University of California-Berkeley Top Questions

What should every freshman at University of California-Berkeley know before they start?


I would tell myself to be more involved earlier on, and to be more studious. College is nothing like high school was, and it is important to plan carefully and not take on too much at once.


The advice that I heard most during orientation was to give yourself the first year, or at least semester, to acclimate to college. I would tell myself to forget that noise. I’ve found that I’m happiest when I’m busy with interesting work, and that I loved my college experience the last two years so much because I was taking four classes, working part time, and helping a professor with his research. I was figuring out who I was by stretching myself to my limits, and even though I almost had a nervous breakdown a few times, I preferred it, because I was involved in what I love. You never get anywhere by sitting out of the game, and you don’t figure out who you are by taking it easy. Yes, take the first term slightly easier, because it is an adjustment, but take note of things that you’ll want to do next semester, like interesting classes, research projects, jobs, or clubs. You won’t regret the times when you felt too busy, but you will regret not taking an opportunity when you had time.


To my senior self: Just go for it. I know that right now you just want to play it safe and add commitments slowly but surely, but now as a junior, it seems that time has run out. There's still so many clubs and events I haven't gone to; I still haven't gone to the Big C, run for office, taken those English classes, or tried most of the restuarants right outside my apartment. You're worried about your GPA and extra-curriculars, and trying not to make the same mistakes you made in high school. It is okay to be cautious and spend time planning, but don't take it to the extreme and start stroking and saying "my precious" to your time. Most importantly, you'll find that late night talks about life, religion, and hot-button issues, are few and far between -- happened only once freshman year. Remember that's what college is about: the time to formulate your opinions. Always say yes to the opportunity to talk with your friends. Stop thinking so much about your GPA -- that opportunity that just arrived may only come once. Just go for it.


As a high school student, I recommend that you always leave your comfort zone whenever possible. You should always be aiming to see new sights, live through new experiences, and meet new people. Nothing can be worse than wasting your time on the computer or taking naps. College will be a time where you will meet new people and be exposed to new things. Prepare yourself by learning how to deal with certain situations and how to talk to all types of people. Also, learn to be humble and admit your shortcomings. Never take advice for granted, but at the same time, take it with a grain of salt, so to speak. Only your true friends will speak advice you won’t want to hear. At the same time, you are in charge of your own life. You must make your own decisions. College will be a time where you must make your own decisions, and you must take responsibility for those choices. Start practicing in high school, where you will still have family to watch over you. In the end, college will be an amazing place full of unique people. Be prepared to make life-long friends!


Don't quit. Even though you are at the top of your class, in college you will struggle at times and will likely fail a test or two, but don't give up. Keep pushing on with the "I Think I Can" mental determination of Thomas the Train. Be humble in your successes and learn from your failures, and realize that both inside and outside the classroom will provide a learning opportunity from which you can grow. Don't be intimidated by your peers, but make it a point to learn from them and befriend them. Networking is key and will open many doors for you in the future. You never know, the person next to you in class may be the next Steve Jobs. Be flexible and adaptable. Take classes that you haven't taken in high school to expand your knowledge, however, understand that class registration is a process and don't get frustrated if can't get into a required course every once in a while. Lastly, follow your passions. Major in something that excites you to go to class everyday and makes you want to make a difference in the world. The world is your oyster.


In high school I would try to prepare myself academically, socially and mentally for the rigors of college life. I would take more challenging courses during the last years of high school because otherwise the academic rigor at the university level can really come as a rude awakening. The transition comes much easier if one put in the extra effort and didn't slack off the last year of high school. Time management is key! It's also important to try to imagine all the things one wants to do during university years, as far as picking up new hobbies, sports, skills, languages, community service activities, friendships etc. This is the best time to expand one's horizons, a time like no other, as far as physical and mental capacity. However, there are so many possibilities on most college campuses that it is quite easy to get lost in the excitement of it all. So it's good to have at least somewhat of a plan as well as the right attitude at the outset. Also, expect the unexpected because university opens up so many doors! Go in with an open mind and be ready to grow as a person!


Dear highschool self, I congratulate you for working hard in maintaining high grades and for being involved in so many extra-curricular activities. I believe that thanks to your school, mentors, family, and friends, you are prepared to attend college. Although, if it's not too late I would like to recommend that you take some time aside to apply for scholarships and earn some money. Money isn't everything but your future-self will very much appreciate that you have some money earned up for things you will need in college... like books! Also, sometimes you will get home-sick since you will be hours away from home and sometimes going out with your friends will help you feel better. Caution: be wise with your money. Also take time to apply for scholarships! Financial aid is helping you a lot but you will see that it will not cover it all, which is okay. You are given the options of loans but you must also be cautious of the debt you will graduate with. You are in the perfect position to prepare yourself for the success of your fututre.


I was one of those kids in high school that never had many friends. I wasn't popular or really known by many people untill senior year and was bullied most of my life from elementary school through highschool. As well, I was raised by my grandparents who sheltered me and helped me through life. However, when I got to college, I began being afraid to grow out of my shell. My first semester, I kept more to myself and my studies. I now regret this to an extent because I didn't get involved in clubs because they didn't involve my interest and most of the organizations here were for minority groups which excluded me. In my second semester, I became more involved being in the kendo club, doing research, and trying to meet people; however, the man who raised me, my grandfather, passed away and that fear started to come up again. However after some time, I've been getting involved in clubs and making some close friends. If I had that option to go back in time, I would tell myself to not be afraid of growing up and expanding out of my comforst zone.


Going back in time, I wish I had known more about what it really meant to be a well rounded individual. Before, I thought that with my abundance of clubs and immersion into school would qualify me as "well rounded". Unfortunately, now I see that some of the things that matter most are the events that you partake with outside of school. Now I wish that when I had said that I did not have time more activities, I would have evaluated what was taking up my time. Because, despite my high grades and high rankings in school, I missed out on activities that I could have really flourished in. Rather than focusing my efforts on one big program or event that I could have devoted my time in, I spent my high school senior year worrying about applications and grades. I would advise all students to momentarily forget about attending a small club meeting and venture out into finding their passions.


Don’t be afraid and get involved! If I could go back in time, I would say those two things. It took me a year to be able to talk to people I met in classes and meetings, figure out what I was interested in, and which clubs and organizations I wanted to join. By then, I had wasted so much time. If I was not afraid of trying new things by myself, I would have joined more organizations. For example, I recently discovered that my college has a pro bono consulting group, which is a great way to help the community. I applied as a sophomore and was not accepted because my lack of experience. I could have applied during my first year if I had known. I regret that I did not research what my campus has to offer. I could have entered more prepared and ready for the college life if I had tried. Being confident would have helped me become a better student and fellow classmate because I would have not been afraid of new experiences and challenges. Even now I tell myself to stay strong and try my best at everything I do.