University of California-Berkeley Top Questions

What's the one thing you wish someone had told you about freshman year?


Though rumors fly that all of UC Berkeley's classes are scary, bell-curved classes, that is not true. Not every class is graded on a curve and the bell curves do not hurt your grades. There has never been a class where everyone got 90% or above, so the professor had to curve the class, and half the class would get a B. The curves always help your grade. Please do not let that rumor deter you from enrolling at UC Berkeley.


Before I accepted my admission to UC Berkeley, I wish I had known more about the campus and its lifestyle. I adore the way that students share out their passions for life and leap towards achieving new heights. However, I wish I had visited the campus first and really considered all my options before heading away from home. I am truly happy with my final decision but it would have been highly disappointing if I had not found UC Berkeley to be my new home.


The competition is much more intense than I expected. Your peers are often individuals who know exactly what they want to do with their lives, and that environment can be incredibly intimidating.


How much going into dent would hamper my future.


While I have come to love the Berkeley environment, I wish I had known that the school was so competitive. All my life I had been at the top of my class and now I'm meshed in with myriads of people who are just like me. This often times makes class difficult for I feel like I'm constantly competing with my peers, however, it also drives me to accomplish things I would never have accomplished in my comfort zone.


I wish I had known that it was going to be a vary high contrast that what I had pictured it to be.


How to get better involved in more research, which professors are accessible and which are not; also how to apply for or gain access to more scholarships.


I wish I had known to seek to understand prior to seeking to be understood. In a tremendously competitive environment, the ability to listen to the wisdom and insight of others - both superiors and peers - is often swept under the rug in the effort to "outshine" others. We shine brightest, as academics and human beings, when we are conscious of each other's strengths and celebratory of our respective contributions to the global good. Berkeley is a diverse and challenging learning environment, and it deserves students with thoughtful, self-reflective, and humble attitudes.


The disparity between in-state admits and out-state admits - because the admission standard varies greatly for in-state and out-state students, there are great disparity in academic achievement.


I wish I had known how large the classes were, and how science and research based the school was.


I wish I had known how many protests took place on campus they were definitley distracting during class time.


The amount of pressure and the level of competitveness at Berkeley is unbelievably high, and can become easily overwhelming for most students. I wish I had been better prepared for this type of environment. This school is only for the serious student, who wants to further their education in a determined and practical way. Do not come to this school unless you are ready to work incredibly hard.


I wish I had known to not stress so much about little things, like being waitlisted for a class or forgetting to pack a hairdryer. The focus of your first year here should be building friendships and creating a network of people whom you trust. College life certainly gets too much hype, in my opinion, and I wish I had known not to sweat the small stuff when I first came here. At least now I know to focus on the big picture-- my education, my relationships, and most of all my entire college experience!




I wish I had been more aware of the immense diversity of research opportunities, community service groups, and other student organizations on campus. I also wish I had realized that the choice of major does not always have a significant impact on post-graduate endeavors (if you plan on pursuing medical school, for instance).


I wish that I had known about the amount of controlled substances at Cal. I came here thinking that the presence of drugs and weed would only be in certain areas in and around campus. But when I finally moved here, I realized that the smell of weed is everywhere. My neighbor's room reeks of the smell everyday and the RA doesn't seem to do anything about it. It is really annoying from time to time but other than that, it's manageable.


There is nothing I wish I had known before coming to Cal. I look at every experience as a learning one, and all the things that would have been helpful to know prior to my enrollment have not negatively affected my experience at Cal. For instance, there is an abundance of terms that I had to become familiar with my first semester on campus. I was behind many other students because I had to memorize the meaning of such terms. This forced me to work hard and stay focused, which was a learning lesson in itself. Perspective is everything.


I am a transfer student, and no matter how much they prepare you for the college you plan on transferring to, especially for UC Berkeley, the workload gets to be overwhelming sometimes. It gets really hard to balance your social life, school and everything in general.


The science majors are much harder to stay competetive in than the liberal arts and social science majors. It takes a lot more studying, focus, dedication and resolve to get a good GPA than it did in High School, and the weighting of the grade is much more heavily focussed on midterms and tests which can be difficult to adjust to. The College of Chemistry is home to one of the most difficult undergraduate curriculums in the world, and as such having a successful social life as well as a successful academic career can be hard to balance and manage.


I wish that I had known that some of my classes in the first two years would have five hundred students in them. Furthermore, I wish I knew that teacher assistants in those classes, who were graduate students, would be grading my final exam and not the professor.


I wish I had really understood fully the impact of California's budget cuts and the great expense of tuition here before coming to UC Berkeley.


I wish I would have looked into the kind of clubs that the school offered. I feel like I am finding things i like and it's a little too late now that I am going to be a senior.


I wish that I had known that Berkeley is a very competitive school to get into and compete in. The science classes are very difficult but after a little time and hard studying, they are very manageable. The city is a lot different yet it is beautiful. I have grown up a lot and become very independent since I moved to Berkeley.


Lot of club opportunity and more contacts


Academic and personal success is not measured by how many hours you spend in the library or by being bookish. It is about having passion and conviction for what you are learning and allowing that shape the person you are. Personal discovery and a strong sense of self is just as crucial to doing well in life as doing well in school. Pick yourself up when you encounter adversity or if you fail at something. The road is long and there are many future opportunities awaiting you. Love and be good to yourself.


there are 11 biology majors on campus; just because one seems to house more than 50% of the biology student population doesn't mean it's the best one


I wish I had prepared better and work harder.


I would have liked to know more about the resources available to me, such as the career center, libraries, and computer facilities. I would have also liked to know the locations of buildings near and around campus better. Transportation was intially difficult, so it would have helped to learn how to use the bus system. College can be extremely intimidating at first, but once you learn how things work, everything seems simpler. Had I known all of this, my transition to college would have been much easier.


I wish I had known how to be comfortable with the differences between myself and the other students on campus. Although I excluded myself from groups based on these differences, the Berkeley experience is all about combining our unique backgrounds in such a way as to effect change on a campus, national, international, and global level. By including input from other, possibly alien, sources, ideas for improvement are more effective and have greater potential permanence.


How often it's actually freezing and raining. Also, that this school is a LOT tougher than your standard LAUSD high school.


I wish that I would have known more about the campus life in general. Berkeley is a hard school, with hard classes and strict professors. It also has a history for being one of those schools that protest and fight for what they believe is right. I wish that before I came to Berkeley I had better knowledge about the clubs, groups ect. on campus. I feel that everything they focused on was the difficulty and their historic roots in protesting. There is mroe to Berkeley than that and I wish I knew more about it.


i wish i would have known more clearly what requirements i had to fullfill, and i wish i had known of more outlets for help picking classes.


During the application process, I was looking for colleges that had a moderately sized student population. I knew the numbers, but I hadn't experienced the numbers. UCB has about 25,000 students and when I walked to my first class, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people walking on campus and in each class. I regret not taking a campus tour, but I don't think it would have changed my decision to attend Berkeley. Although there is a high number of students at UCB, the academic structure caters to every student helping them educationally and personally.


I wish I had better communication skills and the ability to not constantly believe others are watching me, hoping I will fail. I wish I could have come to Cal not caring what other people think. However, being here at Cal has taught me to be myself and not follow the crowd. I also wish I knew how to work public transportation systems better. I came from a small town to a large city. I have gotten lost on the bus many times, but now I am more comfortable.


I wish I had known how competitive it was. The truth that someone's always better than you is really made known and there's a constant feeling that no matter how hard you try and how much effort you put in, it's still not enough.


Try to do as much online research about the school as possible beforehand. Especially look into major/general education requirements asap; classes fill up really fast so know early on which classes you want to take. Try to prioritize what you want to fill your extra time with and schedule accordingly. There are so many research/club/extracurricular activities, but only so much time in a week. When planning your schedule, know your limits and remember to leave ample time for studying.


One of the challenges that i encountered during my first semester here at CAL was dealing with finances. Altough financial aid took care of my tuition, room, and board, there were still many expenditures that i had to make. Because i come from a family who struggles with finances, i had no money saved up in order to prepare for unexpected expenditures.


I think that I adjusted as I came in, and learned what I needed to as different scenarios came up. UC Berkeley fit my expectations quite well, but I do think that one who comes into this school needs to be very aware of what kind of campus this is: it's big, it's somewhat messy, it's for people who are extremely passionate and open-minded, and it has rigorous academic standards.


my major


I wish my school had been more academically vigorous. It was a big disadvantage to come out of the public school system of Los Angeles that was also extremely overcrowded because it did not prepare me for the courseload that I would face in Berkeley. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have definitely tried to prepare myself for a bigger workload as well as refine my study habits.


The difficulty of the coursework compared with other schools


How seperated engineering is from the rest of campus and how fast everything would pass along with the work load and exetreeeeeemely harsh gpa's.


Knowing how to pick classes and what I would need to take for a certain major or to be given recommendations that applied for my general education credits. That, and not to be narrow minded to the classes you should take by branching out and taking other classes.


The campus administration is much more conservative than the student body. This has created a rift between the student government and the administration. The large scale decisions are top down, and many students feel they do not have a voice in either their student government or with the school administration. The large scale party politics, Cal SERVE and Student Action both have good goals and people, but spend much more energy in petty power fueds than in making actual progressive change to the school. The student body overall is very disenchanted with its voice.


The difficulty of being able to date someone and the normality of one nightstands


Read all the fine print for the classes you need and don;'t need to graduate


that i should wait one year and apply to other graduate programs that have better funding


I wish I would have known about all the options to get involved in research as an undergarduate and taken andvantage of them sooner in my time there.


You might be close to San Francisco, but you are so busy you don't get to go very often.


There are many textbook exchange services available.