Martin Cao, ’21, is attending the University of California, San Diego and is majoring in mechanical engineering.
Q: How has your experience at UCSD been?
A: It’s been fine. I think SCDS prepared me well for college academically. I haven’t really struggled much in any of my classes, but I have struggled a bit with time management. Since I’m living on my own I’m more independent but have more responsibilities than I did in high school. Other than that, everything has been pretty smooth.
Q: Why did you choose your major?
A: I did a lot of internships in high school. I did an internship with a mechanical engineering company and I found it pretty interesting, so I wanted to go into the field. I might change my major in the future, but right now I’m looking at mechanical engineering.
Q: What made you choose UCSD?
A: I would say the campus is pretty nice and the decisive factor was really the location. I like living next to the sea and the weather’s nice because it’s in California.
Q: Has COVID-19 affected you or your classes?
A: Not really, because my classes are online so it hasn’t really affected them that much. Everything is pretty normal.
Q: What classes are you taking right now?
A: Right now I’m taking a psychology class, a writing class, a math class, a physics class and a music class.
Q: What is your favorite class?
A: I would say Psychology class is my favorite even though I’m studying mechanical engineering. I just really enjoy it a lot because the material is pretty fun to learn and the class is pretty easy going compared to the other classes I’m taking.
Q: What are your biggest and smallest classes?
A: My biggest class is my math class, which is online, and it has about 200 people. It’s not that big of a deal because it’s online, but it’s noticeable. My smallest class is probably my writing class which only has around 10 kids.
Q: Is college any different than you expected?
A: Yes, because in high school you go through the year with the semester system, but at UCSD we use the quarter system so everything goes by really fast and your time management skills are really important. If you don’t stay on top of your things you’ll definitely get easily overwhelmed.
Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
A: I’m in a club called Rocket Propulsion Laboratory or RPL for short. We are basically just building a rocket right now that we’re going to launch at the end of the school year. Usually our club meets every Saturday, and we work on our rocket.
Q: What is your housing situation like?
A: It’s pretty good. I’m on the 13th floor of this one really tall building so it’s pretty nice. You get bored of the dining hall food really quickly, so I think it would be helpful to know how to cook when you’re in college. My roommates are pretty chill, they know what’s up. There are seven of them—the living space is big enough. We all know our boundaries and have mutual respect for each other so it works well.
Q: Do you think Country Day prepared you well for college?
A: Academically, yes. I took Mr. Mangold’s physics class and it helped me a lot, especially with the way I learn things. Ms. Bauman’s writing class also helped me tremendously in my writing class right now. I actually think that if I didn’t take Ms. Bauman’s writing class I would have failed my writing class. I also got an A in Mr. Millsback’s class so nothing can challenge me anymore.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2022 when they enter college?
A: Yes, it’s just a huge mental shift but it’s pretty fun so just enjoy college. Do your research before you pick your school and stay on top of your things because college can get pretty overwhelming really quickly.
— By Andrew Burr