My thoughts on Berkeley

<p>I went to CalSo, and I can honestly say that I made a good choice.</p>

<p>The things that stood out the most to me were the stand up activities and bear territory. Those were really well thought out.</p>

<p>The time warp and the "you can tell the whole damn world this is bear territory" things were cool too and I had a fun time learning them. I think.</p>

<p>I don't think Marian Diamond came to ours and showed us what was in our glove box....or I missed it somehow o.o.</p>

<p>I thought that first day of calSO was kind of boring, and they could have shortened it a bit, since I was really tired lawl. </p>

<p>What are your opinions on this subject matter?</p>

<p>Also, during the bear territory, when we had to read those quotes made by students, it made it seem that Berkeley is not that liberal...and people can be jerks there. I dunno though.</p>

<p>Berkeley is shifting towards the center these days. It's no longer the far-left campus that it used to be. While you can find lots of liberals, the same can be said for conservatives also. In fact, one anecdote is how the largest single student organization on campus is the Berkeley Student Republicans.</p>

<p>The point of CalSO is not to be exactly educational, but rather get you started on campus with the right mindset. The bonding activities (like the cheers) are to ensure that you'll at least know a few people on campus so you won't be completely socially isolated.</p>

<p>The quotes, at the end, are to make you question everyone's views and keep an open mind. On campus, there will be a lot of people you'll agree with and several more that you'll strongly disagree with. The idea is to get into the mindset of giving everything thought instead of disregarding ideas in a bigoted way.</p>

<p>Personally, I think one of the most important things I've learned in my two years so far at Cal is to keep an open mind. You'll find a diverse population of people on campus, and it's important to learn that just because they're different doesn't mean they're inferior. CalSO imparts this idea on you, and this is one of the most noticable differences between Berkeley and Stanford.</p>

<p>
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CalSO imparts this idea on you, and this is one of the most noticable differences between Berkeley and Stanford.

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<p>ironically, a very close-minded thing to say. You've never been a Stanford student, how would you know? You can learn to be open-minded at any school, but just being there does not make you eager to recognize and accept differences. I think I need to take a break from reading this board.</p>

<p>Heh, that's funny. If I recall, some of the people I met who proclaimed to have the most open minds were the most bigoted when it came to ideas they disagreed with. Go figure. But CalSO is fun. Glad you enjoyed it.</p>

<p>One of the most interesting quotes was "My friends tend to think their technical classes are tougher than my humanities courses."</p>

<p>I can't blame his/her "friends" though. When I went to CalSO, the advisor emphasized not to overload on technical courses and everyone has heard of challenging math or science classes, but very few talk about writing weeder courses or overloading on humanities. In fact, "hard" subjects = technical while "soft/fuzzy" subjects = humanities/social science. </p>

<p>I personally agree that us-technical people should not think we're taking tougher courses unless we have experienced both sides and are comparing courses that we've already taken. However, it's hard not to be biased when
1. More people think technical classes are harder than people think humanities/social science classes are harder.
2. Almost no technical classes have a class average of B+ or higher.</p>

<p>What do you guys think?</p>

<p>People love to dump on American Studies as being easy. Yes, it's easy to pass. To get an A or B, you actually have to produce and offer something new to the field. Or at least build upon what is there. AS is technically humanities/social sciences, but there is a lot of analysis of cultural movements, anthropological predictions, hard sociology, rhetoric, etc. That stuff is actually tough to do well.</p>

<p>Technical is hard in a different sense, there is less subjectivity. It either works or it does not. I will never argue with anyone else that Cal is not a difficult school, and if someone tells you it's easy, they're either blowing smoke or they are mind-shatteringly brilliant, or needs to feel superior. And what is difficult for one person is easy for another.</p>

<p>
[quote]
CalSO imparts this idea on you, and this is one of the most noticable differences between Berkeley and Stanford.

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</p>

<p>Maybe I worded it wrong. What I was trying to say is that Cal and Stanford differ in how much emphasis is placed on imparting the "open-mindedness." Based on what I've heard from friends at Stanford, whereas Cal takes a more direct approach, Stanford tends to just let it happen naturally.</p>

<p>The second thing I'd have to say is: in my version of "open-minded," there is nothing about making judgments before facts. For me, it's willingness to listen and obtain more information before acting upon anything.</p>

<p>In response to "My friends tend to think their technical classes are tougher than my humanities courses":</p>

<p>This is an extremely common view at the high school I'm coming from, but I believe there is a concrete reason for it. Basically, all of the students taking the "rigorous" technical courses (i.e. AP Calculus BC, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, etc.) at my school also take the "rigorous" humanities classes (i.e. AP Lit/Comp, AP US History, AP US Gov, etc.), but the reverse is not true. Those of us in the technical classes have no trouble succeeding in the humanities courses, but the self-proclaimed "humanities" people are completely scared of (and could not handle) our technical courses. This naturally leads to the view that the technical courses are more difficult.</p>

<p>Perhaps this view is prevalent at many high schools around the country. I obviously have no idea which types of classes are harder at Berkeley, but this could be a reason why people think that.</p>

<p>
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Those of us in the technical classes have no trouble succeeding in the humanities courses, but the self-proclaimed "humanities" people are completely scared of (and could not handle) our technical courses. This naturally leads to the view that the technical courses are more difficult.

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Can not agree more. Students in the so called humanities major are not choosing this route of death because it is easier, but because they lack the fundamentals upon which advance math/science would require from students in the technical fields. A humanities student would find it excruciatingly hard to catch up in a class where most of the students have had many years of science background, but a science major feels perfectly comfortable in a philosophy class. Why the difference? One can argue that technical classes build on top of each other, so a humanities major will be missing necessary prereqs he or she may not even know about.</p>

<p>I'd also say that people in technical majors say their technical classes are very hard, time-consuming, and challenging.</p>

<p>However, people in soft majors rarely say their soft classes are too hard.</p>

<p>So even those who "specialize" in math & science will tell others that math & science are hard but those who are more humanities - oriented will rarely say that humanities is hard.</p>

<p>There are hard humanities courses out there, they're just not the ones that technical people take and thus comment on. Last semester, Latin 102* was definitely harder than IB 166. (I'm an IB major, Latin minor)</p>

<p>*This course would have not been difficult had someone other than Furiya taught it.</p>

<p>
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There are hard humanities courses out there, they're just not the ones that technical people take and thus comment on. Last semester, Latin 102* was definitely harder than IB 166. (I'm an IB major, Latin minor)

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<p>The general rule still holds that technical courses tend to be more demanding than non-technical courses, a fact that holds not only at Berkeley, but at other schools as well. </p>

<p>"The physical sciences and engineering had rigorous grading standards roughly in line with the recommendations from 1976," stated Rine, "while the humanities and social sciences in many classes had all but given up on grades below a B, and in many courses below an A-</p>

<p>Undergraduate</a> Education Colloquium, The College of Letters and Science, UC Berkeley</p>

<p>*A.</p>

<p>Duke is actually a good example of the loss of talent in science and technology that happens in college.</p>

<p>Unlike most colleges and universities, Duke’s undergraduate engineering school has a separate admissions office. Every year it has to oversubscribe its admissions because many students will leave the engineering school and transfer into arts and sciences after a year, typically majoring in the social sciences. When you ask students why they make this move, they often say it’s because of the workload and grading.</p>

<p>There is also significant attrition across college campuses when it comes to potential biology majors, typically those who initially wanted to go into medical fields. Again, the driver for this attrition is workload and grading.</p>

<p>There are those who argue that this attrition is a good thing, and I would agree to some extent. We don’t want mediocrity in the design of our bridges and machines, or in a hospital operating room. But some of this attrition is undoubtedly unnecessary.</p>

<p>I don’t want to dwell on Duke, but many of those who move out of engineering have the talent to excel. In conversations with them, I have heard a common story about seeing people in dorms partying away and wondering, “Why not me?”</p>

<p>That’s what I mean by unnecessary (and harmful) attrition. I don’t believe that the sciences and engineering should demand less of their students. Rather, the social sciences and humanities need to demand more.*</p>

<p>Grade</a> Inflation: Your Questions Answered - Economix Blog - NYTimes.com</p>

<p>*students are twice as likely to enroll in a course with an A-minus average as they are to enroll in a course with a B average. The big losers are the natural science and math departments, since they grade hardest, and the big winners are the humanities, since they grade easiest. Johnson writes, "On average, American undergraduates take 50 percent fewer courses in the natural sciences and math than they would if grading practices were more equitable." *</p>

<p>|</a> Drupal</p>

<p>The study also found that science departments today generally grade 0.4 points lower than humanities departments and 0.2 lower than the social sciences. Whether this is merely due to the different natures of the disciplines, one more subjective than the other, or an actual conscious difference, the authors of the study feel that it encourages American students to shun the sciences for the supposedly easier humanities, hurting American scientific development and forcing companies to rely on foreign-born talent.</p>

<p>The</a> Amherst Student | Opinion | Grade Inflation Devalues Education</p>

<p>Humanities courses, with more subjective standards (and more radically egalitarian professors), have significantly more inflated grades than courses in the hard sciences.</p>

<p>Grades in humanities courses are dramatically higher than in the natural sciences, and many humanities courses are swollen by students in search of easy grades</p>

<p>Deflating</a> Grade Inflation - Stanley Kurtz - National Review Online</p>

<p>@Sakky, I agree with your post. My main argument was just that 100% of all humanities courses are not easy its more like 90%. There are tough ones out there, just not as many and (in line with your post) they tend to be empty.</p>

<p>
[quote]
A humanities student would find it excruciatingly hard to catch up in a class where most of the students have had many years of science background, but a science major feels perfectly comfortable in a philosophy class. Why the difference? One can argue that technical classes build on top of each other, so a humanities major will be missing necessary prereqs he or she may not even know about.

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<p>That then begs the question of why humanities courses can't or won't build upon themselves. For example, to extend your analogy, philosophy is (or at least ought to be) a discipline that builds upon itself via various constructs and logical rules that are assembled into insights. Any philosophy courses except for the introductory courses should not have to be teaching those rules and constructs, but rather should be assuming that they are understood by the students. Those students who don't know those rules should be required to shoulder significant remedial work - on their own time - or else fail the course for not understanding the underlying precepts that govern philosophical arguments. If that sounds overly harsh, I would submit that nothing less is expected of the science and engineering students; those students who lack a strong background in high school mathematics and science are going to fail their courses. </p>

<p>Keep in mind that we're not talking about a low-ranked university here. This is Berkeley, not only one of the most highly ranked overall universities in the world, but also has some of the most highly regarded humanities departments in the world. Berkeley humanities students should therefore be expected to meet high standards, just as the science and engineering students are expected to meet high standards. The reality is far different. As many of us have sadly witnessed, many humanities majors are not particularly motivated or well trained in their disciplines; they're just in those majors because they want to finish the Berkeley degree without having to put in much work. </p>

<p>To be fair, the same happens at most other universities as well - humanities majors at most schools have become a dumping ground for less motivated and less talented students.</p>

<p>Humanities departments often do build off of each other.</p>

<p>Every language (except maybe English) department's coursework (up till a certain point is very sequential)
For example, for French, you have to take French 1-4 and French 102 to access most UD courses before you can take anything you want (except for their few courses taught in English, which you can take with no background)</p>

<p>The same for Latin. You need to take Latin 1, 2, 100, 101, and 102 before you have access to senior reading UD courses.</p>

<p>Humanities departments where coursework is conducted in English (e.g. English, History, History of Art, etc...) may be different and non-sequential (I don't know all that much about them)</p>

<p>
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Humanities departments where coursework is conducted in English (e.g. English, History, History of Art, etc...) may be different and non-sequential (I don't know all that much about them)

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</p>

<p>Ay, there's the rub, for those latter majors represent the overwhelming majority of humanities studies at Berkeley, and presumably at most other schools as well. For example, the English major alone graduated more students than did the Chinese Language, Japanese Language, Italian, Greek, French, German, Spanish/Portuguese, Latin American Studies, Asian Studies, Slavic Language & Literature, Classics, Middle Eastern Studies, South/Southeast Asian Studies all combined. Even many of the latter majors, especially the "Studies" majors do not have extensive coursework that builds upon itself. For example, while the Asian Studies major requires that you take 4 semesters of an Asian language that obviously builds sequentially, the remainder of the major can be filled with coursework in Asian history that is not only taught in English and hence requires no foreign language skills, but presupposes no foundational history or methodology training. </p>

<p><a href="https://career.berkeley.edu/Major/Major.stm%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://career.berkeley.edu/Major/Major.stm&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Program</a> Requirements - Undergraduate Program - Group in Asian Studies, UC Berkeley</p>

<p>
[quote]
When I went to CalSO, the advisor emphasized not to overload on technical courses and everyone has heard of challenging math or science classes, but very few talk about writing weeder courses or overloading on humanities. In fact, "hard" subjects = technical while "soft/fuzzy" subjects = humanities/social science.</p>

<p>I personally agree that us-technical people should not think we're taking tougher courses unless we have experienced both sides and are comparing courses that we've already taken.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>The issue is that because there isn't a right answer always, sometimes people forget that there are wrong ones. My teachers both in high school and junior high expected a lot of quality in terms of essay-writing, and the emphasis was that you had to keep the focus, make sure there's a real point being made (i.e. construct the controversy), and show you have strong logical reasoning. </p>

<p>Strangely, this logical reasoning is often hardly present in essays people seem to write, and people just make observations and state things. Which invalidates the point of writing in the first place. And I have it from an English major explicitly that it might be a good idea to teach some logic in classes - being able to navigate around and swiftly work with the points of view would help get rid of plenty of BS.</p>

<p>
[quote]
People love to dump on American Studies as being easy. Yes, it's easy to pass. To get an A or B, you actually have to produce and offer something new to the field. Or at least build upon what is there. AS is technically humanities/social sciences, but there is a lot of analysis of cultural movements, anthropological predictions, hard sociology, rhetoric, etc. That stuff is actually tough to do well.

[/quote]

Maybe when you are writing your Masters Thesis. As far as upper division liberal arts classes go, you aren't expected to bring something new to the table so much as write a paper that shows you understand everything the professor lectures, and more importantly that you can present viewpoints that are closely aligned with those of the GSI. </p>

<p>The only difficult humanities courses are those in Philosophy, and that is because that department has a highly technical format in regards to logical presentation of arguments. </p>

<p>There is a reason why liberal arts degrees don't pay well. And no, it's not because evil corporate America likes to stamp the soul out of the creative thinker.</p>

<p>I'm sort of gonna change the subject here...and discuss CalSO.</p>

<p>I thought the "stand if" activity was ridiculous. What was the point? What was Berkeley trying to prove? I couldn't help but feel bad for the students who weren't standing up for many of the questions (myself included). Does that make us lesser than those who have been through hardships (most of the questions seemed to emphasize struggle)?</p>

<p>And the "optional participation" was equally ridiculous...By sitting down, you are basically negating the asked question. It was pretentious and awkward. "Notice who's standing...notice who's sitting...notice your feelings." UGH. One student remained standing throughout the duration of the "exercise," which was pretty funny. I was tempted to do the same, but I'm not that obnoxious.</p>

<p>And I thought we were done after that...but nope. More group therapy! This time, in small rooms.</p>

<p>CalSO was okay. It was pretty boring, and I didn't really learn anything new, but it was nice to make some acquaintances, and it was nice to sleep in Unit 3 (my housing for fall). Otherwise, it was kind of a waste.</p>

<p>I wonder what Econ, PS, PEIS, and Haas majors think when they call the social sciences soft majors. Very few people can legitimately argue that those departments offer "soft" courses.</p>