February 7, 2008 10:48 PM
The most difficult class for me at CAL was MCB 102. I took that course my first semester and it really hit me. Personally, I didn't know what to expect when I transferred here. Although it might have been wiser to take a lighter/"easier" course load that semester, taking MCB 102 was a great learning experience. The class was fast paced with the amount of material I had to learn and to what level the professors wanted me to understand the material via exams. I initially didn't worry much until I took the first midterm. I was so devastated when I saw the grade. It was even more depressing when I saw the class distribution and noticed that my score was near the end of the scale. To make it worse, my second midterm score wasn't any better. I begin to question my intelligence and whether I was worthy of coming to Berkeley.
Fortunately, I had the PAL program for advice. I met with one of the Peer Advisors who was also a transfer student majoring in Molecular Toxicology. She said that she had the same experience I did with MCB 102 and suggested that I talk to the professor to see what I could do to pass the course. I took her advice and I went to the professor's office hours. He was really approachable and told me that many students who initially struggled in the course were able to pull through. He also suggested study tactics that could help me understand the material. I was really encouraged with the conversation I had with him. For the rest of the semester, I adjusted my study habits. I went to the library more frequently in order to eliminate distractions and be able to focus on materials that the professor placed emphasis on. Most importantly, I went to my GSI and the professor's office hours everytime I had a question on something that I was unclear about. Furthermore, I made sure that I had a good understanding of the lecture notes by reviewing them at least twice after every lecture. In the past, I didn't even bother looking over my notes until a few days before the exam. I merely attended lectures and that was it. Through the MCB 102 course, I realized that I need to put more time and dedication to my studies in order to succeed. As evidence of my second midterm score, my old study habits were useless no matter how hard I tried. The course really helped me analyze myself and understand where my weaknesses lay. I took that realization and changed my study habits. In the end, I managed to pull through the course and performed much better the following spring semester.
There are many classes on the Berkeley campus that are difficult but don't give up. Try to adjust your study tactics and experiment with different ways to better understand the course material. If you come across any questions or confusion, remember to utilize your professor's/GSI's office hours. Don't be afriad to look for help. Everyone has their struggles so don't feel like your the only one.
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