Lies we’re told as UC Berkeley students

Franco Folini under Creative Commons/File

Fresh-faced and free-spirited, we passed under the vast and profound Sather Gate for the first time, much as young children walk into their first day of “big kid school.” The possibilities for our lives expanded and flashed in our mind’s eye, causing our hands to tremble and our cheeks to flush. That was the moment we began to control our own lives instead of the other way around. We came here with our eyes sparkling and our brains open, ready for knowledge, expecting to finally be treated like adults, expecting people to be open and honest with us. But, alas, here we all are, students at UC Berkeley, adults in our own right, yet still we are lied to on an almost daily basis. Here are five alarmingly destructive lies we are told as UC Berkeley students.

  1. “You’ll need to go to the library to research for this paper.” We all know this statement to be false. Professors and GSIs tell you this hoping you’ll spend hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon poring over dusty, rarely-opened volumes in the most secluded areas of Main Stacks, conveniently disregarding the fact that you also have two midterms next week, six hours of classes a day and a part-time job. So, we’ll stick with online journal articles, thank you very much.
  2. “The optimal nap length is 20 minutes.” If you’ve ever been told this, you’ll remember your immediate and involuntary eye roll and the scoff that followed. If any UC Berkeley student dares to let their eyes rest for even a few seconds, they will fall into a deep, seemingly endless sleep brought on by months of sleep deprivation and an unquenchable workload. If we take a chance on a 20-minute nap, it will inevitably turn into five hours.
  3. “If you step on the UC Berkeley seal, you’ll never graduate with a 4.0 GPA.” The truth of the matter is that you won’t get a 4.0 GPA regardless of whether you step on the seal. Grade deflation and the unrealistic expectations of professors and GSIs ensure that a 4.0 GPA is virtually impossible. So perhaps this can’t be accurately described as a lie, but rather a hollow, meaningless statement.
  4. “I can tell if you started your essay the night before.” The suggestion that our professors have some kind of sixth sense regarding our level of procrastination is absurd and provably false. If they only knew the true extent of our dilly-dallying, from hours on Tumblr to actually going through our Venmo feed, they would not presume to be able to discern which papers were written a week ago, two days ago or 12 hours ago. From our own unfortunate experience, we can say that time and time again we have received As and Bs on papers written in espresso-fueled deliriums, with our hair in disarray and legs shaking uncontrollably, five hours before the due date.
  5. “The workload in this class is, in my opinion, manageable.” If a professor or GSI says these words to you, turn around and run as fast as you can, as far away from that classroom as possible. This is a sure sign that the workload will drown you in pages and pages of overwhelmingly incomprehensible, esoteric journal articles and horrifyingly involved group projects.

If you hear one of these lies, speak up and let the truth be known. We deserve the truth, not the twisted deception to which we have become accustomed. Let us become again the doe-eyed, hopeful clan of UC Berkeley students we once were.

Contact Sasha Ashall at [email protected].