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U.C. Berkeleythe world-class education at a superb location
Written by 민 로리 | Published. 2017.07.14 15:56 | Count : 1139
U.C. Berkeley (also known as Cal) is the oldest among nine University of California (UC) campuses and is well regarded for its excellence in academics.  This summer I had a chance to live in Berkeley and got to see for myself reasons U.C. Berkeley is on so many high school students' top priority list for colleges. According to the presenter at the undergraduate admission campus tour I attended, Cal is the #1 ranked public institution in the world and has over 100 majors in five colleges and one school.  It has the lowest admission rate of 18% among the UC’s, with close to 10% for chemistry and engineering majors.  The faculty is composed of world’s finest researchers and writers; 7 Nobel Prize winners, 4 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 125 Sloan Fellows.  However, I believe one of the best parts about Cal is the LOCATION!  The campus is in a rush, mountain-like Bay area near San Francisco and Silicon Valley where the cutting-edge technology companies are densely populated.  Berkeley city itself is fun and diverse with affluent residents from Berkeley Hills co-mingled peacefully with homeless people around the city.  All of these blessings, of course, come with a price, to be more precise, the real-estates.  The rents are super high, and nice houses are hard to find for students.  If you prefer meticulously cut grass and a hand-holding nurturing environment for your college life, you might want to look elsewhere. Cal is tough in every sense and will make a survivor out of you.
The Sather Gate, the south entrance to the school
The school has about 30,000 undergraduates with a student to faculty ratio of 17:1.  Despite the size, it’s pleasantly surprising to note that 75% of the classes have fewer than 30 students and 85% less than 50 students.  There are five colleges in which the undergraduate students can enroll in:  (1) The Letters and Science, which has the majority (75%) of students; (2) Chemistry; (3) Engineering; (4) Natural Resources, a relatively small department with lots of prospective medical school students; (5) Environmental Design, a small college with about 600 students.  Haas Business School is accessible to students from their junior year standing except for the students in the MET (Management Entrepreneurship and Technology) program, in which they are allowed to be in the business school from the first year.  Needless to say, the admission to the MET program is extremely competitive; however, it is a fantastic option for those who desire to obtain a double major degree in engineering and business from a top notch institution.  The school also offers programs for students wanting to enter it in an untraditional way.  The Global Edge is a program that allows students to start their freshman year in London or Madrid, then come to the Berkeley campus in the 2nd year.  The Fall Program lets students live in the campus dorms, yet take classes at the UC extension during the 1st semester of the freshman year.  As with many big U.S. colleges, Cal is a huge sports school.  It has 28 varsity squads, 30 club sports, and holds 95 national team titles in 16 sports.  Impressively, student-athletes won 21 medals in Rio Olympics. 
The University Library, one of the many libraries on campus

Let me point to a few things about the application process that I learned at the admission officer's presentation.  As big of a school it is, Cal truly believes in selecting their freshman class with a holistic view.  The admission office encourages you to explain unusual circumstances and provide as much context as possible.  Your accomplishments should be substantiated with details; how hard was it to achieve it?  What level of impact is your achievement, national, regional, or school level?  All of the applications are read at least twice by trained readers, each taking about 10 to 15 minutes per application.  From last year, they started using the Personal Insight Questions to learn about students.  These questions are meant to tell them about you and only you.  So don’t bother quoting someone from the past or talk about someone else who did great things.  Although the answers should bear no obvious grammar errors, more care should go into the content of the responses.  The admission officers are not trained to critique essays; they are people from all walks of life whose job is to fill the freshman class with talented individuals who, as a group, can accomplish the school’s goals and missions.

One thing to note about the GPA is that they only use the sophomore and junior grades in their calculation.  Honor classes do not receive extra points in the GPA but are duly noted.  For the SAT/ACT, Cal only counts the highest “one” sitting scores and does not use the super-score system.  Many years ago, they abolished requiring the SAT subject scores, however, for those applying to chemistry and engineering schools, a high-level Math and a lab science (biology, chemistry, or physics) subject exams are required.  Because it is a State funded school, 80% of admitted are California residents, and they have a cap on the international and out-of-state students.  However, if you really want to go to Cal but don’t quite have the grades in high school, I encourage you to consider attending one of many California community colleges.

Campanile Tower, one of the most recognized symbols on campus

Overall, is Cal right for everyone?  Absolutely not!  However, it is an excellent choice for those with serious interests in learning from the world-class professors and some of the brightest students in the world.  And it wouldn’t hurt if you are a free-spirited individual with love for nature and a curiosity to experience what Northern California can offer you.


민 로리
Reach High College Consulting 대표
헤럴드 인사이트/투모로우 proofreading committee

민 로리  columnist@dherald.com

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