Submitted by Amy Wang (PEACE Advisor)
First of all, no matter how super awesome your grades were in high school, I would not recommend loading up on too many units. There is PLENTY of time to finish your major, your major+minor, your double major, or whatever it is you’re planning to do. Your first semester of college is about the following things (in no specific order):
Meeting people and making new friends
Joining organizations and finding activities you’re interested in
Finding a healthy balance between school and the rest of your life
Discovering how you study best and what workload you can handle
It is so very important to sign up for a schedule that will allow you to transition smoothly into college. This is a new chapter in your life; this is when you lay the foundation for the rest of your college years. Let’s evaluate three possible outcomes:
A student signs up for too many classes and is overwhelmed.
- PROS: Not much, unfortunately.
- CONS: Extra stress, less time for enjoying yourself, underperforming in classes that the student is actually capable of doing better in
- PROS: Everything!
- CONS: Nothing!
- PROS: More time to focus and do well in each class, more time to develop friendships, more time to explore the wonderful city of Berkeley, more time to devote to hobbies
- CONS: Not much. Sure, you could’ve been one class ahead, but that is such a negligible con that it’s not worth worrying about.
Now that I’ve talked about the big picture, what about specific classes? As a pre-med, you probably want to knock out a few requirements each semester. I wouldn’t recommend any more than two technical classes for your first semester (i.e. Chem 1A + Math 1A or 1B), and taking only one technical class is also a very valid and respectable option. Many freshmen also take an English R1A/R1B course, since English is required by many medical schools. At that point, I would recommend filling the rest of your schedule with one or two breadth courses. As you might already know, if you’re a Letters and Science student, you’ll need to fulfill a seven-course breadth requirement before you graduate. There are endless possibilities for these, so I’d recommend taking the classes that most interest you. Some of my favorite courses at Cal were my breadth classes, so really take the opportunity to learn about something you enjoy.
Remember, things will only get busier after freshman year. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself now. Pre-med might be a tough path, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun - even after freshman year, I promise! Best of luck to you all!