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The best thing about Berkeley, the thing I miss the most, is its ability to attract serious students dedicated to their disci...
The best thing about Berkeley, the thing I miss the most, is its ability to attract serious students dedicated to their disciplines. I was always annoyed to hear about the multi-major psychology/poli-sci/micro-bio majors with high hopes of graduate school in each of these focuses, but I always preferred this to the students at other schools where college was an annoying speed bump on the way to "life." People who go to Berkeley really want to go to college, and they want to go to college because they want to become inspired by academics (the people and the subjects). Again, this isn't always the case - see: Jocks - but it is true and certainly a reason to attend if you want to meet this type of student.
The only thing you can say about Berkeley categorically is that it's students are diverse. The only person who will not fit in is the person who demands a homogeneous social environment.
These stereotypes CAN be true, but another stereotype that is ALWAYS true is that Berkeley is diverse, and often immune to blanket statements about student population. Certain majors certainly have a majority of ugly, studious intellectuals adorned in musty sweatpants (EECS, cough), but you're really sure to find almost every type of character on campus. Even fringe personalities can find a match if you make your fringeness visible enough.
I love academics, I miss academics. If you're on your way to Berkeley and on the fence about whether you want to pursue an academic career or parlay what you learn in Art History classes into the corporate world, you're going to be stuck on that fence for the duration of your time at Cal. Berkeley professors are passionate enough to attract you to their research, but they are (fortunately and unfortunately) flexible enough to let you make your own decisions about your professional future. It's a school where a lot of your direction is self-motivated, and that can be a very dangerous thing for most. With the surfeit of academic possibilities just one click away on Telebears, I tried to dabble across disciplines without getting lost. For me, film studies and philosophy were complimentary disciplines that enriched each other mutually. Film classes were more interesting with a philosophy background and vica versa.
The most popular student groups, for me, were the not the best. There are so many organizations, and so many opportunities to develop your own organization, that there is no reason to feel left out. I witnessed the genesis of Berkeley's now prolific student filmmaking club and an arts/culture journal specializing in semi-serious discussion of popular/semi-alternative culture. I can't say the same for the dating scene because I avoided that for the most part, but I will say that it's an option - maybe an alternative to the uber-extracurricular life.
Before I went to Cal, I heard that it was filled with studious, intellectual, nerdy grunge kids. Even the frat boy and sorority girls weren't supposed to escape this stereotype; although, in their case, studious was supposed to connote ugliness. Berkeley goggles - the infamous invisible accessory that any Berkeley student must wear in order to preserve their sexual desire.
Berkeley is an amazing college town. In my opinion it is the perfect place to live when you are college age. There are tons...
Berkeley is an amazing college town. In my opinion it is the perfect place to live when you are college age. There are tons of great cheap restaurants, fun bars, beautiful parks and more. There is much more school pride than I ever thought there would be but after attending Berkeley for 4 years, I really do take pride in my school and am proud to say that I went to UC-Berkeley.
There is a huge variety of students who attend Berkeley from every background possible.
I loved going to Berkeley but it is not for everyone.
No. A large portion of Berkeley students are certainly liberal in their beliefs but most students are not very politically active and tend not to be interested in politics or activism much at all.
Some stereotypes are that Berkeley is an extremely liberal place where everyone is very politically active.
There is a huge range of experiences you can have depending on the class you are in. I have been in classes with 10 other students and had other classes with 800 students. For me, a class can still be amazing even if it is in a huge lecture hall and taking classes with hundreds of other students allowed me to be taught by some of the most intelligent, knowledgable and dynamic professors at Berkeley and even in this country. I majored in Social Welfare which allowed me to take small classes (usually 30-40 students) and get to know my professors well.
I feel like there is a social scene for every type of person at Berkeley.
As a recent graduate, I feel I wouldn't be who I am without the experiences I had at Berkeley. I moved to California to atten...
As a recent graduate, I feel I wouldn't be who I am without the experiences I had at Berkeley. I moved to California to attend UCB and that in itself was a huge change for me. The people I met, the things I did, and the classes I took all influenced me in some way or another. I loved it. Berkeley can be academically rigorous if you want it to be. I was so confused for the majority of my college career about what I wanted to study that I ended up taking classes in a huge variety of disciplines - from economics to organic chemistry to religious studies. I still managed to graduate in four years (in a major I don't think was particularly right for me) even though I took so many courses outside of my major. I don't regret the path that my academics took, but I do recommend exploring at least 5 different options for a major before deciding on one... you really never know what you might discover by taking a random class in another discipline. As for location, I really don't think it gets too much better. The bay area is magnificent in all its glory - just walking around on campus and being able to see the ocean... wow. Berkeley was a large enough city that I didn't feel like I was stuck in a bubble that I couldn't escape (after all, the BART or bus to take you into the city is right there). Berkeley has tons of great food and nice neighborhoods and is so much more than just a campus (in reality, the school is just a small part of it). There was always an experience to be had - something I had never seen, done, or eaten before. Being very close to Oakland and San Francisco is a huge advantage for students to explore opportunities outside of what the campus has to offer. Overall, I feel really lucky to have been able to attend UC Berkeley.
Like I said, you'll meet all kinds of people. This was valuable to me in my college experience - it's a huge part of learning.
It's difficult to pinpoint stereotypes of UC Berkeley students because the school is so huge - you are bound to encounter many kinds of people, most of whom won't fit into some mold of what you might expect to see in Berkeley. I loved meeting new people every year - whether it was through courses, extracurriculars, or other friends. I don't think it is even makes sense for me to go into stereotypes of students because I don't really think they exist.
Yes and no. I am white here and a minority. Most students are helpful not competitive.
Yes and no. I am white here and a minority. Most students are helpful not competitive.
Majority are Asian and super competitive.
Never did I hope to be at or even imagine life for myself at another school. I have learned some of the most important lesson...
Never did I hope to be at or even imagine life for myself at another school. I have learned some of the most important lessons of my life at UC Berkeley- some from world-famous biochemists, some from my aggravating classmates, some from wonderful co-operative living environment, and some from the hyper-cynical attachment-o-phobes that you encounter in the Berkeley dating scene. The above highlights some of the key elements of Berkeley that I will also describe in the specific categories below. Just in case this text box and my following replies get separated, I will enumerate the following: 1) "World-class academics" is not just a cheesy tag line. Your professors, particularly in the biological sciences, are the leaders in their research fields, and most of them also know how to teach. This is extremely awesome. 2) UC Berkley students, particularly in the biological sciences, are cutthroat, driven assholes. My recommendation: study alone. 3) The Berkeley Student Co-ops (BSC) are the most awesome of possible living environments for anyone who values independence but also loves the fun that can come with living in a collective, who is willing to do chores but not have to do ALL the chores yourself, share resources and space and in turn get access to more resources and space than you could ever have on your own, who would like to come back to homemade dinner every night, and who is down to recycle, compost, have murals on the walls, etc. 4) If you're looking to snag a hunny who will put a ring on your finger by senior year, for the most part, unless you're in some Christian group, don't come a-lookin' here. People at Berkley are all about "seeing all there is to see" and are more likely to break up with you senior year because "its weird that theyve only been with one person" or date strictly casually.
1) Absolutely. 2) Sort of.
1) Crazy driven Asian pre-meds. 2) Crazy hippies.
Usually people find one or two niches that comprise most of their social network and take up most of their time. For me, it's been very straightforward: I'm a co-op girl, through and through, from the house level to the central policy level to recruitment. Other people get similarly obsessed with things like the Daily Cal, or Rally Com (ugh), or the ASUC (student government. double ugh.) or the Asian American Association, etc. Greeks are minimal, if you really don't want to see their bleached blonde heads at all, just live on Northside. Co-ops for living, or even just for parties, are my personal ideal, but if "Pimps and Hos" is more your style than quirkier shit, maybe you should stick with the Greek. Don't come to our Civil War Re-enactment or Band Night or Disco Party trying to make it a frat party. It ISN'T. Berkeley has never bored me. If it gets boring, you can always go to San Francisco or the oh-so-hipster Oakland. It's always been about choosing what of the many things I have in front of me to do, not desperately trying to find something. The dating scene is good for "exploration", bad for commitment. Or maybe that's just the co-op dating scene. The Hillel here has offered really good things while being kind of cliquish. Do me a favor, go get involved and make it un-cliquish.
Are you a Bio Major? Why? 1. Is it cause you want to be a doctor? 1.A.Why? 1.A.1 Is it cause your mommy and daddy want you to be? -->Spare us. Don't do it. 1.A.2 Is it because you want to be ultra successful? -->Try to be less of an asshole. 1.A.3 Is it because you want to genuinely help people? -->That's nice. But don't be an asshole along the way. 2. Is it because you're just interested in science? -->Watch out, kiddo. Better hope your interests and ideals are nice and strong, because your first two years of UC Berkeley will put them to the test. Chem1A has about 1500 freshmen in it- 3 sections of 500 kids, aka half of your dorm floor. Chem3A (organic chem) gets down to about 1000, Chem 3B to around 500 at a time. See my point? Hopefully, you're losing the 1.A.1's. But assholeness abounds- not overt assholeness, usually, but just the general "oh, you've only gotten THERE in the reading?" Everyone's psyched out, so they're psyching each other out; classes are graded on a curve, and the material is difficult so the competition is fierce. Expect that a 60% on the test is a B you're super grateful for; This aint highschool. I strongly recommend maintaining a distance from most of your biology classmates except for your super close folk that you know are behind you. But is it worth it? Yes. You learn to deal with competition. You learn to deal with assholes. You learn to deal with failure, or maybe just C's. Competition, assholes, and failure are very real parts of life. PLUS, when you get into upper div, it gets MUCH more awesome. My recommendation: take the more biochemistry-heavy "track 1" of the Molecular and Cell Biology major. Classes are just a cozy 100 students each. More science, less drama. And for non-Bio majors, or Bio majors with other interests, I have had a SPECTACULAR time taking classes in the English, Philosophy, Anthropology, and Ethnic Studies departments, not to mention the student-run classes, including both Female Sexuality and Male Sexuality. You have access to really kickass profs here in all departments. I say if high-falootin academics is a priority for you, come here, but if youre a bio major, gear up to fight assholes along the way.
The best thing about Berkeley is the way it rewards people who know what they want from it. And the longer you go here, the ...
The best thing about Berkeley is the way it rewards people who know what they want from it. And the longer you go here, the more accurate your expectations are. You can learn a lot about music, or just about your major. You can develop life long friends, or set a strong career path for yourself, or most likely both. The size of the school is a both a blessing and a curse. It gives you the room you need to live how you want, provided you have some notion of what you want already. People outside of Berkeley tend to react well, and that is a source of real school pride. The school pride concerning the football team, though loud, is mostly a freshman experience, and has little to do with real feelings of pride about the school. It’s the intelligent and passionate people that you see on campus every day who really make the wheels turn. UC Berkeley is integrated humorously with the city of Berkeley, and there is a lot to learn from that. You can live far or close to the source of student energy near campus, and your experience will be shaped by that choice. Sometimes the distraction of student life is overwhelming, and sometimes the isolation of life down University Avenue or in Oakland can leave you hanging. But on telegraph, academia, homelessness and the hyphy movement tend to collide without regard for one another, and to great comic effect. The administration of the school, and the student government make a lot of noise, through sidewalk chalk and through the daily cal, but my experience is that they can be almost fully ignored without effecting your demeanor if you are good at saying “no” to flyerers in the spring, and if you don’t read email bulletins from the chancellor. It seems like students can be intimidated by the impersonal aspects of their Berkeley experience, and often feel like the academic and social aspects of the school are disconnected and don’t support one another. But there is a lot of life and energy at UC Berkeley, and if you put in a little effort you can learn a lot about it.
Feeling out of place at Berkeley can take a conscious effort. It's just too big for cliques to develop against one another. They usually develop out of their own right, and and discrimination seems more personal here, than group oriented. Even though Athletes tend to eat together, and music-oriented people (euphemism for hipsters) tend to follow the same trend, there is little genuine animosity between "groups" and that notion deconstructs itself slowly over the four years. My experience with fraternity brothers and athletes and music junkies and "gender explorers" in the classroom and on campus has been overwhelmingly positive. Once you leave the dorms, you have to CHOOSE to interact with the kinds of people that don't fit your ideal friend group. People will leave you alone, and if you met them outside of their scene, there would probably be respect, and maybe even kindness.
This is a bit off topic, but if you choose to accept the challenge, it is one of the greatest things berkeley has to offer, socially, musically, and in terms of general mental and emotional health. Finding a group of trusted friends and making road trips and trips to concerts in San Francisco is truly something you will never regret or forget. The smallest effort to stay in touch with the music scene in San Francisco, and to keep your close friends on the same page, is very rewarding. Also, take advantage of the many eateries. Explore a little, and choose some good companions.
Berkeley is simply too big for those stereotypes to be accurate. Every social community has microcosms. There is a lot of freedom to be the person you want to be here, sometimes enough to push naturally shy or reclusive people over the edge. It's not as personal over here. There are hipsters, and frat bros, and athletes, and academics, and philosophers, and engineers, and businessmen and drunks. No one group rightfully holds the claim to what berkeley is.
The pace is fast, and somewhat relentless. You will have free time, but it fills itself up quickly, and effortlessly. If you choose to pursue what you want, you will have all the time you need for it, and with a big school like this, you will have friends to support you. If you wait for berkeley to cater to your time needs, you might get frustrated. There is exactly enough time to get what you want from this school, and it's very easy to stay here longer, provided your parents are willing to shell it out. The finest quality, however, is its size. Academically this means that you are in control of your experience, which is only truly helpful if you know what you want. You may choose to flounder, or to aggressively pursue a degree, and you will have an excellent time, if you are choosing to do it. Also, you have lots of freedom to develop relationships with professors. They can know your name, but you must make that effort. Because the size of the school is so large, there is always room at the library, and in office hours, and the impersonal environment gives even the smallest personal effort a high priority to a professor. Students are hardly as competitive as they seem and the educational system seems geared towards a well rounded experience. Classes are truly defined by their professors. Finding a good professor, like Carlos Noreña in the History Department, and following them through their course curriculum, is a really good way to milk the UC Berkeley academic resource.
Groups of friends seem to emerge like a snowball. New people seem to roll in and out of social scenes. If you can't roll with the punches, its eary to get left behind. A lot of the strongest bonds tend to be formed by who you live with. Choosing a group of friends who has your back, and finding your ideal living situation with them is one of the most exciting aspects of Berkeley life, and one of the most unique things it has to offer. Whether its an apartment, a house, a frat, a co-op, there is ample opportunity to have meaningful living situations with people you care about. The popularity of different types of events, like concerts, football games, parties, is huge in every category. Berkeley is large enough to accomodate every scene. It truly is your choice. I'm not a football fan, but people who are fans tend to presume I am -- and I have no ambition to correct them. If they knew me we wouldn't have problems with each other. I have never been accused of lacking "golden bear spirit" except as a joke from close friends.
Within the UC Berkeley community, there seems to be a two way stereotype -- that berkeley students who are science/engineering are intense, overzealous and antisocial, and that humanities majors tend to be apathetic slackers who just want to party. At other colleges I've visited I've definitely picked up on the feeling that berkeley students are "too good" for other schools, and not that smart anyway, though they believe they are. In the larger world, Berkeley students are seen as intelligent, but super-liberal and football oriented. I can't think of many emails from my relatives in Iowa that didn't include several lines about how hurt I must have been at the loss of the Golden Bears to some other team.
The best thing about Berkeley is the capacity for change. When most students graduate, they are almost unrecognizable from th...
The best thing about Berkeley is the capacity for change. When most students graduate, they are almost unrecognizable from the person they were as a freshman. Berkeley teaches its students not just facts and formulas, but a wider perspective on life. Most people undergo drastic changes because they find new causes to support, new hobbies to explore, or they meet people who expose them to different backgrounds. Most of the time when I tell people I go to Berkeley, they assume I am a big egghead with no social skills, or they say something teasing like, "Oh, did you stop shaving your legs and become a lesbian?" Pretty closed-minded ideas, in my opinion. I spend most of my time on campus trying to find a way out of Dwinnelle, the most confusing campus on building. Luckily, most people who aren't History majors don't have to spend much time in Dwinnelle. I love to sit on the hills outside Wheeler on those few warm, sunny days. During Finals Week, I live in the library, along with the rest of the student population. There is a great sense of community on the Berkeley campus. I was surprised to find how often I ran into people I know on campus. Everyone seems to find their niche, and if you grow out of your niche, there's always room for change.
It is pretty hard to feel out of place in Berkeley. It's a little like a buffet table; there is something for everyone. People come from many different backgrounds, which is part of the reason Berkeley is so diverse in attitude. Honestly, I was surprised when I came to Berkeley and was described as "a white girl." I guess I had never heard that distinction before, coming from a town with a mostly white population. I was surprised and a little offended when people of other backgrounds felt that my opinion was not valid because I am "white." I'm not even really sure what that is supposed to mean. There is a lot of different kinds of student interaction. Most people find a core group of friends, but then making friends in classes, joining clubs, or having jobs, introduces students to other types of students. That at least, has been my experience. The majority of students are from California, and because Berkeley is a public school and therefore less expensive, most students I have met have come from a middle to lower class background. Students are liberal, but that does not mean they are always politically aware. However, because of the upcoming elections, it has been clearer how students feel about politics. Among my own friends there has even occurred heated debates over who is voting for Clinton or Obama.
Every stereotype has some basis in fact, and Berkeley is no exception. Students are smart. After all, they had to be to get in to Cal. The classes are big, but that is not a bad thing. Years of being under the microscope in high school made me desperate for a place like Berkeley. A place where I could make my own decisions and be responsible for my work. Nobody is going to make sure you turn in your homework or read you 700 page reader except you. Students are definitely liberal. Protests occur on campus on a regular basis. Basically, everyone gets an opportunity to voice their opinion. Living in Berkeley has influenced me to be more of what my parents would call a "hippie." I buy more organic foods, recycle every bottle, and try to live a greener existence. I consider this more to be a product of a greater knowledge of the world and human impact. I guess I can credit this to Berkeley, especially after taking Introduction to Development Studies.
Berkeley is known for its smart, free-spirited, strong-willed student population. Berkeley is known for its student protests, co-ops, and general hippie atmosphere. Personally, I think this is too much of a generalization. The thing about Berkeley is that it allows each student to decide how to define themselves. And yes, some of them choose to be hippies. Perhaps it is because of the large student body, but I feel that Berkeley allows for people to self-actualize. There are opportunities for every possible interest in the form of classes, clubs, organiztions, and teams. Classes are competitive, meaning students have to work their butt off just to get a B. I always say, "B for Berkeley." However, tough classes aside, Berkeley is a center of activity. You will never be bored.
The most popular student groups are probably the Cal Berkeley Democrats and the Berkeley College Republicans. Also, ethnically based groups like the Asian Business Association are pretty significant. Many people get involved in dance troupes like Movement, or theater productions like the yearly production of The Vagina Monolugues. Football games reign supreme, although I have personally never attended one. It may be a personal resolution, but I really don't see the point of getting drunk at 11 am at a frat house that is blaring music that wasn't good when it was made in the 1990s. I probably could not care less about football, but a lot of students look forward to home games all year. To each his own, I say, and Berkeley agrees. The dating scene is unlike most other large colleges. I believe many people in Berkeley prefer serious relationships to casual dating. It is not in the Berkeley personality to be a serial dater, but it is still done by some. Most Berkeley students were too busy in high school to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. As a result, I think many Cal students seek that out in the time at Berkeley. Parties are a good time to meet people. Friends bring friends, random people show up, and sometimes, a couple of people will hit it off. The best parties are at the co-ops. When Cloyne hosted bar night last year, it was the best time I ever had at a party. The best tradition at Berkeley is known as "the Naked Run." Every year, on Tuesday night of Finals Week, a large group of students run through the Main Stacks of the library naked. It's really fun, though I can only say I have watched this event.
If I went to more office hours, my professors would probably know my name. Professors are open to meeting their students, it just depends on how much effort each individual puts in to their relationship. As far as classes go, my favorite classes have been on opposite ends of the academic spectrum. The first, History 106A: The Roman Republic with Carlos Norena, helped me decide what my concentration would be on for the History major. Norena is a brilliant professor whose clear, organized, and fascinating lecture were a pleasure to attend. The entire class held on every word he said from the Punic Wars to the death of Julius Caesar. Unfortunately for me, Norena is on sabbatical until new year. My other favorite class was L&S 30T: "Drugs and the Brain" with Professor David Presti. First of all, Presti is adorable. The class was so interesting, although it is not the "easy A" that it is purported to be. Presti teaches his 600 student lecture about how "drugs" like caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, and opium derivative affect the brain. The class combines Molecular and Cell Biology with History, with a little pop culture thrown in. I learned so much from this class. Every student at Berkeley should take this class, and luckily, mostly everyone does.
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