CM’s Guide to UC Berkeley

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The University of California’s flagship school is subject to a lot of stereotypes. Hippies infesting Telegraph Avenue, nerds pulling all-nighters in the library, protests 24/7, enough LSD for your heart’s content and much more. But what is UC Berkeley really like?

The Blue and Gold Experience

“The time I spent paying attention was very engaging. Then again, most of my most memorable moments the past three and a half semesters have been off-campus. It’s the people at Cal that make it what it is.”

-Kean Amidi-Abraham, engineering major, Class of 2018

“I was surprised at how many liberals and other undesirable creatures live around here. I will also say it was hard to adapt to big lecture rooms with a lot of people coming from a high school with 15 people per class. It’s all great though; the weather, the hobos, the surprisingly good dining hall food that rapidly goes to shit after two months, but I still appreciate the effort and it’s still better than anything I had in high school.”

-Ramiro Rojas, chemical engineering major, Class of 2019

“It’s been good but it’s hard finding clubs that are not exclusive with their heads up their own asses. Also word of advice for newbies: stay away from the unaffiliated frats and use Bear Walk so you can stay safe at night.”

-Rex Escobar, political science major, Class of 2017

“I’ve been a brainwashed Cal fan since birth. I was baptized in a sea of blue and gold and immediately initiated into this vociferous, vibrant and diverse group of people who worship The Promised Land with cult-like fervor. Cal was always the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow–the ultimate fantasy–so when I SIR’d [statement of intent to register], it was the first step in the craziest, most surreal emotional experience of my life.”

-Natalie Silver, media studies major, Class of 2018

“There seems to me to be such a variety of people here, with combinations of interests and hobbies. That surprised me at first. I feel like Cal has given me space to grow into myself because anything goes (except for political incorrectness). “

-Charlotte Jamar, business/biology double major, Class of 2018

Student Scale

Academics: A

Social Life: B+

The Vibe

Midterms, Marijuana and Marxism.

What it Feels Like to Go Here

When one thinks of Cal, the image of Mario Savio standing on top of a cop car rallying the students for free speech often comes to mind. That spirit is still alive and well. Students here generally stay socially conscious and care about making a difference in the world. We’re not only about protesting, though; students love to have fun. It’s a big school with something for everyone, from playing Quidditch on the lawn to raging at game day frat parties.

Never Have I Ever

How Much are Students Partying?

“A very reasonable amount. People here are responsible cookies,” Amidi-Abraham said.

“It really depends. There’s a wide spectrum. On average I would say a healthy amount. This is not a boring place,” Rojas said.

“Enough to be satisfied,” Escobar said.

“Cal is an enormous school. If you want to party six nights a week you can definitely find that crowd. There are people who have never seen the light of day and spend their weekends in the library and dorm lounges. And there’s a huge middle ground. I think most people party during game days in the fall–especially because those tend to be more inclusive events that celebrate the shared experience of going to Cal, rather than the exclusive experience of selling your soul to a fraternity,” Silver said.

“Some people party a shit ton, most don’t party enough,” Jamar said.

What Will you Get in Trouble for?

“Anything that hurts the feelings of others. And sexual assault, murder, etc.,” Amidi-Abraham said.

“You’ll get in trouble for stupidity or lack of common sense,” Rojas said.

“Cheating,” Escobar said.

“I guess I know people who have gotten cited for having fakes. I’ve only ever gotten kicked out of places, but I’m lucky,” Silver said.

“Stereotyping people,” Jamar said.

How Much Sex are Students Having?

“Sex? None that I’m aware of. General rule of thumb at Berkeley: if it makes people happy, they’re not doing it,” Amidi-Abraham said.

“Not enough,” Rojas said.

“There’s a reason Frank Ocean said he gets ‘brain like Berkeley,’” Escobar said.

“I think the sex culture goes with the partying culture. If you’re not in a relationship or whatever, the intensity of your hookup life seems to correlate with the intensity of your partying life,” Silver said.

“Not enough,” Jamar said.

Top 5 Quirks

1. Monster Squirrels: Squirrels on campus will poach any morsel of food you drop, making them all morbidly obese and the size of a small dog.
2. Game Day Parties: Instead of having boring tailgates, we rage in fraternity backyards.
3. Coops: We have the largest coop system in North America and they’re great if you’re looking for naked people and lots of weird drugs.
4. Unparalleled Hatred of Stanford: F—k Stanford.
5. The World’s Creepiest Mascot: Imagine if the Berenstain bears had a weird uncle. That would be Oski. He’s pudgy, has a pancake face and keeps his hands behind his back like he’s restraining himself from inappropriate touching.

Top 3 Majors

1. Social Sciences
2. Biological Sciences
3. Engineering


Bragging Rights

1. US News & World Report Number 1 Public University.
2. We have an entire parking lot reserved for Nobel Prize winners.
3. Former Secretary of State Robert Reich teaches a class.


Getting In

Berkeley only has a 17% acceptance rate, so its safe to say the competition is mighty fierce. With so many applicants with similar test scores and grades, constructing a memorable personal narrative will make you stand out from the crowd. “Be honest with yourself in the application. I can come off as impersonal, so it’s important to write something personal in the essay,” Amidi-Abraham said.

Dano Nissen is a sophomore English major at UC Berkeley. He enjoys listening to Pearl Jam and watching The Simpsons.

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