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Am I dumb for choosing UC Berkeley?

westyoungfolkwestyoungfolk Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
I was fortunate and very lucky enough to be accepted into UC Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth and University of Pennsylvania.

However, I can't help but feel if I made a mistake. I am planning on studying Chemical Engineering (with an interest in possibly medical school), and I know UC Berkeley is great for engineering, but I don't know if I made a mistake in choosing UC Berkeley, especially now that I'm thinking about med school.

Replies to: Am I dumb for choosing UC Berkeley?

  • neweducationneweducation Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
    Berkeley is an AMAZING school, especially for engineering. Berkeley is one of the greatest research universities in the world, and I firmly believe that it will only get back, since talent and good students tend to accumulate in the same places. You'll be among solid company at Berkeley, and many others around you will also have turned down the aforementioned schools for it.

    Second thoughts are really common, and god I have them a lot too... especially when others act in confusion and say things like "But i thought you were smart?" when I tell them where I'm going. At the end of the day, who cares? Self-worth stems from the inside and at the end of the day, no school can determine whether you're successful or not. From here on now it's all up to you. Don't worry and you'll do amazing.
  • engandlaw28engandlaw28 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    I just graduated from Berkeley and a few of my friends are in Chem E. I've known students who turned down Harvard to study Chem at Cal because of the rankings. I think you made not only the "right" choice, but the best choice. But I'm bias ;)

    Plus, rankings aside, (you'll soon learn they don't matter -- it's much more about leadership, research, GPA, etc.) I think the best thing that separates Cal from these elite private schools is it's the #1 public uni. There's so much diversity because of that -- especially across clubs and leadership opps. If you get really involved with that (which you should try to), I think you'd be in much better shape for anything, even med school. Good luck!
  • UCBChemEGradUCBChemEGrad Registered User Posts: 10,277 Senior Member
    If you're set on becoming a doctor, I don't know if I'd go through the rigor of engineering classes...although ChemE is a nice backup and you'll make a good living and save med school costs if you do.

    You're obviously super smart to get accepted into all those schools. You'll likely be a top student no matter where you go and what you major. If you chose Berkeley because of a lower out-of-pocket cost with top ranked academics and you like the environment, you made the right choice.
  • hellothere5hellothere5 Registered User Posts: 80 Junior Member
    I left one of those schools and transferred to Berkeley and had the same feelings at first, but once I got there I knew I had made the right decision. Berkeley is fantastic and I'm actually sad I missed out on that first year there. There will always be nerves before starting somewhere but honestly once you get there you'll see why so many alumni are so very proud of where they went.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    No.. Congrats on your choice. Cold feet and buyer's remorse are common reactions.
  • TorveauxTorveaux Registered User Posts: 1,461 Senior Member
    I don't have an affiliation with any of these, but Johns Hopkins is really the only other one on your list that would make sense given your potential career goal.
  • UpMagicUpMagic Registered User Posts: 1,417 Senior Member
    The biggest asset of Berkeley is that it is the school for those who cannot exactly decide what they want to do. Just about every major in Berkeley is at least top-10 program so all you need to do is explore what would you like to do and go from there.

    Chemical Engineering and Pre-med are very different, but there are certainly folks who managed to do both for those who are really motivated. For most other people, what happens is as they take the required courses for their major or that sound potentially interesting, they find out what they really like or not like and go from there.

    Sure, there will be at least one class especially in College of Chemistry that will be graded too harshly and you don't get an A even though you put your best effort. I know anything below an A is detriment for your potential med-school application, but you will also learn that writing a really good essay why you want to do med-school is much more important than trying to go from an A- to A. In other words, having the passion is much more important than grades.

    Focusing your interest and finding your passion along the way is a very natural thing, and Berkeley is terrific for that because it allows you to make the most informed decision as there are classes on just about any topic. Welcome to Cal and make the best time out of it - you won't be disappointed.
  • singh2010singh2010 Registered User Posts: 994 Member
    Berkeley is miles ahead of Yale, Chicago, Hopkins, Dartmouth, and Penn for ChemE, but I am surprised to hear that you chose us over Stanford. Was this a financial decision?

    As a new Berkeley ChemE alum, I want to reassure you that Berkeley chemical engineers do extraordinarily well in graduate/professional school admissions. Personally I will be starting in a PhD program at Stanford this fall, but I have classmates going to fantastic schools all across the country, ranging from medical schools such as UCSF and Johns Hopkins to business schools such as Harvard and Stanford, and of course to PhD programs such as MIT, Caltech, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, UT-Austin, and more. One of my best friends is planning to apply to medical school this upcoming year and has only two grades lower than an A.

    College of Chemistry classes are difficult, but it is possible to maintain a GPA close to 4.0 if you are willing to put in the effort, although you may have to work harder than you would at Stanford or Yale.
  • TrivelpieceTrivelpiece Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Berkeley has a very unforgiving grading environment. A significantly larger percentage of the students attending the other schools you were admitted to will be successful in their endeavors as compared to Berkeley because they are in much more supportive circumstances. Has nothing to do with intelligence or effort.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Registered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    OP didn't mention what his/her COA is at Berkeley v those other schools.
  • TrivelpieceTrivelpiece Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Doesn't change that Berkeley has a very unforgiving grading environment. Sad situation for a lot of very bright young students that make the decision to attend. I emphasize that it has nothing to do with intelligence or effort.
  • UpMagicUpMagic Registered User Posts: 1,417 Senior Member
    I'm not gonna ask for evidence regarding how students from other schools are more successful in their endeavors as compared to Berkeley. I think the statement is utterly unsubstantiated, but I'll take your point for now.

    From my years at Berkeley and observing my peers and older/younger students, I don't think a good number of folks put in enough effort in classes compared to their own high school years and Berkeley actually happens to penalize on that, so I suppose you can call that 'unforgiving'. If you take that one step further and decide to sit down and bemoan things and feel sorry about yourself, that's just complete lack of mental toughness.

    I certainly won't say Berkeley is for everyone for all sorts of reasons, but it's also undeniable that several people utilize what Berkeley has and make the best out of it with a positive attitude and do more than fine in life after college.

    I was somewhat above-average student between 25~50%, and personally, by getting 'harsh' grades because usually I didn't put enough effort and try to cram the night before an exam, I learned that things don’t go my way like it did in high school. However, I recognized that while I may not be the “best”, there is something I am best at. I learned from losses (or bad grades) that trying my hardest is the first thing I should do before I wanna feel bad and sad about anything, and resilience and unwavering optimism are necessary if I want to have any chance at succeeding at anything.

    At the end of the day though, we become resilient by choosing to be resilient, so it's a matter of attitude whether Berkeley has a very unforgiving grading environment or not or that we're intelligent or not.
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