Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

September 10, 2007 2:15 PM

Back in the day...

...when I was a wee freshman, my first few weeks of Cal were pretty intimidating. I had heard most of the stereotypes involving Berkeley--the hippies, large classes, bell curves, hangovers, bookworms, football, and even Berkeley time! I was one informed new kid on the block.

No matter how prepared you are for college, it'll still throw you a few curveballs. For me, adjusting to such a large school was probably the most challenging aspect. Coming from a senior class of about 315 (which is probably pretty standard for many suburban high schools), I felt like I was suddenly thrown into a vast pool of anonymity. Yes, that rumor about UC's turning students into numbers became especially true when I enrolled in Chem 1A. That nifty radar what-cha-ma-callit effectively turned my name into DC14953 on the overhead projector. On the flipside, Lonnie's demonstrations were pretty freakin' cool.

Meeting new people also became a daily affair, and I'm sure most new freshman can relate to that. Very few people from my socal high school actually came to Berkeley back in '04, so socially, I had to pretty much start over. In a way that is good, because you can pick and choose who you want to associate. Don't just limit yourself to people on your dorm floor or suite (although they can be cool people); carve out your own niche on campus! If there's one cliche that really rings true, it's the one that proclaims "there is no stereotypical Berkeley experience." The friends you make, the classes you take, the profs you actually talk to, and the activities you pursue will all culminate into a surprisingly cohesive collegiate experience by senior year.

Lastly, you'll have to learn to balance work with play. This may be the hardest to carry out, and many freshmen swing too far towards one side when they first arrive. Some flip out and study like there's no tomorrow. Other's forget that colleges are degree granting institutions. Set schedules for yourself that include both study and free time. Get involved in clubs and community service, but don't let activities take up too much of your time. If you find that you really can't be involved in tutoring children, coaching basketball, and building homes for the poor all at once, make a choice and focus fewer extracurriculars.

Hope this gives some two-sense. If you have any questions about college life, CNR, or anything at all, drop by our office hours on the second floor of Mulford, right outside of room 260! We'll be happy to give advice or simply chat. You can also e-mail us at

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