My school was large and impersonal. A person who does not belong to a specific group or organization can easily feel lost and alone. When these moments arise, there is very little breathing for a student to take time to pull herself together because classes move quickly and workload can pile up. Classroom competition in certain majors and fields can be especially disheartening and exacerbate this process. In addition, very little assistance is provided to students when it comes time to search for jobs or applying for higher degrees. Students are mostly left to fend on their own.
The sheer amount of opportunities at UC Berkeley can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. There is always the possibility to take on too much, particularly at a campus where there is so much available to you to do. However, if you prioritize and stay organized, you can accomplish what you want and still experience a lot. Personally, I was worried that with such large lectures I wouldn't get enough personal attention to learn well. However, large lectures are broken down into smaller discussions that provide the perfect opportunity to review anything that was unclear in lecture.
The only downfall to Berkeley is the size. As an undergraduate, it can become overwhelming how many other students are present in the lecture hall. But because UC Berkeley students are determined to achieve a valuable education, they should have enough spirit and dedication to personally see professors at office hours. Lectures can become daunting for the new student, but this is also part of the beauty of Berkeley because you are surrounded by so many other brillant and interesting students. The administration can also pose a problem and create stress.
At first I thought dirty and broken bathroom stalls and mysterious looking cafeteria food were evenly the worst things about my school, until I thought about the homeless people throughout the school's neighborhood. Personally, homeless people make me feel useless and uncomfortable. There were times where I was scared to walk alone because every corner there is a homeless person begging for food or fighting another homeless for food. Other times, I felt so useless and guilty because there were homeless teens or young adults my age.
The cost of living and the financial aid process. The cost of living on campus per month was approximatlely $700 per person and this rate did not include food. When food was added to the cost I paid close to $1000 at least for my undergraduate education. This added to my student debt of over $25,000. In addition, the financial aid process was stressful. I felt like financial aid advisors were ineffiecient in providing resources for students funds and instead directed me towards loans and financial packages that increased my debt.
The worst thing about Berkeley is that it is very difficult to find any club that isn?t race-oriented. There are Asian clubs, Latino clubs, White clubs, but mixed-race clubs are rarely seen. This happens because Berkeley can be a large place, and people are trying to find where they fit best. Instead of going out and exploring, people choose what is easiest, and safest, and stick to their ?own.? People choose clubs with a racial majority similar to their own because of fear of the unknown. We only unite during protests.
The school is a public university, and as such it is susceptible to unpredictable funding fluctuations as a result of State decisions. Governor Brown is currently proposing to cut $500 million from the entire UC system. To make up for these costs, student fees have gone up over 30% in the past two years. I expect the cost of education at UC Berkeley, while relatively low compared to the rest of the country's private school costs, to skyrocket over the next 2 years. Be prepared for a rising sticker price.
The worst thing about Berkeley is the career center, the only majors it really focuses on are biology (pre-med), business, and engineering. There is hardly any guidance for liberal arts majors, no active alumni network for job placement, and all job fairs focus almost entirely on the science and business fields. The campus is huge, and while most feel some connection, at least to the football team, it can be very fragmented and the support systems for both entering and exiting students are lacking.
I personally really like UC Berkeley's teachers, campus, classmates and more but i n the beginning, i didn't like sharing a restroom/shower with other guys. At first it was really awkward because i wasn't used to the environment, but as you get to know your floormates and becomes friends, then it really isn't such a big deal. To avoid this problem, there are also other dorms that only have single sex floors so there wouldn't be an issue with sharing the restroom/shower with the opposite gender.
The housing is extremely expensive. You can pick from the Units, Clark Kerr, Bowles (all-male), Stern (all-female), or Foothill. Since I'm an bioengineering major, I chose Foothill - it's closest to all the buildings affiliated with engineering. The Units are the cheapest option available. Clark Kerr probably has the best living accomodations. Singles are reserved for the disabled and upperclassmen. I'd recommend going off-campus after freshman year if you can find someone to split rent with.