It’s college season: How to give balanced advice to newly admitted prospective Bears

Illustration of a young-looking bear walking out of UC Berkeley's Sather Gate
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It’s college acceptance season once again! You might have some prospective Bears in your life who’ve been bombarding you with the million-dollar question: “Should I go to UC Berkeley?” We were all there once, either scared about the horror stories surrounding competition, safety and depression, or excited for the prospects that come with being accepted into a prestigious university. Whether you’re cynical about your time at UC Berkeley or you’ve had the time of your life here, here are some tips on how to give balanced advice to those prospective Bears in your life. 

Be honest about your own experience

If you’re not having the best time, don’t sugarcoat it. At the same time, don’t focus only on the negatives. There are pros and cons to every university; there are many factors that are more important to some students than to others. Make sure to highlight both the positive and negative aspects of your experience so far. 

Ask them what major or programs they’re interested in pursuing

You can’t really give advice about a program you haven’t studied in. It would be good to ask the newly admitted students which programs they have their eyes on. A computer science major is going to have a wildly different experience at UC Berkeley than a German language major. Bonus points to you if you can connect them with someone in the major they’re interested in. 

Ask them what type of college experience they’re looking for

Different people expect different things out of their college experience. Some want to get a degree while having the most amount of fun, some want to have a balance of working hard and playing hard and some want to bust their butt until they reach a breaking point. UC Berkeley may or may not fit within their expectations of a college experience, so make sure to remind them of that. 

Ask them if they’re planning to go to graduate, law or medical school

Of course, many people who go to UC Berkeley get into graduate, law and medical school, but not without blood, sweat and tears. If a student is not down to work harder in undergraduate school than they might in their higher education, you might want to remind them that it may be best for them to consider another school where they might feel less stress or pressure to “do it all.” 

Tell them to stop using the r/berkeley subreddit for advice 

When one turns to the internet for advice, there are many factors to be aware of that they might not be careful to remember. For one, people tend to be overly negative or overly positive on the internet; if someone has a bad experience, they’ll be more vocal about it, like restaurant reviews. This is not the best place to get advice, and people on the internet don’t know much about you, even if you do give some general information. On the internet, our school seems like a hellhole. While this may be true for some students, it’s not for a majority who don’t voice their opinion online.

It’s a strange and exciting time for welcoming the new admits to our campus. For me, the most helpful deciding factor was talking to current campus students from my high school. They were so kind and willing to help, and that alone made me excited to commit to UC Berkeley. You could be the deciding factor for someone else too, so be honest and fair with your advice! 

Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].