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University of California-Berkeley

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Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

By visiting UC Berkeley, one is almost guaranteed to see some activism. Case in Point: There are people living in the oak trees, protecting the trees from Football Stadium upgrades. There is a man who stands at the front of campus, sarcastically shouting his happiness with George Bush Women for Palestine come to campus and speak often. Students dish out issues of the Cal Patriot, a conservative political news magazine. etc. Given these examples, it seems that the stories are true, that Berkeley is still very political. From my perspective, this is somewhat of a misleading statement. It's true that Berkeley is political, but mainly the city of Berkeley. The student body is more or less apathetic. If you'd prefer to go to a school more reminiscent of the good-ol-days (http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/calhistory/60s.html), I'd recommend going to a smaller liberal-arts college, or making lots of money and purchasing a house in the Berkeley hills. Continuing on... 2a. There are indeed a lot of asians, but this isn't really a bad thing. Typically, I am the minority in my computer science classes, but this doesn't really bother me. I guess the one bad thing I can say isn't directly attributed to the large Asian population. The diversity at Berkeley is lacking. The student body can be broken up into asians, Caucasians, others, where this "others" is very very small. The African American and Hispanic population is vastly underrepresented, and this is something of miss from my high school days. Much of the time I find myself wishing I could meet a wider variety of people, perhaps practice my spanish. 2b. Not everyone is a genius at Cal, this is definitely not a requirement. So if you're worried that you won't be able to compete with the college kids, just realize that everyone has the same sentiments. It is true though that students work really hard and there is a definite competitive edge**. **In computer science I find a mutual kindred respect of one's fellow student. People are very friendly and helpful. The same can not be said about other fields like Chemistry.

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Some are, yes, but usually not completely. -Many of the students are very smart, but I have encountered my fair share of people who are not. Sadly, many of these, in my experience, have been athletes who did not get into to this school based on intelligence. Based on the performances of others (and myself) there are times when I ask myself "How did I get in here?" times when I ask "How did they get in here?" and times when I think I could have gone somewhere better. All in all, however, the students at Berkeley are very hard working and smart. It is not as easy to get an A on a test or paper as it was in high school! -While a large part of the student population is Asian, there are people of all sorts of races and backgrounds, and no one person is the same. I feel lucky that I have been exposed to all different kinds of people. It is easy to lump people together into groups, but I have found that everyone brings their own, unique experience regardless of ethnicity or nationality. -I don't think Berkeley students are any more radical or liberal than a lot of large universities. I think that the history of activism on behalf of students (I am thinking of the Free Speech Movement and Vietnam war protests in particular), along with activism on the part of Berkeley residents (not so much students) is why this stereotype lives on. With some exceptions, I usually find that people are just like me-- liberally minded, yes, but not to an extreme. I also know a fair share of conservative people, who I am glad to call my friends. -As for there not being very many attractive students, I have to say that this one might have some validity. If you visit a private school in Southern California, you are bound to see more physically "attractive" people. However, I have found that that is not a very important factor in determining the worth of a person. Besides, in my experience I have noticed that the theory of a negative correlation between attractiveness and intelligence is actually true, but I would rather be surrounded by smart, average-looking people, than not-so-smart beautiful people.

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There are two primary stereotypes of a UC Berkeley student. 1. The Hippie Stoner: Because of our history in the 60's, when you say "I go to Berkeley", many people think you are an active protester, smoke pot all day, and only eat tree bark. 2. The Over-Achiever: This type of student has virtually no social life and keeps their nose in a book, so they can become a Doctor/Lawyer/I-Banker. Both stereotypes are partially true. Most of the students on campus lean to the left politically and every semester someone is protesting something. However, the largest group on campus is the Berkeley College Republicans, so there is some diversity of opinion, and while there is the occasional protest, most are small and most students tend to avoid them. Because Berkeley is academically rigorous, it also attracts the "Over-Achiever" but most people maintain a social life while earning "A"'s. We don't spend our Saturday nights in the library and spend just as much time talking about funny cat videos as we do talking about Schrodinger's Cat.

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It is not until you step on campus during a school day and walk into a lecture hall full of students as diverse and as large as the ones here at Berkeley, do you realize that Berkeley is a lot more than the stereotypes make it out to be. As with any school, although the Berkeley student body has its extremities, a large majority of us fall in between these categories. I wouldn?t say that the stereotypes about Berkeley are inaccurate, but that these stereotypes only barely scrape the surface of what Berkeley truly is. Berkeley is much more than the hippies and the activists of the sixties; it is a continuously progressing forefront of technological, social, and political change.

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I think that many people believe that Asian groups on campus are rather exclusive, and isolate themselves from other, racially different individuals and groups. The standard "athletes are dumb" and "fraternity/sorority types are dumb/jerks/sluts/mean" is one that is also generally held (and that has gone unchalleneged in my mind). People tend to dislike hipsters because often times they come off as snooty, with an attitude that they are better/smarter/have better taste than most. Co-opers are where you see the "hippie" stereotype live on. Many of these stereotypes are somewhat accurate, but there are always counter-examples if you look hard enough.

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The stereotype that I had of Berkeley students previously to attending school here was of hyper-liberal and very intellectually driven individuals. As it turns out, the hyper-liberal students tend to be less intellectually and more emotionally driven as they get caught up in the current of political activism. The intellectually driven students are often quiet, somewhat introverted, and low-key. The political extremist "hippie" image of the 60's and 70's has been reduced to representation through the more liberal faculty and the aging burnouts that roam the streets, homeless and befuddled.

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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.

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While student activism remains a part of the student life at Berkeley, today's activism is quite different from that of the 1960s. The campaign season of 2008 is reawakening the political and social activism of the student body, which has become disillusioned in recent years. Many Berkeley students are of Asian heritage, and most Berkeley students are studious; however, Berkeley does have more to offer, though effort is involved.

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Yes and no. There are some extremely liberal people, but they exist largely on the fringes. Most students are pretty apathetic and often politically moderate, but sometimes care about, and become advocates for, one specific issue. There are a lot of intelligent people at Berkeley and quite a few nerds. Intelligence, however, does not always translate into social intelligence.

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There are people who ascribe to these stereotypes at Berkeley, but they are not the common Berkeley student. Everybody is a nerd, obviously, if being a nerd means being uniquely interested in life. I think there is a little bit of everything at Berkeley. Whatever you are (even if you don't know who you are yet!) you will find your niche here.

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