Second Impression

I toured UC Berkeley a couple of weeks ago and didn’t get the best first impression. In fact, in comparison to my visits at UCSD, CalTech, and Stanford my experience at UC Berkeley was my least favorite. However, I wanted to get input outside of the prospective student tour to possibly make the school look more appealing.
Some of the things that made me not like it as much as the other schools I visited were the college system, the requirement to declare your major ASAP in the school of engineering, and some of the political and controversial topics being advocated on the streets of the campus. I felt like I would not click with the Berkeley program social after the tour, but because the academic program is so rigorous and elite especially in CS, I want to give UC Berkeley another try at winning my interest.

Berkeley is a fine school. It’s worth applying to, especially as a backup. Let’s wait and see what choices you have after all the offers are in.

As a mom, there are a lot of things I like about Berkeley. I think there is a tremendous amount of school spirit. I like that they have a football team and they have a stadium on campus. “Gamedays” are really fun. I like that it is a big school, with all different kinds of people and that finding “your people”, whoever they are, is possible. I think for the most part at Berkeley, you can be you. Of course all the other schools you mentioned are excellent as well. When I toured with my three kids, although it is beautiful, we felt that UCSD had the least amount of school spirit.

Other people may like this, because you know very early on if you are in a major or you are not. I’ve heard that once you’re accepted to CoE, changing majors within CoE is not that difficult.

Or you can choose to apply to L&S and decide on your major later.

What’s wrong with “the political and controversial topics being advocated on the streets”? Isn’t it a good thing that the students are exposed to different cultures, different ideas, different viewpoints? Noone forces you to agree with anything or anyone. If you don’t like or don’t agree with what people say on the streets, you’re free to ignore them. Also, you, just like anyone else, are free to advocate on the streets what you think is right.

The nice thing about UCB is that there are so many people and so many opportunities, there are so many things to do (and not do); no matter who you are, you can always find a niche you feel comfortable with.

You can apply to CS in L&CS, it doesn’t have to be engineering. Much easier to get in.
My daughter had the same feeling as you, she didn’t get out to see the campus when we were at UCB, but after touring UCSD she said she could see herself there.
UCSD has a football that never been beaten. So there!

Is there a difference in the CS program at CoE and L&S?

According to people on CC there is no difference between the two CS programs.
But you are guarantee a spot if you are admitted to EECS, for L&S, you need to have a 3.3 GPA to be accepted to CS. It seem like 30% was accepted to CS last few years. So not everybody gets in.

from Berkeley CS website http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/csugrad/index.shtml

“An interest in hardware suggests the EECS route; an interest in double majoring (for example, in math or cognitive science) suggests the L&S route. There is no difference in the CS content between the two programs. The difference is in what else you take: mainly engineering, or mainly humanities and social sciences.
Some students choose EECS because they feel that a B.S. degree is more prestigious than a B.A. This is not a good reason; any CS degree from Berkeley is prestigious enough! If, in addition to CS, you’re also interested in philosophy, or literature, or mathematics, or music, you should probably choose the L&S CS curriculum. If, in addition to CS, you’re also interested in physics, or electrical engineering, or biotechnology, then EECS may be the better choice.”

in case you’re curious,
here are very specific differences, from what I’ve been able to find: CS course content is exactly the same, both require Linear Algebra, only EECS requires Multivariable Calculus, EECS requires at least 2 semesters of physics while CS requires no physics, EECS requires engineering/science electives, CS requires L&S breadth/general ed courses, CS requires 1 EE course, EECS requires 2+ EE courses, admission to EECS is much more difficult than admission to College of L&S, EECS students enter automatically with a major, CS students have to complete lower division requirements with 3.3 GPA to declare major.
if I had to guess the biggest difference between the two it would be the admissions process.

Berkeley isn’t the most pretty school and it can be somewhat intimidating academically. However, the best part of the school besides its academics is the people. It is probably one of the friendliest universities in the country. You would think it would be super competitive but its very cooperative and everyone is willing to help you. My sister went there and she loved it, and I met a lot of her friends and they were all great people (and very smart). If you end up going there, you will definitely enjoy your time there.

If you don’t like the political situation at Berkeley, you probably will not enjoy the education you will receive there. Political ideologies often influence lectures, consciously or not.