On your Berkeley experience — advice from professors
Opportunities abound at Berkeley. How do you make the most of your years here? The Public Affairs staff asked faculty and staff members to share their wisdom on that point, steering students toward what should be the best years of their lives.
your heart. If there is a course that interests
you, take it. Do not do what you think
you should do, do what you care about doing.
The rest falls into place."
—Bob Berring, interim dean, Boalt School of Law
dessert first. Take courses first in subjects
where you already know the material.
The idea is to do well, gain confidence,
and feel comfortable in our learning environment.
You will be surprised at how much new you
will learn on topics already familiar to
you. In fact, the more you already know,
the more you will be able to learn."
—Nelson Polsby, professor of Political Science
be afraid to ask dumb questions, to knock
on doors and talk with strangers
in the offices, laboratories and studios!"
—George Chang, associate professor of Food Microbiology
you want to succeed in your classes at
Berkeley, my advice is to ALWAYS sit
in the front row and to get to know your
professors. Office hours are the best time
to do this, rather than right before or
—Katharine Milton, professor of Physical Anthropology and Insect Biology
to know some professors! It's probably
one of the most important things you can
do while you are here. You will get advice
and guidance about what courses to take,
what major to choose, what research opportunities
to try, and what career options to consider
– and eventually you may be able to get
research mentoring and recommendations
to help you pursue your chosen path."
—Christina Maslach, vice provost for Undergraduate Education and a Psychology professor
the thesaurus and buy a useful dictionary
and take it with you everywhere. For virtually
all our students the thesaurus is a book
that helps them replace a word they DO
know the meaning of with a word that they
DON'T know the meaning of."
—Daniel F. Melia, Rhetoric professor
students coming from high school and community
colleges tend to take too many
classes their first semester. It's always
best at first to take the minimum requirements
for full-time student status. That extra
valuable time you have can be used to join
study groups and do research on declaring
majors and career opportunities."
—Marjorie Weingrow, director of Sage Scholars Program
most important piece of advice I can give
is simple: go to class. The transition
from high school to college brings with
it huge independence, and with it the temptation
to skip classes, but merely being in class
will help you clear up potential problems
and keep you on track. Take advantage of
your freedom to be self-disciplined."
—Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, assistant professor of Psychology
first year law students, and to a lesser
extent for all students being exposed to
new topics and methods, it is important
to slow down your reading speed and give
yourself a chance to absorb the texture
of the new materials. Stop measuring your
progress in pages turned or whether you
used up an entire pen taking notes. Get
your mind around new material, don't get
—Franklin Zimring, Law professor
the three centers of learning that least
resemble your dorm room: The well-upholstered
Morrison Library, Doe's cavernous North
Reading Room, and the welcoming tables
at the Free Speech Movement Cafe."
—Tom Leonard, University Librarian
a quiet corner in the back of an obscure
library or in a park that's rarely used
to sit and read without distractions. Life
is too busy and crowded around here, and
students need a place to go to be alone
with their thoughts and books."
—Randy Schekman, professor of Molecular and Cell Biology
hello to the person sitting next to you
in your first day of class. Don't be
afraid to be friendly. Find out why s/he
is taking the class or where s/he is from?
Who knows? You may make a friend with whom
to study or at least compare notes. Some
of such friends may even last a lifetime."
—Marian Diamond, Integrative Biology professor
aren't just for studying anymore - there are millions
of journals, books, manuscripts, digital images, and videos
just waiting for you to mine them for your class assignments
and personal interests. Visit the library, be curious,
—Elizabeth Dupuis, head of Instructional Services, The Library.