I have had many incoming students on my tours as me for advice for UC Berkeley freshman. This is a hard question to answer – being a large research university, opportunities at UC Berkeley are nearly endless. No two paths are identical, and it is impossible to generalize life at Cal. This being said, I have one recommendation that applies university to all incoming freshman – take a freshman seminar. Why? Here’s a few reasons.
- Freshman seminars are an opportunity specially designed for incoming students. Most freshman classes are large, and connecting with professors, while not impossible, can prove difficult. On the other hand, seminars connect you directly with a professor through an intimate setting. These 1 unit courses have no more than 15 other students in them. Your professor will not only know you by name, but get to know your interests and aspirations.
- You will be able to connect with other first year students who share your interest. Freshman seminars are offered in almost every department at UC Berkeley – hosting a range of options from Biology to History. Being a part of a seminar provides you with a way to network with other students who, most likely, will be your classmates for 4 years. Through an intellectual setting, freshman seminars are a great way to make new friends.
- Freshman seminars allow you to explore a topic without the pressure of a 4 unit graded course. Last semester, I took a linguistics seminar with Professor Lin out of pure curiosity. What is linguistics? I had no idea. Professor Lin walked by 10 student seminar through the basics of linguistic analysis, as well as introducing relevant topics of the day. She inspired me to take a (much more intense) Ling 100 class this semester, and possibly major or minor in the discipline. Without this freshman seminar, I would have been too nervous to explore outside my comfort zone.
All these reasons not enough? Sometimes the professor will bring in donuts!