From most of the posts I have read on this forum, many students praise Berkeley's horrible bureaucracy for some strange reason. They say things like, "it makes me more independent" or "gives me a dose of the real world" or "makes me more prepared for reality." Does this mean that the students at Berkeley are too apathetic to change a broken system? If I went to a school that was woefully inadequate in a certain area, I would do everything in my power to help fix and improve the system. I thought Berkeley was a liberal school open to change and improvement. Does the school not care about student input and advice whatsoever?
Some of the arguments I have seen praising Berkeley's cold bureaucracy are as ludicrous as a kid living in the slums of Rio de Janiero thanking the world for letting him grow up in an environment where he can learn how to "defend himself from shanking" or "have a real dose of reality trying to find his next meal." There is some merit in finding the silver lining in a cloud. But there is even more merit recognizing a weakness and trying to improve it.
I don't think Berkeley suffers from incompetency. They have a lot of really bright and motivated professors who are at the top of their respective fields. Also, Berkeley's graduate programs are top notch.
What they do suffer from is a total disregard for undergraduates which I find disturbing.
I have had quite a lot of interaction with various faculty and staff at Berkeley in conjunction with a child who attends Cal and suffered some medical problems which resulted in dealing with some academic issues. Everyone at Berkeley, with the exception of the people who answer the phones when you initially call (especially Tang and other student call-heavy departments, but strangely, not admissions) has gone out of their way to be helpful. There is no doubt a bureaucracy exists at Berkeley, but the secret to getting around it is to avoid any general switchboards. Always try to get the specific extension/phone number of a real, live person and your life will be much less affected by bureaucracy. If I remember correctly, they told my child this at Freshmen orientation. I suppose it would be more helpful to students considering Cal to hear exactly how the infamous Berkeley Bureaucracy has either positively or negatively impacted current students. Anyone got any specific examples?
I've had to deal with it quite a bit and personally I don't find it too bad. As long as you fill out a form for whatever you want to have happen it generally isn't that annoying. Any large research university has a great deal of bureaucracy, it's just the way things work. There's always a way to deal with it if the forms don't work as you just make an appointment to talk to someone. (the worst stuff isn't actually anything having to do with the university but rather the NSF grant money which supports a large number of things in research universities)
Wow, to those who complain about the bureaucracy, you all are babies. Grow a spine and deal with it. Just because Berkeley does not spoon-feed everyone does not mean the system needs changing...perhaps you just went to the wrong school.
Or, perhaps you are more accustomed to a "better" system? Grow up.
Yeah, I don't think the bureaucracy is too bad if you're proactive. I'm graduating this Spring and I wanted to make sure that I was on track. I went to the College of L&S advising center, asked the person at the desk "If I want to just make sure I'm set to graduate, what should I do?" She gave me the number to call, told me when to call, and to set up an appointment.
I set one up, arrived there, and an adviser was nice enough to have my transcript and a graduation checklist already filled out for me. She told me what I had completed, what I was in progress to complete, and what I needed to do to graduate. She let me keep the form and I went on my way.
Now, this was a semester before my expected semester of graduation. I could imagine that a helpless senior would wait until the semester that he/she is expecting to graduate, set up an appt. and find out that he/she is missing a class. He/she would freak out realizing that they needed to stay an extra sem. and then blame it on "bureaucracy."