Berkeley, CA
University of California-Berkeley


422 Ratings

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Recent Reviews

Mary Claire
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I like Berkeley because it has exposed me to a whole new culture. It's intelligence is on a whole 'nother level. Students a...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I like Berkeley because it has exposed me to a whole new culture. It's intelligence is on a whole 'nother level. Students are passionate about social activism and environmental responsibility. One thing that really bothers me, though, is that the majority of students seemed depressed. Everyone always looks pale and unhappy and way too stressed out. The academic competition is ridiculous. If you miss a lecture for whatever reason, good luck getting notes from a classmate!

Describe the students at your school.

I feel out of place here. I like to dress well and am kinda into fashion, but when I'm on my way out to class, I often get asked "where are you going?" because people think I'm dressed up. Most people wear sweatshirts and jeans to class. Most girls do not wear makeup. Most students are here on financial aid and have had to take out several loans to come here. Because of that, a lot of people are penny pinchers and do whatever they can to save a buck-- not that there's anything wrong with that, but a lot of times people will turn down a chance to go to a movie or out to dinner because they can't afford it.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Though there are naked people in trees and a population of environmentalists and vegans, Berkeley is not as liberal as people assume. Many students are socially conscious and are equally passionate about global issues as those on other campuses, but it's not as intense as people imagine. However, the local bums and "crazies" ARE intensely passionate. They'll yell at you about politics and even scream and tell you that you will burn in hell for not giving your life to Jesus, but these people are mostly just in Sproul Plaza on the south side of campus, and I have never seen anything turn violent. Addressing the stereotypes on students, I will say that coming from SoCal, your standards may lower. If you see someone attractive, it's probably because you've got your "Berkeley goggles" on-- there are a lot of ugly people. Also, I was one of the smartest students from my high school, but I feel pretty stupid next to most of my classmates. And yes, there are a lot of asians.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

In my experience, people don't leave their dorm room doors open. It depends where you live, though. If you live in a suite or mini-suite, you are more isolated so those buildings tend to be less social. If you are a freshman and want to live somewhere social, I would suggest the Clark Kerr campus. It's really easy to meet people there, but it's far from campus. Football games are really popular, and people get pretty into them. There are a lot of keg parties at frats beforehand, and things tend to get crazy. The town is pretty crazy on game days. Greek life is only big for the people involved. They have lots of parties and invites and exchanges. People tend to get ridiculously drunk and often do stupid things they regret the next day. It's pretty much just a social network for people that like to party and get drunk. The Asian fraternity/sorority scene is a bit different, though. Rush is REALLY intense for girls. I've heard of pledges having to line up and strip down to their underwear only to have the guys in the asian frats tell them what's wrong with their bodies. Everyone I know who's gone through it says that it's horrifying and traumatic. A lot of people stay up late on weeknights. They're either studying or procrastinating. If you don't want to drink on a Saturday night, you can go out to dinner or to a movie. A lot of people are tight with their floormates, so sometimes a floor activity will be planned. You can take the bus to Emeryville, which is like 20-30 mins. away to go to CPK or P.F. Changs, go shopping, or see a movie. You can also take the BART into San Francisco. There are often concerts and shows in the area, so that's a pretty popular thing to do.

What are the academics like at your school?

People study like crazy. During midterms and finals, the campus is dead. People are locked up in the libraries and study lounges. Some people even camp out in the libraries and spread out blankets to claim their spot. I have also found that the majority of students are working towards going to med, law, or grad school. I have even been looked down upon when sharing that I wasn't planning on going to school once I finished my undergrad education. Classes are huge. Here is the basic format: Lectures with hundreds of students led by professors (often boring and filled with power points) and Sections (or small groups) led by grad student instructors (GSI's). In my experience, I have learned far more from my GSI's than my professors. I think this is kind of disappointing, and I wasn't expecting that when I came here.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

UC Berkeley is often thought of as a liberal school with lots of hippies. Stereotypically, the students are nerdy and unattractive. People also say there are a lot of asian students.

Ryan
What is your overall opinion of this school?

real-life application of classes and materials learned in lecture-- i really enjoyed HSI's internship where i got to experien...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

real-life application of classes and materials learned in lecture-- i really enjoyed HSI's internship where i got to experience public health service first-hand at a mental health clinic for a semester. without a doubt, i wish everyone cleaned up after him/herself. it would make SUCH a difference. especially in the bathroom stalls of dwinelle.

Describe the students at your school.

i think everyone wants to appear tolerant or liberal or "open-minded". sadly, i found very few people who were any of those things. they were only accepting of things that were main-stream and in-line with their personal view. what's to be expected among college students? however, the few people of conviction that i met were a pleasure to talk to and a challenge to me personally to stand firm on my beliefs.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

pretty much. even those who don't appear to be asian really are. deep down inside.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

we're all asian. and nerds. or at least closet nerds.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

not sure. movement seems pretty happening. some leave their doors open. i've only been to football games--crazy. only 1 concert-joshua bell @ zellerbach was amazing. i met my closest friends at church and through various classes/living arrangements. i've only been awake once at that time--it was due to prepping my board for a trip. i went to 1/2 moon bay last weekend. usually cooking and doing hw or playing guitar hero can be done w/o inebriation.

What are the academics like at your school?

some did. usually the small humanity classes and violence prevention-type seminars. berkeley is definitely a place that u can get as much as u give--particularly in terms of academics.

Ryan
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Berkeley is like the LA Unified School District - it's too large for the administration to administer effectively, so that al...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Berkeley is like the LA Unified School District - it's too large for the administration to administer effectively, so that all students are made aware of what's available to them. As with anything in life, you have to make a concerted effort to find your niche, or find stuff to join and do, but in some ways it would be nice to be babied as on a small liberal arts campus. On the other hand, it is nice to have some heterogeneity - I like that there are some non-hipsters floating around. On the other, other hand, I was in a class my first year that had 800 people. Granted, it was a celebrity professor, but it was like going to a performance - not a lecture. We clapped after every class...I don't think because every lecture was so inspiring, but I guess instinct says it's rude to not clap at whatever's in front of you as part of an 800-member audience.

Describe the students at your school.

One thing about UC Berkeley is that as a public school, with something like 90% of the student population from California, is that lots of people already know each other when they get there. Which can make social networking easy - or difficult, depending how you operate. It's pretty easy to find people you like because there are just so many damn people - you'd have to be pretty vanilla to not find at least one person to get a slice at Blondie's with. Nobody's extremely rich, nor extremely poor - unless a person decides one of these is their primary defining characteristic. Which is, of course, lame. Everyone you meet is from California - and from one high school in LA or another. To be honest, I think once people settle in groups around second or third year, they tend to stay there and not mix it up outside these groups. But there are a lot of different things people build groups around - major, religion, living situation, and random extracurriculars.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

The truth is that campus today does not in any way resemble campus of the 1960s. The same political fringe groups that exist at Berkeley now exist at nearly every other campus in the U.S. (except BYU, I'd guess). What's left of the Age of Aquarius has been zoned to a 5-block stretch of Telegraph, and it's for tourists and freshmen anyways. You're just as likely to be harassed by the Campus Republicans as the Campus Democrats. The truth is that most Golden Bears are majoring in something useful or plan to be useful after graduation in a non-revolutionary way. The library's open until 2 AM nearly every night, and 24 hours during finals, and you can never get a seat with a sufficient buffer zone between you and the next guy's flash cards on German verbs, or engineering formulas, or whatever. I think that speaks volumes.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Inevitably, people over 30 say, "Hey, Berzerkeley! So you're voting for Nader?" when I say I went to UC Berkeley. People of all ages think that campus is overrun with dirty hippies with long hair, fleas, and a fervent desire for the Man to shed blood.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

I personally think the coop system is one of UCB's greatest assets. The BSC, as it is called, is comprised of about 20 rooming houses, which in total house about 1000 people in turn. Each house largely makes its own decisions by vote and has its own feel, but food supply and general house maintenance is run by a central office. The houses range from Acid Trip to 1950s Women's College, from 11 to 160 inhabitants. In a typical semester, a house will throw two parties, one open to coopers, the other to everyone. Everyone comes and has a good time. A coop party is the perfect alternative to a boozy fratfest. Most everyone in a coop meets people in other coops and its a big network of people. It's not for everyone, but people who are there are happy. Basically, if you live in a coop, you know of a party to go to every weekend, and have people to go with. But its definitely a no-pressure situation - if you wanna stay home and study, you do. That's the other thing - a coop feels more home-y than a rented apartment you can't paint your favorite color. You can amble around in your pajamas if you want. You can make cookies at 3 AM and find someone to eat them with you. Also, its not hard to ignore the frats/sororities - they don't monopolize the social scene by any means.

What are the academics like at your school?

Getting an appointment with an advisor is an all-day undertaking - and getting to know a professor well enough so they call you by first name is a Sisyphean feat - you must be determined. Because getting to the office hours sign-up sheet is an odyssey in itself. Because it's a public university (I don't know - maybe this is unique to the UC system) there are basic requirements you have to fulfill in 7 categories, plus three basic writing and math requirements, plus (and I guess this is kind of "Berzerkeley") one "American Cultures" requirement. Which sounds like a lot - and it is, and it definitely takes away from classes you'd rather take - but I placed out of most of them through AP and SAT scores, and community college classes I took during high school. In general, students at Berkeley are really bright and interested, which is cool. You can talk shop with kids in your class, definitely, and arranging study groups is not uncommon. In the humanities, nobody's that competitive because there's no curve. Unless you find yourself in a personal competition with an annoying person who unfailingly sits in the first seat, punctually, at every lecture. There are at least two of those in every class. But you can't really expect people who choose to focus on Chinese painting, Interwar period theory, or Peace and Conflict Studies (actual UCB major!) to care about vanquishing the scholastic foe. The hard sciences at UCB are a whole other weird parallel universe, I hear.

BenH
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing about Berkeley, the thing I miss the most, is its ability to attract serious students dedicated to their disci...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Describe the students at your school.

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.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

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.

What are the academics like at your school?

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.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

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.

Zoe
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Berkeley is an amazing college town. In my opinion it is the perfect place to live when you are college age. There are tons...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Describe the students at your school.

There is a huge variety of students who attend Berkeley from every background possible.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

I loved going to Berkeley but it is not for everyone.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Some stereotypes are that Berkeley is an extremely liberal place where everyone is very politically active.

What are the academics like at your school?

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.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

I feel like there is a social scene for every type of person at Berkeley.

Archana
What is your overall opinion of this school?

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...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

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.

Gene
What is your overall opinion of this school?

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...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

1) Crazy driven Asian pre-meds. 2) Crazy hippies.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

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.

What are the academics like at your school?

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.

Robin
What is your overall opinion of this school?

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 ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Describe the students at your school.

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.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

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.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

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.

What are the academics like at your school?

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.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

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.

Maureen
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing about Berkeley is the capacity for change. When most students graduate, they are almost unrecognizable from th...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Describe the students at your school.

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.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

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.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

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.

What are the academics like at your school?

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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