I'm not that smart. EECS terrifies me. I'm doing it anyways. Foolish?
I am a transfer who will be starting this summer, and I know that when I walk into the classroom, I will probably be one of the least intelligent people in the room. It scares the hell out of me that I will be competing with some of the best minds in the country. In addition, those "best minds" are also extremely hardworking. But here's the thing: I would really like to at least have the option to attend a good MBA program in the future. I'm terrified that Cal EECS will mutilate my gpa, leaving me with a diploma that essentially says, "Have fun working at McDonald's, moron!" I considered turning down Cal and attending a less challenging school (Chico State), just because I knew that I would be able to get a higher gpa, and I figured that this would give me a better shot at grad school. But I'm a fool who likes to bite off more than he can chew. I can't resist the challenge. So here I am, fearfully awaiting that first day of class, watching every lecture on YouTube that I can get my hands on, hoping to somehow compensate for my average intelligence. I've always been a social person, valued my friendships and interpersonal skills, and enjoyed the company of the opposite sex -- but I fear that things are about to change for the next 2 years.
I guess I'm writing this to see if anyone else feels the same way. Also, I'd love to hear advice from those who are already there, or have been there before. Is EECS the desolate island of reclusion, cutthroat competition, and sleepless, fruitless labor which I envision?
It's funny. All of that time at junior college, I thought that getting into Berkeley would make me feel accomplished; reassured that my life was going somewhere. Now that I am accepted, I am more concerned for my future than I have ever been before.
Here's to hoping that I didn't just make the biggest little mistake of my life... (If you caught that Arrested Development reference, then let's be friends)
I also transferred into EECS with the goal of getting into an MBA program. I graduated last semester.
Contrary to my initial expectations, I haven't been impressed with the "intelligence" of EECS students. Yes, you are right, there are a couple of impressive students who may indeed be among the best minds of the country, but they are far and few between. However, the majority of EECS major are no more intelligent or "better" than people in any other major at Cal, or possibly even Chico State. More than often I have thought of questions asked in-class "how could this guy ever get accepted (AND pass the lower-div prereqs)?"
That brings me to your next point, hardworking. Now you got it It's not about intelligence. If you want to survive with a GPA high enough to enter a good MBA program you must be hardworking. Very hardworking. Depending on your course load, be prepared to give up on your some of your other priorities for a little while. In the beginning of the semester you may think "Hey, it's not too bad, I can stil go to parties, hit on girls, hang out with my friends and handle the workload", but once the middle of the semester comes around a flood of midterms and project deadlines will bring you back to EECS reality
You will need to get used to walking past memorial glade and watching people tanning and playing frisbee while you are heading to the lab ready to pull an all-nighter to finish up your damn project. It's not for everyone.
I think anyone who is hardworking and determined enough can get at least a 3.7+ GPA. Think of this as one of your advantages: On average, transfer students are more mature (and older) than freshman admits. Most people in EECS (and at Cal in general) can't handle their time or priorities very well, that's why they end up with bad grades, not because of their intelligence.
At the same time, that's the most important advice I have for you: Plan your schedule wisely and don't bite off more than you can chew. If GPA is important to you, keep it easy and consider staying one semester longer to spread out your courses a little better (I didn't).
As for competition, I didn't really experience any. People in general are very friendly and everyone is willing to help everyone else, even for classes that are curved.
As far as "biting off more than you can chew" in scheduling, make note that courses with labs, heavy computer programming, or large term projects can be a lot more work. So try to not put all of those courses in the same semester (or take fewer courses/units if you do have more such courses, and take more courses/units when you have fewer or no such courses).
While higher grades and test scores visible at freshmen admission do correlate to higher GPA in university, they (in combination with some demographic factors) only predict 26.5% of GPA variation at UC, according to this paper.
So, while students in a highly selective major like EECS may, on average, be "smarter" than students in other majors, there are many individual students who are not "smarter" than the other students. And students in the other majors had stats distributions overlapping the stats distribution of EECS and other high selective majors anyway.
Just picture every student as a blank sheet of paper: no one there is smarter or more stupid than you are until you meet them.
And Berkeley's just glorified high school except that everyone's a little more ambitious...you still have the supah smart, smart/above average, average joes, and the maybe see you next year? kids.
Oh and resist biting off more than you can chew. Takes a nasty toll on your GPA. I can attest to that (****** spring of freshman year...smh).
Thomas, your response is quite comforting. Working hard is about the only thing that I'm good at! And I can certainly live with the idea of sacrificing a little bit of comfort, sleep, and satisfaction for a better future. After all, delayed gratification is what sets us apart from the wild animals!
@Thomas: Saying that every 'hardworking' EECS student can get a 3.7+ GPA is a pretty broad and untrue statement. That's like saying you can take the bottom of the barrel EECS student, one who is very below average, and he/she can get an A- in every class just by working hard. There are very few hardworking people in EECS, and the ones who are not already very smart (and not working hard) are probably the ones who make up the C's, D's and F's in most classes. So working hard + being at the very least average may amount to the proposed 3.7+ GPA, but I don't think just any hardworking person can do it. There would be a lot more people in HKN if that were the case.
There are plenty of very hardworking and determined students who can't do better than a B+ average.
Can you define your "can't"?
If you are saying that they are simply not "smart" enough (compared to other students) to earn grades above a B+ average, then I would disagree. I stick with what I said before that everyone with at least average intelligence (which probably includes 98+% of people at Cal) can earn an A- average if:
1) They make it their priority (I'm not saying it's a bad thing if they have other priorities such as partying, clubbing, having tons of fun, etc but then there's no reason for them to complain about grades)
2) They can manage their time well. That includes setting priorities, making a schedule of what needs to be done and sticking with it, resisting procrastination, etc.
3) They are studying the right way. I know tons of people who routinely pull all-nighters and then sleep 12+ hours and can't concentrate for the next 2 days. Come on, that can't work and is not healthy. Similarly I know tons of people who "pretend" to be studying but check their facebook and IM's every 15 seconds. Of course nothings productive gets done in that way. I'm not impressed if someone says "I studied 30h straight for this midterm and still got a bad grade!!". More than likely it wasn't productive studying. The more successful people I know don't procrastinate, don't fall behind, and then review for at most a few hours for exams and get the top grades. And they're not necessarily the smartest.
I believe that grades have very little to do with raw intelligence. Of course, it's a different story if you want to get A+'s in all your classes
That's like saying you can take the bottom of the barrel EECS student, one who is very below average, and he/she can get an A- in every class just by working hard.
Well, I didn't mean that. If it came across like that I'll correct myself. I was saying that almost anyone at Cal can earn a 3.7+ GPA without needing to be particularly "smart". There's more to it than working hard (see above post). In particular, working hard in the right way.
On a side note, I was involved in teaching two courses (one upper div and one lower div), which also included assigning final grades. The pattern I saw is similar to the following:
A+ usually go to the exceptionally smart and (possibly also) hardworking people. Sometimes these people are very visible and care about the class, other times they are just so smart (or already know the material form somewhere else) that they skip every lecture, discussion, etc and just show up and ace the exams.
A's go to the people who CARE MOST about the class. These are the people who don't miss lecture very often, ask questions in discussion section, start assignments and projects early, don't fall behind, and come to OH if they don't understand something.
A-'s go to people who do part of the above. Most importantly, they don't fall behind very much. Most of the time the "minus" comes from messing up the midterm a little, which, honestly, can happen to almost anybody.
Most B's go to people who are not very "visible" in the class. Either in the newsgroups, lecture or discussion. When looking at the names of A students you usually recognize the names somehow. For the B students you have no idea who they are.
C's and below (There usually only a handful D's and F's combined) go to people who are *visibly* not hardworking. A lot of times these are the people who show up to OH a day before the exams and ask a flood of very basic questions. Or they send emails a day before the project is due asking "how do i best start this?", and so on.
The thing to note here is that I have found absolutely no correlation between "intelligence" and grade, except for the A+ students. Some of the straight-A students seem to ask the "stupidest" questions in OH or discussions.
^Agreed but for A+ it really depends on the class.
For CS61A and CS61BL I personally thought it was not too hard to get an A+ in the class because it's straight graded while CS70 was very difficult to get an A+ in (I couldn't do it).