In truth, Berkeley has a very diverse student body. As a public school, it is (for now) less expensive than any other school of its caliber in the state. As a result there is a considerable body of students that is dependent upon financial aid, which is readily available for the most part (for now). This contributes greatly to the diversity on campus, giving a wide-range of life experience. There are a lot of students, particularly within the humanities majors, that are much older than the "traditional" 18-22-year-old undergraduate student, as well. "Unconventional" types will find themselves at ease among such diversity. The exaggerated over-zealous, liberal extremist stereotype of yester-year still has representation on campus, but it is an extreme minority. Walking around, you'll immediately notice large groups of " nerds" with enormous backpacks, the stunning majority of whom are science majors. You'll also see "jocks" and kids from the expansive Greek system walking around in tight, clique-y groups. There is also a large international population of exchange students that are incredibly friendly and eager to make you part of their "Cal experience". You'll see a few second-generation "punk" kids (who can't be old enough to have been around for the actual punk scene) as well as some shoe-less wandering "hippies" who you won't know for sure are even students. The majority, however, is represented by a spectrum of hipsters to rival an Urban Outfitters catalogue, and almost half of them boast the token thick-rimmed Ray-Ban spectacles. There are stoners, gamers, and flamboyant homosexuals with Prada bags wearing tank tops that read, "Born This Gay." There are steezy "skittle thugs" in brightly-colored tall-T's, there are a great many nondescript individuals, and there are examples of every possible combination of any of the above. Mostly, there are just a LOT of people. At Cal, you can get away with being whoever you want. The diversity allows you to choose to be as much or as little of a stereotype as you please, and still make plenty of like-minded friends (it's a HUGE school). Between the vast selection of extra-curricular activities and clubs and organizations, you will find something that interests you, and if you're not into the whole "involvement" thing, you can choose one of hundreds of groups of "low-key" students to ingratiate yourself with, instead.
There are many different stereotypes of Berkeley students, ranging from the tree-hugging stoner to the all-around activist to the obnoxiously rich and well dressed Sorority girls to the know-it-all Anthropology student to the cut-throat Hass business student to the scholarship student-athlete who obviously doesn't belong in an educational setting. Since there are so many stereotypes, it is hard to judge their accuracy. One thing is true about Berkeley however: it is a very diverse school. Because it is so big, you can find just about anything or anyone. However, its size makes it easy to feel lost in the crowd. One pervasive feeling that I got from Berkeley was that of competition and stress. There is a palpable feeling of both on the campus, especially during finals and mid-terms, which last pretty much all semester long. I was personally disappointed by this uptight attitude as I was hoping for a chill and fun college experience. Although it isn't impossible to have an experience like this at Berkeley, if this is your main request of a university, I suggest you try elsewhere.
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.
My school as a whole has the stereotype of being either crazy hippie activist or super nerdy. This is definitely accurate for a large group of students who attend UCB. But as a member of the Greek community, I have found many other types of people that are more like me. Conservative and preppy, i was initially concerned about going to Berkeley, but in my sorority I have discovered 120 other girls that share my same interests. Greek life at Berkeley is like its own little bubble. In the Frats and Sororities you will definitely find jocks, fratty guys, preppy girls, stoners etc. The greeks party hard. But, overall, Berkeley is so amazing because of its diversity; not just racially, but in terms of stereotypical personalities as well. I'm friends with stoners, athletes, sorority girls, nerds, party people, mellow people,etc. Its refreshing to be exposed to so many different personality types, and it ensures that no matter what, you will find a place for yourself at Cal.
Berkeley goes beyond just "stereotypes" - the name has become practically synonymous with liberal hippie activists. And, to be fair, this isn't always untrue. Berkeley as a city is one of the last true bastions of hippies in the country. On any given day, you can find someone selling vegan food on campus or asking you to sign a petition. But the way I see it, Berkeley students are just generally passionate about things. The Berkeley College Republicans are just as present as the Cal Democrats, the ethnic groups, the frats, the sports teams, and everyone else. With a school as big as Berkeley, you can meet every type of person imaginable.
I'm an MCB major, it's one of the majors that most pre-med students choose. In my Freshman year I heard a lot about how competitive students are in this major, and most bio majors. I continued hearing it in sophomore and junior year. I haven't yet encountered one of the stressed-out cutthroats that apparently infest my major. Everyone is nice and more than earned the honorary of "nerd," but I've never had a negative competitive interaction with anyone.
A common stereotype of Berkeley students is that they are engineering and tech Asian nerds that study all the time and don't have any fun. This stereotype is quite inaccurate. Cal has a diverse range of students from all sorts of backgrounds that study a wide range of humanities and sciences. Although Cal's engineering program is highly ranked, there is a lot more to the campus and the students studying engineering also have a wide range of interests.
The stereotypes of the students at Berkeley are the ever-protesting left wing hippies, and while the political activism on campus is very much alive here, it is not something that everyone participates in. There are republican groups on campus just as there are democrat. No matter what a person's belief or political persuasion, you are bound to find a group that caters to you.
The stereotype Berkeley student is up-tight, a studyholic, a leftist communist hippy, and someone who is extremely political. 70% of Berkeley students are of ethnic minorities. Most Berkeley students spend their free time playing computer games or other nerdy activities.
Yes, the school is 47% Asian students, but despite this the school maintains a diverse environment! Yes, there are lots of nerds here, but that encourages a highly studious atmosphere. We know how to have fun too though:)