Things I wish I knew before coming to UC Berkeley

Josh Kahen/Staff

There is much to be excited for as an incoming freshman or transfer student at UC Berkeley. Because you were likely top of your class in high school and may be used to surpassing expectations, you may walk into the next few years of your life assuming you have this, too, figured out. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it’s better to hear now — in the comfort of your social distancing — that there’s so much you don’t know. But worry not! Here’s a quick guide of things I wish I knew before my first semester at UC Berkeley that will hopefully help you out along the way.

You aren’t going to get all the classes you want

You just won’t. It’s important to have a backup to every important class you want to take, and a backup to your backup. Your Phase 1 enrollment time may look like a casual window for picking classes, but it is not. It’s your moment to fight for your spot: Set three alarms, refresh Chrome and have CalCentral up and loaded. 

The walk isn’t worth it

I understand why you want it to. Back-to-back classes at Mulford Hall and then Haas School of Business may sound like a good idea — 0.7 miles doesn’t look like that much, right? Wrong. It’s up a hill. Some distances cannot be covered, even within Berkeley time — you’ll be huffing, puffing and sweating your way across campus if you try. 

You definitely don’t need to buy your books at full price

The shiny CalCentral book list is very appealing. Purchasing new books for a new semester at a new school feels like an important and exciting step — but it isn’t a necessary one. If you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount on books or just want a sustainable option to avoid buying a stack of paper you’ll only use once, scour through Facebook groups before you commit. Free & For Sale and Textbook Exchange, among others, are great ways to buy used books and will help you save in the long run. 

You should never go into the semester with workout plans

This may sound counterintuitive, but anyone who frequents the Recreational Sports Facility knows that it’s a mess for the first few weeks of the semester. If you’re going in with a resolution to up your exercise game or improve your health, plan to start during week three of the semester, when the “new semester, new me” enthusiasts have given up. 

You need to come up with a damn fun fact 

The worst thing about a new class is the awkward ice breaker session every single GSI feels the need to subject us to. Instead of twiddling your thumbs and racking your brain around the discussion section circle, come up with a fun fact or two now. It’ll save you a lot of pain in the future, and we all know we have an excess amount of time now while sheltering in place. 

Group projects don’t get better in college

UC Berkeley students are smart and driven! Maybe, but they’re also lazy. This is an important warning not to be disappointed when your class group of a bored senior, distracted sophomore and two other clueless freshmen don’t respond to texts and emails — leaving you with the brunt of work for a project. 

Contact Mahira Dayal at [email protected] .