University of California-Berkeley Top Questions

Describe the students at your school.


emily is a junior and part of a group called shape designed to prevent abuse against women. she is also a transfer stud


she is a freshman, and in the coop scene/ choosing cal over davis and about picking a co-op for living sophomore year


Most are very determined and always willing to learn more. A lot of students go to office hours to get help if they do not understand something. They are persistent with their work and are constantly studying. Most are pretty friendly but there are also those really competitve students who have to have everything their way and willing to do anything to get that grade they want.


Racial, religious, and ethnic groups seem to be somewhat segregated at Berkeley. I think this, in part, comes from Berkeley being such a large place. Most students try to find some sort of community while there, and for many, the community they find is one based on a common ethnic/religious/racial/cultural background. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much contact between many of the student groups. People find their niche and stay there, it seems. Most students wear something casual to class - whether it's a sweatshirt and jeans or full-on hipster costume with skinny pants, strategically messy hair, and a striped shirt. Beyond those that look like they raided the nearby Urban Outfitters, there is usually at least one person in every class who takes it up a notch. This was especially true in Art History classes, in which there were always a few girls (usually members of sororities) who wore extremely put-together outfits and carried a purse in lieu of a backpack. Most Berkeley students are from California. It was exciting to meet someone from out-of-state, even, dare I say it, a little exotic. I'd say a middle-class financial background is probably most prevalent - with an upper-middle class background being more common within the Greek system (and probably among certain majors). There are also many students from lower-income backgrounds and those who work their way through college. Berkeley is a diverse place, and this diversity definitely applies to socioeconomics, though with rising tuition costs, it will probably be more difficult for many students to attend Berkeley. Students tend to be politically aware, but as I said before, not necessarily very politically active. Berkeley is known to be a hotbed of activism, and disappointingly, it does not seem to be anymore. There are definitely a few active groups who support a particular issue or cause, but they often have few members, and those members are often the members of the other active student groups (as my cousin said, the same guy who heads the Socialist student group is also the president of the Stop the War Coalition and about five other clubs). The majority of the student body seems politically apathetic - generally leftist, but uninvolved in political activities on campus. When my friends and I talked about our future earning-power, we generally agreed we'd be making pennies and/or unemployed. I imagine Business students do talk about their eventual earning power and that that discussion includes some talk about "six-figures".


One word: Diverse. We have people from all over, from all different walks of life, and with varied interests. This means that you can meet people from all over the country, and the world, and get to know what life is like outside your own "bubble". More importantly, there are groups for just about anything, so its not hard to find some place to fit in.


as a mexican american student, i sometimes feel as if i am outnumbered in a campus primarily filled with asians. sometimes it feels that since they have more people, they have more groups, and therefore they get more funding. Berkeley is not well rounded when it comes to race or ethnicity. and most racial groups stick together.


The campus may be fairly diverse, but my major is not. The male to female ratio in EECS is as high as one would expect, so it's important to branch out into other departments to meet different people. Again, you can find whatever type of person you want to hang out with, if you look.


Students are generally drones. Though it is predominantly people of color populated, much of that population unfortunately suffers from internalized racism, particularly those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Many students are liberal-minded but they fail to see past "pro-choice" and pro"poor-people stances. They generally do not see the systemic failures and structural oppression that they themselves perpetuate.


NEEDS TO BE MORE DIVERSE! More people of color need to be given the change here. The use of SAT scores are not an accurate form of measuring who can succeed at a school like UC Berkeley especially when many students are not able to attend private schools or more economically privileged public grade schools.


Most students are very casual in their style of dress and appearance. Being from Southern California i found there was a clear distinction between the atmosphere up in the bay then where I grew up... it is very relaxed here. People seem less interested in what other people are wearing in the bay. I think there is less pressure to "look good" and impress, which was a nice change. Most students are politically aware and very involved in student groups and issues. It can be quite intimidating how driven and determined some students are, even if they are not involved in social issues like say my roommate who was a Business major...they can be very involved in their education and active in extracurricular activities that pertain to their area of study like internships, professional fraternities, jobs, etc. Many people are very aware of where they are, where they want to go and how they are going to do it (and they certainly do a lot to get there!!)


I love Berkeley because it feels like the cliques have disappeared (no more popular group, nerdy group... etc). Although there are certain majors that have certain stereotypes (EECS = nerdy) all students seem to be genuinely interested in each other and the atmosphere seems much less hostile than high school. There are many students whose parents didn't attend college or come from a poor background. Although there are often political events going on in Sproul, many students are not politically aware (including me...).


i'll be honest - i hate how many asians are on campus. i don't have anything against asians, but i wish for every asian person i saw, i also saw a latino or black or native american or SOMETHING person. berkeley has a strong history of diversity and agency, but the current student population does not reflect this past.


it seems like a lot of UC Berkeley students are from Southern California. a lot of students are interested in politics and the welfare of our communities. it's great to see students fighting for good causes and for the preservation of what they really believe in. it's great to see them voicing their opinions and suggestions.


In theory, I don't think any student should feel out of place at Berkeley. I would hesitate to say that a wealthier student, used to the spoils of growing up in a very rich house, might be uncomfortable with the housing accommodations at UC and in the city of Berkeley. I don't think students are as politically active or aware as they used to be.


The student body is too diverse to describe in a few words. Of course, there are the standard hippie-esque liberals you come to Berkeley expecting, but there are also Republicans and very academically-focused people and sorority girls and everyone else. Simply because of the sheer number of students who congregate here, I think anyone can find a crowd of people to fit in with.


Students tend to be politically aware. The most vocal ones are left. The school is mostly asian and white, but there are a few other races.


Berkeley's campus is large enough such that everyone will find some sort of place, but will constantly feel alone. Most Berkeley students come from California; I don't know if that's a good thing. It is so difficult to get into Cal from out of state that it seems out-of-state students are automatically of a higher caliber than California students. If only Berkeley would admit students based on merit and not where their parents pay taxes, I feel like we would have a more intellectually equal campus. Most Cal students are pretty liberal, but I've heard rumors about a strong conservative uprising. I've found that depending on major, students don't really talk about how much they will earn one day. The only exceptions are Haas douchebags.


There are a lot of people. Honestly, most of them are total assholes. Most people at Berkeley were socially awkward losers in high school. A lot of them try to compensate and turn into cool people in college. A lot of them do this by joining frats. This is a failing strategy. In general I would recommend staying away from people in frats because they're generally losers and assholes. A lot of people are anti-social, too. There are a large group of very social cool people though. Give me a call and I'll tell you where the party's at.


There's a little something for everyone at Berkeley, I feel. We're just a big, diverse jumble. We're suspiciously short on black students, given that the Bay area has a pretty high population of African Americans. But we have yellow students aplenty, which makes sense given that the Bay area has a pretty high population of Asian Americans. I should probably note here that I've become more free with my racism since coming to Cal. The liberal bent to humanities and social science classes here can have that effect on people. If they keep telling you that society is whack, and has been since forever, you start to feel like nothing you do really matters in the end. Racism, war, whatever. there will always be hate. And then you start getting loose with your racial slurs and start to accept war as part of human nature, and maybe even support it because it helps keep our population in start to think that maybe all you can hope to do is look out for your own self interests. Well, if you choose to take the jaded route instead of the blind idealist route. But you have to pick one or the other, or else life'll just start getting to you. The world will just start to get to you. That's the thing I had so much trouble with initially. Berkeley forces you to think long and hard about things, forces you to think really critically about them. If you're not careful, it can get you down. Wow, didn't mean to digress quite so far... Nutshell answer: if you're the sort of person who can get into Berkeley, and who wants to go to Berekeley, you'll find people to hang with.


-I have many male gay friends and I feel like there is a large gay presence here at Berkeley that I hardly even take notice of anymore. I have noticed that I can walk around Berkeley and hear people speaking 10 different languages within the course of a day. I feel like a lot of students here are from middle to upper middle class background, but I do know a very small few that are from poorer homes. -I honestly really cannot think of anyone that would feel out of place here. I think there is something for everyone here and that everyone has a niche. There are people from all backgrounds, nationalities, with all different tastes and personalities that I cannot imagine someone not finding a group they fit into or a class they didn't like. I guess the type of person who wouldn't fit in is someone intolerant of diversity or someone who does not like to study hard! -Wear: Jeans plus a Berkeley/Cal sweatshirt or north face jacket and some Rainbow sandals or running shoes or ugg boots, with a north face backpack, no joke. - Different types of students interact all the time, it is impossible not to. -Four tables: well, i guess that there are the athletics who sort of give me the impression like they feel somewhat superior to us regular students. there are the business majors who all they think about is how they can get into Haas school of business (or recruit you into their club). There are the radicals. And then there is everyone else. really, the first three are minorities though. -Most Berkeley students are from California. -Financial backgrounds most prevalent are middle to upper middle class. -Yes, we are politically aware. Definitely left. I was conservative before I came here and now I consider myself very liberal. -Earn one day: I am a history major, so we mostly talk about how poor we are going to be!


As a college, Berkeley is one of the best places to learn about yourself and of students of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds. While there are sure to be student groups geared towards hobbies and cultures that you identify strongly with, there are also students groups which differ greatly from your political and social viewpoints. That is the beauty of Berkeley. Thus, compared to other well-established institutions, I would say that Berkeley has a reasonably well-rounded student body. There are currently more than 650 student groups on campus, ranging from The Rubber Band Club to the recently re-established third world Liberation Front, covering issues which span the political scale from the very liberal left to the very conservative right. There is such a range of eccentric people roaming around campus, student or not, that it is impossible to feel out of place at Berkeley. From “emo-rocker” to “grunge bohemian,” fashion is a common way for Berkeley students to make a statement. Although most students don a pair of blue jeans and a Cal sweatshirt for class, at Berkeley, no one would take a second glance if you were going to class in a bright orange bathing suit. However, the Northern Californian weather is a huge factor in deciding what to wear to class, and even into late spring, the crisp cool weather keeps most students in jackets and sweatshirts. Especially for Southern Californian residents, who are accustomed to t-shirts and tank tops, San Francisco/Bay Area weather proves to be much more temperamental, with surprise showers and the occasional foggy mornings. What I appreciate most about Berkeley is the diversity among students, and the strong emphasis which these students themselves place on embracing multiculturalism. Most recently, a strong desire to establish a permanent space for a multicultural center has prompted various student protests as well as emergency sit-ins against the university. Students from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds participated in this movement together, working towards a goal which may represent different things to each of them, but together means a substantial shift towards a desired change on campus. Thus, cultural student groups have a strong influence on the atmosphere of Berkeley student life. However, although culturally diverse, the Berkeley student population is not as geographically diverse as most other college populations. While there are a handful of students from out of state, there are few to none full-time international students. Although it is great meeting people from all over California, I would have hoped that my college experience would expose me to students from different states and countries. Still, it would be wrong to assume that because most Berkeley students are from California, that they are homogenous representation of the democratic state of California. Instead, the students are a reflection of the general American population, reflecting stances regarding social and political issues similar to that of the general population curve, with moderates in the majority, and a few on the far left or far right.


our student is diverse, only because students identify with so many different backgrounds, beliefs, ideals, race/ethnicity, etc. Our school is filled with rich kids that own many houses in many countries. Then there are students that are paying their tuition and their parents rent, because money is hard to come by. you would think Berkeley is full of liberals but no, there are many conservatives, they have alot of power. some students where pajamas, no clothes, hey you name it!


As an all-encompassing statement: UC BERKELEY STUDENTS ARE SWEET. EXCEPT FOR THE DOUCHEBAGS. No seriously, there's room for everybody, and if you look hard enough you'll find your place fairly quickly. Also, don't be afraid of talking to random people. You'll find that strangers can end up being friends fairly quickly.


The students are not nearly as left as I would have liked. Eating at the Free Speech Movement cafe on campus, inspired by Mario Savio's passionate calls to action, and knowing that a huge number of my fellow students voted and support George Bush is pretty appalling to me. I can't imagine a young intelligent individual in that kind of a place supporting that kind of oppression. In CS, there is a lot of talk about the future and some of it is very financially based, but I usually steer clear of those individuals and find myself in intense conversations about crazy new internet ideas or startup plans. Those are definitely something i'll miss when i leave.


I know all kinds of people from Berkeley, and I'd be tempted to say that if you want to find a particular group of people, it's there on campus. Or around campus. I know people who will discuss their future $, yes, but also I understand that the pockets of hippies are out there. Or whatever other group. There probably could be more interaction among groups; these things do tend to form cliques. But in another way, that's just part of finding one's path through college.


In general Berkeley students are fairly friendly, but you have to go out and seek them. You can, and will make friends from class if you try, but several people have told me that this almost never happens. For the most part people are divided by their club/house/frat. If you want friends and a guaranteed social life you almost certainly should join one of these organizations, at least for a little while. I lived in the COOOPs ( for a long and would highly recommend it, even though I've had my ups and downs.


I don't think any kind of student could feel out of place at Cal. What to most students wear to class? Jeans. Different types of students, for the most part, do NOT interact. That's just how we are, man: we don't like the unfamiliar. Four table sin a dining hall? What the hell? Are you a freshman? Most Berkeley students are from California as far as I can tell. (It's a good price.) Can't say what financial backgrounds are most prevalent; I don't watch my friends fill out their FAFSAs. The few students that are politically active are REALLY active; sometimes I wish they'd get out of my face with their flyers and crap. Predominantly left.


Every kind of student can find a home here. African Americans are a minority, as they are in most colleges, but there are a substantial number of them here, so do not avoid Berkeley if that worries you. Also, the school is socially diverse to the point of basically splitting the various fashions, politics, and interests, so you will only interact with people you don't like in classes. Yes, there are many gay people. If you are gay, this is a great school for you. So go here, do not go to Reed. Also, remember there is SF 20 min away. 4 Dining hall tables: a table of athletes, lanky and muscular (Crew=lanky, Waterpolo=muscular). A vaguely mixed group of friends, obviously from high school. A group consisting of 4 people that look totally alike. 1 awkward person reading a huge reader with spilled tea or coffee everywhere.


I'm in a Christian ministry on campus called the Ark. Upon my arrival in my first year, I found the Christian scene very interesting. It was appropriately directed towards the seeking population and in berkeley, that means it was a uniquely intellectually driven faith. With such a large campus and a diverse population, I was able to find exactly the right community for me even when I thought that it would be impossible. I found a community that focused on ministering to God first and loving Him and each other. I think feeling out of place in Berkeley is a normal thing for a time. College life is a huge adjustment from high school, especially for a group of high achieving students. Eventually, dependent on how willing a student is to experiencing new things and adjust, I believe every student can find their niche and be changed (for the better). Berkeley's great because it has ever option in the world. Students don't dress fancy for class as was the case at my high school. Dependent on the time of year (mid-terms/finals/papers) student's will attend class in their pajamas and look ready to learn. Class subjects definitely bring students into all sorts of interaction whether class mandated or not. Berkeley students are very open minded and accepting. Student's are politically/socially aware and active so as to understand that everyone's beliefs and individualities are interesting and deserve respect. I would say, consistent with the stereotype, student activities and mindsets are left and jokingly extreme left. We're all aware of how the berkeley population is perceived and its amusing to see instances where those stereotypes are met by us or others. I think the Haas School of Business students and may be Bolt School of Law students talk about their potential earnings more than my departments of political science and theater, dance, and performance studies. College irons out all financial stratification. Both students whose families are well off and student's who's families are more modest are given the same living conditions, same food options, same very reasonable tuition. All financial statuses are challenged to live off of a relatively similar budget. Characteristic of college student's in general is that we've all become broke when we entered college. operating out of this understanding, every student i've met is very mindful of these considerations. We all are learning to make good investments and good decisions to save.


there's something for everyone at berkeley. most people are from within california, since it's a state school. most political demonstrations are done for shock value. larouche, nader, and the socialist party have their tables out pretty often. the backlash to political activism is larger than you'd think and a lot of people are apathetic.


Students are famous for wearing pajama pants to class. You can't really blame them, it's warm weather and who wants to wear clothes anyway.


I would say that it would be difficult to feel out of place at UC Berkeley. Nearly every kind of person or group imaginable is represented. I have never seen as much diversity anywhere as at UC Berkeley. I've had experiences with many different groups on campus, and for the most part they're been positive. My only concern is that sometimes such groups can be rather exclusive, and not open to individuals who are different from them. Most students wear casual, comfortable, or fashionable clothes to class. It's pretty much what you'd expect college students to be wearing, with nothing too out of the ordinary. Most students at UC Berkeley seem to be from either Northern or Southern California. I would say middle to upper-middle class backgrounds are most common. Students are very politically aware and active. I would say there is a slight bias towards the left politically, but most people are probably moderate, and there are a fair amount of conservative individuals. Students don't really talk about how much they'll earn one day. At least not eh people I associate with.


This campus is incredibly diverse. It is not just Asian, as people like to say. Campus groups are very active and their tables line Upper Sproul, the main square that extends from Sather Gate. In fact, it is hard to get through that area on a regular school day without ten people handing you a flyer about their improv show or local protest. Looking around campus, one could quite literally see every single variation of dress - from hippie to hipster to sorority Barbie. The Berkeley campus is quite a stylish one, which is contrary to my image of the student body when I was applying to Cal. Birkenstocks are NOT the only footwear worn on campus. Bikes are very popular among the student body for transportation, but it is part of the culture of this town as well. Most students, despite the image they project, are middle class. Living in the dorms or the coops, however, is a very equalling experience and a student's financial background is not obvious. Students are smart. They just are. Even people that don't pontificate about French politics or labor practices in Bolivia have a knowledge of a wide range of subjects and could converse about almost anything. My brother came to visit me one weekend, and couldn't believe the conversations my friends and I were having at a party. Students here like to learn, or they wouldn't be here. When I have to do group projects for class, it isn't like high school where one person does all the work while the other people lay around. At Cal, people participate. I constantly feel dumb here. But in a good way. In a way that makes me want to be as smart and work as hard as other people in my classes.


Frat- large, well dressed. Probably wealthy, all aroung good kids, can be shallow. Hipster- small, often bad haircuts and tight jeans. Don't look great by themselves so they make up for it by being witty and cultured. However, despite lots of wierd looking small people also has the REALLY REALLY beautiful people. Asian- studies, premed. Coop- dirty, friendly, probably more promiscuous sex than in the frats but hard to say. Lots of drugs besides booze. Not necesarilly presentation focused although stong alliance with hipsters.


My experience is good, generally. No one should feel out of place here. Unless you are in the KKK. Students usually wear clothes to class. Different types of students usually interact with each other. Most students I feel like are from Mars. Most people have money, although not all. It's expensive to travel between here and Mars. Students are a/pathetic. Predominantly left of right to center. Only my girlfriend talks about how much she earns in a day. Or prostitutes...


Having lived my formative years in largely white suburban neighborhoods, the high ratio of Asian, particularly Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, students was a cultural shift for me. Despite what I feel to be ethnic homogeneity, Berkeley does not lack in experiences and intellectual interests. Most of the students come from relatively well-off, middle or upper middle class backgrounds, and most students are from California. A noticeable rivalry exists between students from Norcal and students from Socal; although all in good fun, the lack of international and out-of-state students has been disappointing to me personally, as I come from an international background and thrive in a multicultural environment. Students from the same background tend to be drawn to each other. Overall, Berkeley students are a curious, intelligent bunch. For the most part, Berkeley students encourage and celebrate differences.


I cannot imagine any student truly feeling out of place at Berkeley, except perhaps one that deeply needs a small-class environment and the consistent personal attentions of the professors. This is a legitimate need, and if you have it, I encourage you to attend a smaller school. I myself do not, and thus I feel that I have benefited from lacking such academic amenities. The fact is that if you don't want to deal with crazy people, you don't have to; most students don't. But they are there, wandering around and being crazy, and if you want to kick it with them you should go for it whenever possible. It's easy to talk about "broadening your horizon" and sound like a douchebag, but if you are sincere and maintain your own personal integrity, I am convinced one can do well in any of the multitude of social and political circles to be found at Berkeley. Most of the students are from California, as it is a state school, but there are numerous international students, and a few out-of-staters like myself. Stepping out onto Sproul Plaza in the middle of the day and wading through its packed environs will get you showered in offers of all kinds ("Do I *look* like I want to join Asian Business Women for Christ!?"), or at least accused of having sex with your cell phone or iPod by the crazy guy who hates technology and have your small-minded academic concerns mocked (?) by the sonorous "Happy, happy, happy" of Happy Happy Man. It's a lively place. Feel free to wear your pajamas all day. I can't say I have, but it looks pretty comfortable-- more so than the tight pinstripe pants worn by the Asian Business Women for Christ. There aren't actually any Asian Business Women for Christ. ...I think.

Mary Claire

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.