FRESHMAN FOCUS: Jake Sands ventures into the Hell Hole at UC Santa Cruz (video included)

(Photo used by permission of Sands)
Jacob Durante, ’16, history teacher Bruce Baird and Jake Sands, ’16, take a picture after high-school graduation.

Jake Sands, ‘16, has just finished his second quarter at University of California, Santa Cruz. He is planning on majoring in electrical engineering.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: Multivariable calculus, a Physics 5 series, and next quarter I’ll be doing linear algebra.

Q: What’s your favorite class?

A: Probably multivariable calculus. I like math, and it’s a fun class.

The professor made a bunch of videos, and I actually like it a lot because sometimes in a math class I’ll zone out, and I’ll have to get notes from a friend.

But when the videos are all online, I can just pause (them), or I can speed them up, which is nice if they’re going through something I’ve already heard. I like learning at my own pace when it comes to math.

Q: Least favorite?

A: It’s not really a class, but my least favorite is definitely the physics lab. It was terrible. Graduate students teach the class, and you kind of have to get lucky and get a good graduate student. I did not get lucky.

On the first day of class, (the graduate student) neglected to tell us the structure for how we’re supposed to do the lab, so most of the class didn’t end up writing a hypothesis or any sort of outline for their lab book and ended up failing the first lab. There were only six labs to go through, and one of them was already an F! I actually don’t think I got higher than a C- on any of the labs just because of how strict (the graduate student) was with grading.

And it was so stupid. I thought I was going to have to take the class again, but it ended up being that (the graduate student) had to curve the class because he graded it so terribly. I ended up getting an A.

They ask you to write evaluations for teachers in general, and usually I write just a simple “They were great.” But for this TA I had to open a Word doc to write his evaluation. It was a page and a half.

Q: How big are your classes?

A: (In) my online math class last quarter (the students) would all get together to take midterms and finals, and it seemed like there were around 300 people.

That seems to stay true for most of the math classes – around 200-300 people. The physics class had 200 as well. But all of my English classes have been around 30.

Q: Do you like the sizes of your classes?

A: I like having smaller classes for English because getting to know your teacher helps out.

I feel like I ask more questions in English classes than in math classes, so it doesn’t bother me that much when the math classes are that big. You can always go to office hours, but most of the time with math I’d rather just figure it out myself. I feel like I learn better that way.

Q: How was your transition?

A: It was great, considering for Country Day I had to drive 45 minutes to school every day. And now I have to walk a minute to my English class. Not even a minute – less than a minute! It’s fantastic. Being able to live at your school is a big plus.

Q: Have you participated in any traditions?

A: Sort of. This doesn’t really count as a tradition, but everybody’s heard of it. There’s a cave called Hell Hole that goes around 100 feet deep, and it’s on campus.

Me and my friends, a couple weeks ago, (went to Hell Hole) without having any experience with spelunking.

We didn’t have any gear, and it got really cramped. I’m a tall guy. I’m skinny, but still it’s incredibly cramped. The only way to move is to wiggle your body. It’s crazy.

We were only able to do about a third of it because you get to a point where there’s a 70-foot vertical drop, and we didn’t want to die.

Q: Are you doing any extracurriculars?

A: I am not, and it’s terrific. At Country Day you kind of have to; it seems like everyone’s doing it.

And I love doing extracurriculars, but I felt like I did enough in high school where I needed a little break. It’s really nice. When you get to college, there’s a lot of free time.

Q: So what do you do in your free time?

A: I’m a boring human being. I’ll sometimes go hang out with my friends. I’ll read, watch movies – pretty much just passing the time. I do art still; I try to do a couple drawings a week.

Q: Do you ever go off campus?

A: All the time. I go to the beach just to hang out.

There are fantastic coffee shops downtown. There’s like 50 in one little area, and they’re all just amazing.

There’s a great movie theater called The Del Mar that I like to go to. It’s more like an art house place where they play whatever they want, so they’ve had “Moonlight” up there for four months.

I haven’t gone to it yet, but they have “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at midnight every Saturday. People dress up and go to it.

They’re a big fan of (director) Quentin Tarantino, so they show a lot of his movies. It’s nice.

Q: Has the city Santa Cruz lived up to your expectations so far?

A: It’s surpassed my expectations. I really just had a terrible image for what the city is – and I still don’t have the complete version of it – but I was really surprised to find out how weird it is. There are a lot of cool spots that I’ve never seen in any other town.

Overall I’m pleasantly surprised with Santa Cruz.

Q: Why did you choose UC Santa Cruz?

A: It’s the school I got into. And it’s a beautiful campus; I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

There are redwoods everywhere. You’re surrounded by nature all the time. I go hiking pretty frequently because there’s a national park right next to the campus. It’s cool.

Q: What is your favorite thing about UC Santa Cruz?

A: The education. I feel like I’m getting a good education here, and I can see it get increasingly better as time goes on.

Q: What don’t you like?

A: I don’t like this, but it’s probably good for me: it’s really hilly, and I have to walk everywhere because I’m too lazy to wait for a bus.

Q: What is your dorm like?

A: It’s cramped, to say the least. There’s the trend going on where they turn doubles to triples, and I don’t like it.

Q: How are your roommates?

A: They’re okay. They’re really quiet, and I’m not that quiet. So I somewhat hate them, but they’re good guys.

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?

A: I feel like I have (made) a lot of freshman blunders. Every freshman is kind of a lost puppy; they don’t know where to go. But once you figure it out, it’s really not that bad. I haven’t made that many big mistakes.

Q: What is your advice for the class of 2017?

A: Don’t procrastinate. I feel like that’s the only general advice that works for everyone.

Because everyone is going to have different circumstances, try to figure out what your problems would be in college, and attempt to find a solution early on. But it’s hard not to give generic advice because there are so many variables.

Try not to stress out too much when you’re in your senior year. That’s when people get overloaded.

By Allison Zhang

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