My Road to UCI: “A SPOP”

To high school me, college was like stepping into a whole new world:

Class at 4 p.m. – When does school end?

Pizza at 2 a.m. – People do that?

EEE and WebReg – Come again?

Four years of meticulous planning, hours of participating in extracurriculars, and more sleepless nights then I’m willing to admit culminated in my submitting the SIR—my intent to register at UCI. I’m not sure what I expected would commemorate this momentous occasion: a banner unfurling, confetti, or at least some cheering. The reality was that I merely clicked on a button, and a confirmation email marked my official commitment to college. Pretty anticlimactic right?

That’s what ran through my head as I skimmed through UCI’s homepage to learn more about the school that I would call home next year. There was so much information on that page alone covering every detail that might be important or interesting to me. Then came the flood of emails:

Check your Zot Account!

Housing application due in 2 weeks!

Sign up for SPOP!

I felt like my head was going to explode. The fanfare that I was expecting upon submitting my SIR was finally here—but it was more confusing than exciting.

How do I even get into my Zot Account?

Where should I live? Mesa Court or Middle Earth? What’s the difference?

And what even is a SPOP?

My friends were not much help. The concept of “a SPOP” was as foreign to them as it was to me. They had committed to different schools, most of which were out of state, and were dealing with new acronyms too. As much as I hated to admit it, I was starting to get a bit scared. Or, at the very least, concerned. I considered calling Admissions but then chickened out. I think a part of me was afraid that they would revoke my acceptance because I didn’t know what “a SPOP” was! Of course, that was far from the truth.

Then a savior appeared in my inbox. Effie had emailed me to introduce herself as my very own CHP Peer Mentor. Every first-year student in the Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) is assigned a Peer Mentor who helps them in the transition to UCI. Effie was a sophomore majoring in not one but three majors: Music, Psychology and Social Behavior, and Art History. Quite a slacker, right? Her email was music to my ears: “I’m

here to answer any questions you have about college life. Feel free to contact me anytime!” Any questions? Any time? Yes!!

My first question? Well, you probably guessed it: “WHAT’S A SPOP?” Effie replied to my email almost immediately. She explained that SPOP stood for the Student Parent Orientation Program, and that it was pretty much going to be my introduction to UCI along with academic advising. I would be signing up for classes and at the same time be able to connect with other honors students. The best part about her email: no acronyms! I had found someone at UCI who actually spelled things out, translating intimidating abbreviations into phrases and then explaining them so that things finally made sense to me.

Long story short, I went to SPOP (not “a SPOP” by the way) and had an amazing time. I learned more about UCI and what to expect during my first days, months, and year in college. Going to workshops for both my major and for the CHP, I walked away with my course schedule for Fall quarter. I went and got In-and-Out burgers with my new found friends at—you guessed it—2 a.m. and stayed up all night doing skits with current and incoming students in my hall.

Over the course of the summer, I peppered Effie with all sorts of questions, and she kindly answered them all. Now a veteran, having been at UCI for two years, I am a CHP Peer Mentor myself. As my mentees ask the same questions that I once asked Effie in my high school panic, I can’t help but smile as I answer and comfort them. It’s a great trip down memory lane. Things just have a funny way of working out!