Q: Are you involved in Greek life?

A: I am not, and I don’t intend on it. I know a little bit about it, but it doesn’t really hold a lot of appeal for me.

Q: Any advice for the class of 2015?

A: You don’t have to go to that “great school.” Where you go doesn’t have to be Ivy League or a UC. They aren’t always a great fit for everyone. Don’t get caught up in school labels!

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