University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA, USA

Reviews

University of California-Berkeley
3.94 Average Rating

Clare

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Here at Berkeley, the professors really do know their stuff. How much you learn thus entirely depends on how much effort and time you put into studying and attempting to understand the materials which professors and GSIs have made available to and for you.
Am enjoying being here
This place is amazing. Berkeley is full of interesting things, people, and places to get to know. You just have to be open to go out and find them!
Bang for the buck
Berkeley is a great school, and academics-wise, it lives up to its stereotype of being a hardcore-study university. The level of enjoyment you'll get here will depend on a number of factors: the classes you take (and how many of them), the professors (and GSIs) you get, and the things you DO in general (socialize vs. studying at home, etc.). But hey- as long as you're here, you're BOUND to find something you'll enjoy. Berkeley's like that.
Tips for prospective students
Firstly, know what you're getting yourself into. Don't take ~20 or more units your first semester, for instance, because each course is going to take a LOT of your effort and time. Also: as a student, remember that if you don't study and others DO, the curve (overall, as well as on midterms, finals, etc.) will be against you. The same goes for attending office hours the professors and GSIs provide- use your resources! Finally... don't forget to do something you ENJOY doing, be it taking a course in Peace and Conflict Studies, or joining a cooking club, or getting involved in a fraternity/sorority, or getting an internship with a business firm, or practicing playing the cello in a music room. Have some fun! College is supposed to enrich your life, not depress it (entirely).
Great for these types of students
Those who like it here: work well with/amidst lots of competition, are sociable/open-minded, know how to use their time wisely, have confidence towards their goals and aspirations, ... and enjoy (or at the very least do not despise) walking (we have HILLS here).
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M from NorCal

a current student here
9 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
UC Berkeley is big, and the number of people can be overwhelming, but there's something for everyone here. The location is great-- downtown Berkeley is just a short walk away, and San Francisco is accessible by bus. Although the classes can be difficult, there's plenty of support readily available, and you really do learn a lot.
Tips for prospective students
Be willing to work hard, but don't be afraid to ask for help as there are plenty of resources for undergrads. There is also an incredible number of opportunities for undergrads, so be prepared to seize them. Be prepared to keep an open mind as well.
Academic Rigor
Cal is a rigorous university, but it's also big enough that it's hard to make generalizations about the difficulty of the classes, as all of the departments are different. There is a student tutoring center, and it's not hard to find help, especially for the bigger and more difficult classes.
Dorm Life
The Unit 4 (Foothill/Stern) dorm is at the highest point on campus, right on the side of a hill, and right next to the engineering buildings. If you're willing to commit to the walk-- or learn the campus bus schedules really well-- it also has the best views of the Bay from anywhere on campus except maybe the clock tower, as well as arguably the best dining hall. Unit 4 also tends to be quieter (both in terms of noise and the social scene, concert nights at the next-door Greek Theater excepted) than the other residential units; Stern Hall, a women-only dorm in Unit 4, is widely regarded the quietest residential building at Cal.
Food and Dining
The Foothill dining hall, although a bit small, has a considerable amount of variety available; the food is good enough that becoming familiar with the local cafes is a pleasant but not mandatory pastime. Ingredients and allergens are always clearly labeled for every dish except the ice cream and salad bars, and there are halal, kosher, vegetarian, and vegan options available year-round for every meal. The on-campus cafes are all quite nice, and if you're willing to search off-campus, there are a wide variety of affordable good options in Berkeley proper, including an improbable number of boba/bubble tea shops.
What to do for fun
Berkeley boasts a wealth of student clubs and organizations, several movie theaters in the downtown area, easy access to several shopping districts, a staggering number of just-for-fun classes (often run by students!), a robust music program, and loads of interesting meeting places. If you're bored in Berkeley, it's probably because you haven't explored enough.
Bang for the buck
A Berkeley education can be pricey, especially if you're from out of state. The dorms are also incredibly expensive; many undergrads, even frosh and sophomores, choose to live in apartments or off-campus student collectives. However, if you're after a degree in STEM-- particularly computer science-- Berkeley is well worth your time and money.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
There's a 100-year-old clock tower in the center of campus called the Campanile (camp-a-NEEL-ee). It contains more than 60 bells, which not only toll the daylight hours, but are also used to play concerts which are audible from most places on campus. It also stores the biology department's fossil collection. (No, seriously.)
Great for these types of students
Computer science majors, left-leaning political activists, people who like a challenge, people who don't like Stanford University's football team.
Clubs and Activities
There's something for everyone here. Even if the clubs don't suit you, there's probably a frosh/sophomore seminar or DeCal (student-led class) to fit your interests.
Campus Safety
The City of Berkeley is not the safest place at night. Although the campus is a little better, it's not perfect. However, there are free night safety shuttles and even a service to walk students home safely. While unfortunately being careful is not a guarantee of safety, reasonable precautions go a long way, and there are more than a few precautions available here.
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Berkelium from SoCal

a current student here
9 people found this review useful
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Am learning a lot
The classes here are great. The professors are all the best at their field and teach with passion that is tangible. They really are geniuses. The classes taught vary from a class on just mushrooms to hip hop to harry potter to bird watching. I guarantee that if you are looking for a specific class, you will find it (even the most random ones!) We also have what we call DeCals which are classes taught by students themselves on specific topics not offered in the academia courses. Here you will find classes on the Vampire revolution (from Dracula to Twilight), how to play the guitar, wine teaching classes and much more! What I suggest is to take your time with the options. Where else are you going to learn this stuff? By taking classes that interest you, you're taking a giant step toward your future!
Am enjoying being here
OF COURSE! What is there NOT to love? The sights, the smells, the beauty all around. This is the best university in the world. I live in the northern side of campus where it is mostly quieter than the south side, and I am just a block away from grocery stores and other great food places. I love going to the movies, and there's three theaters down on Shattuck! You can take the BART to San Francisco and be back before lunch! You will also find the friendliest people here. The hobos on telegraph can be nice and very interesting. And I'm positive this is the only campus with such a cool-nerd attitude. In high school, sometimes I just wanted to sit by myself, and read. And here you can find people finding the softest patch of grass and settling down for a good snack, or book, or a quick sunbath. And its not weird! You can talk to the people and have vigorous arguments and still feel passionate about the subject regardless of disagreements. Everyone and everything is respected! This is also the university that discovered and used compost! We have reusable water, we recycle, and the school is overall very green, very healthy. The restaurants around campus are also all about healthy. You won't find any Taco Bell or any Burger King around here! This simply is a great school and I certainly love it. From my liberal head and henna tattooed face to my tie-dye shirt and Tom shoes, Berkeley has changed me for the better!
Bang for the buck
You'll get your money's worth for sure! There are deals on everything! If you're low on cash for books, you can find online websites just for Berkeley that sell cheap books, or used books that you can return for money back! There are cheap stores located near campus so you don't have to spend much. There are free concerts offered and free previews, free food, free clothing, free music, free books EVERYTHING is free! The only catch is you have to find out where and when. There are so many events that take place on campus that know you're a poor college student, so they reduce prices, or have free previews on certain days and such. The dorms even have their own food plan that is way less than buying food everyday. If you look for cheap housing you will find it! Berkeley is all about freebies. You just gotta catch em all!
Tips for prospective students
There's not always a guarantee. The only reason I decided to apply here was because it was a UC. I live in So-Cal, so I grew up hearing the name UCLA a lot.. so much that I was brainwashed into believing that I HAD to go there. Berkeley was always a highly prestigious school way up north that was in league with Stanford. I was positive that In no way possible was I going to get in. It was absurd! A geeky girl like me? No siree bob! But I still applied ( I had a glimmer of hope). And thank God I did! I was accepted and utterly stunned. My scores were good, but not great. My skills were mediocre at best. What I believe put me through was my powerful essay. So don't wait until the last minute! Work through it! Re-read, re-form, re-check! And overall, don't count yourself out of the running! I don't know where I would be if I didn't apply to Berkeley. Nothing is certain! Berkeley has a wide spectrum of students, you might just be the lucky one!
Great for these types of students
All. (who work hard of course!) Not all students here are 4.0's with 2380's on their SAT's. I myself am considered geeky, NOT nerdy. Although it is college, and the classes might be hard, it really depends on the person. I strongly believe you can be great at anything if you put in the effort and time. There are people here who are Gods are math, but suck at english. Who take 30 minutes to write an essay and get a perfect score. Who understand everything when it is explained only once. Everyone has their skills, you just have to find them! In classes you might find that jock guy, or that bimbo girl, or any other stereotype;there's only one difference. Unlike high school where there are a variety levels of attention and indifference, Berkeley is all about the competition. You compete with yourself to be as good as you can be at any subject. Here, people all strive for the best, you just have to strive for your best, and you're golden!
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Karina from Los Angeles, CA

a current student here
124 people found this review useful
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Am learning a lot
Berkeley is a great school chock full of award-winning, book-publishing, enthusiastic professors who really know their stuff. If you take classes you're really interested in, you'll learn more. Don't forget about office hours, tutoring sessions, and study groups. Besides the required curriculum, there are a whole lot of opportunities to expand your view of the world - theater, symposia, films, lectures, and of course the occasional crazy person giving a speech on Sproul.
Am enjoying being here
Whatever you're into, you'll find it here. Cal has all sorts of sports to participate in: basketball, football, soccer, baseball, rugby, ultimate frisbee, and a bunch more. There are fraternities and sororities, religious groups, service clubs, career clubs, and musical groups. I personally have been having a blast as a member of the Cal Band. If you'd rather be a spectator, you can listen to choirs, jazz and rock bands performing on Sproul any day of the week. Zellerbach Hall on campus has hosted world-renowned musicians and dance companies. And the bay area is home to loads of music and dance clubs. Don't forget to play tourist in San Francisco!
Bang for the buck
It's true that as UC Berkeley's funding is shrinking, tuition is increasing. Still, you can't beat the college experience. If you're in the dorms, you'll get a meal plan. You can eat at the buffet-style dining commons, which serves some pretty good food in my opinion. The hall staff organizes a bunch of cool activities for dorm residents. There's tons of free or nearly-free entertainment. You can see student group performances for under $5 a lot of the time. And people-watching on Memorial Glade is always. Half-naked people sun tanning in the middle of campus? Priceless.
Tips for prospective students
- Berkeley is a noisy place, even at night. Get yourself some ear plugs if you're not a heavy sleeper.
- The professors do actually care about you. Even if you're in a 400-person lecture hall, don't be afraid to ask questions.
- Don't drive yourself crazy studying. Get up and talk to people every few hours. Walk around, get a frozen yogurt. Then get back to work.
- Lastly, UC Berkeley is what you call the academic, research-oriented campus. Cal is the fun, sports-winning, spirited side of campus. Don't go to a football game and yell GO UC BERKELEY!
Great for these types of students
There are different kinds of students at UC Berkeley, but I'll oversimplify:

If you are the overachieving, type A, stress-prone type, you should calm down a bit when you come to Cal. I worry about floormates I've seen staying up all night on Red Bull and doing nothing but complaining about work. You got in. Congratulations! You deserve to have some fun.

If, like me, you coasted through high school and got A's without trying too hard, Berkeley is not quite as easy. You might have to actually study. My high school 3.73 GPA turned into a 2.87. Shameful, I know. Crack them books!
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Emily from San Diego, CA

a current student here
73 people found this review useful
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Am learning a lot
In high school, I never imagined there could be so many subjects outside of Math, English, American History, and so on. But at Berkeley, it's hard to decide on what to fill your schedule with because of the hundreds of classes to choose from. You can study almost any subject you can think of and learn from some of the top professors in the world. In your first year or two at Berkeley, you can take classes called Discovery Courses if you are unsure exactly what you want to study. They help students who just want to experience the basics, who want to test the waters before diving in. You can also take seminars that are only open to freshmen and are limited to 20 or less students. In these classes, you can get much of the focus and attention you need and they are only once or twice a week so you can take several. I know many people are undecided when they enter college and it can be scary not knowing what you want to do when you grow up, but a lot of those people don't know that most people at Cal are like that! But the beauty of being undecided is that you can experience MANY different kinds of classes first. You have the opportunity to learn so much more outside of that limited range of high school subjects. What's your interest? Astronomy? Near Eastern Studies? Peace and Conflict Studies? Microbial and Plant Biology? Anything! Go for it!
Am enjoying being here
I originally had a choice between UC Los Angeles and UC Berkeley. It was a very hard decision for me at first because I had been a SoCal girl all of my life. I had gotten used to the feeling and comforts of being in Southern California. I went to visit Berkeley and it was definitely very different. I realized that it would be the best learning and life experience to live somewhere I had never been before. And now that I have finished my first year there, I LOVE IT. Of course, it can be strange moving into a new place without parents, but it's incredibly exciting too. Berkeley has its own culture and this amazing vibe about it that is all about being open-minded. With that many students at this school, there are so many different types of people. You form relationships with people that truly become lifelong friends. The Berkeley campus is absolutely beautiful. It's free to go up the Campanile and on a clear day, you see beautiful views of the bay. Off-campus, there are two different sides of Berkeley (literally and figuratively). South Side is where all the action happens and will probably be where you live your first year. The dorms there are closest to campus as well as everything else. It's a bit noisier at night but it's actually very exciting to be there. You will see many of the same bums everyday but a lot of them are quite friendly or funny in their own ways. North Side is a bit quieter. The places here are farther from central campus (which is where most freshman and sophomore classes are). You might end up living here your last few years if you like that atmosphere more. But no matter where you are, the food is always great. When home, I still crave Berkeley's specialties.
Bang for the buck
Berkeley is DEFINITELY cheaper than many other universities in the country, especially if you are a California resident. But it is college and college is never affordable, especially with the recent budget cuts. You have to think about a lot of things like tuition, books, living, food, and other expenses. Berkeley calculates it to about $22,000-$23,000 a year. Your first year might actually be your most expensive. Living in the dorms is definitely more expensive than living off campus because your dorm fees include a meal plan that is actually kind of expensive because it's like you are eating out every meal of everyday. Your next few years may be better if you are living off campus but you have to be able to budget things like rent and groceries for yourself. So it's not as cheap as a community college, but not as expensive as a private schools. However, you are getting a world-class education. So of course it's worth it.
Tips for prospective students
There are so many great things to know about Berkeley that you will experience on your own, but here is just a few things:
- Your professors care about you. If you are unsure about things, be sure to go to their office hours and ask questions! You will stand out AND know the material better. Also, your professors are usually bored out of their minds in office hours. They HAVE to be there and no one ever walks in for help.
- Berkeley is its own culture so there are certain abbreviations and slang that you will discover around the school. Asian Ghetto, Gourmet Ghetto, CARS, and VLSB are just a few to name. But you will catch on fast so no worries there.
- When going to student orientation, they will have you pick your first round of classes. At Berkeley, we call class-picking Telebears. You do everything on-line. There are 2 phases, Phase I and Phase II (simple). In each phase, you get an appointment time to pick your classes. Always make sure you know what classes you want to sign up for first because you are competing against other students to get into the good ones. REMEMBER TO PICK DISCUSSION SECTION TIMES TOO and factor them into your schedule. These are supplemental classes to lecture that you must attend and they are usually taught by graduate students.
- Even if you are on a waiting list, you probably still have a pretty good chance of getting in (especially if its a class of 500 - 600 students)
- Comegetused.com and Pickaprof.com will probably be your best friends when the new semester comes around. Many people don't know about them but they're very beneficial. Comegetused.com is only for Berkeley students and you can buy books from students who were in the same class in the past. You can usually save about 50% off of your books and the other student could probably make more than if they were selling their books back to the school. It will save a ton of money when you have books that cost over $100. Next is pickaprof.com. It's a lot like ratemyprof...
Great for these types of students
Students who are open-minded to all different types of people, students who want a large campus atmosphere, students who aren't bothered by crazy people with portable amplifiers talking about religion or global warming, students who want to get an amazing education in an amazing place, students who want great opportunities. But no matter if you are a crazy overachiever or just a normal student, Berkeley has everything for you. Just know that if you come here, you gotta study sometimes. So it's best for the people who know how to keep a balanced schedule. You are going to want to do a lot and being organized in prioritizing things helps keep you balanced.
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Taylor from Santa Maria, CA

a current student here
31 people found this review useful
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Am learning a lot
There is literally nothing holding you back at Berkeley from taking exactly the classes you want. In fact, the College of Letters and Science requires you to take classes in virtually every field. You might call that restrictive, but that would only prove you don't know Berkeley. A class like Physics for Future Presidents, which is essentially basic Physics, but the math is optional, is typical of L&S. We also have student-taught DeCals, with subjects ranging from gender studies to Batman to Star Wars to Lord of the Rings all the way back to a study of Berkeley in the sixties and the Free Speech movement. There's nothing stopping you from learning pretty much anything you want to learn.
Am enjoying being here
It feels like a big city but acts like a small town. People walk everywhere, and pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way (drivers get pretty confused when you try to wave them on). Franchises are pretty much eliminated, and (but?) no matter where you get food, it's good. The people are intelligent, concerned about the state of the world's _______ (fill this in with economy, health issues, morals, environment, etc.), and ultimately simply great people. There's no reason why anyone should be apprehensive about being at Cal academically, either. Yes, the classes are hard, but even the Nobel prizewinning professors help when asked, and so will any student.
Bang for the buck
Berkeley is THE best research university in the world. Fees are increasing, and that could be a problem, but if you're family income is below $70,000, they're totally free. For the most part, scholarship opportunities, grants, and student loans (good ones, not the private loans that cost an arm and a leg plus interest) balance out the high cost of living here. Research opportunities at Berkeley are as plentiful as frat parties at any school, including Berkeley ;)
Tips for prospective students
Apply for scholarships. Don't freak out. Make friends. Eat at the Asian Ghetto at least once a month. Visit (so you fall in love with the place). Wear good shoes (it's hilly). Bring fancy shoes (for ballroom dancing and/or for randomness).
Great for these types of students
Outgoing, concerned, studious, energetic dreamers. But that's not to say the über-reserved, super-relaxed people have no place here. I'm one of them, and we get the royal treatment (because everyone else thinks we're insane).
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Kate from Los Angeles, CA

a current student here
19 people found this review useful
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Am learning a lot
I am definitely learning a lot. Especially this past semester because I had great professors for all of my classes. In the past when my professors weren't the best, I always talked to my graduate student instructors (GSIs). There are so many resources to help students at Berkeley, so I have always been able to find answers to my questions. Also, profs and GSIs really care that students understand the material and will definitely try to help you and clarify any areas of misunderstanding.
Am enjoying being here
During my first semester here, I didn't like it too much; I was a spring admit and everyone already seemed to have their own clicks. I had to adjust to dorm life (and I didn't particularly care for my roommate), and I didn't really know how much I needed to study. However, the following semester, things got a lot better. Given time, I learned to adjust, and I really liked my roommate during sophomore year, and everything just got a lot better. With SF near by, there's so much to do. Also, there are so many clubs at Berkeley, so I have joined some of those and I've met a lot of really great people.
Bang for the buck
As many people well know, student fees are increasing due to budget cuts, and some student programs have been cut. For example, the Physics tutoring for the 7 series, which would be very helpful, has been cut at the Student Learning Center. Still, there are other sources of tutoring in the dorms, and in general, you will get a great education at Berkeley (hey, it's the top public school in the nation), and you're won't be paying nearly as much as you would for a private university.
Tips for prospective students
Study, study, study! Depending on what your major is, you will have more or less time to party and hang out with friends on weekends.
Definitely learn to budget your time because socializing is a HUGE part of the college experience, and you don't want to study all the time.
Make sure to join some clubs. Find something that you are really interested in, and get involved. It's a great way to make friends.
Go to professor's office hours. Most of them are really helpful. Sometimes the professors themselves aren't very social and won't help, but if that's the case, then make sure to talk to your GSIs. A third option is to go to tutoring. I found that VERY helpful for Chem.
Great for these types of students
In general, Berkeley is good for all kinds of students. Anyone who is willing to work hard will do well here. Graduate programs in all areas at Berkeley are very highly ranked, and that kind of academic achievement trickles down to undergrad (research opportunities and the quality of GSIs).
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Jonathan from Saint Paul, MN

a current student here
14 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
This place is as great as the stories describe them to be.

Going to college here is an embodiment of the American dream.

Imagine every single positive aspect of the Ivy League schools and combine them with the uplifitng environment of California.
Tips for prospective students
Numbers don't tell the whole story. My GPA was only a 3.56 and my ACT score was 30 (pretty average for a Cal Student). What secured my spot in the class of 2019 was my essay, where I wrote about my language learning ability, describing not just how it allowed me to learn 4 new languages other than my 2 native toungues, English and Mandarin, but also the process that I used in essentially desciphering the gramar and vocabulary of Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and Norwegian. When it comes to addmissions at Cal, prioritize your intellec of grades. Anyone can grind out a 4.0 GPA if they try hard enough, but grades won't mean a thing if your mind has no intelectual value. If you are good at writing stories, write away. If you are good at playing the violin, play away. If you are good at painting, paint away. Show those in charge of admisions that you can bring something that is intelectually sound to the table instead of a report card.
Academic Rigor
Cal is a winning formula. Here is a school with the education quality that is at the same level of the Ivy leagues, but with nowhere near the ammount of stress, competition, and suicide rates. The cold temperature in the winter here means that students will have less incentive for going out in the 40 degree night weather and study instead, while the lack of snow means that students won't be discouraged from walking to class. People here are alot more open to seeking help, should they not understand something, and the fact that there are dedicated Facebook groups for such matters means that in some cases, students won't even need to go to the dedicated Student Learning Center for a free tutoring session. Cal is by no means a walk in the park however. Students should still maintain an active learing mindset and a can-do attitude for there time here.
Dorm Life
The only complain that I have is that my room wasn't air conditioned, so when temperatures reach above 75 degrees, it is best to close your windows and curtains, and switch on your fans. Our floor was big enough so that none of us felt cramped up, yet it was small enough for all of us to become friendly with each other. Each floor in each building has a lounge with tables and a sofa, so should you become bored with studying in your dorm, but don't want to walk all the way to a library, you can set up shop inside the lounge. I wouldn't recommend using the dorm wifi, for anything more than reading articles online, for the network can get quite bogged down when everyone in the building is connected. To remedy this, simply have an ethernet cable handy, and video streaming/gaming, will no longer be out of the question.
Food and Dining
Berkeley's Cal Dining program is a favorite among students. Along with the 4 resident dining halls, Cal Dining also consists of a number of Cafes, convenient stores, and fast food joints, all of which accept Cal Dining's payment program, known as Meal Points. Payments are made using the student ID card, meaning that there is no need to carry around a separate card. Food wise, Cal Dining offers a variety of dishes from cuisines around the world, a reflection of the cultural mosaic that is 21st century California. Students almost always have great things to say about the food offered by Cal Dining, but should they fancy something else, there are a massive number of resturants and markets scattered within walking distance from campus. Asian resturaunts are particularly good here as, there is an entire block off campus known as the Asian Ghetto, where students flock to everyday for Korean barbeque, Japanese sushi or ramen, Chinese pot stickers, and Indian curry and tandoori.
What to do for fun
Excluding the fact that San Francisco is easily accessable via BART, Berkeley has its own list of activities for the bored student. Recreational sports, clubs, student unions, and Fraternities and Sororities, occupy the campus, giving each student, no shortage of activities to do. Freshmen are given free passes to all of the football games, something that most upperclassmen are extremely jealous of, for Cal's sports venues are some of the most sought after in the state. If any of this fails, talking refuge on Netflix or League of Legends in your dorm isn't a farfetched desicion, for as long as you have an ethernet cable, as mentioned earlier.
Bang for the buck
As an out-of-state student, $57k per year is a heafty payment, so to compensate, my parents were forced to postpone their retirement. While students are actively protesting to decrease this cost, out-of-state students should still take full advantage of what they've payed for and make the most of their Cal experience. It is worth noting that the prestige behind the name UC Berkeley, is one that will carry over to those searching for jobs in competitive markets. Cal alumni have told us stories about how when they submitted their job applications, they were singled out for having been students at Cal, and held above the rest of the contenders.
Great for these types of students
The bad-grades-but-high-test-score type students
The innovative students
The opinionated, vocal students
The I-never-really-fit-in-during-high-school type students
The I-want-to-change-the-world type students
The thick skinned students
The politically active students
Clubs and Activities
Clubs send representatives to hand out fliers to people who walk through the campus main entrance each day. Most people end up finding a club that interests them within the first month of classes. Apart from clubs, Cal also offers classes known as DeCals, which are very similar to student led clubs, but are graded, and will count as academic credits, should you pass them. DeCals can cover a wide variety of topics ranging from Pokemon to politcal reform.
Campus Safety
Apart from having our own police department, Cal also has bear walk - a service where a security guard will escort any student on foot to a given destination, Bear Transit - a shuttle bus service for students, and free bus passes for students. The city of Berkeley itself is still shady in certain areas, so it is advised that students travel at their own risk. Students have been mugged before at gun point outside of campus, and just a month ago, as I write this, someone was abducted from outside campus.
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Whitney from Berkeley, CA

a current student here
13 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The environment is incredibly welcoming and you'll always find a place to fit in. It's definitely challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Personally, I adore it.
Tips for prospective students
Don't just worry about grades. A lot of the students I know who got in had incredible extracurriculars, but only so-so grades. I had pretty good grades, but it hardly gave me an edge. Focus on personal growth, not just competition--so many people do and it's really not good for them or for getting the best out of their educational experience.
Academic Rigor
I went almost immediately to my major upper division courses and it certainly was tough. I can only really speak to the linguistic department on a very informed basis, but if I were judging there alone, I would say we have the absolute best department. There is a lot of work for even the easiest class--remember that most people are coming in as the top of their class--but you get the hang of it all.
Dorm Life
I honestly hated the dorms. I'm very introverted and shared a room with two other girls. I liked them both, but it was a little too much to make a trip to the bathroom a social event. I hated the meal plan, but I'm the sort of person who prefers to cook for myself. That being said, I would definitely recommend it for freshman/first year--housing and cooking are then one less thing to adjust to.
Food and Dining
Nothing will ever beat home meals, of course, but there are tons of restaurants that don't cost too much and taste pretty awesome. Then, of course, there's San Francisco. There are loads of grocery stores within walking or bus riding distance from the campus, including Berkeley Bowl which has incredibly cheap and amazing produce.

The school food isn't fantastic, but it's not as bad as it could be. I don't eat there now that I no longer have a meal plan. The food got exhaustingly repetitive, but it was definitely amazingly convenient.
What to do for fun
What isn't there to do! I'm not the partying type, but a lot of my friends are and they go to a lot of parties. There are academic and social clubs for every interest imaginable (and, if not, it's easy to start or revive a club) and, in general, one will always find a group with which they click almost perfectly. I love walking around Berkeley and going to SF, there's tons to see. Our libraries are awesome, too, if you like to read. There are loads of other things like Decals, classes which are taught by students on tons of different silly, fun subjects (e.g., James Bond).
Bang for the buck
I know that California Universities are expensive, but they're worth it. I don't think I've met anyone with more thorough classes, and I've never heard a student say they downright don't like Cal. I would recommend it every time and can't imagine someone who wouldn't fit in somewhere around here.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
There are so many. Rolling down a certain hill at the start of a semester to get a 4.0, hiking up to the Big C, and crazier things...... like the naked run that dozens of students do each semester, where they run through the Main Stacks library nude. School spirit is crazy here (though avoidable if, like me, you aren't into school spirit-stuff).
Great for these types of students
Any. Introverts, extroverts, partiers, bookworms, anyone. I don't at all anticipate ever meeting anyone who doesn't fit at Berkeley in some way.
Clubs and Activities
I made my home the linguistics club on campus. I've tried a few clubs that were all very tight knit communities that were also very welcome. The students are awesome at planning fun activities and welcoming new people.
Greek Life
Unfortunately, I can't speak at all on Greek Life.
Campus Safety
While Berkeley is a little bit... iffy at times, there are a lot of safety measures in place for students. Phones surround campus that access emergency services immediate. We have a program called Bear Walk where you call someone and they walk you home at night. We also have night safety shuttles and all students get bus passes for each semester. I've also definitely lived in scarier neighborhoods in Southern California.
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Madison from San Pedro, CA

a current student here
12 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Cal is such an an amazing home to thousands of brilliant, dedicated, imaginative individuals. Life in Berkeley has been none other than fantastic. Berkley brings out the best in me, academically, socially, and personally.
Tips for prospective students
Don't stress out too much about housing before you arrive. All campus dorms are close to campus, with the Clark Kerr resident halls being the furthest away yet still walking distance. Similarly, don't freak out about first semester classes your freshman year. Take classes that interest you, might knock out some requirements, but that, most importantly, will help you best adapt to college life. Berkeley academics are tough, but very very doable! Lastly, explore the city of Berkeley! Campus is fantastic and so beautiful, but the city of Berkeley itself has so much to offer.
Academic Rigor
Berkeley academics are pretty rigorous depending on you major and field(s) of study. I would suggest developing a loosely regimented routine for studying and enjoying free time. I say loosely because having such a strict routine isn't always healthy for your academic life either!
Dorm Life
Dorms are dorms. They're not hotels, but they are still very nice and enjoyable to live in. Berkeley dorms have everything to offer that you could want. There are socialites, more studious introverts, and everyone in between. There are both single-gender and coed living spaces, too.
Food and Dining
There are so many campus dining options at Cal. Resident dining halls, on-campus dining locations, and smaller grocery-like stores all take meal points and are accessible to students. The menus are always very diverse, there are always fantastic staff member available to help, and your appetite will never suffer!
What to do for fun
The possibilities are endless. You could stay in Berkeley all day and venture down to the Berkeley Marina, stopping at every great eatery along the way. Enjoy the view of the entire bay area from the Campus's Campanile bell tower. Go for a run or take a hike in the beautiful Berkeley hills. Take BART across the bay and explore San Fransisco, which is a whole other adventure in itself. UC Berkeley is surrounded by amazing opportunities that will keep you busy for a long time.
Bang for the buck
As and in-state student, attending the number one public university in the nation is extremely affordable for the reputation (compared to an Ivy League school, for example). The campus itself offers so much that simply being enrolled is an amazing investment.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Sproul Plaza has been and still is the historical sight of many student and campus-wide protests and movements, such as Mario Savio's free speech movement. Students use this space on a regular basis to relax in the sun, have lunch, and enjoy the endless entertainment passing through the campus gates.
Great for these types of students
Academics, adventurers, social butterflies, outgoing individuals, and the like. Berkeley is a big campus, but that doesn't mean that those who enjoy keeping to themselves won't thrive also!
Clubs and Activities
UC Berkeley has hundreds of diverse clubs and groups on campus with every single possible area of interest represented. I'm not even going to get into trying to list them all, but I swear, if you're interested in it, there's a group for it on campus.
Greek Life
UC Berkeley is home to four Greek councils: the National Panhellenic Council, the Panhellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, and the Interfraternity Council. CalGreeks are a diverse group of individuals always looking to grow their communities. Each chapter and organization has its own interests and philanthropic passions. The CalGreek community has the highest GPA of all groups on campus, fostering not only academically successful individuals, but leaders and outgoing adults as well.
Campus Safety
Cal has may different programs in place to make sure students are safe 24 hours a day. BearWalk is a program through which students can be escorted home by a student security guard by just calling and requesting this service. Similarly, Bear Transit and our night safety shuttles provide students convenient night transportation to and from campus, and all around the local community.
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