Will you be declaring as a MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology) major? Do you need some help in getting things started with planning out the next four years of your undergraduate career? Well, I’m here to help! As an out of state student who came from Hawaii, I didn’t have any connections in Berkeley so I started planning everything out from scratch. During my freshman year, I was actually required to submit my 4 year plan (the courses that I am taking for each semester) in my 6th week of class due to a requirement that I had to satisfy in my Army ROTC program. Yep, that’s right, I needed to plan out all 4 years of my classes in a month after I started school! Thinking back about it, it’s actually not that bad. In this blog, I’ll share my secrets on how to get your four year plan done in less than a week.
To start off, before we get into selecting our courses, we need to familiarize ourselves with the MCB undergraduate program’s website: https://mcb.berkeley.edu/undergrad and the process of declaring: https://mcb.berkeley.edu/undergrad/declaring
This website gives you an overview of the topics that are taught within the MCB major, the types of prospective students that would be interested in taking the major, advising, courses, research & honors, as well as career & extracurricular opportunities. Being familiar with the major as a whole is essential in deciding on whether or not it would be a good fit for your interests and your career goals (either on attending medical school, pursuing research, or going off on another career path). Molecular and Cellular Biology is one of the toughest majors at UC Berkeley. Majority of the students declaring this major are those that are wanting to go to graduate healthcare schools (optometry, dentistry, etc.) and/or medical schools.
Once you are familiar with the major, let’s dive in deeper to all the courses you need to take for lower and upper division (lower division are usually taken by 1st and 2nd years, while upper division is usually taken by 3rd and 4th years; upper division courses are a bit more complex and academically challenging but it’s specifically focused on the topic of your interest so many students say that they are actually easier than your lower division courses). All the required courses can be found here: https://mcb.berkeley.edu/undergrad/major/major-requirements/requirements
In addition to lower and upper division courses, you will also see the different tracks that are available. Tracks are essentially a concentration within the MCB major. There are 5 main areas of focus within MCB: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Cell & Developmental Biology; Genetics, Genomics, & Development; Immunology and Pathogenesis; Neurobiology. All of these areas of focus have two tracks except for neurobiology, which has one. Please note that tracks only matter in your upper division courses. All the tracks and areas of focus need to take the same lower division courses.
Now that we have understood the foundations of choosing our area of focus and track, let’s start building our four year plan. First, take a look at all the lower division courses. You will need to choose which courses you want to take in which semester. You can find if this course is available in a specific semester by going to the Berkeley Academic Guide—Class Schedule: https://classes.berkeley.edu/
Type in the class and it will show the class #, the meeting time, the requirements the course satisfies, and a short description of the course. Next, you will also find the specific professor that is teaching the course. Students can typically know which professors they want by going to https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ and searching their professors name. There, you will find dozens of reviews made by the students. In addition, if you want to find how difficult a course is, then you can check out Berkeley Time: https://berkeleytime.com/landing
This website includes an average of the course grade from the previous semester’s class as well as the range of percentiles (number of students that got a particular grade) in the course.
There you have it! A comprehensive student-tailored MCB guide made just for you.
If you enjoyed this blog post, then please check out my 1st post here as I give you a glimpse of my Cal YouTuber life. If you want to know how I became a YouTuber or how you can become a YouTuber, then this is the blog for you. Please connect with me if you have any questions or additional resources that you would like!
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