University of California-Berkeley Top Questions

What is your overall opinion of this school?


The big picture is that Berkeley is big, so pretty much anything you want is here. This also means that anything you don't want is also here, but the beauty of the campus (which happens to include the beautiful campus itself) is that it's so big and diverse that avoiding the tools and angling your way towards the people that are cool is not too difficult an affair. The town doesn't stay out too late, and BART closes at 12:30 (which is a downright shame) but it's never hard to find a happening abode or party with which to meet people. If parties aren't your thing (as they are often overflowing with tools) there are tons of other things to do, especially in SF.


Because I've just effectively moved out of Berkeley, two things come to mind: local bookstores, and local food. This would be places like University Press Books, Moe's and the Berkeley farmers' market. I would say that I'm proud to have gone to Cal; I feel that my degree will be worth something on the job market, but more important than that, I think I've gotten the most out of my degree.


When I was debating whether or not to attend Berkeley, I was eventually swayed in the right direction based on location. Berkeley is located in the city of Berkeley which is in the east bay, which in turn is just a 20-30 minute train ride(BART) to San Francisco. I love the bay area. It's so beautiful and peaceful. City life and nature are integrated very nicely. When you live in the Bay area you feel apart of a community; it's a nice feeling. As for the university itself, it's difficult to describe as black or white. Berkeley is very large with more than 30,000 students. This being said, one can find whatever it is that he/she is seeking. I know people who never do work and party all the time. Oppositely, there are many people who study all the time. There are the frats/sororities, cooperative student housing, student clubs, etc. Whatever your heart desires. But if I had to average everything together, I would definitely say that Berkeley is an academic university. People work hard here, and I think that is part of what one should expect from their college experience, at least in part. Since the school is so large there is no babying, and you can sometimes feel like a number in terms of the bureaucracy. People do fail out of school as there are no safety nets and grade inflation is set at a minimum. There are good things though about a school of this size. It is pretty easy to take advantage of the system. Rules aren't always enforced. For example, I've taken about five classes without taking the prerequisites, and I've substituted three courses for things I felt were more alligned with my ambitions. I guess I got away with a lot of these things because of being in a smaller college, chemistry. If you are planning on entering into the school of Letters and Science, which most of you are, be prepared for fight up stream with the masses.


The best thing about Berkeley is its commitment to academic rigor. One thing I'd change is all the construction going on (I can't properly walk to class.) The school size is just right. I spend most of my time on campus in class or the library. The town of Berkeley is split: south and north. South side is more a college town: loud, drunk frat boys on Thursday and Saturday nights. North side is a suburb: you'll see women walking their babies to the grocery store. There's definitely a lot of school pride at Cal. One of the most frequent student complaints is that the walk to campus always seems uphill, which is somewhat true: the campus is built on an incline.


The best thing about Berkeley is the acceptance that you receive for whatever you do. You are free here, so do whatever you want. Even the hated groups, like the NRA and ROTC have their own little corners. Just don't get too lost, because there is very little guidance or structure for a person who had not settled on a lifestyle before coming here. Berkeley, despite being a block in total area, is also huge culturally. It is the epitome of a college town, with a big city nearby. Everything is convenient and the second you leave, you miss it. If I could change Berkeley, I would make the administration actually pay attention to student needs. When something goes wrong with your paperwork, you are on your own to fight the whole campus. I will always remember the day I got an F because of a filing error that never got fixed. Caveat emptor, I guess. Controversies on campus-forget about them, they are a dime a dozen and usually no one cares after a week. Nothing will surprise you after going here. I guess the biggest occurrence on our campus...besides some suicides, were the environmentalists who lived in the trees of an oak grove that was being removed to make room for an athletic training center. Strangely, when Berkeley started making nukes again, no one cared.


I love that Berkeley is a college town yet at the same time it is diverse enough to have the cute pockets of the city to escape college life. The local food, shopping, and nightlife that's available in a college town is unique to Berkeley. I love that Berkeley is a massive school! The options that are available to each student are virtually limitless. The prestige of the school is great. UC Berkeley (Cal/University of California/Berkeley/etc.) sounds great to sports fans, cultural aficionados, and people of the market place. I spend most of my times studying/relaxing in the surrounding cafes or at dance practices on campus. I don't hear to much about the administration yet am surrounded by students/faculty/staff that are content. That must be a good sign; no/little negative attention. Of course there are the Oak people, the people protesting against British Petroleum, and some campus workers wanting higher pay/benefits that hold demonstrations around campus. But the fact that people rally to Berkeley to exercise their voices is a great thing! It informs the berkeley population of the issues that are out there. One of the best things about a big school is the school pride in sports and achievement! It's always great to see the alumni in their cal gear roaming around campus with their families all decked out in blue and gold.


the campus is huge, which is great for curling up under a shady tree with some friends or a book. the campus is big enough, it's just that it still isn't big enough for the student body. berkeley gets different reactions, depending where you go, but it almost always generates a kind of respect. i used to live in a co-op 3 blocks from school so i would usually go home between breaks and have friends stop by too if they were out of class, or just lay around on the grass together. salads at intermezzo and record browsing at amoeba were pretty standard. the biggest events i can remember associated with berkeley are when 1) the chateau got shut down, 2) a bunch of kids from cloyne got rushed to the hospital for eating too many weed cookies, and 3) when the identity of a former page (a berkeley student) who was molested by a closeted congressman was publicly revealed. it's easy to get sucked into thinking that the city revolves around the university, but there's lots else to berkeley and the rest of the east bay that makes it cozy and charming. there is a lot of school pride, shown in different ways by different kinds of people.


Wow, that's a lot of questions. UC Berkeley is a great school. If you can't get something great out of UC Berkeley, you're probably not trying that hard. Its size and lack of coddling require a bit of effort to find good professors, do the activities you want, not get charged unjustly by campus accounts receivable, etc. Most people put in the effort. My biggest complaint with berkeley the bureaucracy, and the lack of funding for humanities (as opposed to science), but i've probably forgotten most of that stuff now.


I would say one of the best things about UC Berkeley is that there is always something to do, and some way to be involved. Because the school is located in such a urban area, there is a plethora of things to see, do and experience. Plus the people here are great, so you're always in good company. Also, there are limitless opportunities to participate/get involves in causes, groups, research, clubs, etc. Whatever you want, you can find it here if you look hard enough. If i could change anything about Berkeley, it would probably be the size of some of the classes, as well as the difficulty one can have trying to get into the classes they want. Because it is a well-attended public university, classes have to be very large to accomodate everyone. This can lead to very anonymous, impersonal settings. Another problem I've faced (particularly because I'm a Psychology major) is trying to get into the classes I want. It seems like there is a never-ending priority list that I'm never at the top of, and waiting lists for classes can be up to 100 people long. It's just frustrating to not get the classes you want, or to not be sure of your schedule until the second or third week of class. I guess that what it boils down to is that in some ways, the university is too big. When I tell people I go to UC Berkeley most of the time they seem impressed. I get the "wow you must be smart" reaction a lot. I'm proud to tell people where I go to school. I spend most of my time on campus either near the Moffitt (the undergraduate library), Sproul, or in the Psychology building. Berkeley is definitely a "college town" although not all the residents seem to have caught on to that. In general, I dislike UC Berkeley Administration. They seem very disconnected from the students. I have had some excellent experiences with a few administration members, but for the most part they are slow to respond, and can even be quite rude. Bureaucracy just sucks in general. I would say there is a good amount of school pride at Berkeley. You definitely see people with their Berkeley gear all the time, and we tend to dislike our rival, Stanford. I think the amount of pride you see really depends what group of people you spend time with. One experience I'll always remember is living in the dorms my freshman year. It was a great experience, and I met some of my best friends there. Even though there wasn't a lot of privacy, it was cramped, and the food sucked, I think every undergraduate needs to experience the dorms. I loved it! The most frequent student complaints tend to revolve around the difficulty of classes and certain subjects. I common saying is "Berkeley: Where Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough," and I think in a lot of cases there's some truth to that. Another common complaint revolves around the type of students you encounter in classes. There's the kid you always gets up on his soapbox, and askes the professor a million questions. Everyone hates that kid, but he doesn't seem to understand that no one is that impressed by him. There's one in every class.


Before I came to Berkeley, I didn't know who I was. I didn't even want to come to Cal. Four years later, I have been shaped by this place like no other experience in my life. I don't know now if I am Berkeley, or Berkeley is me. Sounds cheesy, but as I am about to graduate I very much like I owe Cal for what it has made me. Berkeley, on a sunny day (which is usually all of spring semester), is the most glorious sight. Students are littered across the various grassy areas of campus, sitting in groups, as the bustle of classes beginning or ending flows around them. Sitting on campus gives this feeling of happiness and belonging I cannot describe. I have school pride because my experience here has been wonderful and exactly what I would want out of college. Yet, I have only been to one sporting event in four years. That part of campus life, which is very popular, doesn't really appeal to me. I love Berkeley because of the people I met here. This place attracted people who are smart, interesting, and unique.


Great school- it has every opportunity you can imagine but unless you actively pursue them you will not recieve shit. Student body strikes me as largely sheeplike and boring, seems like the state has doen a good job pacifying the campus with the exception of the coop system which more or less singlehandedly manages to keep student protests going and the fire department scared out of their wits: a friend of mine revealed they refer to CZ as the "animal house" (this may have been after someone repeatedly shot 20 foot flames off the roof with a bathtub and gasoline). Biggest controversy is the tree people who I think have the right general direction but are in truth making a big deal out of a small issue and giving the whole of the environmental movement the image of shortsighted, selfish attention hounds while simultaneously alienating the campus. There is some school pride but it is mostly from Rallycom who from as far as I can tell are the Dumbest People On Earth. They have the idea that shouting a lot in groups and wearing all the same clothes makes them cool- well, I guess everyone likes to participate in the mob mentality sometimes. Experience I'll always remember. Huh. Well. I set myself on fire with a molotov cocktail once in the Foothills parking lot. It melted most of the flesh off my lower right leg and even after I waited three days to go to the Tang center and the flesh was rotting they were totally cool with it. Also, in Norton some girl fell down the garbage shoot which was funny if tragic as people from the eight floor didnt know and dumped yogurt all over her before we could haul her out with a rope. ONce we broke in the powerplant from teh steam tunnels and me and my one friend were let go, but our third friend is an engineering hippie and they help him because they thought he was homeless (needs to shave more or something). Oh, and getting arrested at the naked protest was very interesting. I would like to say that on numerous occasions the Berkeley University POlice has treated me with the utmost respect and dignity: this includes being handcuffed for breaking into BAM through the ceiling ventilation ducts, that protest, being trapped on the roof of that one building that starts with an H next to McCone by seven police cars, naked bicycle police chases . . . theyre pretty nice guys. Although this ne time they confiscated my rollie office chair because we had twenty of us doing races down past Pimentel and I refused to leave. Complaints: very hard and huge classes.


UC Berkeley has so many students, it is both a good thing and a bad thing. The key is finding a niche and growing from there! Berkeley, as a city, is definitely a college town.


The best thing about Berkeley is its location in the YAY Area. The YAY is awesome. It's urban environment provides plenty of culture, diversity, people, and delicious food. Also, it's very bike friendly. I would change Berkeley's bureaucratization. It is too expensive to pay for too many private contracts and there isn't enough input or voting powers for the students. I spend most of my time on campus in class, studying, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and working at my job. When I tell people I go to Berkeley, most people react like I just told them my mother died (saddened and shocked). Berkeley is a town of college. The admin here sucks big, fat, hairy, schweaty balls. The biggest controversy is over a BP Oil contract that was signed and the state of democracy on campus (shockingly, or not?). Too much school pride, and that is what is unusual about UC Berkeley. I will always remember using the women's bathroom in the ASUC arts center because the men's was always closed. The most frequent complaints are about studying, surprisingly. Supposedly you should study when you are in college.


One of the most important part of Berkeley is school pride, seen most vividly during football season. The students here are proud of their accomplishments and of other Berkeley students' accomplishments and give their best to the activities in which they're involved. Most of the world does not understand UC Berkeley because of the many misconceptions that have been propagated through the years. Berkeley is not a hippie school; while many students hold liberal values, a sizable population also holds conservative values. With the wide range of activities and events on campus, there is a niche for every student. That said, Berkeley is a large, public university. The first year here can - and often is - overwhelming, not only because of the social and academic adjustments but also because of the lack of support from the school. While the resources are available, you must reach out first - no one will take care of you. You must take care of yourself. In this sense, Berkeley prepares students well for the real world. At Berkeley, you have to do everything for yourself. No one will take you by the hand and guide you through college life. You have to make Berkeley your own. If you're unsatisfied with your learning experience, your grades, the social scene, or even dorm food, you have to take the initiative and make the change. This is why Berkeley students are student activists; we know that success and change won't be handed to us on a silver platter.


To explain my perspective on Berkeley, I think I should simply say this: I knew exactly what I wanted from college when I came to UC Berkeley, and I got it. My college counselor in high school suggested that I attend Swarthmore, and I could only shake my head. I knew why she suggested it; although I've never feared public speaking and always enjoyed expressing myself to others, my natural state is to keep my head down and study passionately-- not the sort of passion that gets one out of the house. Given my particular circumstances and my experiences in high school, I had identified what I wanted to improve upon in myself: not to become more "outgoing", for I appreciated the aspects of my character that made me less so, but to make myself more willing to engage in what came to me, more excited about opportunities that would draw me out of what came easily to me. I wanted to be bombarded by new situations, strange people, and I wanted to have the strength to accept that with grace and roll with whatever came. I wanted those situations to come to me, I suppose, because I knew that otherwise I would be too easily satisfied, that I would not take the initiative because I was already in some sense happy. But I wanted a new kind of challenge beyond being "happy", to instead be striving perpetually for a more meaningful existence; I wanted to be able to take the person I had become and apply that in all kinds of environments, and see what would happen. So I came to Berkeley. I'm not from California originally, although I have family in SoCal, so when I visited the Bay Area I was somewhat at a loss. Yet following my intuitions, I didn't take a structured tour of the campus and instead wandered around, noting the permeability of its boundaries, the wild variety of the people that populated the town and the campus. I stared in baffled awe at those sporting the regalia of the hyphy movement, grinned obligingly at the aging hippies and street preachers at every corner. There was a lot of new packed into a relatively small space, and like molecules bouncing all the quicker for the increase in pressure, I found myself thrust with unusual frequency into situations I was unprepared for. They were situations I could have avoided -- and many do -- but I chose to perceive them as opportunities, new mirrors in which to see a different reflection of myself, and from the cultivation of that attitude I foresaw that I would grow. I believe I have, in a way that I would not have anywhere else. In some sense I have not immersed myself in any particular social group or style, because that's never how I've been, but I've taken great joy in taking advantage of all sorts of opportunities. I teach DeCals, undergraduate-run classes that offer credit, both to improve my lecture and facilitating abilities for a possible future profession -- one that runs in my family -- and to meet new people as my 'students'. I've enjoyed co-op room-to-rooms, found endless entertainment in compelling every sports player I meet to high-five me by shouting "Go Bears!" -- because how could they let me one-up them in school spirit? -- and savored every trip to The City that we can manage. Getting to San Francisco is very convenient with the BART, but it's incredible how many opportunities Berkeley itself offers; the environment is rich with possibilities. The only problem is that it's easy to miss that. Perhaps it wasn't always so, but it's easy to confine oneself to a particular group and never experience the rest. The Greek system is vibrant but self-contained, and the co-ops are worlds unto themselves. Members of those cultures do not always venture beyond them, to say nothing of those who would rather cloister themselves on the quieter north side of campus to stick to their studies (that would be me my first two years, which I should say I do not regret). You'll see them on campus and gaze upon them, but you will not be compelled to do any more. I recommend you do, however; I highly recommend you do. There is a lot of potential at Berkeley, because it is enormous, a roiling cauldron of possibility, thanks in large part to the high bar set for those who attend. It is not so united as it was before, perhaps, and it is easy to pass through without ever finding oneself in a politically tense situation. The college bubble is always there to embrace you if you seek it-- but right outside the borders of the campus, the borders that are barely there, the town presses in, expanding the scope of what one must consider "normal". That itself will make you a greater person.

Mary Claire

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.