Written by Prerak Juthani (PEACE Advisor)
Q: "Is Berkeley cut-throat?"
A: No, it isn't. You wanna see cut-throat? Go study in India - where one test your senior year literally makes or breaks the college you get into. That's cut-throat.
Berkeley is HARD. There's a distinct difference. A's don't and WON'T come easily, and I'm tired of people being "afraid" of that. Like are you kidding me? You just got into the number one public university in the world and NOW is the time you're doubting your determination/ability to succeed? If anything, you should be READY to take on the challenge and be willing to RISE to the occasion. And trust me, I have full faith that each and every one of you will - simply because of the type of curiosity I've seen. Of course, the next four years will be BRUTAL, but if they weren't you wouldn't be prepared for medical school. People in medical school/residency literally work 80-120 hrs/week, so if you wanted to "take the easy way to medical school," you need to switch professions.
Q: But why can't I just go to school X? It's "easier" than Berkeley, will pad my GPA and thus, help me get into a better medical school. ISN'T THAT SMART?
A: That might seem happy dandy until you ACTUALLY analyze this situation. Firstly, if you do get into a really GOOD medical school, would you then turn that down to go to a worse one cause you're afraid of your ability to succeed? (If you answered no to this, then WHY WOULD YOU NOT COME TO BERKELEY? It's literally the SAME REASONING).
More importantly, let's say you do AMAZINGLY at University X, get phenomenal grades because of the "less difficult" material (the only reason you'd get better grades elsewhere is because the material would be easier; there is NO "curving down" in Berkeley pre-med classes, so let's put that myth to rest). Then, do you really think you're gonna be a doctor I trust? Like I don't want my doctor learning some sub-optimal stuff. I want a doctor that knows exactly what is happening because s/he was challenged in school, had to ask questions and figure out why things did what they did. THOSE are the doctors that are amazing; they have a sense of curiosity because they got an education that challenged them to think that way. And if you think that University X will get you to do that, then, by all means go for it. But, I'll tell you right now with 110% certainty, UC Berkeley will DEFINITELY get you to attain that mindset.
And with that, I am done trying to tell you guys to stop worrying about your grades. Just focus on loving science and you'll be fine. BAI. HAVE FUN. MITOCHONDRIA IS THE POWERHOUSE OF THE CELL.