Submitted by Amy Wang (PEACE Advisor)
Over my past three years at Cal, however, I’ve discovered how misinformed this perception is. As the best public university in the world, UC Berkeley is undoubtedly home to very motivated, successful students. However, that doesn’t mean that these students aren’t also extremely supportive and willing to lend a hand (or perhaps a paw?) to a fellow Bear. Although pre-meds are stereotypically seen as “gunners,” I have yet to encounter someone who has actually reflected that negative stereotype. Most students I’ve met are always happy to help explain something you don’t understand, form study groups, and share study tips and resources. I often find myself wonderfully surprised by how kind and supportive my peers are, and I feel so blessed to be attending a school full of such intelligent, warm-hearted individuals.
Nevertheless, classes can be tough. It’s easy to get intimidated by the huge prerequisite “weeder” classes where only 20% of students receive an A. What I’ve found to be most helpful is getting through these courses with your friends. There’s truly nothing quite like going through rough times together to forge strong bonds with your peers. Even if study groups aren’t your thing and you study better alone, having friends in your classes can be super helpful for both practical reasons and emotional support. If you catch the flu and miss lecture, you’ll have a buddy to fill you in on what you missed that day. If you get stuck on a problem set at 1 AM, you can ask a friend for help on understanding the material. Maybe you just want to vent about how frustrated you are with the class, and your friend will completely understand what you’re going through. Or my personal favorite - taking a group field trip to CREAM after a disheartening midterm and letting that sugary goodness compensate for that post-exam sadness.
But let’s be honest here: friends don’t just grow on trees. After freshman year, people aren’t actively trying to introduce themselves to others as often, and making friends in class can be a challenge. But fret not, my friends. There are lots of different ways to make friends in your classes! A guaranteed way of meeting people in your class is joining an SLC study group. Not only are these study group meetings a fantastic way to stay on top of the course material, but you can also meet your classmates in a much more friendly setting. Another great way to meet people taking the same classes as you are is by joining an academic organization on campus. There are so many different clubs for every academic and professional interest, whether that be pre-health, pre-law, business, or something else. The great thing about attending such a huge school is that there are so many student groups to join, giving you the opportunity to find something that best suits your interests.
It didn't take me long to realize that the supposed crazy competition at UC Berkeley was really a myth. While it is true that everyone wants to succeed, most students aren’t looking to do so at the expense of others. In fact, most students are actually really friendly and want to help each other out. So don’t spend another second stressing about how competitive Cal might be; spend that time making friends with your classmates and discovering the truly collaborative spirit of Cal.