Disregarding prestige, number of nobel laureates, and other things of that sort, could someone tell me what else makes Cal appealing? My other choices are UCD, UCSD, and Wesleyan University. I'm still waiting for Stanford, Columbia, and Tufts to give me a response, but let's assume that they accept me just for the purpose of answering this question. What makes Cal a better choice than the other six?
I applied as a biochemistry major but I might switch into other fields of biology or chemistry.
Well, the weather is soo much better than the east coast liberal art colleges. I was in your same boat (I've decided already). I wanted to originally go back east to the small liberal art colleges as a chem major but when I talked to some people that went to those colleges they said that it's very hard to get into a top notch grad school when you went to a small liberal arts college because you don't have the name and the research opport that you have at Berkeley. Berkeley has the #1 grad chem program...which makes their undergrad awesomee! The guy I talked to from a small liberal art college on the east coast (top ranked one), said that if he had to choose berkeley or the east coast LA, he would choose Berkeley. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.
What does a mascot and tower have to do with the educational experience I'd get? I live about 5 miles away from the campus - I can attend games and see the tower whenever I want to.
But seriously, what makes Cal better? I know that the school has a large number of famous professors, nobel laureates, outstanding programs, [almost] infinite resources, but aside from that, all I hear about it are its faults. Like how you're practically invisible in class. Like how it's nearly impossible to get a letter of recommendation for an internship or for grad school from a professor. I had a family friend who asked his professor for a letter but got in response, "I didn't know you were my student".
Are large lecture sessions effective or would I be better off at an institution like Wesleyan where I'd get one-on-one attention from the professors?
they said that it's very hard to get into a top notch grad school when you went to a small liberal arts college because you don't have the name and the research opport that you have at Berkeley
I believe extensive literature exists that shows that graduates from the top LAC's go on to receive PhD's at a far higher rate - as in by nearly an order of magnitude - than do graduates from Berkeley or any other large university.
honestly? go to wesleyan. or if you get accepted to stanford or columbia, go there.
hell i wouldn't be here if i were accepted to some of the top notch LACs. (knew it was a bad idea to have only applied to 2). fact is, i don't believe berkeley is better than the LACs. And helpful GSIs? ... haha. You must be lucky because I've had no good GSIs thus far.
Why should you choose Cal?
WHY SHOULDN'T YOU!?
As a recently accepted out of stater, I would be paying the full 50k.
And I would be turning down a full ride to the University of MD.
A TON of reasons:
1) I'm looking to experience something new, that would keep me on the edge of my seat every single day. You can't find a more diverse area than the San Francisco Bay Area, and Berkeley is the most eclectic city in the area. From the tons of protests, the dali lama coming to speak next month, and a student body as diverse as California itself, Berkeley is a place to experience something different. Even if all of your friends went to Cal, the incoming class is still ~4000 students, and you would only know a mere fraction. At an international school like Cal, you would be hard pressed to find someplace that isn’t so diverse and representative of California, the nation and the world. To quote a student who was deciding between schools... "At Stanford, there seemed to be one type of student. At Cal, there was no certain type of student." I’ve heard so many times that no matter who you are, you will find one other person like you. Concert junkie? Surfer? Like to collect ants? Cal has students into the same things.
2) The city of Berkeley! Berkeley is an amazing college town, which offers nearly everything. There are over 200 places to eat within 5 blocks of the UC campus, countless street vendors, thrift stores, music stores and that doesn't even scratch the surface. You might be walking around, and see the Happy Happy Man waving and saying "HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY" while holding a sign saying bush is the devil, or see a properly labeled picture of toast scribbled on the wall. (On a side note, not everyone is a crazy liberal as most people think - the Cal republicans are the largest student group on campus!)
3) It's right next to San Francisco. With your UCB card, you can take the F line bus into the city for free in 50 minutes, or take the BART for $3.30 and 20 minutes. Not only do you have Berkeley at your fingertips, you have the 2nd largest city in California just a stone’s throw away. Just a few of the things I love about San Francisco are the plethora of concerts, all the individual neighborhoods giving their unique taste on the city (i.e. Chinatown, Castro, and the tourist-trap Fisherman's Wharf), and the general feel of the place. No where else could you sit on a your laptop outside at a coffee shop, possibly be sitting next to the person who coded the program you’re using right now, eat an organic/local meal made from California’s finest produce, and see a group of nude bikers ride by while the SF Cable Car’s bell tolls in the distance.
4) Upon combining numbers 2 & 3, it’s evident why most students move off campus after the first or second year. Why would you want to keep staying on campus when the surrounding area offers so much more? Besides, I’m pretty sure that apartments are cheaper than the units anyways.
5)The price! If you’re an out of stater, you’re paying a lot. If you’re lucky enough to be instate, it’s a steal! You’re going to a top school, the number one public school in the nation, and you’re paying ~100k for your degree with no aid. I mean, still, for a sticker price for OOS of $200k, you’re getting your money’s worth. The vast number of opportunities available at Cal are worth the money. At many other schools, it’s debatable, but Cal offers opportunities that no other place does. For instance, I’m a Computer Science major, and the location near Silicon Valley is going to greatly help me in the job-seeking arena. Would those companies want to fly someone out from MIT or hire a local Berkeley grad? Would they want to hire someone from podunk university, or the school where a lot of their other employees come from? It’s a risk to hire many people, but with a Berkeley degree, you’re not a risk - you’re an asset.
6) The prestige. Cal is the Harvard of the west AND it beats many of Harvard’s programs. (Don’t give me crap that stanfurd is, because remember, who came first? If they’re lucky, they can be Yale) The Berkeley name on an international level is among the ranks of HYP. Berkeley is the number one public school in the world and the only school with 35/36 of their programs in the top 10. It’s hard to find another place with those sort of numbers. The major political revolution of the 60s started at Berkeley, UNIX (the foundation of many modern computers) was created at Berkeley, so they have the history; just imagine what Berkeley is going to do in the future.
7) There are countless opportunities for undergraduate research, which would help in the grad school process if you’re interested. For example, I know for Computer Science there’s the XCF, the undergraduate research lab where I’m planning on spending many days. Berkeley is a huge research institution, as shown by the strength of its grad programs. Although this doesn’t automatically extend into the undergrad program, it does trickle down, making the undergrad experience worth it.
8)Webcast classes are amazing. Don’t feel like going to lecture today? Hung over from the night before? Going to hang out with friends during the day? Well, not a problem! Just look at what you missed in class online, and you’ll never have to worry. In the large classes where your absence won’t be noticed, this is a godsend. It almost makes you wonder why you’re paying 1-200k for that degree. Berkeley is leading the way compared with a majority of schools in the sheer number of webcast classes.
9)Decals! From South Park to Starcraft, these fun 2-unit P/NP classes seem like a great way to break up your schedule. Since they’re student-taught and student-run, they’re a radical shift from the normal lectures & discussions. No other school offers such a wide range of classes on the oddest topics. This is the once time in life that you get to take random classes for breadth & elective requirements, why not make them fun? Some schools have a couple of cool elective classes, but go to the decal website - there’s literally over a hundred offered at Cal!
10) The campus is gorgeous. As an out of stater, when I think of California, palm trees come to mind, and Berkeley has giant ones near Soda Hall and the Units. The stream running through campus, Strawberry Creek, is a haven for biology students. Certain types of wildlife roam the campus. (We didn’t get voted number one for our squirrels for nothing!) Berkeley has a relatively small overall campus, yet there is a plentiful diversity of trees, wildlife, and architecture. Each building is different, and it really plays up the diversity of the campus. The new CITRUS building kinda reminds me of a ski lodge, while Soda Hall looks like a giant emerald, Haas looks like a German school and the Units look purely abstract. I find it fascinating to see all the different styles out there.
11) Why is Berkeley the number on public school in the nation? The students. I heard from someone that “everyone here is brilliant.” Why do you think some of the curves are so hard? With so many bright students, it’s hard to become the cream of the crop when the crop is already made of cream. Some of your peers are the leaders of tomorrow, and as a Berkeley student, you’re among them. And about the other not so talented ones... well, our party scene is livelier than stanfurds for a reason :]
12) After you graduate from Berkeley, you’ll find a job. Have you looked at the unemployment rate a year from graduation? For some majors it hovers around 1-2%. Compared to some schools, Berkeley will help get you into a job or grad school. (I’m sure some would disagree, but look at the percent of berkeley graduates who go to grad school v. other peer intuitions) I’ve already talked to one student there, and he said that finding a job should be the least of my worries there. The weeder classes are killer to make sure that the graduates are the best out there, which gives a huge boost to Berkeley’s reputation in the job market.
13) Berkeley doesn’t hold your hand at all. For some people this is a negative, but think about it, 4 years from now you’re on your own, why not learn to be self-sufficient in the comforting environment of Berkeley? College is largely what you make of it, save the resources of the place. Berkeley has the resources, so it’s up to you wether to take advantage of all that’s offered. I’ve heard some kids have to fight for research, or professors, or classes, but that’s life. Do you think a job is going to be handed to you? If you’re like many people, Berkeley gives you a valuable life lesson about self-sufficiency without putting too much at risk. In doing so, Berkeley gives you something that not many of your peers have, a sense of adulthood and who you really are.
14) The weather! No snow in the winter, and it never gets too hot or too cold. Compare to the scorching temperatures in so cal, or the freezing weather of the NE, nor cal is a great place to live, which is hard to replicate anywhere else. In the winter, it does rain a lot, but in the summer, it never gets hot. The fog from the SF bay keeps the overall climate of the campus so temperate it’s a paradise.
With the combination of the past 14 things, Cal is as unique and amazing as they come. As only a prospective freshman, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all that’s great about Berkeley. Their admit rate is ~21%, which I take as “we turned down 4 other great applicants in order to give you a spot.” Look at the decision thread, and you can see that plenty of 2200+ and 4.0+ students get rejected. If given the opportunity to attend UC Berkeley, I find it hard to turn down. It’s a gift to be able to go to such an excellent institution, one that offers everything a college should plus more. It’s so unique that the students don’t just go to school there, many thrive.
(ugh, it wouldn't let me edit it, so here's a few more reasons)
15) Everyone says the Dining Commons food is bad but everyone complains about the food no matter where you go. We were rated number three for vegetarians. (Number one on the west coast!) Berkeley is full of farmer's markets bursting with organic and local food. In addition, there's a ton of places to eat, at all hours of the night. Delivery sushi is available until 4AM (with good prices), the hot dog place is open until 2AM and that's just 2 out of the 200+ places around.
16) Take a look at the following picture: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2171/...1199ca.jpg?v=0
See those things on the right? WASHING MACHINES!
That's right, you get a view of the San Francisco Bay while folding your clothes.
Many other people pay thousands for a view of the SF Bay, and you, a mere college student, get that in your laundry room. Great schools like Cornell have the prestige, but what are you surrounded by? Oh yeah, the rural part of New York. For someplace like MIT, in Boston, you're still not even on the Atlantic, just near a small body of water. Even stanfurd, the school across the bay, doesn't even have a bay view. Berkeley has the one thing many schools don't: location, location & location. So close to the Bay, so close to a major city, which makes it a great place to be.
17) Berkeley has spirit. From the huge number of fans on game days, to the passionate students in the labs, the Berkeley spirit is alive. The funny fact that stanfurd restricted visitor ticket sales for home games because Cal fans were outnumbering the stanfurd fans serves as proof. This spirit echos though every aspect of the school. On the top of Sather Gate, there sits a star surrounded by twinkling light. The motto of the school is "Fiat Lux" or "Let there be light." Berkeley students have a long tradition of nontraditional excellence because they illuminate the darkest corners of the world. Why did the Free Speech movement start there? Because the students were the ones who sought to correct the wrongs. Other schools pay lip-service to making a difference, Berkeley students put it in action. Berkeley students make a difference.