Garrett Shonkwiler at the beach near the UC Santa Barbara campus. (Photo courtesy of Shonkwiler)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Garrett Shonkwiler, ’20, enjoys biking while attending online classes at the UC Santa Barbara

Garrett Shonkwiler, ’20, attends online classes at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is considering majoring in economics.

Q: Why did you choose your college? 

A:  I applied to schools that were strong in the subjects I was interested in: economics and physics. These were the subjects that I had both a knack and an interest for high school. I applied to schools across the country because at the time, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to stay close to home or get away from it. When I looked at the schools I got accepted into, I narrowed the decision down further by talking to Country Day alumni at these schools whom I knew. I ultimately picked UC Santa Barbara because, from all indicators, it was a beautiful campus with a good environment and good weather. Being a UC, it had attractive pricing as well. 

Q: How did you choose your major? 

A: I’ve been taking classes in both economics and physics. At the moment, I’m leaning toward an economics major. I’m still not sure.

Q: Are there any clubs you are in or are interested in joining?

A:  I’m interested in joining the outdoor adventures club, the chess club and some intramural sports. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, clubs aren’t meeting in person. They’re doing events over Zoom, but it’s just not the same. Hopefully things will change next year.

Q: How has the pandemic affected you and your classes?  

A: All my classes are entirely over Zoom. And Most of them are asynchronous. My roommate was lucky enough to secure a lab course for the spring quarter that’s in person. However, I believe it’s only labs that are this way, and only a couple of them. 

Q: How has the pandemic affected housing and food?

A: You can pick up lunch and dinner at the dining hall, but you have to take it home to eat it. The food is alright. It’s better than my own cooking, which is all that matters.

Right now, the dorms are closed but they will be open next year. Three university-owned apartments opened in January to those who had signed housing contracts earlier, but at half capacity. Ordinarily, you have to be a junior to get an apartment, but because of the pandemic, they’ve got freshmen living there instead.

Currently, I’m in a quadruple apartment, but with only one roommate. It’s nice to have the extra space for myself. We’re not allowed to invite people into our apartments, but we can hang out with friends outside while wearing masks.

Q: How are your professors over remote learning? 

A: They’ve all been great teachers, and they’re making use of Zoom to the fullest extent they can. For example, some teachers have used polls and quizzes in their lectures to keep us engaged.

Q: What have you done for fun during the pandemic? 

A: I’ve been biking, running, meeting new friends, watching television and reading. Over winter break I went to Maui.

Q: How was your transition from Country Day to college? 

A: Country Day prepared me well for every class I’ve taken so far at UCSB. Specifically, AP classes at Country Day in writing, history, physics and economics prepared me for subsequent college courses.

Q: Did you make freshman any freshman mistakes?

A: Be careful who you let into your apartment past midnight. I was doing my homework late one night in front of my sliding glass door. At around 2 a.m., someone came up and knocked. I invited him in thinking he was a neighbor. It turned out, he was a total stranger. He was drunk and possibly more. He ransacked my fridge and pantry for alcohol. When I told him we didn’t have any, he became belligerent and quite disagreeable. He didn’t take any of the hints I was giving him to leave, and only left when he got bored. I made a freshman mistake; now I know to keep my curtains closed at night.

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2021? 

A: My advice is to develop better time management skills while you’re at Country Day. It becomes more important when you get to college, but is also useful in high school. To procrastinators: get your homework done early and fast. Make a schedule, and stick to it. It might seem like no fun but in the long run, working more efficiently will give you more time for fun. It’s one of the most valuable skills you can develop.

UC Santa Barbara
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— By Jonah David

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