April 12, 2008 7:59 PM
Dealing with Berkeley's Academic Reputation
"Berkeley's reputation as a hard school really intimidates me, so I'm not entirely sure I'm enrolling yet." -Kim, high school senior
Actually during Senior Weekend I was talking to a student and she told me something similar. I faced this problem too when I was admitted to Berkeley. I imagined myself going to class with 4.0GPA, perfect SAT scores, and super bright students that I'm going to get C's and D's. But after my first semester, I realized that was not the case. There's actually more than just being bright to survive Berkeley.
I wasn't a 4.0 student and my SAT I scores were 300 points far below average when I applied to Berkeley. So I thought I would never survive academically if I went to Cal.
My first days at school were especially scary; fat books, Ph.D. professors, huge lecture halls with 300+ students... not just students but smart students (excluding myself, as I used to think). There weren't any papers, midterms or quizzes for the first several weeks (or months, depending on the class) so I had no clue how I was doing.
Adapting to my class schedules was a pain too because I was still used to high school schedule and I ended up wasted a lot of time in between my classes. Something was odd and I felt that I did more work in high school. I used to go to school at 8am and go back home at 5pm--so that was 8hrs of schoolwork. But during my first semester my classes only averaged a total of 4hrs a day, yet I felt I never had enough time to do homework.
Throughout the semester I met people who were double majoring and staff members of busy organizations. I am amazed with their work so I asked them how they keep up with all the homework and extracurriculars. They always tell me one thing--time management.
Assignments and papers are doable, midterms and finals are not that bad, and joining sports and other activities while keeping up with schoolwork is actually possible. I personally believe that Berkeley is more about time management than being super smart. So learn how to spend time wisely and you'll definitely realize Berkeley's academic reputation isn't all that intimidating.
Thank you Kim for your previous comment.
If you guys have anything specific you want to know, feel free to post a comment and I'll try to respond on my next blog.
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