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

03 November 2011


Hey guys, have you ever used Ninjacourses?! Guess what? The University bought the source code to Ninjacourses (which was founded by a Berkeley student by the way) so now it is available as . That's right, Ninjacourses is now an official Berkeley tool! My scheduling process would be much more difficult if it wasn't for ninjacourses. So the question is now... why use Schedulebuilder if it is just like Ninjacourses? Because Schedulebuilder shows grade distributions! Ever used Courserank? Well now you pretty much have the most important feature of courserank built into Schedulebuilder! Of course, you should never base your decision about taking a class on grade distributions alone, but it is still a good tool. Schedulebuilder is functionally the same as Ninjacourses; even the layout looks the same so it will not be a problem to learn to use it if you are switching from Ninjacourses. If you haven't used Ninjacourses or other schedule planner applications before, now is the time! I remember the days before I found out about Ninjacourses where I would use Excel spreadsheets to plan my schedule. That method was organized and fun but it is not as convenient. Schedulebuilder allows you to search for all the classes you want to take, and then it will compile all the possible schedules you can have based on your preferences! Schedulebuilder is still in beta so there will be more features and bug fixes to come. So check it out! Again, the website is

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Posted by Bai Chen at 0:18 | Permalink

15 October 2011

Mumps and Flu

Hey guys! I know everyone have been hearing constant reminders about getting the mumps and flu shots, so I just want to take a moment to talk about these vaccines. Due to a recent mumps outbreak, the University is issuing FREE MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations to UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty. More information can be found here: ( Now most people should have had their MMR shots prior to enrolling at Cal but it is highly encouraged to get a booster. Vaccines usually contain an inactivated or modified version of a certain virus combined with an adjuvant in order to enhance your body's natural immunity against the virus and create antibodies specific to it. Although the antigens that come with each vaccine should theoretically be "stored" in our body's memory B cells in the immune system, it is possible that these B cells might not work properly after a while. Unfortunately, antibiotics do not work against viruses so the only way to treat a viral infection besides taking invasive anti-virals is to wait it out and treat the symptoms. Who likes to be in bed sick?-- Nobody!

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Posted by Bai Chen at 7:01 | Permalink

25 February 2011

Studying for Midterms

Midterm season is a stressful time for everybody; it doesn't matter if you're a freshman or a veteran senior. In my experience, I find the most useful strategy to study during midterm season is to maximize the QUALITY of my studying time, and not the QUANTITY. I can put off all the sleep I need to maximize the amount of time I have to review my material, but that doesn't accomplish anything. The way to maximize the quality of your studying time differs for every class, but here are some of the things I do that I think could be helpful: 1) Memorize things in 5's or less A neat thing I learned from a psychology class is that the brain has a capacity of memorizing 4-7 sets of ideas at a time. If I gave you 10 random numbers to memorize for 5 seconds: 45 53 91 27 93 65 83 02 40 16 45 and tell you to close your eyes and recite them to me, most people can probably recite 4-7 of those numbers back without looking. Try it! The idea here is to organize your material into 5 or less shorter subsets. For example: Suppose I need to remember 7 classes of viruses. I would first organize them into a 2 groups (how you group them is also very important, but that depends on the material), and then learn one group at a time. I found that this is much better than memorizing all 7 at once. However, GROUP THEM IN A WAY THAT IS LOGICAL TO YOU. In the case of viruses, I would group them by RNA viruses and DNA viruses.

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Posted by Bai Chen at 6:45 | Permalink



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