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13 or 16 units Freshmen year?

nico_1nico_1 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
Hi, I'm going to Berkeley this fall as a Freshmen and I've already had orientation. However, I am still confused as to how many units I should take and whether or not I will be able to handle 16 units during my first semester. Counseling has advised I take 13, however I am trying to prepare myself for Haas and at the same time for a poli-sci major. I don't want to not-get-into Haas and then not have a back up. My counselor gave me a list of what classes I need to prepare for both majors and according to that, I would have to take 16 units my first semester if I'm planning on taking 16 units each other semester until it comes time to declare my major.
So far my classes are:

Rhetoric IA (haas req) (4 units)
Math 16a or Math 1A (haas req) (16a is 3 units) (1a is 4)
Poli Sci 5 (poli sci req) (4 units)
History 17b (breadth) (4 units)
poli sci 179 ( 1 unit) (I will not take this class if I choose to take math 1A

Also: I am preparing for Law school, some form of business law, for that reason I was looking at getting a BA in Business. I do recognize that Law school has no preference to what your undergraduate degree is in.

I will take any and all suggestions into consideration. Thank you so much for your help.
Post edited by nico_1 on

Replies to: 13 or 16 units Freshmen year?

  • speedviper02speedviper02 Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
    I took 14 units my first semester and I thought I had a lot of free time. It's recommended that you take 13 or 14 units your first semester, but I think you should take the full 16 units to gauge the course load and drop a course or two if it's too much for you. Also, I thought that taking only 4 classes (in my case) made me really lazy. By the way, Poli Sci 5 also counts for a Haas breadth (your choice of either International Studies or Social and Behavioral Sciences) in addition to being a Political Science prerequiste. Major prerequisite courses can count for breadth requirements if they're eligible.
  • rider730rider730 Registered User Posts: 2,980 Senior Member
    You intend to apply for a competitive major where GPA is critical. The downside of 13-14 units is you might become a bit lazy and miss a chance to nail an extra class towards requirements in that semester. The downside of more units is that, if you find after the drop deadline that you are still seeking the groove at college, a common experience, then you risk your GPA. Which is worse to you?

    The reason the advisors suggest a lower load is based on evidence that in the first semester at Cal, those with regular or high loads earn a lower GPA than the rest of their college career. There is a lot to adjust to, it is not just a matter of mastering the subject.

    Since most who enter have been near the top of their classes and easily earned high grades with heavy workload, it is quite a surprise to find that grades here follow a distribution that will put the majority of you into the B, C, D or F territory for the first time. Because of the curve, you will not realize this in the first weeks of class when you are learning all the concepts. It is when the first midterm hits and you discover what grade you get, then compare it to the posted cutoffs for various letter bands, that you realize that this is not high school any more, even high school with lots of honors and AP classes.

    Anyone who enters with AP unit credits already has a buffer against the 15 unit per semester average they will need to earn to reach graduation in four years. If you have just one AP that produced 2.7 units of credit, you can start with 12.3 units the first semester, hit 15 every other semester and get to the full 120. Most have more AP credits than that. Why not take the advice?
  • FellowCCViewerFellowCCViewer Registered User Posts: 3,777 Senior Member
    Just take 16-18 units worth of classes your first week or two. And if you want to, before the 5th week, drop a class.
  • nico_1nico_1 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Thank you so much for your help. I plan on taking 16 units and if I cannot handle it, then I will drop a class. Thanks again.
This discussion has been closed.