A graduating senior’s advice: Four ways to make the most of your time at UC Berkeley

Illustration of a person holding flyers for various Berkeley clubs
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With seemingly endless interesting classes and more than 1,200 student organizations on campus, UC Berkeley can be a bit intimidating. Figuring out how to use your time when there are so many incredible options can feel overwhelming, but somehow we all manage to get through. At the end of our four years, we want to graduate with the knowledge, friendships and experiences that drew us to this school in the first place.

As a graduating senior, I feel that my amazing UC Berkeley experience can be segmented into four categories that I would urge any incoming freshman, transfer or even continuing student to consider if they haven’t already. These categories of advice are broad, but considering them will help you make the most of your time at UC Berkeley.

Get connected

One of my academic advisers at Haas School of Business used to always remind me, “Your network is your net worth.” It has stuck with me since freshman year for two important reasons. First, it reminds me that my worth isn’t defined only by my financial assets or how much money I make, but rather by the people in my close and extended circles. Too often, the rat race of UC Berkeley encourages chasing money and discourages chasing happiness or fulfillment. Second, it reminds me that my success is within my control.

Use your time at this school to take control of your success, and to focus on people rather than dollars. Attend networking events like career fairs and infosessions (they get less awkward over time), connect with your professors and GSIs in office hours and play the “student card” to land informational interviews with professionals in your field. 

Get involved

Maybe you came here to cheer on a football team, or maybe you didn’t. Either way, UC Berkeley is filled with opportunities to embrace your school spirit and cheer on the Golden Bears. Take time during your four years to get involved in UC Berkeley, both the school and its culture. You should attend your fair share of football and basketball games, and join the student section in whatever crazy chants it’s leading. Go to game day parties with your friends, deck out in blue and gold and sing the Cal Drinking Song. Eat the quintessential Berkeley food and hit up the best spots on campus. It’s only four years; embrace the school you chose and make the most of your time as a Golden Bear. 

Get out there

There are more than 30,000 undergraduates at this school, but if you don’t put yourself out there, it will be extremely hard to make lifelong friendships. Join student organizations to find your people early on: The Daily Californian, the ASUC, Greek life or whatever niche club intrigues you the most. Most people have this figured out, so they join one group that they love, but then they stop. They join an intramural soccer team during their first semester at UC Berkeley, find their friends and never join another organization. They miss out on seven semesters of meeting new friends and growing their circles. Why would you stop making new friends when you have more than 30,000 other amazing people to meet? 

Get started

They’re not lying when they say college flies by in the blink of an eye. If you’re not paying attention, you might miss great opportunities to jump-start your career or take an incredible class. Keep your end goals in mind from the very beginning and think about what you’d like to do after graduation, and what you’ll need to do to get there. Don’t wait to recruit for summer internships, clubs or jobs until second semester; get started ASAP! It’s never too early to set yourself up for success, and you’ll learn a lot during application season. One of the hardest parts of applying to new opportunities is simply starting, but it all pays off as long as you get going. 

Coming to UC Berkeley can be overwhelming because of all the incredible people, organizations and opportunities this school has to offer. It’s easy to lose track of what you came here to do, which was likely to get an outstanding education, meet lifelong friends, grow your network and soak up all that Berkeley has to offer. Hopefully, this list reminds you how to get the most out of UC Berkeley; get involved, get connected, get out there and get started! 

Contact Brookey Villanueva at [email protected].