UC Berkeley partners with Mills College to launch freshman pathway

Image of Mills College
BORMANG2/Creative Commons
A freshman pathway between UC Berkeley and Mills College, known as UC Berkeley Changemaker in Oakland, is directed toward incoming freshmen who are interested in a liberal arts college environment. The program will be an addition to UC Berkeley's other freshman pathways, which include the traditional campus experience, Global Edge in London and the Fall Program for Freshmen. (Photo by BORMANG2 under CC BY 2.0.)

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Newly admitted UC Berkeley freshmen looking for a smaller, close-knit environment can now choose to start their college journey at Mills College, a small liberal arts school 16 minutes away from the UC Berkeley campus.

This pathway, otherwise known as the UC Berkeley Changemaker in Oakland program, will allow 200 students a one-year residential college experience at Mills College. The program is the latest addition to the three main pathways for freshmen: the traditional UC Berkeley campus experience, Global Edge in London and the Fall Program for Freshmen, or FPF.

“The program is offering students a wonderful new choice in our FPF program series,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “As with all FPF programs, it will give UC Berkeley students a small cohort experience, including smaller class sizes (and) more access to faculty.”

The Changemaker in Oakland program offers students more support with advising and academics and is especially directed for students who prefer a small liberal arts college environment, according to Ramu Nagappan, assistant dean at UC Berkeley Extension, which oversees the program.

Students interested in the program will take the “Berkeley Changemaker” course to establish foundational concepts the summer prior to beginning full-time enrollment in the fall.

During their spring semester, students can take classes about community projects in Oakland and also have the opportunity to intern at Oakland organizations. While students will be taking most of their classes at Mills College, they can also choose to take a class on the UC Berkeley campus, according to Gilmore.

“The full year really gives students a chance to deepen the connections within the cohort,” Nagappan said. “We’re excited to see what kind of community we can build where students are both living and learning in the same place. That just provides some unique opportunities for us to do things within and outside of the classroom.”

The Changemaker in Oakland program will help to reduce the housing strain UC Berkeley faces, especially as students start returning next semester, Nagappan added. It will also help accommodate the 90 students in the Global Edge in London program, which will be suspended next semester due to COVID-19 concerns.

This is not the first time that UC Berkeley has worked with Mills College, according to Nagappan. The two have had a decades-long relationship, where UC Berkeley students could take a course at Mills College, and vice versa. In the past few years, campus students also had the opportunity to live in Mills College residence halls, Nagappan added.

“Most students who come to (UC) Berkeley are very excited about the breadth and expansiveness of the university,” Nagappan said. “Having this one-year residential experience … will be appealing to students who want that kind of quieter introduction to college life but still having a very strong connection to all the unique things about Berkeley.”

Students in the program will pay roughly the same tuition, and interested freshmen can register for the program when they declare their intent of enrollment.

Contact Cindy Liu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.