Congratulations on getting into UC Berkeley! Now you’re living on your own and most likely overwhelmed by everything this school has to offer. Here are some things to avoid so your first semester isn’t a total disaster.
Bragging about high school achievements
Chances are you did some impressive things in high school that helped you get here. However, those achievements pale in comparison to the challenges of UC Berkeley. Everyone here is impressive in one way or the other, so trying to prove it can make you seem like a showoff.
Making a habit out of all-nighters
It can be tempting to try to do all your work in one night right before a deadline. However, sleep is a very nice thing and quick little naps won’t cut it. Without sleep, it is much harder to focus in lecture and waking up for class will feel like torture. There is usually enough time in the day to get all your school work done. The occasional all-nighter is OK if there is no choice, but making it a habit is shooting yourself in the foot.
There may be some of you who believe you can learn the material by just doing the homework since that’s what worked in high school. College is too intense for that. Classes contain too much information to be absorbed in a cursory glance or to be perfectly remembered at the end of the semester. It doesn’t have to be intense — instead, figure out what works for you and do it regularly. Just don’t cram right before the test, because that’s an all-nighter you didn’t need and it will make test day even worse.
Not making time for fun
There’s a lot of academic pressure to do well here at UC Berkeley. You may hear your friends brag about how late they stayed up doing their homework or studying for a midterm. Don’t get caught up in that scene. College is often cited as the best time in a person’s life, a time to explore new interests, meet new people and learn how to be a person. If you’re just holed up in your room the entire time then these years will be a waste.
Having too much fun
On the flip side, don’t neglect your studies entirely. When the things you’re planning to do for fun are going to damage yourself or negatively impact your studies then you should avoid them. College is a balancing act between your responsibilities as a student and your enjoyment. Find what you enjoy, not what you think you should enjoy, and use that to make you happy.
Letting UC Berkeley get to you
The best piece of advice I can give is to not let UC Berkeley make you feel worthless. This is a tough school that seems to focus more on bad grades than good. Try not to let your grades define you. It shouldn’t matter to the people around you what letter grade a teacher gave you. What matters is the new knowledge and experience that you gained. As long as you tried your best, then there is nothing more that people can ask of you.
With these tips in mind, you should now be well-equipped to avoid the pitfalls of your first semester at UC Berkeley. We haven’t addressed every problem you may encounter, but as long as you use your common sense things, should go all right. Just remember that you got into UC Berkeley, so at least one person believes that you can do it.