September 11, 2008 8:56 PM

ES vs. CRS

It wasn't too hard for me to pick a major. I have a very strong passion for the environment so the ES major seemed perfect for me. On top of that, I didn't know what I wanted to go into more specifically (i.e. water, health, forestry, etc.) and a degree in ES gave me the flexibility to go into whichever I decided later on. All in all, ES was perfect and I was quite content with it going in.

A couple months after the application deadline, I discovered the CRS major which highly appealed to me simply because it focused on an aspect that I felt I was devoting more of my efforts towards, at the time anyway...

My major advisor suggested that I take ESPM 90 to get a better idea of the CRS major and to go from there. Unfortunately, as we have had the first Monday of the semester off, I didn't take the class until this past Monday the 8th. In essence it was significantly helpful so much so that I am now in process of changing my major.

Before I go into why I am switching from ES to CRS, there are a couple things you should be aware of. 1) Initially I was considering CRS because I felt it focused on an area that I was more devoted to in regards to my passion for the environment. As of the 8th, that reason is invalid and I will explain why in the following paragraph(s). 2) I'm not trying to shoot down the ES major at all because it is definitely a great major. Just keep in mind that my reasons for switching are completely personal and does not apply to everyone or even necessarily anyone else. People switching from one major to another should not be solid evidence that one major is better than another. This is strictly my own preference that I am sharing with you.

So I'm sure many of you are tinkering with what to do with your major once you graduate. I spent a lot of time doing just that, especially this past summer. Remember how I said I previously felt that I was focusing my green efforts towards conserving natural resources (thus CRS)? Well, that is true and still partially is but in regards to a career, I'm currently between environmental law, environmental consulting, and teaching. Ideally, I'd like to do it all, maybe more so law and teaching. So my reason for switching to the CRS major is not for the same reason I was initially interested.

In ESPM 90, I discovered that the CRS major gives me the flexibility to essentially create my own major and plan out my courses for the remaining 2 years of my Cal experience. Aside from university and college course requirements, the ES major had additional ones particularly statistics. Some of you may think that's no big deal but I don't particularly enjoy statistics and I was just enduring the first 2 weeks of it. So realizing that the CRS major didn't require it was a the cherry on top for me.

In total, I went from having to fulfill:
statistics, physics (because I didn't take it at my community college), environmental modeling, human environment interactions, ES 10 (unavailable at my cc), ES 100, senior seminar and electives
to:
ESPM 10 (interchangeable with ES 10), ESPM 100 (equivalent to ES 100), senior seminar, electives and an AOI (Area Of Interest)

AOI is basically 8 courses that you choose that focus on the areas of your choice. In my case I'm focusing on environmental justice and education. However, your AOI needs to approved by a series of ESPM advisors before you can be declared as a CRS major...in addition to other requirements such as an application into ESPM, Change of Major application, etc. This is where ESPM 90 comes in. The entire course focuses on you creating your AOI.

This flexibility and, in a sense, ownership and control of my major is what convinced me to switch to CRS. Now, if you prefer having a structure to follow, stick with ES. But if you want to be in the driver's seat and you have a pretty solid idea of what you want to focus on, then CRS may be better for you. Either way, I suggest talking to your major advisors and getting more detailed info before making any major decisions, rather than just listening to my experience.

Hopefully this shed some light because it is definitely info that I was searching for when I first got to Berkeley. And unfortunately, it's one of those things you can't really get from a pamphlet. If anything, try asking current ES & CRS majors if they considered the other major and why they stuck with theirs.

Best of luck!


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