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

September 19, 2011 10:44 PM

If I could be a freshman or sophomore again…

I still find it hard to believe that I am at the halfway point in college. If I could be a freshman or sophomore again I would make sure that I do the following from the start

  1. Know what you can handle.
  2. Make use of your summer
  3. Plan ahead

1. Know what you can handle.

Do not take Biology 1A with 1AL and Physics 8A together in the same semester. I really regret taking biology with physics the fall semester of my sophomore year. If could redo my Berkeley experience I would not take the two science courses together because biology lab alone is a time consuming class that required most of my focus. Adding physics to my schedule was a terrible idea considering how I did not have much background in physics.

2. Make use of your summer.

Find a research position, internship opportunity, summer job, study abroad, or enroll in summer sessions. Summer is the perfect time to explore a potential career, immerse in another country, or focus coursework.

In terms of taking summer courses, summer is the perfect time to catch up on a course prerequisites, to get ahead in a class that is required for your major (which allows for more flexibility and a lighter load in the school year), and finally summer is a time to try a new course for fun outside your major. However, keep in mind the material in the summer are the accelerated version of the courses taught in the fall or spring. Again, know what you can handle in terms of over enrolling in summer courses. Think twice about taking lab courses with lecture. I took Chem3B with 3BL and ED N40AC. I clearly over enrolled in the summer following my sophomore year. Come talk to me during office hours (260 Mulford Monday 10-11am; Tuesday 11-12pm) and I would be more than happy to give you tips on summer courses, please just do not over enroll for the summer.

3. Plan ahead by making schedules, timelines, and study time.

It never hurts to plan ahead to develop a regular and PRACTICAL schedule. If you know you cannot wake up at 7:00 a.m. or stay awake past 2:00 a.m. to study, then find another time in the day to study. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Make timelines for papers (think about when will you write your first, second, final drafts). Make time to study for midterms. Again plan ahead. For example, if you know that you are going home over Thanksgiving and will not be studying but there is a midterm the day following Thanksgiving then make a timeline and find time to study beforehand. Be realistic with yourself.


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